Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Ryland Peters and Small,
Release Date: 2003
Format Reviewed:
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Genre: Nonfiction / Coffee Table / Architecture / Design
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Reviewer Notes:  Publishers Website:

Rating 5 of 5

Reviewer, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is the award-winning author of This is the Place and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered


City Living
Inspirational Homes in the Heart of the City
Editors: Bo Niles and Katherine Sorrell

Well-Designed Book Speaks Well of City Living

       In case the news hasn’t reached you, people are moving from the hinterland to the city. And when they do, more and more of them want the real thing. They’re renting, leasing, and buying loft space faster than it can be built.

      Well, OK. Built isn’t exactly the word for it. Refurbished? Old ballet studios, UPS garages, toy warehouses and the like are being converted to living quarters. Bo Niles, one of the editors of City Living, reminds us that cities are synonymous with creativity. That “Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco” and we can’t think of Marcel Proust without thinking of Paris or Henry James without conjuring New York.

       My own daughter, newly an anthropology student, has tossed her designer duds and cleaned out her cupboards so that she can comfortably fit her stuff from a five-bedroom house into 1200 feet of what my husband considers an “unfinished apartment.” For her it is a slice of heaven, windows that look over the city and walking distance to L.A.’s new light rail, the cleaners, Rite-Aid and even a nostalgic little pharmacy with a soda fountain on Route 66 that runs through the downtown area of the L.A. satellite she lives in.

      City Living reflects her enthusiasm. A big book, not quite as big as what we’ve come to think of as a coffee table book, it is packed with pictures, inside and out, of lovely conversions to fit every taste including that industrial look my daughter has taken to.

       Actually, City Living is also a study in international living. It features the Antwerp home-space of Eric De Queker, who is famous in Belgium for his furniture and interior design company, as well as industrial loft space in Los Angeles. Each section (chapter) is written by one of the several Ryland Peters editors. Taken together, the chapter names are a poem that strum at the heartstrings of anyone interested in design: “Symphony in concrete, The whitest shade of pale, Paris eyrie, Hollywood natural” and more. The photographs are exquisite, the copy inspiring. This is a book that a reader will come back to again and again and see something different every time, a curve here, a detail there, a color or no color at all.

      Now about that trend to city living. That’s the theme, but if you prefer “nostalgic charm,” you’ll find a bit of that, too. After all, the city embraces everyone, every taste. That’s what makes them cities.