I subscribe to House Beautiful magazine, and I must say I get pretty excited when a new issue drops through the mail slot each month.
Perhaps a similar thrill motivated me to purchase this amazing little volume (~476 pages!) when I ran across it in my local bookstore. It’s chock-full of beautifully photographed interiors culled from HB‘s features over the years, and it is a veritable visual feast! This is a book I find I come back to again and again—it’s a great bedside-table tome, perfect for when you don’t want to expend a lot of energy reading and would prefer to just lazily flip pages and let lovely images wash over you.
The book’s aim is to help readers identify their design sensibility, and then show them how to recreate it in their own homes. By taking a short quiz at the beginning, you can determine whether your own design style can best be summed up as Sophisticated Surroundings, Eclectic Environment, Serene Retreat, Comfortable Haven, Natural Abode, Bold Domain, or The Welcoming Home. I’ve taken this little quiz multiple times. (Okay, I’m a sucker for quizzes and, weirdly, I like to try for different results!) Depending on my mood or, perhaps, the day of the week, I could be “Serene Retreat,” “Comfortable Haven,” or “The Welcoming Home.”
Each of the photos in the book is accompanied by a corresponding design tip—advice for implementing the design concept and making it a reality for your home. They cover a broad range of topics: choosing/mixing textiles, positioning furniture for best effect, thoughtfully arranging accessories/decor to give a room greater depth of character (to name just a few). While there’s much good practical advice to be found here, occasionally the tips border on the outlandish: e.g., “Hang a 17th-century maquette for an Italian fresco next to a large beautiful staircase that is open to the foyer below” or “Mount an 18th-century carved wooden door from the Piedmont region of Italy on the wall of a high-ceilinged living room.” While you might be tempted to say, “Yeah, let me get right on that,” the design tips here are nevertheless entertaining to read and definitely fun to dream on.
For a little dose of design inspiration, here are sample images representing the seven design styles covered in HB’s 500 Sensational Ways.