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Book Review: “House Proud” by Valorie Hart

By Goedekershomelife @goedekers

House Proud Cover

I recently had the pleasure of perusing the interior design book House Proud: Unique Home Design/Louisiana by Valorie Hart, published by Glitterati Incorporated. New Orleans resident, design tastemaker, and fellow author Debra Shriver said it best when she explained, “This book is about loving a house so much that it loves you back.” The homeowners aren’t concerned about fitting the mold of any particular design style, but rather fixing up and furnishing spaces that they treasure.

Click through to check out our full review, learn a little more about the author, and read an interview with Valorie herself.

House Proud Interior

The Book

House Proud opens with a foreword by Debra Shriver. She emphasizes that this book delves deeper than just decorating – it is about making your house come alive and infusing it with your personality. Your home is meant to be a sanctuary, and thus it’s important to have a healthy amount of pride invested in it.

The author, Valorie Hart, follows up with an introduction of her own. It begins with an anecdote about her childhood and redecorating her home with her mother and siblings, which fuels her belief that our earliest house-proud moments take place when we are children. Whether it is drawing houses populated by stick figure families, rearranging our dollhouses, or playing pretend in playhouses or treehouses, from a young age we start to formulate an idea of what it means to take pride in a home.

In more recent years, entire TV shows, books, magazines, blogs, and websites have been created that are dedicated to design. Even though professional designers are still regularly employed, many people like to take the decoration of their homes into their own hands. This results in houses that are beautifully and uniquely furnished. She also elaborates on why she chose her home state of Louisiana to hone in on.

Each home begins with the same basic information: where in Louisiana it is located, who the homeowners are, and who lives in the home (including children and pets). A complete picture is then painted of the home’s backstory. Details such as the age and square footage of the house, the state it was purchased in, and any DIY elements or projects that appear are mentioned. Also highlighted are what the owners would call their design style, their favorite features of the home, the function of each room, whether they entertain and if so how often, and what their house means to them personally.

Images are not provided of the entire home, but a few rooms in particular are pictured. There are several full-page photos, with a variety of layouts used for each home. At the end, there is a section of “Takeaways,” or five design suggestions you could implement in your own home based on the spaces visited.

It is worth noting that House Proud features Valorie’s own home, as well as two homes in which she was the interior designer.

The book closes with the Louisiana state cultural poem. Afterward, there is a list of resources with artists, craftspeople, decorators & designers, architects, design books, shops, and websites that were either instrumental in the designs or are useful in general. There is also an index and a page of acknowledgements.

House Proud Living Space

My Ratings

Organization – 4/5

Valorie organized the homes in House Proud by categories she created based on interior design and function: minimalistic, professional, traditional with a twist, and so on. Some names seem fairly vague and non-specific, and some sections only contain one home, but overall these distinctions make sense when browsing the book. In addition, I feel like the Louisiana state cultural poem would’ve made a greater impact if it appeared alongside the introduction, instead of at the very end.

Text – 3/5

I believe the only thing I truly disliked about this book was some of the content formatting. Many of the sections split the writing in the middle of a sentence with photo pages in-between. This caused a lot of unnecessary flipping back and forth, double-checking that you saw every photo and didn’t miss a part of the story.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the amount of detail she went into. There is just enough about each house and its inhabitants to spark your interest without rambling too long and risking losing the reader’s attention.

Photos – 4/5

The photos that were included are high quality and absolutely gorgeous. For an interior design book, it could stand to have a few more of them squeezed in among the text. It was also a tad disappointing when some interesting features were talked about in the text and then not pictured, but I understand that often when publishing, you are working with a limited amount of space.

Takeaways – 4/5

This book also aims to be at least a little bit practical by including some basic design suggestions. However, some of them are too specific to the home in question and not general tips that would work in your average home.

Theme – 5/5

The book title is what ties everything together. Each section tries to very obviously highlight what makes the homeowners “house proud,” and this assessment generally appears in one of the conclusion paragraphs. Even though all of these homes are located in the same state – and many are even in the same city – each one is strikingly different. This is what sets House Proud apart and makes it special.

House Proud review

My Review

There is such a satisfying assortment of homes contained within this book – from a 15,000 square foot plantation home to a loft apartment where the homeowners are restricted from altering the floors or even painting the walls. I can tell Valorie has a taste for curiosities, and that resonates strongly with me.

