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Thursday 31 March 2011

Book Review: Modern Vintage Style

If you can't go into a charity shop without coming out with a pile of old paperbacks and mismatched salt and pepper pots, or if your idea of a fun evening involves trawling through eBay, you'll love this new book Modern Vintage Style. If, on the other hand, you can't relax unless your sofa matches your chairs and your tea cups match your plates, avoid this title at all costs as it'll give you serious brain ache. Still unsure? Take a peek at the Caravan shop, as the author Emily Chalmers is also the lady behind that. You'll soon get an idea of Emily's style and the kind of look that runs through the pages of this book.

Flick through the pages and the first impression is that achieving 'modern vintage style' requires a lot of stuff. Its pages are bursting with patterns, colours, fabrics, furniture and all sorts of other bits and bobs. Look a bit closer and you'll realise there's method in the madness - Emily's idea of 'modern vintage style' is the artful pick and mix of pieces from different eras to create your own unique home. Her ideas are illustrated using beautiful photographs of stunning homes, selected from places in Britain, France and the States. Each place has their own look but they all share the fact that their contents have been cherished and carefully built up over years. They've been decorated using high street stuff for sure, and probably some designer pieces too - the important bit is that these are carefully balanced by an inherited bed spread here, a flea market buy there, so the origins of each individual piece is no longer obvious or indeed important. It's a look requiring lots of bits that you love.

Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking this is an easy look to pull off. After all, one girl's vintage is another girl's cast-offs. Look at any of the rooms pictured and you'll realise that the arrangement of such a wide array of stuff requires a huge degree of self-control, if not obsessiveness. Pleasingly, they seem to have got it just about right - the look of most of these homes is also really warm and welcoming: I'd move into Petra Boase's home (that's the one pictured on the cover of the book) like a shot.

If you like your crafts, you'll be swooning over some of the knitted lampshades, crochet throws and patchwork coverlets that feature in the rooms. There are lots of ideas to inspire you (i.e. to nick) for your own home, like Ann Shore's breathtaking living room where the florals of her textiles are enhanced by a simple row of flower postcards placed on her mantelpiece. The book features an inspiring mix that will have you looking at your own space and things in a whole new way, even the tiny stuff you don't normally fuss over. After reading this book, I wanted to go and re-arrange my cutlery and, believe me, this isn't an idea that occurs to me everyday.

The free spirited nature of the homes which came through in the photographs was sometimes let down a bit by the text. One piece of advice read "If you've already invested in a high street buy, just give it a vintage make-over with hipster fabrics". What exactly are hipster fabrics? Does that mean vintage, or (to use a seemingly forgotten term) second-hand fabrics? If it's all about creating a unique look you love, why bring the dreaded 'h' word into it?

That minor grumble aside, I fell madly in love with most of Modern Vintage Style. The gorgeous pages of this book are packed as full of inspiration for your home as the houses that it features and, importantly, ideas that aren't dependent on having lots of cash to splash.

Now, if you excuse me, I've got a cutlery drawer to rearrange...

Modern Vintage Style has a recommended price of £19.99 but is currently available on Amazon for £10.95


  1. I can only assume that 'hipster fabrics' means fabric from clothes you stole off a twenty something ona fixed gear bike in Shoreditch.

  2. Oh and your link takes you to an actual site about real caravans, eep!
    I really want this book.....

  3. Link should be all fixed now Tamsin, sorry about that. And do let us know what you think of the book if you do end up buying it - and if it inspires any redecoration of your own home!

  4. can I be a little bit smug and say "ooh I've got that sofa on the front cover" :)

  5. Have you? I'm very jealous - I'd be really smug about that if I were you, it's gorgeous!


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