Review by Ali Burdon of http://veryberryhandmade.co.uk
This is a beautiful, inspirational, coffee table book for devotees of interiors packed with billowing bleached and natural linens, big chintzy florals, toile de jouy, and nostalgic country house charm. This is definitely a particular kind of vintage chic - soft, feminine, cluttered, cosy and very very romantic. It constantly brought to mind the sort of styling you get in Merchant Ivory films like Room with a View and Maurice.
The author, Christina Strutt
, is the founder of Cabbages and Roses, the fabric, clothing and homeware company which has shops in London, outlets in Jigsaw stores and sells online at www.cabbagesandroses.com
. She describes what she loves about vintage like this:
"Vintage has atmosphere in abundance. It has a kind of faded charm, a used and lived-in look that is the complete antithesis of cold and clinical minimalism".
Personally I incline towards a more low-key, anti-clutter, minimal look myself (10 house moves in the last 20 years will do that to a girl), but Strutt writes so convincingly, and the photographs in this book are so gorgeous, she nearly has me changing my ways.
Firstly, this isn't clutter for the sake of clutter. The clutter that Strutt enthuses about is nothing like those awful themed pubs that were so popular in the 90s where they bought in a skip-load of farming / sporting collectibles to add 'atmosphere'. She celebrates bric-a-brac because it transforms your home into a beautiful treasure trove. You acquire things because they appeal to your head and your heart – they are both useful and beautiful. And you keep things because they become imbued with the story of your family life and your memories. It's pretty difficult to argue with that - there's not a lot of room for a lifetime of family treasures in minimal modern interiors.
Secondly, as Strutt points out, a real plus point of this style of interior décor is that it's more eco-friendly than most. Her style values things because they have age, memories and have been lovingly used and even, in this throw-away age, repaired. There's also an emphasis on using natural fabrics and recycled materials which is so important.
This isn't the book you are after if you want a manual or handbook – there are no patterns, projects or detailed information on how to find antiques and collectible items. Although there are lots of hints and tips scattered through the text, what this book is really about is ideas and inspiration. The writing is friendly and encouraging, and the photography is special – the interiors featured feel like real family rooms, not styled show homes.
I particularly like the kitchen photographs, where all the crocks and utensils on display convinces you that this is somewhere where cooking actually happens! The pictures and ideas for creating nostalgic children's rooms and dens are also very charming and inspirational... and as clutter seems to come naturally to children, very appropriate too.
The Vintage Chic philosophy is that loving your surroundings makes life far more enjoyable - so it's worth spending time, effort and resources on your home and how it looks, even down to the simple touches of using lots of fresh flowers to add colour and life. That's a way of thinking that I can definitely embrace and if you feel the same and love beautiful photography and romantic and quirky interiors, then I can recommend this book to you.