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Terence Conran:
The House Book

The House Book. By Terence Conran. First published in 1974. Absolute genius. 

I properly discovered this book (pictured above, in its 1982 incarnation) thanks to my deeply stylish (but she'd rather kill you than hear anyone saying that) neighbour, Emma.

I recently borrowed it from her and plan to treat myself to a secondhand Amazon version some time very soon. Why is it so brilliant? Well, quite apart from how fabulous it looks in all its glorious Seventies-ness - which you can see, here - it's full of the most marvellously practical advice about making one's home look lovely.

I only wish I'd had a copy to hand when I started the daunting process of re-doing my own home - so many decisions, such indecision...

[Conran's caption for the picture in the middle]: "If the floor is polished boards in the sitting room, you won't want to cover them except, perhaps with a long-pile white Greek rug, so 'project' the olive green from the landing on to walls or curtains." See? Utterly sensible advice (apart, perhaps, from the long-pile rug, but then again...)

[Conran on flooring]: "The ideal floor usually turns out to be more expensive than your budget allowed for. However, since your floor is expected to last for years and will get he hardest wear of any surface in the house, it is worth making sacrifices elsewhere and adding to your floor budget rather than making do with second-best. It helps to take a scale drawing of the floors before you decide on something, and work out the comparative costs."

[Conran on living rooms]: "The essence of a multi-purpose living-room is that it should be able to accommodate any number of activities, and each piece of furniture should make a positive contribution to this...The more potential uses you assign to any one piece of furniture the better; to over-furnish is the death to flexibility, quite apart from the claustrophobia it induces...bear in mind that the old three-piece-suite routine is the least flexible of the lot."

[Conran on kitchen lighting]: "Although the kitchen is primarily a work space it is also in many ways a living area, and the lighting, whether natural or artificial, should be efficient and stimulating. This means that although the work areas must be well lit... there should still be some variety in the light intensity."

[Conran on eating rooms - incidentally, as with the other sections, this has a luxurious 16 pages, packed with tips and luscious Seventies pictures]: "As in decorating every other room, what's best is what's most comfortable."

[Conran on colour]: "Working out a colour scheme for a whole house or flat is a daunting task...try tackling one room first to give yourself confidence...Consider the stuff for the important areas first - walls, curtains and sofa coverings will set the tone by virtue of their acreage."

[Conran in the 'Things' chapter - which, incidentally, has a spanking eight sections, including 'things on shelves', indoor plants' and 'tabletops and ledges' - amazing]: "Agreeable arrangements don't necessarily come up if you let the accumulation of objects take its natural course...When you no longer feel some positive pleasure while looking at your things, it's time to rearrange them."

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