There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book over the Christmas holidays, says Kya deLongchamps.
Forget the blasted scented candles and sock stretchers — a book is not only an unexpected gift for Christmas but shows (God willing) that you have some idea of the character and interest of the receiver.
Here are just a few brand-new home and interiors titles to skim under the tree.
We take Cork Harbour for granted — its rich, salt-sprayed history, strategic military importance, naval status, commercial weight and natural wonders.
Cal McCarthy’s book recounts the story of “one of the world’s most significant natural harbours”. Having studied history and economics at UCC, McCarthy has worked in the Department of Transport, the Department of Arts Heritage and Gaeltacht and Cork County Council, and completed an MPhil in History.
He has several other books to his credit.
This magnificently illustrated title starts in the Late Modern period of the harbour and charts its stunning expansion and development in trade, commerce and global politics up to 1917 when it remained a Treaty Port.
There’s forgotten maritime chapters including the taking of Cork by Williamite ships in 1690, the fortification of the coast against French privateers, internment and emigration, and the launch of vital “nautical architecture”.
McCarthy fluently documents the comings and goings of dockside vessels and the fascinating tangle of characters from all over society whose fortunes were tied to this geographic cusp of dangerous coastline.
A must-have for anyone interested in Cork’s sea heritage and place as a fulcrum of trade, war and industry.
Two books, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Robert Byron’s The Station compelled a young Argentinean Miguel Flores-Vianna, to start his World travels.
Ducking in and out of a real job, and having gained a following for his eye for design, in 2013 he bought his first iPhone, and he went on to make Instagram “his new Polaroid” as a place to store and gallery his thousands of shots of ancients sites and intimate interiors.
Photographing buildings, Flores-Vianna uses his phone and then (if he feels compelled) sets up the shot with a full digital camera, so the phone remains a tool in hand for his blogs and visual essays.
There’s a prompt for all of us to enjoy the technology in our back pocket to distil what we see through a unique set of eyes. The quality of the iPhone camera-work here is a revelation.
The images, many of them room-scapes and romantic domestic details from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas offer a lush, coffee-table indulgence.
If someone you know is fascinated by the back-story of those foxed bevelled Edwardian mirrors and celebrates the battered, lived- in thing (with a good pedigree of course) – this book will enthral. Layered accrued second hand objects with dings and distressing are still in vogue for their comfort, character and easy to live with air.
Fashion and textile designer Pearl Lowe explains her inspirations as “art, film, photography, music, work, travel and above all, my friends, and I’d have say one of the greatest influencers in honing my own sense style would have to be Rachel Ashwell, the designer and writer who, in the nineties, introduced us all to shabby chic.
Chrissie Rucker OBE came to her love affair with white as many of us do – through a confidence crisis when decorating with colour.
An editorial veteran of Harpers & Queen, Vogue, GQ and Brides and founder of The White Company, she describes white as the “perfect little black dress” for interiors.
Her company sells everything from crisp linen to velvet eau-de-nil headboards — all snow-drift white and chosen for their timeless design and good quality (thewhitecompany.com).
The book is showcases the sometimes blindingly pale homes of designers, artists and creatives in Rucker’s extensive social and media network.
The spaces are anchored on white and rain grey neutrals.
Tired of feeling trapped in a style or era or simply not feeling able to put YOU into your home.
This book demonstrates that the first rule of decorating should probably be — if in doubt, ignore the rules. Creative director and photo stylist Fifi O’Neill brings home that holiday style and blends it comfortably with other accrued objects and colours.
Championing eclectic spaces, this would be a great buy for a young decorator with a taste for the exotic and boot sale finds.
Yes, there’s plenty of healthy cultural appropriation, but it’s well intended with a fresh, sustainable underpinning of ethically sourced goods and vintage survivors.
Boho styling can be rock-star chic or very crafty, and with minimalism pressing on us in the high street, this look takes in several trends likely for 2020 — wood, weaves, home-made textiles and more.
Some of the home’s illustrated, including her Tropical Sprit house on Santa Maria Island in Florida, benefit from having not been updated since the 1940s. Free-spirited permission to let go of the expected.
A highly celebrated Essex born goddess of Instagram with three million followers, Mrs. Hinch (Sophie Hinchliffe) show you how to put a sparkle on just about everything while never losing your essential poise — or a nylon nail. Naturally it could be a little tricky gifting a cleaning book at Christmas, so weigh carefully any tearful family dust ups to follow.
Fans can share the story of Mr and Mrs Hinch and their “dorgeous” boy, Henry and discover how cleaning can (she claims) “soothe anxiety and stress”.
I’m aching for that chapter! A nice double bill — there’s a useful Activity Journal available (€10.50) for Mrs Hinch fans to organise their way out of a dreary New Year cleaning up after those wild parties are over.