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As a professional designer and a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy star, Thom Filicia has helped improve the houses of dozens of others, but in American Beauty, he writes about a much more personal project. When he first saw his future home near Skaneateles Lake, he didn't just see a dreary old house, he saw a promising fixer-upper not far from vacation spots that he remembered from his childhood. Half memoir and half decorating book, American Beauty wins and keeps our attention because it exemplifies the specificity of careful renovation and interior design.