Archive for the ‘Book review’ Category

Decorated Cookies – Twenty to Make by Lisa Slatter: Review

Friday, October 1st, 2010
Make and decorate cookies

Inspirational cookie ideas

If you love baking cookies, then this great little practical craft book by Lisa Slatter will provide you with plenty of inspirational ideas on how to decorate them.

Decorated Cookies starts with an essential recipe for making your own cookies and outlines the equipment you’ll need to create iced designs. The book then goes on to explore a wide variety of different cookie shapes, styles and designs you can create for all number of occasions, including Christmas, children’s parties, weddings, new babies, Halloween, winter, romance or any other occasions.


1000 Home Ideas by Stafford Cliff, book review

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

If you enjoy browsing through interior decorating and home magazines (and blogs!) and like discovering new ideas for things you could do in your own home, then you’ll love 1000 Home Ideas, by Stafford Cliff, with photographs by Christian Sarramon.

Stafford Cliff, a design consultant and art director, who produced the very first Habitat catalogues with Sir Terence Conran, has teamed up with French photographer Christian Sarramon to produce this fantastic book. It’s very much a coffee table book and is designed to be dipped into and browsed through when you’re in need of inspiration.

The book is divided into various sections, covering different design areas, but it’s by no means your usual, bog-standard categories. Instead, you’ll find descriptions such as openings and closings, interest under foot, shelf life, quiet corners, walls of wonder, reaching outwards and steps and banisters.

The large majority of the book is devoted to fantastic photography, of the type that will make you ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ with excitement. There’s one page of text introducing each category, but it’s followed by numerous photos of stunning homes. Some are in the form of huge, double page spreads, others fill a page, plus there are lots of smaller images too.

Although you do get to see some images of entire rooms, it’s the smaller, more intimate details that this book does so well. In the Walls of Wonder section, for example, there are images illustrating a myriad of ways in which people adorn the walls of their homes, from intricate wall tiles and old fashioned kitchens, to contemporary art, photo montages and walls of wellies (yes, really!).

I also love the section on staircases and banisters – who knew there could be so many variations on the humble stairs – and the way the photos have been put together are works of art in themselves.

There’s so much to look at and enjoy in this book and you’re bound to be inspired by something. In fact, there’s far too much to absorb in just one reading and each time you pick it up again, there’s more new, exciting details to notice.

If you’re looking for a book to browse away the hours, or are seeking ideas for your own home, then 1000 Home Ideas by Stafford Cliff is the perfect book purchase. It’s published by Quadrille, is available in a choice of hardback or softback and can be found on Amazon (the best price on Amazon is for the hardback, currently £12.46 instead of £20 – bizarrely, the soft back version is marginally more, at £12.74).

Other Book Reviews

A Girl’s Guide to Decorating, by Abigail Ahern

Life is Sweet, by Hope and Greenwood

Life is Sweet by Hope and Greenwood: Review

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
Sweet temptations

Homemade sweet ideas

One of the things I enjoy most about Christmas is making homemade chocolates, truffles, fudge and other sweet delights – and they’re perfect for giving away as presents. I’ve got tried and tested recipes that I use year after year, but this year I’ve discovered Life is Sweet and a whole new world of confectionary ideas has opened up.

Written by Miss Hope, a British confectioner from Hope and Greenwood, the book is perfect for this time of year, as it’s packed with ideas and delicious recipes for sweets and treats that you can make at home. There are 50 delicious recipes to salivate over, from the traditional favourites such as Turkish Delight, Chocolate Truffles, Cinder Toffee or Coconut Ice, to new ideas (to me, at least) such as Pavlova Islands, Unicorn Mallowpops, Mallows D’Amour, Chilli and Lime Shards and Raspberry Marshmallows.

Miss Hope has a very distinctive writing voice – jolly, nostalgic, humorous and with a touch of ’Famous Five’ style – and there are numerous anecdotes, handy tips and facts scattered through the recipes. As well as the recipes sounding lovely, the accompanying photos reveal them to be gorgeous and you’ll be dying to rush to your kitchen and get cooking as soon as possible.

For some of the recipes, there may be ingredients that you’ve not come across or used before, but there’s a useful section at the back of the book with details of suggested stockists for certain items.

Of course, it’s not just suitable for Christmas and there are recipes in Life is Sweet that will take you throughout the year, but for ideas for homemade Christmas gifts, this book is ideal.

(But if your good intentions don’t quite work out, you can always pop over to Hope and Greenwood’s online store and purchase sweets online instead).

A Girl’s Guide to Decorating by Abigail Ahern: Review

Friday, August 28th, 2009
A Girl's Guide to Decorating

A Girl's Guide to Decorating

Decorating secrets, ideas, tips and knowledge abound in A Girl’s Guide to Decorating.

Written by internationally renowned interior designer and stylist, Abigail Ahern, this book offers a hands-on guide to all you need to know to decorate your home.

The book literally does cover everything, from choosing your style and planning your space, to creating a wow factor, using colour, adding texture and making the most of lighting.

One of the great points that Abigail makes is that creating a stylish home doesn’t necessarily mean spending a fortune. Yes, it can help to have money to splash out on unique home furnishings, but it’s by no means it’s essential and you can achieve a fresh, unique new look without breaking the bank.

Before launching into exploring ideas for decorating and transforming your home, the book begins with the basiscs – analysing the space you’ve got and planning what you’d like to do with it.  They’re both essential steps, but all too easily overlooked when you’re longing to get your paintbrush out and start changing your home!

Abigail explains why they’re important and how you can work out the best way of dealing with the space and light you’ve got in the various rooms of your home, even if they’re small and you seem short of space.

Glamour, texture, colour and light

The subsequent chapters each deal with creating glamour in your home, using colour, creating different forms of texture and how to use light effectively.

Between them, they each offer a lot of practical advice, expert knowledge and insight into what you can do to get great results. There are clear and highly illustrative photos throughout the book and this helps a lot with visualising and seeing what you can achieve.

With the various practical ideas, like how to put up shelving, how to make a stair runner, or putting together a flat-pack cabinet, there are clear step-by-step instructions, plus a shopping list of items you’ll need.

The specialist advice and knowledge is invaluable and you’ll learn some great decorating tricks, like different ways of displaying items (symmetrically, in themes, asymetrically and mixed up), different ways of arranging pictures (in grid formations, organic clusters or in lines) and the different effects that colours can have.

The book ends with a useful section dealing with the tools of the trade – the items you’ll need in order to decorate successfully and a basic guide to accomplishing certain techniques, like sanding, stripping, filling a hole or calculating how much paint you’ll need.

Overall, it’s a great book that’s packed to the brim with informative advice, knowledge and tips, all of which can be taken away and applied to your own home decorating.

If you’re keen to create your own unique space, but aren’t sure where to start, or wish you could afford the advice of an interior designer, then The Girl’s Guide to Decorating is the book for you!

The Girl’s Guide to Decorating by Abigail Ahern, published by Quadrille, RRP £16.99

Find out more about Abigail Ahern’s design tastes on her blog.

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