Monday, November 23, 2015

A Few Book Recommendations, for Your Holiday Enjoyment or Gift-Giving

At Home in the Garden by Carolyne Roehm (Potter Style. Images © Carolyne Roehm)

I feel fairly certain that by now, you're quite familiar with Roehm's latest book, which has received accolades the blogosphere over.  Nevertheless, I'd like to add my voice to the chorus so that I, too, can sing this book's praises.  With dreamy photos of Roehm's extensive property, its lush and colorful flowers, and the well-set tables that often grace it, this is the kind of book in which one revels.  Reading it is bliss, a chance to lose oneself in a landscape that this high-rise dweller finds enviable.  And having recently attended two of Roehm's speaking engagements, I can say that the author is just as engaging as her books.

Once Upon a Pillow by Rebecca Vizard (Pointed Leaf Press. Photos by Antoine Bootz.)

This book was such a treat for me to read, partially because I know Becky Vizard and admire her and her work immensely.  But even if you don't know Vizard, or if you're not familiar with her exquisitely designed pillows that feature antique textile embellishments, I think you'll find her story and her work fascinating.  The book takes the reader on a journey to Vizard's home in rural Louisiana.  That alone is something that many readers might be surprised to learn, likely expecting this textile-collector and pillow-designer to live somewhere more cosmopolitan.  But as we Southerners know, sophistication and creativity often thrive in some unexpected places in the South- and that's what makes Becky's story, and this book, so compelling.  (It also explains why Becky is such a nice, down-to-earth person.) 

Once Upon a Pillow features numerous photos of Becky's home and the poetic landscape that surrounds it, but the heart of this book is the antique textiles that fuel Becky's creativity.  You'll find interesting chapters on the various categories of textiles that make up Becky's working collection, including Ecclesiastical needlework, Suzanis, and Fortuny fabrics.  The book's added bonus is the photos of Vizard's pillows as they appear in the homes of her ardent fans, which include a number of well-respected designers.

Decorating with Carpets: A Fine Foundation by Ashley Stark Kenner and Chad Stark with Heather Smith MacIsaac (The Vendome Press; Photo credits: #1 and #3 Eric Piasecki/OTTO; #2 Christopher Sturman/ Trunk Archive)

Typically, I'm not a fan of books that feature previously-published photos.  However, I gladly make an exception for this tome, whose photos capture a range of delectably-decorated interiors, all done by top-notch designers.  Perhaps these photos feel new to me because the emphasis here is, naturally, the rooms' Stark carpets.  The authors make a strong case for the versatility of their floor coverings, showing the reader how they can beautifully transform both contemporary and traditional interiors.  And if you're like me and appreciate Stark for its notable history, then you will likely find this book a worthy addition to your library.

The House of Thurn und Taxis (© House of Thurn und Taxis, Skira Rizzoli, 2015. Images © Todd Eberle.)

I was first introduced to Princess Gloria Thurn und Taxis by W Magazine, whose 1980s-era issues (which, as a teenager, I read religiously) were filled with the exploits of the party princess, then known as Princess TNT. Times have changed, and Thurn und Taxis has calmed down considerably, now devoting much of her attention to the Catholic Church. But that's beside the point, because this lavish book focuses not so much on the princess herself, but rather her late husband's family home, Regensberg Palace of St. Emmeram, Germany. What makes Schloss St. Emmeram so memorable is its glorious architecture, which includes examples of the Romanesque-Gothic, Rococo, and Baroque styles.  But what many laud is Thurn und Taxis' contemporary art collection, which provides a striking-to-some contrast to the palace's regal architecture.  I'm not a fan of much this art collection, but that does not diminish my enthusiasm for this book.  The photos of the myriad rooms of St. Emmeram are gorgeous, making this book a dazzling read.


  1. Jennifer great books all, I have several of these, fascinating and joyous!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours if we don't talk before then!

    The Arts by Karena
    The Blink of an Eye

    1. Thank you, Karena! And a very Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.