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Thursday 18 March 2010

Book Review: A Girl's Guide to Decorating

I was prepared to hate this book. From the title, I was expecting it to be sexist, patronising claptrap. But actually, it's now my absolute favourite of all the books I've reviewed so far for Domestic Sluttery.

A sexily chunky hardback by the designer behind Atelier Abigail Ahern, it's jam-packed with useful advice and ideas along with gorgeously inspirational photography. From practical tricks and tips like hanging a mirror and assembling furniture, to the planning needed for more elaborate design overhauls, you're sure to be inspired, regardless of budget or level of DIY expertise.

Perhaps most importantly, Abigail doesn't underestimate the importance of displaying personal effects, whether it's artwork, photos, cookbooks, a collection of My Little Ponies or a stack of vintage videogames. Unlike many interior design books which encourage minimalism to ensure maximum visual impact of statement furniture or design features, Abigail recognises that those bits and bobs are what gives your place its personality, and makes it a home. So instead of encouraging you to tidy them all out of sight, she advises you to be selective and choose your favourites, then suggests simple but effective ways of showing them off.

And, since many of the project ideas showcased in the book are simple revamps of existing furniture, such as replacing doors or handles or spray-painting junk-shop furniture finds to make them new and unique, they're suitable for renters. Other similar books have irritated me by only catering for homeowners with the freedom for complete overhauls, so if you're limited by your landlord's idea of interior design but still want your home feel like your own, this is the one for you.

Abigail's approach to design is bold, and she doesn't shy away combining unusual objects, patterns, colours or textures. By advising her readers on the which elements should be considered and carefully planned, such as the balance of light and colour, asymmetry and negative space, she cleverly equips you to go out and create your own interpretation of the ideas in the book. I'll definitely be referring to it again and again, and I'm confident I'll find new inspiration in it each time. A worthy investment indeed.

A Girl's Guide to Decorating is published by Quadrille, and is available from Amazon for £10.39.

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