The mother-daughter duo who collaborated to write

The Pocket Decorator

have teamed up again to produce another portable primer,

The Pocket Renovator: An Illustrated Guide to the Language of Home Improvement and Renovation

(Universe Publishing, $19.95).

In a way that is neither pretentious nor boring, mother Pamela Banker (an interior designer) and daughter Leslie Banker (a journalist) decipher the language of home improvement. They discuss general prep work, including building codes, permits and construction plans, and offer renovation tips. (Shelves in a bookcase should be a minimum of seven to eight inches deep. Wall sconces provide the best bathroom lighting, placed on either side of the mirror, 66 to 70 inches from the floor.) Helpful appendices explore the topics of green design, a safe and healthy house, financing and real estate.

This guide is written with first-time homeowners and renovators in mind, but it's also a handy reference for those who consider themselves old pros.