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on 23 October 2009
This book is fantastic! Like the other reviewer I thought the author, Ros Byam-Shaw, had reached the top in 'Perfect English' but this book is just as good. Each of the homes it features are superb, comfortable, homely, places you'll really want to spend time in. This is not a book for minimalists, or people who like contemporary homes. It shows how older, unique items, can be put together to make a delightful living collage of treasured items. You won't find anything designer here, no matching or toning touches, not even perfection. Many things do show the wear and tear accumulated by time. And it's all the better for that.

This book shows creative homes, where each item is valued for the story it tells as well as it's function. You can read the patina on ancient furniture, you can see elderly, mis-matching crockery and see the passion the owner has for it or gaze at the pictures on the wall and imagine you were talking to their creator. Each item shows a facet of their owner's life, a living manifestation of individuality and all the more interesting for that.

It's also the perfect role model of recycling, many of the items are not quite perfect, but the author shows us how this really doesn't matter in the creation of individual style. I just hope the author is working on more books!
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on 24 November 2017
I was rather disappointed by this. There is already "Perfect English" and "Perfect English Cottage" by the same author (both of which I enjoyed) but I think the theme is now rather exhausted - which makes one cynical about the commercial reasoning behind this one. Many of the farmhouses featured were second homes and almost none were actually farms. Which is a shame because the interiors lacked some of the more attractive clutter and practicality of real farmhouses in my view. In addition one of the houses I had seen featured before because the owners have published their own book " The New Homesteader" so I felt that was a bit of a swizz. My other gripe is that the text focuses on the people and how they come to have the house rather than the actual design of the interiors. That felt like a cop out, it seemed as though a lot of pictures of people's houses and some text on the people had been thrown together which is more what you would expect from a magazine than a proper book. In one place mention was made of how the clever owner had put lots of storage cupboards into a period interior in so invisibly that guests could not find it - but there were no photographs of this clever storage, much to my frustration! So I would not personally recommend this book.
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on 27 November 2008
This is a lovely book. But it is more than just a 'lovely book', delightful though it is to look at and handle. Nor is it just a parade of 'aspirational' interiors beyond the pockets of most of us - though there are some pretty sensational houses here. It's more a celebration of English individuality - that you can do what you like with your own space - mad colour and piles of stuff if that's your bag; or restrained colour and pared down decor if that's what you want. To guide you, there's a gentle categorisation of the different types of English house and a neat summary of the essential elements of each. But there's nothing prescriptive here - and uniformity is told to take a running jump. The message, really, is have faith in what you love and surround yourself with that. All these interiors are totally at ease with themselves - not concerned with keeping up with anybody, or 'making a statement' - except to say: 'Welcome and enjoy'. Congratulations to Ros Byam Shaw for reminding us that in making a home, as in living our lives: 'To thine own self be true'.
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on 3 July 2010
This is a fantastic book, I leant my first copy to a friend who didn't give it back, but I really missed it and had to buy another copy! There is nothing like it and it's sister book, perfect english cottages. I help run the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Gloucestershire branch so that's why I call old and beautiful things spabby. This is the perfect book for creating spabby style, that is using things that generally aren't mass produced, that value beauty and associations rather than condition and a style that actually creates comfort and rooms that people can relax in and feel comfortable in. This book is about houses to live in, houses where you can kick your shoes off and cosy up to the fire. There are too many books about boutique & minimal style, this is a book for real people and real families to live in. I only hope Ros is working on other books in this style - they're fab!
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on 26 September 2010
This book is a bit expensive, but will never go out of fashion - the interiors shown are timeless and all real people's homes. I had some furniture that I was going to restore, but this book as made me look at the items from a different perspective. I would be spoiling the charm that attracted me to buy them if I restored them to perfection (and paints and fabrics do cost a lot now!) So now I just wash them down, treat for woodworm, clean the fabrics, and make cusions for any saggy seats! I am delighted with the results. This book will excite, inspire and encourage you - fantastic photographs, full of detail (not minimal at all). I will refer to it for years to come. I haven't read all the text yet, but will get round to it.
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on 14 April 2013
If you want ideas for your country home, this is the book to buy. It replaces months worth of Country Living magazines all in one binding. Photographs are clear, colourful and plenty. Country homes aren't always conventional in that they often have quirky corners and wonky walls, this book visits these types of homes and shows what other people have done with such spaces. If you have a room that you're struggling to arrange, the book will give you some inspiration as to how to arrange your collections and decide upon your interior decorating.
It will remain my coffee table book for a long time to come!
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on 3 October 2015
I already had a copy of this book and loved It so I decided to purchase it for my friend for her birthday as she is also 'home interior' mad. She too loves it. Lots of pictures and information and a really enjoyable book to browse through giving you hundreds of ideas. This was a second hand book but it was like brand new, thank you. Great purchase and seller.
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on 5 January 2012
I love this book.
It seems to always come off the shelf on a winters night, when its cold outside and I've the wood burner on inside.
I've not got bored of it yet because if you have a cottage like me or an old house, its perfect.
Full of different ideas, designs, some that aren't to my taste but then that proves that the book maker has tried to reach out to everyone's individual taste.
It's full of English charm, character and colour. I've took loads of ideas out of it.
A great gift for a country girl or someone with an English home.
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on 3 January 2013
I think the rule with Ros Byam Shaw is to buy two books on the trot and not three. Most people loved this book, but were perhaps just a little less appreciative of her fairly recent Farmhouse publication. For me it was the other way round. I absolutely adored the Perfect English and the Farmhouses, but found this one just a little less to my taste. Lovely, but didn't quite hit the same spot as the other two. Perhaps I overdosed.
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on 22 April 2012
This book is probably the best written and photographed interiors book I have had. Roz Byam Shaw writes superbly and when I am reading her words it feels as if she is in my sitting room talking to me. What I especially love about this book is that although all the homes highlighted are superb, you really don't feel intimidated by them - they all seem to have a few "chips" around the edges (if you know what I mean). I just love it!
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