Truly, this book was a treat to explore. It seems to me to be equal parts interior design book and human interest piece. Direct quotes from the homeowners are sprinkled throughout each section, and beloved pets are not dissuaded from wandering into the living room or master bedroom for the photograph.

It is hard to pinpoint one thing in particular that was my favorite about this book, although I will say I appreciate the tone. It’s plain to see that interior design is in Valorie’s blood through her description of each home, but overall her approach to compiling House Proud was so unpretentious and refreshing. She loves her subject matter so much that it loves her back.

House Proud living space

An Interview with Valorie

How long have you been involved in the world of interior design?

I have been working in the design world for over 25 years.

Has it always been your passion?

Yes, among many many other things. I am a creative.

According to your archives, you started blogging in 2008. What was your initial purpose for starting a blog?

It was post Hurricane Katrina therapy.

How has this intent shifted and evolved with time?

The intent was always to share experiences with the readers and other bloggers, and it is still the intent.

Your knowledge of decorating and design naturally flows through your writing. How have you gleaned all of your insight?

I have lived a long time.

How do you keep your content fresh and relevant?

Everything and everyone interests me. I am never bored.

Your method has never been to lead people by the hand step-by-step through DIY projects, but instead to provide ideas and inspiration, allowing for more room for creativity. Why is this?

I believe a good teacher does not dumb things down, and leaves room for each person to find out something for themselves.

Would you consider yourself a more right-brained individual?

I would consider myself a whole brain person.

What are a handful of the most engaging design magazines and blogs you actively follow?

I love all shelter magazines. I love the new magazine Milieu, and loved the old Domino. My blog list is long and you can find the blogs I follow listed on my blog.

How did the idea for House Proud come about?

It came about from a discussion with Debra Shriver, my late husband Alberto Paz, and the photographer Sara Essex Bradley.

Which came first – were you approached by the publisher, or did you pitch the idea?

A little of both.

How long did it take to complete work on House Proud – writing, photography, editing, etc?

It took a year to scout it, shoot it, and write it, and a year in production (editing, art direction and layout, printing, etc.), so two years.

Are you satisfied with how House Proud turned out?


Is there anything you would have done differently?

Make it a bigger book, with more homes, and use all the photos we took. We were asked to provide 250, and we doubled that. We could do another book, “House Proud The Out-Takes”.

Which homes or spaces in the book (besides your own, of course) are your favorites?

They are all my favorites, because I love and respect each home owner.

The launch party for House Proud took place last September. Describe that experience. Was it fulfilling?

When is a party in New Orleans not fulfilling? I was fortunate to have been given the party at a prestigious and glam location, the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. One of the home owners graciously made this possible for me and the photographer.

Do you plan on publishing any more design books?

Yes. House Proud Texas is next. I also want to do a book on how to decorate shotgun houses, and a book on mid century modern homes in New Orleans.

What are your plans for the future?

To learn to live a happy life without my dear beloved Alberto. I also continue to be an editor-at-large for New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles Magazine; write for Houzz; write freelance articles; blog; do interior design and decorating projects and photo styling. I am also keeping alive the legacy Alberto Paz and I created in the Argentine tango, by hosting our social dances, and promoting and teaching tango. I am planning to write a book about Alberto called “American Milonguero”.

Valorie Hart

About the Author

Valorie Hart does just about everything you can think of related to interior design – from professional design and decoration, event décor, project management, and styling & staging to freelance writing and speaking engagements. Her articles have appeared in publications such as GO NOLA, House of Fifty Ideas for Inspired Living, and New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles.

She runs the popular design blog The Visual Vamp. Unlike many other high traffic design sites, hers is not filled with sponsored posts or promotional material. Her writing style is straightforward, and she is constantly keeping her readers updated on the latest trends, along with news by decorators, designers, and writers in the industry.

Valorie considers herself a “New New” – a New Yorker who was transplanted in New Orleans. Her home base is a restored antique shotgun house in New Orleans’ Irish Channel neighborhood.


Disclosure: I was provided a print copy of the book to review, but the thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: "House Proud" by Valorie Hart by Sarah

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