What I’m Reading: Clinton Kelly’s ‘Freakin’ Fabulous On a Budget’

What I’m Reading: Clinton Kelly’s ‘Freakin’ Fabulous On a Budget’


I have been a financially independent adult for approximately two and a half years, but, when it comes to cooking, cleaning, decorating and all the other things that go into making a home, I’m essentially still a baby rolling around on the floor in my diaper. My kitchen set is an odd amalgamation of pots, pans and utensils I inherited (stole?) from former roommates; most of my “art” cost me less than a dollar and is stuck to my walls with wads of masking tape; my culinary repertoire is limited, as ever, to eggs, pasta, frozen food and toast (which I always burn).   

So, when Clinton Kelly’s new book, “Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget,” landed on my desk a few weeks ago, it came as both a wake-up call and a saving grace. I grew up watching (or, really, watching my sisters watch) his fashion reality show “What Not To Wear,” so I knew this guy was a guru when it came to attire. But what could Kelly teach me about the domestic side of the good life–throwing cocktail parties, repurposing mason jars and cooking “Halibut á la Grenobloise” (whatever that is)? Could Kelly really help me transform my post-graduate flophouse into a gleaming bachelor pad? Could he help me make the jump from late-late-infancy to adulthood?

Answer: Yes. In “Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget,” Kelly proves his expertise in all facets of the home, while adhering to the book’s central principle: “Fabulousness has absolutely nothing to do with money.” From beginner-level ideas (spray-painted pine cones) to master class projects (bamboo mat wall art), Kelly shows how to create eye-catching food, décor and even clothes for a fraction of what you’d spend in a store. He also maintains an inviting sense of humor throughout the book (his chapter on dipping sauces is called “Chips, Dips, Chains, Whips”), which comes in handy when you’re a failure-prone, housekeeping rookie.

Where to start? I think I’ll try Kelly’s method of creating cloth napkins from ironed shirts—but, first, I’ll need to get an iron.


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