Customer Review

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough., 14 Feb 2012
This review is from: Pale & Interesting (Hardcover)
I wish this attractive book had the extra substance needed to merit 5 stars. I regularly walk past the shop owned by the authors. Once an old-fashioned ironmongers crammed with stuff like tarred string, it is now all painted white and each of the big double-sided windows flanking the entrance has about 3 objects in it - and this book. Open the pages and there is more of the same; sparse, light-flooded rooms (most of them rather huge) with a few neutral-toned objects set aginst white walls, undyed unbleached textiles, chunky tecture and "found objects". In other words, nothing we haven't seen before, just a whole book of it. It's all very, very nice, but it's not really new, it's not especially original, and it's not easy to copy in an ordinary home.

The text tells us nothing we haven't already read elsewhere, either. We are admonished "Celebrate the beauty of the imperfect and embrace the art of re-use . . ." Where have I heard that before? It is, of course, easier to celebrate the imperfect if your funds are lush enough for you to have the choice of the beautifully imperfect, rather than just the "it's what I can afford" imperfect, and the interiors featured here do rather reek of money. How vulgar to have gold taps and deep rugs when you could have acres of scrubbed boards and distressed vintage leather from a revered designer of the past.

You can imitate the look on a smaller, less affluent scale but it will never have the same impact, as these rooms gain their effect from the light bouncing around a large, mostly empty interior. Those of us who have a modest number of normal-size rooms need to fit more stuff in them (we don't have the luxury of vast cupboards either), and in the process the "look" is largely lost. Plus, it's all got to be kept immaculately clean, as every speck of dust, every grubby fingermark, will scream at you. If you've got the imagination needed to copy, you could read a magazine article featuring any one of these interiors and learn almost everything there is in here. On the other hand, if you've "done" the look and are afraid it looks a bit bare and unfinished, putting this book on your coffee table will reassure you and your visitors that it's all in the best possible taste.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Mar 2012 20:17:37 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 8 Mar 2012 20:19:32 GMT]

Posted on 8 Mar 2012 20:19:20 GMT
'...it's all got to be kept immaculately clean...' That's me out of the running then, perhaps I should bring out a companion volume ' Dark and Disturbing: Decorating with Blacks, Browns, and other Stygian Hues for a fingermark free environment'. Care to place your advance order now, at my normal rate of production the galleys should be ready in about forty years. Tarred String, ah! Oh happy, and distant childhood.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2012 17:36:50 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Mar 2012 17:39:00 GMT
Peasant says:
Ah, you need Judith Miller's "Country Finishes and Effects: A Creative Guide to Decorating Techniques, (also 1p+p&p); lovely book, plus it shows you how to paint the grubby fingermarks on. A friend of mine has just seen my copy and ordered it immediately. Out of date, all that authentic age crap - all people want nowadays is fake age.

Posted on 19 Sep 2012 19:56:03 BDT
Excellent review, Peasant (that sounds like I'm insulting you). It makes a refreshing change to read something 'critical' where the criticism is legitimate, well thought through and well argued. I salute you.

I confess I am both irritated and bored to death with the preponderence of large all-white interiors that ALWAYS have magnificent architectural features and belong to VERY rich people with an average of four homes...

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Sep 2012 17:23:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2012 17:25:08 BDT
Peasant says:
Thank you for your kind words. I personally believe these people manage things by having a lock-up down the road where they keep all their actual STUFF while the photo-shoot is being done. I knew a reasonably eminent artist many decades ago, who lived in a rambling old house in the country, full of inherited clutter and spiders. The porch was always waist-deep with discarded wellingtons, broken umbrellas, cardboard boxes full of things which were on their way somewhere; and the rest of the house continued in the same vein. One day I opened a glossy magazine to find an interview with said artist, complete with photo-shoot of his "lovely period home". I hardly recognised it. In the porch, a basket of apples reposed in heroic splendour on a table which had been moved from elsewhere. The rest of the house had been similarly cleansed and tarted up. In one shot, oddly, an unfamiliar-looking naked woman posed picturesquely on the family's battered rocking horse, subtitled with some blather about the artist's model. I quizzed my friend, one of four young children of said artist. "Your dad doesn't usually paint nudes, does he?" Reply: "Oh no, that was the photographer's assistant. He made her take her clothes off". Since that day, gentle readers, I have looked on interiors publications with a very sceptical eye . . .

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Sep 2012 21:24:19 BDT
It was ever thus. I have had the same experience with interviews - what you say to journalists and what journalists have you saying are often two entirely different things. They decide what the story is going to be (artist with tastefully 'interesting' old home, complete with Bohemian nudes strewn everywhere, just to give that whiff of Free Love Hippy vibe, don't you know) before they know what the story actually is. Ah, never trust the press...
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Peasant
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Location: Deepest England

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