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You know your addiction to interiors has gotten out of hand when you start buying big, expensive picture books on decorating. If you've reached that point, here are some of the cooler tomes out there. 

Warning: this list is not a balanced survey of the decorating books currently on the market. Its compiler owns more than the accepted quota of candles, gargoyles, and crushed velvet.

Havens II: Celebrities' Favorite Rooms By Michael McCreary
General Pub Group (hardcover); ISBN: 1575440466 

McCreary takes pictures of famous people's houses. Most of the houses are very nice, but so is that mild-mannered, stamp-collecting accountant your aunt keeps trying to set you up with. But the four-page spread on Cher's décor lifts this tome above the herd. Why Cher hasn't yet been recognized as one of the greatest living exponents of the fin de millennium style I'll never understand. What was that? No, I don't agree; there is no such thing as too much leopard-skin print velvet. 

At Home With Books: How Booklovers Live With and Care for Their Libraries By Estelle Ellis (editor)
Random House (hardcover); ISBN: 0517595001

Home decorating inspiration for people who have way too many books. People who turn two-foot stacks of books into footstools. People who construct end-tables from piles of books with a tray on top. People who use stacks of books as room dividers. People who only dimly remember what their walls look like. My kind of people. 

New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence By Richard Sexton and Randolph Delehanty
Chronicle Books (hardcover); ISBN: 0811800741

If peeling paint, shredded wallpaper and the odd bit of voodoo paraphernalia distress you, skip this one. If you like faded elegance and scruffy sensuality, check this one out. Captures the atmosphere of the Crescent City so completely you keep expecting it to warp from the humidity. 

Morocco: Designs from Casablanca to Marrakesh By Lisl and Landt Dennis Crown Publishers Inc. (paperback); ISBN: 0609804650

Morroccan Interiors By Lisa Lovatt-Smith
TASCHEN America Lic. (hardcover); ISBN: 3822881775

 

Addicted to Decorating

There are a million shameful little secrets in the not-so-naked city.

Click here for more.

Remember how in the Sixties all the rock stars and really adventurous hippies hung out in Morocco? Doesn't anyone want to go back and send me a care

package? Nothing special -- whatever you happen to run across... tiles, rugs, tin lamps, pottery. I'm not fussy; I like it all. And if you know how to mix Majorelle blue paint, I have a couple of walls I'd like to introduce you to. No takers? Ah, well, until I can find a volunteer, I'll have to content myself with the pictures in these books. 

Shabby Chic By Rachel Ashwell
Regan Books; ISBN: 0060392088

For years, half the people I know filled their space with old stuff -- handed down stuff, thrift shop stuff, "you're not really going to throw that away" stuff, "I'm going to fix that up someday" stuff. We all thought we were rebellious relics of the Sixties. Now it's a trendy fashion statement. Who knew? Cool pictures, though. 

The Bath By Diane von Furstenburg
and Stewart O'Shields
Random House (hardcover); ISBN: 0679426795

If like me you have trouble figuring out why the builder made the bathroom so much smaller than the living room... if you shrug your shoulders when you run out of deodorant but panic when you're low on bath oil... if you've ever stayed at a hotel just because it had a totally cool tub... this book's for you. 

Ethnic Style: From Mexico to the Mediterranean By Miranda Innes
Abbeville Promotional (hardcover); ISBN: 0896601005

Ethnic Interiors: Decorating with Natural Materials By Dinah Hall
Rizzoli Bookstore (hardcover); ISBN: 0847815757 

If you'd gladly give up Colonial and Danish modern for alicatados and tansu, you'll enjoy these. If you hate Colonial and Danish modern but don't know what you want instead, you need these.

Weird Rooms By Alexander Vertikoff Pomegranate (hardcover); ISBN: 0764900102

The title says it all. Meet people who collect stuff you never knew existed and elevate clutter to a high art. I'm not sure I'd want to live in any of these rooms. In fact, some of them I'm just as happy not to visit except in pictures. But they are a lot of fun. 


 
 

Interior Alchemy: Secrets to Creating Expressive Ambiance By Rebecca Purcell
William Morrow & Company (hardcover); ISBN: 0688148948
 
 

Here's another book about the art of taking a lot of weird and disparate stuff and arranging it so it looks great. The author calls it "hooshing." When the people whose houses she features do it -- well, the photos in the book speak for themselves. When I try to "hoosh," people assume I'm cleaning out my closets and haven't gone to Goodwill yet. I think I need to study this one a lot more.

The Sensual Home: Liberate Your Senses and Change Your Life By Ilse Crawford
Rizzoli Bookstore (hardcover); ISBN: 0847820793

Okay, I admit I bought this book because it had a gray velvet cover. And because the people in the bookstore were beginning to give me odd looks after I'd been petting it for five minutes. Once I got it home, the contents were fun, too. Goes beyond eye candy into ways to make your home appeal to the other senses. And you'll love holding it. 

I could go on, but I've got about a dozen of these books spread out on the floor now, and the temptation is too much. I'm going to play with them for an hour or two. The next noise you hear will be me, rearranging the furniture again.


Donna Andrews

Donna Andrews is the author of Murder with Peacocks, which won the 1998 St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic New Writer Award.

Dear Donna,

You are a goddess, an angel, a true kindred spirit! When you said you "owned more than the acceptable quota of candles, gargoyles and crushed velvet" (me too!), I knew I had found a kindred spirit. I have put on reserve at my local library all of the titles you suggested that I haven't already read. (I thought the birdcage room in Weird Rooms was fun, and the room with Atlas columns "holding up" the ceiling was outstanding. I could live there!) Thank you for noticing that the rooms pictured are always totally devoid of clutter; I just surmised that these people were more efficient than myself at disposing of 5,000 credit card applications and the random array of unsolicited catalogues that arrive daily.

If I can return the favor, have you perused:

The Paris Apartment by Claudia Strasser
Window Dressing & Bed Dressing by Stewart and Sally Walton
The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson (Fiction)

I wish Rachel Ashwell would adopt a couple of dogs, then I could probably relate more to her style. I like her ideas, but nothing stays white in my house for long, especially on a rainy day.

So I just wanted to drop a quick line to say thanks for your wonderful page; it is truly a guidepost on my journey to more sensuous living. And while there is no such thing as too much leopard-print velvet, I do run out of places to wear it before they start calling me the Leopard Lady. I look forward to your next round of selections....

Sincerely Yours,
D. Carney

Ps. Patrick Stewart vs. Harrison Ford? Tough call.... Brad Pitt gets my vote for most criminally offensive award winner, tho'.