Having been lucky enough to know Pearl for a while, and to publish her beautiful homes for Sunday Times Style, Guardian Weekend and the Daily Telegraph, I was thrilled to receive a copy of her new book. Unlike many similar publications this is a wonderful mix of the simple and the more complicated; from the white lace mini-bunting to her vintage tiles, there really is a project for everyone, talent as well as time-wise. I especially like the way the book is ordered by rooms; so often you can start a craft project and then just run out of steam because you can’t imagine where you will put it, or where it will fit in. By having chapters relating to each room you can see from the start where your cushion, wallpaper chains or decoupage magazine holder will go. Using her own home for the lavish photographs helps, too, because you can see exactly how Pearl interprets what she has made for her personal surroundings.
She gives good tips on sourcing salvage and vintage items and includes a generous directory of her favourite hunting grounds as well as templates for cut-outs and for simple cross-stitch. Her ideas are fresh, too; it’s definitely not the same-old, same-old. For my money the best project of all is her Opulent Office in a Wardrobe. This ‘slightly mad idea’, as Pearl puts it, deserves to catch on. Her wardrobe office is decorated with sumptuous wallpaper offcuts, a magazine holder and a cream Bakelite phone. But there’s no reason why this brilliant idea couldn’t be adapted for any home; with a coastal theme for a seaside house, or with slightly less embellishment for a house painted in neutrals and the instructions are pleasingly simple and clear. Of all her ideas, that’s the one I’m convinced will capture the most imaginations because it’s so different and so clever.
*Pearl Lowe’s Vintage Craft is published by Collins @ £20
Annie Sloan has written more than 20 books and her latest, a step-by-step guide to 40 paint projects, is surely one of the best. Annie seems to instinctively know how much we want to achieve the look she has made her trademark and has featured some fabulous projects; from the simple (How to achieve her signature distressed look on an old armoire), to the more complicated (how to stencil a wall.) There are huge projects and half-day projects, all gathered into six subject areas; French Style, Boho Chic, Swedish Style, Country and Contemporary.
I loved her painted cabinet, with it’s nod to the style of Charleston Farmhouse, and the painted lamp-bases. I was less keen on the contemporary projects but maybe I’m not ready for a lot of bold, clashing colours and stripes just yet!
Where the book particularly scores is its robust introduction to the use of colour; you really feel that Annie is letting you into her best secrets, generously dispensing advice and tips. And she likes to surprise her readers, too…did you know you can dye old linen sheets with Annie’s products? I didn’t so it was a fascinating project to see in a book like this, entirely befitting the mistress of paint innovation.
*Colour Recipes For Painted Furniture And More by Annie Sloan is published by Cico Books, £14.99