Athena Calderone Eyeswoon book review Live Beautiful

Book review – Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone

Athena Calderone Eyeswoon book review Live Beautiful

Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone reveals how creatives decorate and shape their interiors.

As well as being full of curated interiors inspiration, the book also covers how to apply the inspiration in your own home.

That means it’s full of tips on how you can incorporate the experts’ design details into your own space.

That doesn’t mean slavishly copying the styles you see inside.

What’s Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone all about?

Central to Live Beautiful‘s message is that, when designing and styling an interior, you shouldn’t keep second guessing yourself.

To tell your own story, you need to trust your instincts, as one featured creative suggests –

“You should be able to say in a split second whether you like something or not.” 

Signe Bindslev Henriksen (Space Copenhagen), in Live Beautiful

Who is Athena Calderone?

Athena Calderone is the New York-based creator at lifestyle website, EyeSwoon.

Calderone is an interior designer in her own right, and two of her own homes feature in the book.

In Live Beautiful , Calderone takes you on a series of global house tours, unveiling the homes created by some of world’s most celebrated designers, as well as the creative journey that shaped them.

What’s new from Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone?

Firstly, a special mention for the book’s original photography by Nicole Franzen. The house tours are brought to life by her stunning photographs.

You’ll get a closer look at the townhouse (Calderone’s own) that launched a thousand oversized branch arrangements on the kitchen island. These were a clever replacement for a yet-to-be-discovered chandelier. They turned into a permanent fixture to replace the lighting, and are now something of a signature piece for Calderone.

What types of home can you see in Live Beautiful?

What unites the homes in this book is that they are very individual, shaped by the owner’s personality rather than a single design style.

I did have a couple of personal favourites.

Firstly, Jenna Lyons’ use of colour and her brass kitchen splashback in her New York loft.

I also loved the laidback style of Roman & William’s Montauk home, especially their curated collections, which gave their space so much personality.

Domestic bliss – what are the best takeaways from Live Beautiful?

The beauty of this book is that it actually tells the story of each home.

It’s not just focused on the design details. You really get a sense of the qualities that set each home apart.

The main takeaway for me is that the best interiors are very personal and are built over time.

That seems like the best way to apply the lessons of the book too. Take what you need from it, and apply what speaks to you.

I absorbed Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone from cover to cover. Here’s what you should think about when styling your space.

Trust your eye and don’t second-guess your instincts.

I was always a fan of this styling method, preferring not to spend too long deliberating over whether pieces “work” together.

Here’s why –


Laure Hériard Dubreuil

We never end up where we begin.

You might start off with a design concept, but you shouldn’t bind yourself to it.

Let your style evolve naturally as the project takes shape.

Embrace contrast and contradiction.

Calderone calls this patina versus polish. I agree with her that our homes need both.

Adding the unexpected makes spaces interesting.

I drew some practical tips for you from this book about how to add the unexpected –

  • Vary the scale and add things of different heights.
  • Add decorative pieces to functional rooms like kitchens.
  • Add things that deliberately don’t “belong”.
  • Mix up your metals.

To avoid your space looking like a hot mess by embracing all these contradictions, find cohesion by letting certain colours repeat around your home, featuring in more than one room.

Inspired by this review of Live Beautiful & need a copy now?

Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone (Abrams Books, £30). Published March 2020. Buy a copy here.

*This post contains an affiliate link. Sue Moore was given a no-obligation review copy of this book by the publishers.

Love interiors and styling books?

Click here to read more of Sue Moore’s book reviews.