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  • Celebrating beauty in everyday living

    Great Gift Books About Beautiful Lifestyles

    Friday, December 12th, 2014

    You can’t go wrong with a book, that’s the good news as we round the Christmas clubhouse turn. Here are a handful of design books, a history-style-picture book, a royal historical novel, and a charming how-to-live-a-lovely-life book by a fellow blogging friend.

    What I love most about Veranda Interiors Editor Carolyn Englefield’s A Passion for Living is well, everything. The focus is on her years in Europe and the subjects range from Tuscan farmhouse, to English manor, to Provençal mas, from simple to grand. Much to inspire and many take-home ideas. 

    Veranda – A Passion for Living, by Carolyn Englefield

     Sometimes you look at design books and think “Who the hell lives here?” ‘Scuse my French. I look at Markham Roberts’s book and think “These people must interesting. I’d like to know them.” The cover alone had me at hello. And Markham is a lovely man.

    Markham Roberts – Decorating the Way I See It

     Midcentury Houses Today is my out-of-the-box choice, giving me a new-found understanding and appreciation for the exciting architectural movement of the 1940s and ’50s that continues to resonate so strongly today. Features 16 houses in New Canaan, Connecticut. Interviews with architects, clients, and current residents really bring it alive.

    Midcentury Houses Today, by Michael Biondo, Jeffrey Matz, Lorenzo Ottaviani, and Cristina A. Ross

     Jean-Louis Deniot. Fresh, French, modern, soulful, fun, and occasionally out there. Crave him, crave his work, and confess to slight crush on him since I interviewed him (via telephone) for House Beautiful years ago. But I am a married woman. Also must blow a kiss to author Diane Dorrans Saeks, one of my design writing idols. Her blog The Style Saloniste is the bomb. You would also enjoy Diane’s pick of fall 2014 style books.

    Jean-Louis Deniot Interiors

     While I’m in gushing mode, fabric and accessories designer Michael Devine’s lovely book came out earlier this year and deserved its own post. Didn’t happen and my bad, but don’t hold it against him or this beautiful book. An Invitation to the Garden and place at his welcoming table are just what we need to get you through the winter.

    An Invitation to the Garden, by Michael Devine

    Modern, glamorous, expensive. Nobody does it better than Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz.  Designer of Mondrian Hotels and rock stars’ mansions, BNO here showcases more than 60 projects, including the cribs of Lenny Kravitz and Puff Daddy Combs. Or is it P Diddy? Sean? What are we s’pose to call you now?

    Suspending Reality – Interiors by Benjamin Noriega Ortiz

    Old-world with a contemporary twist, glamorous, and just the right amount of stunning. Nobody does it–and much more–better than Robert Couturier. In his Designing Paradises, he leads us through his beautiful house and garden in Connecticut and to clients beyond, conveying to us his authentically beautiful life and love, not only for the people closest to him, but for the work about which he is clearly so passionate.

    Designing Paradises, by Robert Couturier

    What luck I had having writer and cultural historian Charlie Scheips as a dinner partner some weeks ago. I had read about his new book on Elsie de Wolfe’s Paris with relish. Frivolity before the Storm is the subtitle, as if the subject alone isn’t enticing enough. Read and see all about the legendary decorator and hostess’ extravagant parties and elegant guests in the fraught and turbulent years in Europe between the world wars. 

    Elsie de Wolfe’s Paris – Frivolity Before the Storm, by Charlie Scheips

    A dear friend gave me a signed copy of The Queen of Four Kingdoms, a historical novel by HRH Princess Michael of Kent, and I can’t wait. Set in the 15th century about the clever and ambitious Yolande of Aragon, “It was a time of high stakes and high risk,” wrote Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes in a blurb, “of lives wrapped in gilded velvet, but drenched in ambition and blood…I loved it.” 

    Princess Michael is clever herself, but don’t get in her way. Years ago, we were in a van together in Italy, on the way to a dinner outside Venice. I’ve forgotten what made me laugh (okay snort, if you must know), but I have not forgotten that HRH shusshed me. Shusshed me.

    My apologies, Ma’am. It is said I have a laugh like a horse, verily like a horse upon sensing his favorite cowboy about to present him with a filly and bale of fresh hay, and thus it has always been so… You ol’ bat.

    And finally, here’s a super new book self-published by a fellow blogger whom I admire and consider a friend, though we’ve never met in person. Dense with text and widely varied in topic, Shannon Ables’s Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life is what your mother would tell you if she were Coco Chanel, Diana Vreeland, Lady Bountiful, Mary Poppins, Oprah, and Depak Chopra all rolled into one. You can pick it up and read for five minutes or an hour, and you’ll get something good from it. (Spoiler alert: I’ve ordered copies for each of my nieces and daughters.)

    Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life, by Shannon Ables

    And if you’re still looking, James Gaddy’s picks in Wall Street Journal Off Duty section books is excellent.

    Ho! Happy Reading, Frances

    Posted in Blog, Decoration & Design, Fashion & Style, Little Life Enhancers | 18 comments

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