There is also a lot of text. Believe me: this is a good thing. You can only learn a lot about building a house by collecting pictures from different corners of the internet. At some point you’ll probably want to know why these things go together, what certain materials are called, which are best for particular uses, the designer of those vintage chairs you keep seeing online. Conran is here for you.
You might be thinking, “Okay, but why would I want style advice from fifty years ago?” To what I would say: why limit yourself to the advice of now? Timelessness often comes from borrowing from the past. “I spent a lot of time interviewing octogens and also browsing their libraries,” says Kelsey Keith, brand editorial director at Herman Miller and former editor-in-chief of Curbed. She thinks that’s probably how she found out The house book. “The format is unbelievably practice, ”says Keith. “I haven’t yet found a digital format where you can look at a floor plan along with a sidebar that gives you really practical information on how to replicate or think about a space, which is also near a photo with a caption. ” If you’ve ever spent Criterion Collection movie night scrolling through Etsy for a vintage lamp, you’ll understand that knowing what you’re looking for is especially useful for home design. But knowing what you are do not looking for? It is a skill that you can only develop by watching offline. Fabric roller shades might not be on your radar, but they might be perfect for your cluttered shelving. Marble countertops are nice, but have you ever thought about tiles that are always so customizable (and generally very affordable)?
For Shannon Maldonado, founder of the Philadelphia interior design studio and Yowie store, the book’s playful, almost conspiratorial voice is as appealing as the visuals. She quotes one of the first lines: “Do you know how you want to furnish your home? If you do, don’t read on. It’s so cool! He said, “Do you need me or not? If you do, I’m here. And if not, good luck. Maldonado, who worked in fashion design before opening his boutique in 2016 and then expanding the brand to consulting, appreciates Conran’s egalitarian approach to knowledge sharing. “As a newcomer to the interior design arena,” says Maldonado, “there’s a bit of control over information and resources that doesn’t exist in this book. If I was new and a beginner and read this book, I would feel so empowered. She loves the way Conran borrows from many different types of styles, breaks the rules, and encourages readers to do the same. If the second floor of your house has a better view than the first, why not set up a living room there and sleep downstairs? Why not buy some floor cushions you love instead of a sofa you don’t really like? Have you considered building a platform instead of a wall to break up a room?
What I like The house book is that it can be read at different levels (tenant, owner, builder) and teaches you to think about making the most of what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. It’s only aspiring in the sense that it makes you want to be more creative. While Lavery and King sold a handful of House book copies alongside their vintage housewares and furniture, whenever they encounter a new title in the Conran library of books (of which there are many; The house book is just the first), they keep it. “The only time we’ve parted with a Conran book is when we have a double,” King says. Conran’s books may be out of print, but they’re still in demand and in style.
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