What’s it like to write an Atomic Ranch book? We caught up with Jickie Torres to find out!
Atomic Ranch has a new book, Remodeled Marvels, written by our very own Jickie Torres. Jickie is the Director of Content at Engaged Media and the Brand Leader for Atomic Ranch, and the author of Remodeled Marvels. We caught up with her to find out more about the Atomic Ranch book, her vision for it, what it was like to write it.
How was putting the book together different from a regular issue?
Jickie Torres: I knew I wanted the book to be organized in a way that was easy to read and digest. So I took a narrative approach to discussing all the thoughts, process and questions that go into undertaking a remodel or renovation. So it was different in the sense that I visualized the topics differently. Rather than think of a single home and its story, I was telling the story of many homes and many homeowners topic by topic.
It was nice to be able to visit some homes that have always stood out at the top of mind for me that were done really well, really thoughtfully and could really teach the reader something useful.
Who did you have in mind as you put this book together?
JT: I have been undergoing my own renovation ever since I bought my 1951 ranch 4 years ago. I’ve been tackling area by area. And so in many ways I was speaking to someone who is either in the throes of making so many decision that is both overwhelmed but also insecure but also to someone who’s just at the beginning of there home makeover story and just really wants to get it right.
What excites you most about the book?
JT: I’m so excited to share the 15+ years of experience I have speaking with homeowners and professionals alike. As the editor I’ve had this front row seat to all the most incredible Mid Century Modern homes in the country—sometimes outside of the country—and the prospect of sharing that knowledge and first hand account, learning with each home tour and interview how they pulled it all off! It’s like the biggest term paper you’ve ever researched, and here I am just excited to share my findings.
How does being a homeowner affect your approach to the book?
JT: I just really appreciated what someone like me really needs. Definitive guidelines and a no punches pulled approach to breaking down what I think is the best way to make the right decision that you will be happy with 10 years from now.
Also, everyone is short on time, and in many regards wants to cut to the chase on what you need to know. So I made the book very conversational but also very realistic and approachable. The photos are all gorgeous and luxurious and will pull you to really sit and soak it all in. There are so many beautiful details to pore over and study in these photos. But the chapters and the writing is meant to be simple, to the point and devoid of fluff and filler.
What was your selection process?
JT: I wanted to share homes and rooms that ran the gamut of Mid Century Modern style. This isn’t a cookie cutter look, and I wanted to make sure the inspiration homes reflected every one out there. But I also wanted to pick homes that were successful in their renovations on many levels—these are homes that deliver on personal style, but also illuminate what it’s like working within your budget—whatever that may be. They are homes that are the result of a team of smartly chosen professionals but also homes that come together through hands on work and passion.
How does your background shape your approach? How does being a first-generation Filipina American affect your approach to a book about design largely developed by white men?
JT: I think I’m in this unique position to really be very aware of the seat I occupy. My family left their country and almost all their possessions behind to come here and forge a better life for future generations. I’m very aware that my parents have no historical heirlooms to pass to their children and they left their local vernacular definition of what a home looks like. I think it’s what makes me so passionate about saving the history and story of these homes which are a part of American history. I truly value that these homes and items have survived 70 plus years. I’m fascinated by why and how this style came together and why that makes it so important to save and preserve—because where we live, how our homes are built and how we use them in a big part of anyone’s family history. To me it’s more than just incredible architecture and design. It means something. It represents a moment in time for people that’s worth keeping alive.
Any chance of future books?
JT: I’d love to! There are so many more topics we can explore: landscaping and gardens, furniture, collectibles. I’d also love to write a book about the Mid Century Modern era that is more historical in nature—especially ones that gives space to the accomplishments of women and people of color in the mid century era.
What if someone’s saying,”Well, I already get the magazine—I don’t need the book.” What do you think this person will miss out on the most?
JT: That cohesive look at what it takes to renovation a home nose to tail. That collective look at homes that are shining examples of how to save, preserve and update mid century era dwellings. Not to mention a beautiful book that’s meant to keep you inspired forever.
Have you ever signed your name so much in your life?
JT: No, never! I thought I signed my name a ton when I bought my house and had 50 pages of contracts to fill out!
How does having your name on a book feel different from the inside of a magazine cover?
JT: Writing a book has been one of those life bucket list items. it’s a huge privilege. And I still stand in awe that just over 15 years ago I was this design obsessed intern who collected “cool furniture” from thrift stores (later would realize it was called Mid Century Modern) and was feeling lucky that I got a job writing about something I loved. And I still have that awestruck gratitude. I’ve worked really really hard and given myself over to my career in lots of ways and yet I still feel like that lucky girl. I hope that I always keep that feeling.
And for readers, what does the book offer that’s different from the magazines?
JT: Our magazines are collectors items. Take a look at eBay and you’ll see I mean that literally! Ha! But this book and really this set of Atomic Ranch is kind of like the piece de resistance!