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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 January 2013
The title of this book is "English Decoration", but the relevant words on the cover are not these, but "Ben Pentreath", for this is so powerfully a statement of the author's own idiosyncratic style that the generalness of the title is misleading. The text is a beautifully written, evocative, at times witty, exposition of Ben Pentreath's approach and philosophy.

Many books from this publisher seem to have been assembled by a committee, the same house appearing in book after book, with text which is just meaningless waffle. Here, every word counts and the photographs are illustrations of the text, rather than the text simply being a description of the photos.

There are many things I like about this book, and they are all down to Pentreath. The intelligent, thoughtful examination of the way our memories and emotions are engaged by our surroundings. The importance of paying due attention to the practical, everyday aspects of living in a house, and of making them beautiful too. The fact that the houses featured belong to artists and writers whose rooms reflect their personalities, rather than too-rich clients with more money than taste who have bought their interiors "off the peg". The way the picture captions have clearly been written by the author and not some publisher's assistant who hasn't actually read the text.

Unfortunately the things I don't like about the book are also down to the author. For I like relatively few of these rooms, and feel most lack either a distinctive Englishness or a feeling of history. Many could equally well be in the US (where Pentreath spent formative time) or are rather anonymously European. If you bought this book expecting a representative selection of English interiors you would be disappointed; all have very much the same "feel" and, despite what another reviewer says, I suspect all were either designed or strongly influenced by Pentreath.

There are other books which give a much better picture of distinctively English dcorative style, though few, I suspect, wit such a thoughtful and cultivated text.
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on 28 January 2013
I am addicted to Ben Pentreath's blog, which is beautifully written and photographed, and updated every few days. I love his shop in Bloomsbury, with its ever-changing and joyously displayed stock. His interior decorating style - minimal structural alteration, the restoration of period detail, and an eclectic and unpretentious layering of modern, retro, vintage and antique furnishings and artwork - is gorgeous, comfortable and practical. I want his country parsonage, his London flat, and his garden. In fact, I want to live his life.

I had hoped this book would introduce me to Ben's wider design portfolio, but unfortunately I was really disappointed. It contains only images that are already available on his blog, or duplicated in other interiors books, notably Farrow & Ball's bestseller 'Living with Colour'. (Property porners will even recognise one house as a long-term listing on Rightmove, yours for a mere £3m). Moreover, the pictures are actually less appealing than they appear on screen. Looking over the blog on an iPad brings Ben's use of vibrant colour and contrasting textures to life; here it's evident printing technology is now a poor second to pixel perfection.

'English Decoration' was a present from Father Christmas and so naturally I'm very grateful. But those of you contemplating purchasing for yourselves: why would you pay for something you can read for free on the internet? I'm still happily buying books, but it's time publishers realised that we readers expect original content, not just screenprints in hard covers.
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on 21 September 2012
I've known about Ben Pentreath for quite some time, his shop and his blog. I was delighted to browse my amazon and find a book written by him! The book arrived well packaged and delivered before the date expected! What a beautiful book! The cover is only an indication of the secrets of English style that lie beneath the covers. It is filled with beautiful photographs of grand and simple homes all with interiors that have not had the hand of an interior designer touch them. There is plenty of text at the beginning and during the different sections of the book; Introduction, English Decoration, A Sense of Arrival, Comfortable Rooms, Eating and Cooking, A Quiet Retreat, Rooms of Utility, Rooms of Display and Afterword. There is a style directory at the back of the book listing resources for wallpaper to antiques and pictures. I haven't put it down since it arrived! It's a how to book, but it's also just a beautiful, readable coffee table book!
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on 31 January 2015
I've read many decoration books (especially on eclectism), and had doubts when buying this book as I feared whether it'd be too old school for my taste. How wrong was I! The writer has a beautiful way of writing, bringing the entire book to life, pages adorned with lovely eclectic English interiors that I can make work in my own home too. The book is also different from others, in the sense of it doesn't keep saying "do this, don't do this". Instead, it chooses to take you through beautiful English room examples which speak for themselves.

I loved it so much, I know about as a gift for an architect friend. 5 stars from me!
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on 29 September 2017
This is a useful book to browse through for tips on decoration - of which there are legion ! Having a largeish double-fronted Victoroan house (1874) in the suburbs we have adopted many of Ben's ideas from mantlepiece ideas to bookshelves to prints for walls. Many 18th century prints can be picked up cheaply on ebay along with items of Victorian furniture. Thank you Ben, I'm looking forward to your next book !
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on 14 December 2014
This is the book that's helped me figure out what my style was. I have a husband with very firm ideas about how he wanted our house to look, while I knew what I didn't like, without quite being able to say what I did like. Needless to say the house entirely reflects his tastes. Some which I like, some less. Thanks to this book, I now have a portfolio ready for whenever we move to another house we need to do up. I am ready for comfrontation!!
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on 21 August 2015
One gets the impression that the photographer arrived without warning and there was no time to tidy up or clean if they had known he was going to photograph the inside of cupboards. The book has very little to commend it and is sadly lacking in anything that anyone would learn from.
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on 29 September 2016
Delighted with this book. If you like traditional interior decoration + a glimpse inside the homes which inspired the book it's a must.
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on 9 November 2017
Lots of information and nicely presented
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on 1 November 2012
I could almost see on the cover that this would be a book just after my taste.
The book draws on the best from Hicks, Mlinaric, Colefax and Fowler, but Ben
as does Robert Kime do their style with a modern unfussy touch. I just love
the book - visit his blog too - inspiration all over. Next time I'm in London
his shop is a must see!
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