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on 21 February 2008
i love the images in this book and very often go back and flick through it. The book features beautiful photos of stylish interiors probably of people who are all pals through their love of vintage style. The author has written for various style journals and her passion for a bargain and eye for style shows through. The chapters address different areas of the home and how you can use vintage buys to full effect. The book also gives some ideas of what to buy and where you might find things. I often pick this book up when the house is in a mess and it inspires me to go tidy up.
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on 21 March 2011
Emily Chalmers is a talented stylist with a strong feel for the current `zeitgeist': the eclectic, slightly shabby look found in shops like Anthropologie. Along with photographer Debi Treloar and writer Ali Hanan, Chalmers documents this style visually in this book, which was actually published as early as 2005.

The houses Chalmers uses to illustrate this style belong to beautiful people worldwide, and many of the room and detail shots are highly atmospheric. The interiors do have a `lived in' look which is nicely approachable. This legitimizes the `anything goes together' style; whilst warning how to avoid a haphazard mess.

For me, having grown up in the orange and brown hell of the 1970s, there's a little too much of that rather dusty colour palette here for my liking, but many of the other colour combinations shown are striking yet seem easy to live with...

I have a few quibbles. I really don't think the children's rooms shown here are either practical or appropriate for small kids - my little darlings would have had constant nightmares from the gloomy Russian painting (seemingly of a firing squad!) suggested as visual simulation on one page. And if Ms Chalmers thinks it's still possible to pick up an original Eames chair at a flea market for a song these days, she's living in a fantasy world. Car boot sales round our neck of the woods are more likely to yield melamine-faced chipboard and nests of hideously irredeemable coffee tables...

The structure of the book - element-by-element (eg lighting, seating), then room-by-room - is helpful. But like many of these kinds of volumes, this is largely eye-candy. The difference is you might actually be able to afford at least some of the quirky kind of furniture shown here, or at least be inspired to have a go at revamping a second-hand piece or two. Whether you'll be able to afford the vast semi-industrial loft space/Manhattan apartment/small French chateau to put them all in is another matter entirely...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 January 2012
The images in this book are carefully shot and the rooms have been "dressed" for the camera. Even so, many look more like a corner of a fleamarket than a desirable home, with areas of indigestible and, lets face it, not that attractive clutter. By contrast, others display the kind of fashionable sparseness which is only possible if you have a huge house or flat and can leave areas empty.

The whole book is "bitty", and doesn't hang together as a coherent whole. As is the case with other books "by" Emily Chalmers, this is in fact the product of a committee; Chalmers, with Emily Westlake, is credited just with finding the locations (ie choosing the rooms featured); the photos are by someone else - Debi Treloar - and Ali Hanan has the copyright for the text. Which does leave one wondering in what sense Emily Chalmers is the "author"?

The advice given appears sound; once you get your eye in, you'll spot wonderful things quickly, at a distance. Well, I've been getting my eye in for years, and in my experience the following is true: First, that truly wonderful things are thin on the ground these days, you have to shift a lot of cr** before you find a jewel, and the more people read books like this, the less likely you are to be the one who finds the treasure. Second, when you spot that treasure from a hundred yards away, stay calm; the sad probability is that either it is still there waiting for you (as opposed to already in the back of a dealer's van) because it has a serious and irrepairable flaw, like terminal woodworm plus a dreadful pong - or because the stallholder knows exactly how good it is and wants about eighty quid for it. Third, inspiration is a wonderful thing, but sometimes when you get your quirky treasure home you realise that is is, in fact, just a naff bit of tat, and all your friends throw up their hands in horror. And do we really need to be told to go to boot fairs or look in charity shops?

And this brings us to the crux of the matter. Decorating your home with fleamarket finds sounds great, but to get a result which you're happy with takes luck, confidence, a very alert finger on the fashionable pulse, and a great deal of taste. We all see features in the mags and Sunday papers about people who've filled their homes with witty assemblages of the kitsch and funky; but, by being featured in a mag, these homes have recieved a sort of seal of approval. How many of us would have the confidence to do the same? If you've got that chutzpah, and the taste to carry it off, you're probably doing it already - you don't need the book. If you're reading the book, you're probably a bit too timid to carry it off. After all, you can't copy what's in here; the whole style relies on the serendipity of finding something and realising its potential. The book is great fun as far as it goes (hence the 3 stars) but it can't make a funky trendster out of the average (i.e. like me) reader. I did, indeed, furnish and equip my house almost entirely from junk shops, bootfairs and charity shops, but the result is fairly "straight"; I'd say you need a strong personal style to make the fashionable kitsch/funk look work; and that has to come from within or you'll never really like the result. It's not something you can pick up from a book. Best use for this one? leave it prominently on your coffee table so your friends see it and realise that you are drop dead cool, not a weirdo . . .
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on 7 October 2009
Lovely book, gorgeous pictures but it's not amazing. Some of the copy is quite obvious to anyone who likes vintage things (ie, look in flea markets for bargains!). Having said that it's still beautiful to flick through of an afternoon...
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on 15 May 2012
Oh how I wish I went to the same flea markets as Emily Chalmers!
Don't buy this book if you want a how-to guide as it won't tell you where to get things or how to decorate but it you want to be inspired by an eclectic mix of found and re-purposed vintage items put together in beautiful interiors then this is a must. Not as sugary as shabby chic, the flea market style in this book is still romantic and feminine.

This is not a practical book; the houses are huge and who has the budget for the ideas but you can take elements and adapt them to your own pocket and lifestyle. Let's be honest though, most of us buy these books because we want to drool over aspirational interiors!
I got this for a friend who has just moved into a new home and has a birthday coming up but I'm not at all sure I can bear to part with it!
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on 9 November 2010
Worth every penny. Has been read countless times and still comes in useful. Highly recommended.
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on 26 September 2013
Picked this up at my local library, and I have enjoyed reading it. It's beautifully done, and just inspirational for anyone fed up with every shop selling the same thing. If you need it, it's a boost to encourage your own eclecticism. If you like the mismatched (read 'soul') look, it's a bit like having all your favourite Homes & Gardens, or Living Etc articles in one place - without the advertising. A nice library read - nice housewarming gift for a friend perhaps.
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on 15 July 2009
Great book, full of inspirational ideas, although they do use alot of the same houses in these books it's still a great book and perfect for a birthday or thank-you present.
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on 30 April 2015
Lovely photographs- lots of ideas
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on 12 October 2015
standard type
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