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We have an interesting range of books this month. From the very practical to the whimsical, they are all rather gorgeous. The only difficult thing about writing them this month is that I keep running out of words of praise!
We shall start with the very practical, all be it a very beautiful sort of practical. Christina Strutt from the highly successful, quintessentially English, Cabbages and Roses (www.cabbagesandroses.com) is a wonderful stylist. She has also written several books, her newest being A Guide to Natural Housekeeping.
The book is a beautifully (I have already said that) presented book – with all her understated, English Country feel seeping through. It is a pleasure to flick through; the design ideas are wonderful. But it is when you read the text that you really get into this book. I am a great ‘flicker’ of books, but I read every single word of this book.
I have long wanted to rid my home of the general nasties that lurk in our cleaning cupboards. I do, where possible, always use organic products. The great problem with being principled is the cost. This book shows how cheaply you can convert to a ‘greener’ house and also how simply it can be done. It appears to me that almost all of the ingredients are available in New Zealand: distilled white vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda are both needed in industrial qualities and are available from your nearest Bin Inn, and soda crystals are just available from the supermarket. The book encourages recycling of enamel buckets (instead of new plastic ones) and buying quality (bristle brush and metal pan), instead of plastic.
They are all small, simple things and I have been changing over bit by bit. Who knew that two cups of vinegar to the rinse cycle helps your blankets come out soft and fluffy? Me now that I have read the book! Although you could spend your entire life (it feels like) doing everything in this book (relishes, preserves, etc etc), this is certainly a book you can dip in and out of.
I am just concentrating on the cleaning at the moment, and will move to the other chapters (especially the gardening chapter) and suggestions when I have the headspace. It is something I have always wanted to know more about, and the book gives me the perfect opportunity. A Guide to Natural Housekeeping by Christina Strutt, photography by Lucinda Symons, is by CICO Books. It is distributed here in New Zealand by www.bookreps.co.nz. It retails for $37.99 and it is available now.
I have already reviewed Geraldine James’ Creative Walls last year. Hot on its heels is the new Creative Display by Geraldine James. Much as I loved Creative Walls, this is a book more suited to by own design ideals. I am a collector. A collector of many, many things. I have collections of coloured glass vases, Crown Lynn, coloured enamel (teapots, kettles, cooking pots, jugs plates), blue and white china and a myriad of melamine plates. And those are just the things I am going to admit to! The by-line of this book is “Inspiring Ideas to Make Every Surface Beautiful” is just up my alley. What I like about this book is that a great many styles are catered for and yet the book has a very cohesive feel. I particularly love the last section on outdoor living. My favourite image though, is the inside cover before you even start reading the book – I have included it because it is just so gorgeous.
Creative Display by Geraldine James is published by Cico Books and distributed by www.bookreps.co.nz. It retails for $49.99 and is available now.
Winter seems a strange time to be reading books on beach houses. But maybe it is the best time – it gives you lots of time to dream and scheme and generally just enjoy the sunny, balmy images. In fact I am giving this book to a friend who has just started the process of building her dream beach house just north of Auckland. Coastal Style by Sally Hayden & Alice Whately is full of plenty of timeless, classic ideas for seaside living. Much as I love colour, there is something about the simply, pared back aesthetic, with lots of white, that I love about this book. Though I have seen some of these images before, this newer edition has some great new photographs that are worth owning. The trends with beach homes seem to move much more slowly than our more trend driven interior design for our own homes (as a rule – though I do like to discourage this to be honest).
There are two main sections of the book, The Elements and The Spaces. The first section is more on the architecture, lighting, colour and fabrics, while the second section focuses on the spaces themselves. There is lots of helpful detail, and the words and images work together beautifully. Find yourself a warm spot, grab a cup of tea and curl up to read this book cover to cover. Coastal Style by Sally Hayden & Alice Whately, photography by Paul Massey is published by Ryland Peters & Small. It is distributed by www.bookreps.co.nz, it retails for $49.99 and is available now.
For those of you that read my reviews regularly, you will know that I have a habit of leaving the best til last. This book is of course, no exception. My own sense of style would be considered eclectic and so any books that embrace that way of thinking is always going to get my vote. Flea Market Chic by Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell is just such a book. A stunning array of photographs by Simon Brown fills this book with lots of ‘versions’ of flea market chic to choose from. With chapters on Details, Town, Country, Modern and even Outside – there is plenty to keep you happy. These are not photographs to replicate (as each piece is unique), but rather to inspire you to think differently about the objects and furniture you own. Mixing big old wooden cabinets and mid century antiques stretches the brain a bit, but to see it work so well in the book, encourages you to think differently. The more we can use what we own, and add to it, without re-buying everything from scratch the moment a new fad comes along, the better for us (and the planet) and our wallets.
With a healthy dose of colour to brighten the book (and make me very happy), this is not a book that is easy to put down. Awaken your inner thriftiness with Flea Market Chic; the thrifty way to create a stylish home, by Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell is published by Cico Books. It is distributed by www.bookreps.co.nz, and it retails for $49.99. It is available now (and is a permanent fixture on my bedside table at present).
By Anya Brighouse
30 May 2012
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