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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 21 March 2008
I'd vowed not to spend any more money on interiors books, but I just couldn't resist this one. It's delightful and inspiring. The interiors featured here are a welcome relief from the impersonal, 'hip hotel'-style designer rooms which fill most interiors magazines and estate agents' brochures these days. The personalities of the owners shine through.
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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 4 May 2010
This book is a cut above the average homes book - the photos are charming but it is the quality of the text and the choice of homes that make it so valuable and enjoyable, as a source book as well as a coffee-table book.

The categories of different cottage styles are well-chosen and comprehensive, and the writing gives an enjoyable glimpse of the people and lives behind each home.

This is probably the best 'home style' book I own. It covers quite a variety of styles, from cheerful and kitsch to elegant and classical, via unique and characterful.
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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 4 November 2011
I love this book! In fact I've fallen in love with Ros Byam Shaw's interior books, I just love the way she writes. There is an ebb and flow to her editorial that just makes you read it again and again. The photographs are exquisite. This book is about people who live in cottages, some bigger than others, but also people who decorate their homes in the cottage style, it's not twee, there is plenty to visually satisfy you, there's a story behind each photograph and a peek into the homes of the people who own them. If you love interiors, you will enjoy this book and pick it up again and again, and perhaps buy an old vintage jug and fill it with flowers because this is what this book does, it inspires you to want to live the cottage lifestyle!
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on 13 August 2010
I have many books on interior design and this is my favourite. The houses photographed dont slip conveniently into glossy-magazine categories but are great examples of individual, slightly eccentric british homes created by people who dont feel the need to follow slavishly current trends in interiors. They clearly have confidence in their own good taste. Many many photos, all beautiful and interesting. More 'World of Interiors' than 'Ideal Home'. Inspirational.
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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 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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on 1 June 2007
Ok I know this is just a pretty pictures, shallow kind of book and it's not going to change the world. But as far as these kinds of books go, I think this is a pretty good one. I wouldn't hesitate to give as a gift. The images are elegant and inspiring, the editorial is nicely written and not at all twee, and there are some good practical tips and supplier lists. All the houses used as examples are quite unique and eccentric, not "chocolate box" type houses. If you're debating whether to buy it - go ahead. It's satisfying, practical and inspiring.
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