Whether you’ve just moved, considering an interiors revamp or a simple refresh for spring, there’s a new book which might help get your project off the ground, writes Carol O’Callaghan
IT’S an occupational hazard how publishers send me the latest interior design books in the post, and also irresistible.
I love the new book smell and its weightiness in my hands, although many are picture books unsuitable to review.
Books can make a room, though, so they’ve bred onto bookcases and dispersed around the house as styling tools. But on a recent Saturday off considered Marie Kondo-ing, I despatched 57 to a local charity shop where they’ll do more good than inviting dust at home.
That was just in time for a new one to land, Mad About the House, 101 Interior Design Questions Answered, by Kate Watson-Smyth, digitally to my inbox.
While relieved by how my shelves, now home to airy scented candles and photo-frame vignettes, wouldn’t be disturbed, I was put off by the 101 Interior Design Questions Answered sub-heading, predicting a lightweight read.
Instead, I found a meaty book by this multi-award winning blogger with 220,000 Instagram fans, myself included.
I’ll confess, though, Kate Watson-Smyth’s style is not my taste. I’m a bit plain and restrained versus her strong colour and gold ceiling look, but I’m drawn to her common sense and flair developed as an experienced interior designer and through her Mad About the House blog.
Never does she impose her style on us but stresses the importance of figuring out what your own style is before embarking on a project.
I love how she says, “You need to interrogate yourself about how you want to feel, and then work out which colours and objects will make you feel that way. This is one of those times when Pinterest can work really well. Instead of spending hours just gazing at pretty rooms and pinning colour schemes, ask yourself how your pins make you feel. Create boards based around words like ‘relaxing’, ‘working’, ‘efficient’ etc, then look at them and work out what the images you’ve pinned have got in common.”
After that, she poses a series of questions for the room we intend tackling, forcing us to really think about creating a space which works. “The book sprang from the six questions you should always ask before you decorate any room,” she says, “and they are Who, What, When, Where, Why and How? Every room renovation no matter if it’s just a coat of paint or a full refurbishment should start with the answers to those six questions. Once you have worked that out you have a blueprint for the space that, if you stick to it, will reflect the tastes and needs of the people who are using it.”
Clearly not knee-jerk DIY interior design, it prompts emphasis on practicality, longevity and looks we love regardless of what trendsters tout. Maybe it will save us money in the long run too.
She’s also approached the book without the use of photography. This might prove challenging for the not particularly visual who find it hard to picture how something will work out.
“We all change our tastes and I didn’t want the book to feel dated because of the pictures when the information inside was still valid,” she says.
Illustrations, instead, are her solution.
Like any interior design book of substance, it’s home owners who will find this one most useful as they’re free to renovate and decorate at will. But she hasn’t forgotten the renter who may be limited by décor they can’t change, so her last chapter is devoted to this.
And for the methodical who love a list, there are checklists for each chapter to make sure everything has been covered.
So, in what turned out to be a happy rev ew-worthyending for me, I can’t help feeling a marketing department somewhere might have come up with the 101 answers to design questions approach. Not that I’m condemning this as I’m partial to five or ten hot tips of easy to absorb snippets of information providing instant inspiration to steer us when instigating a new interiors project.
But had I read the title on a bookshop shelf I might have passed on it. Ironically, had it appeared in hard copy format via the postman, I would be keeping it alongside those other worthy tomes which I look at from time to time by the likes of Cindy Harris, Mary Berry and Helen James.