For the interiors lover who can’t resist a New Year’s revamp or a simple freshening up, there are plenty of new books on the shelves to inspire, writes Carol O’Callaghan
Small Space Style: Clever ideas for compact interiors, by Sara Emslie Published by Ryland and Peters, €23.99
Who doesn’t have a small space at home? Even in substantial dwellings, there’s at least a box room which presents challenges. If the entire home errs on the side of compact, how do you make the most of it so it doesn’t feel cramped and over-furnished?
Author Sara Emslie lives in a compact dwelling so this became her testing ground for her favourite design and styling ideas to make the most of its proportions.
She starts with the practicalities, including suggestions for things like a mezzanine floor in properties with high ceilings,and the importance of storage, especially investing in space-saving built-in cabinets, where wall space, floor space and even work surfaces are in short supply. The more you can put out of sight the better. It’s a practical book but thanks to inspiring photography, it also shows what can be done after practical matters are sorted, to make the more compact home more comfortable and attractive for its inhabitants and their belongings.
Top tip: “Every object should have a natural home, and if it does, it makes the task of keeping a small space tidy.”
Creative Walls, by Geraldine James Published by CICO Books €19.99
If minimalism is your thing, step away from this book right now as walls are an artist’s blank canvas on which to ‘paint’ with your art, photography, mirrors and some more diverse choices, according to author Geraldine James.
The now cliched ‘less is more’ is far from being her maxim, but even her most dramatic approaches are arresting. There are, however, pleasing layouts of black and white photography using various shapes and sizes of frames. Restrained yet striking, she’s quick to point out that much can be achieved without spending vast amounts of money or employing a team of interior designers.
Top tip: “To be absolutely certain about your wall arrangement, lay everything out on the floor first and move it around until you have the perfect composition achieved.”
The French Inspired Home by Carolyn Westbrook Published by CICO Books €23.99
Who doesn’t aspire to, or at least is impressed by French style? It’s that effortless chic which singles out this very particular style, combining a look ofcomfort and style with opulence and a touch of shabby chic, where aged fabrics and tarnished candelabra sit alongside antiques and lush rugs and drapery.
Westbrook takes us through this style room by room and how it can be adapted to different house types, detailing key elements.
Unlike other books of this kind which create a feeling of a time capsule Westbrook shows how the style is adapted to contemporary interiors, blending modern furniture with French-style objects.
Possibly, the fact she’s Texan and lives in a restored plantation house has given her a broader eye for the adaptation of this style, so the look is not a pastiche, but draws on the principles of traditional French style made suitable for modern living.
Top tip: “A house has to be personalised. Too much of a particular style becomes boring without personal trinkets and objects picked up on holiday or flea markets which reflect the owner’s style.”
Wabi Sabi Home: Finding beauty in imperfection, by Mark and Sally Bailey Published by Ryland and Peters €23.99
We’ve had no trouble introducing the Danish notion of hygge into our homes to make them cosy through winter, not to mention feng shui for arranging everything where it ought to be, so is there any reason not to embrace wabi sabi?
Far from being the latest fad in interior design, this is rooted in the Japanese concept of finding beauty in flaws, and it’s as old as Buddha.
Think creased, scuffed, shaded, crafted and even gathered as features of this style of interiors.
Speaking more broadly, wabi sabi embodies austerity, asymmetry, modesty and simplicity, where flaws are accepted, even celebrated.
As an approach for modelling your home, it’s not for everyone, admittedly, but there are aspects of it like crumpled sheets artfully arranged, and the ensuing and welcome lack of ironing, and valuing the patina and quality of something which has aged, or an object past its original function but now repurposed which can make aspects of wabi sabi workable if not desirable for the modern home.