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on 9 March 2017
One of the better books on romantic cosy living on a grand but still human level,inventive at times and always in good taste . I did prefer the house when it was decorated by the former resident John Fowler though ... but then this decorating genius still remains unsurpassable to me ...
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on 30 March 2013
You will savor every word and image in this book as Nicky Haslam takes you on a remarkably personal tour of his folly of an home which he describes as "quite simply the prettiest small house in the world." Formerly the home of renowned designer John Fowler, Haslam fell in love with its "fairy-tale facade", as Fowler did shortly after the end of WWII. Haslam describes seeing the folly for the first time: "History does repeat itself. And so it was that, some thirty years later, I turned the last bend in the rough lane through these woods, came to a clearing by a lake, and, turning, saw this rose-pink, brick-gabled folly glinting in the evening sun."

Haslam recounts, "I like to think of him (Fowler) standing in the doorway as his celebrated clients like Debo Devonshire or the Pembrokes drew up to be greeted by his quizzical smile and promise of a nifty Blood Mary. One of his early assistants, Nina Campbell, told me recently that, even before he came to live here, John's nickname was 'Folly' Fowler...."

Situated on the hunting grounds of King Henry VII, the home has a rather magical past before Fowler. It was on these grounds that Catherine of Aragon first set her dark Spanish eyes on King Henry's son Arthur, Prince of Wales, to whom she was betrothed. You may sense a certain magic pervading the house, or maybe it's Haslam's unabashed affection for it. In its Tudor beginnings as a refuge from hunting, it was a humble three rooms. Around 1720-40 a fanciful Jacobean facade was affixed to the front, and it was expanded.

Describing his first walk-through after Fowler inhabited it, Haslam allows us to see it through his eyes: "There was no furniture inside the house the first time I saw it.... But in each of the tiny rooms - not one is more than 12 feet wide - the walls were beautiful.... Shabby drapes, some edged in fading hand-painted borders, fell forlornly at dusty windows. Le Grand Meaulnes and Miss Havisham had nothing on this sleeping timeless Wunderkammer. And, strange as it seems now, I knew then that I must retain an echo of this delabre atmosphere; it seemed an essential element of the building's magical being."

You may feel you are in the midst of an E.M. Forster novel as you read this, complete with iridescent photos by Simon Upton, to accompany the descriptions.

Leaving much of the home the way Fowler left it, Haslam brings fresh life and luster to it with his original and fresh style. He says of his style: "It would be hopeless to pretend that my style, at home, is anything but a hodgepodge of the things I love....And the house's soul doesn't seem to object to the hodgepodge." It seems every room and piece in the home has a story, and Haslam is happy to tell them in his colorful and amusing storytelling style. His storytelling matches his decor: charming, lighthearted, insouciant, droll and sentimental.

Haslam chats about the house and its history, walls, soft furnishings, curtains and drapery, and furniture. Then he takes you on a grand tour of the rooms: the old hall, the staircase hall, the library, the dining room, the kitchen, the flower room, the guest rooms and master bedroom and John Fowler's old bedroom, which, surprisingly was one of the smallest bedrooms in the home.

Along the tour, Haslam sprinkles his design admonishments: "Increase the scale of wall coverings in small spaces." And "I never buy anything purely for its monetary value. I like possessions that smile back at me." Then there's: "Edging chintz in a solid color is an essential touch."

You will get to stroll outside, too, and view the terrace, the conservatory, the lake and the unique Garden Room. You may feel you have stayed for a pleasant weekend as Halsam's guest.

This book should become a classic in design libraries. If you like florals, stripes, painted walls and furniture, tole and hurricane lamps, ruffles, chinoiserie, slipcovers, skirted tables, leaded glass, carved mantels, flagstone, portraits, architectural engravings, busts, books, flowers and rooms that look like they have evolved for 30 years - because these did - you should adore this book.
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on 12 June 2014
As a great fan of John Fowler's interiors, I have always been fascinated by this property and this book and does not disappoint. The rooms are quite small and it is wonderful to see how small rooms can still look wonderful. Some of the decoration is a little dated, but on the whole it has stood the test of time. I love the fact the kitchen is tiny, with a separate dining room, rather than it being knocked into one to create the big open plan room that is so fashionable at the moment - admiration to Nicky Haslam for keeping things as they are. I also like the fact that amongst the few fine antiques there are lots of cheap decorative things intermingled, that combine to creative rooms with great character.
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on 20 April 2013
The reader is immediately drawn to the magic and mystique of what is quintessentially effortless English country charm. The house and garden in harmony. Speechless.
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on 2 May 2013
As with anything Nicky touches the end result is one of pure genius and beauty . The simplicity which he has used in this , his private home is a far cry from the wonderful lavish and marvellous creations and designs he offers his international clients . Not only has he created a home which is quiet , warm and comfortable but a garden which reflects and supports the Folly which is Nicky's home . THe colours inside his home are equally cooling and " Country " and yet warm and cosy in the winter .

One can take many ideas from this gorgeous home and asstill dream of the marvel he has created .

Thank-you Nicky for allowing us to see inside and share your home .
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on 7 April 2013
A fabulous book on a fabulous house....by a talented decorator and designer...well worth buying for the excellent inspiration and thoughtful gatherings of photography and comment
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on 4 May 2013
A really lovely book, a photo documentary of a lovely English house, not a book full of perfectly styled interiors but a diary of a well loved home.

Listen up Mr Haslam if your reading, I am Eagerly awaiting volume II
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on 12 July 2013
have wanted this book for ever so long .........lived up to all my expectations. what a delight !!! lovely to possess
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on 11 June 2013
This is the best interiors book that has been published for a very long time. That is because it is all about style, and not about fashion. Fashion is a nasty vulgar thing, imitative, meretricious and all about money. The Hunting Lodge has always had a great fascination ...that exquisite brick façade and the John Fowler association. Mr Haslam has been brave to shape it in his own image and I was almost afraid to discover what he has made of it. The result is absolutely charming, absolutely individual, while acknowledging (in the language of decoration) the imprint of his hallowed predecessor. I really love the resolute individuality of his style, I relish a vicarious enjoyment of the pleasure it has given him to invent new ways of looking at familiar spaces. My own idea of decorating (not a good word but I can't think of another as immediate) is that one's house ought to look as though one has brought down a chair from the attic which just happens to look rather good in a particular room. This is Mr Haslam's style par excellence and of course it takes imagination, experimentation and a perceptive eye. The photographs are very good, the text interesting and amusing throughout. A huge pleasure to possess.
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on 6 November 2013
Very inspirational, and pleasing to the eye. Nicky Haslam is of the old school, style and good taste are a prerequisite in his world.
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