I have always loved coffee-table books that specialize in oversize photography of luxe interiors, divine takes on color, furnishings and styles from all eras. They are one of my favorite gifts to give and receive.
These days everyone is living on their computers and iPads, using them to source everything from toys to bed linens and flooring. The way we shop has undergone a monumental shift, but there will always be a place for big, beautiful books that send us to those special places we dream about.
Inspiration and knowledge abound between the covers of these large format books, as the authors and photographers produce in-depth descriptions and noteworthy examples of the subject they hold so dear to their hearts. Their credentials have taken them inside villas and castles, lodges and guesthouses, private homes and cabins to capture the true, living spirit of the subject.
In Ralph Kylloe’s “Rustic Living,” pages come alive with images of cherished log homes, grand and small, hand-hewn furnishings created from roots, bark, saplings and trees, and rustic antique collections. Rustic style may be described as plain and simple, but a close inspection of its roots proves otherwise. The style celebrates our heritage, living off the land, using materials close at hand to build shelter and the comforts of home. The glory is in the details.
Earthy colors dominate rustic style. Browns and grays of wood and stone blend together seamlessly. Upholstery fabrics show animal motifs and familiar geometrics woven in blood red, berry blue and meadow greens. Painted furniture has an aged patina, most often authentic. Variation in the size, shape and cut of boards, along with the shades and grain of the wood, give rich texture and dimension to the interiors. Wall surfaces are rugged and highly textured, contributing a strong, solid presence that is protective and comforting.
The book shows a glimpse into a grand New England home that fits into the high end of rustic. The staircases, designed by Shane Lewis, feature twisted wood rails with hand-carved figures by Paul Stark on the newel posts. A set of matching leather dining chairs have relief-carved silhouettes. Chinked log walls dominate, but some spaces have walls faced with bark and twig details. Wrought-iron lanterns, chandeliers and pendants balance the weight of these rustic interiors. Even the birch-bark candle holders on the dining room table sit in an iron and glass container.
If you are a collector, you’ll enjoy some magnificent displays of paraphernalia that relate to outdoor living and handmade crafts. There are myriad examples throughout the book, but the author’s homestead, saved for the last chapter, has it all. Snowshoes, fishing items and photos, vintage signage, basketry, crockery, folk art, old flags and antique rustic furniture fill the home with memories and great stories that have taken years to accumulate and will last for years to come.
Has the coffee-table book gone out of fashion? Never! They are like pieces of art that patiently wait to entice us, to enthrall us, and allow us to dream, over and over again.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email questions to email@example.com.
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