Monday, September 10, 2007

Interior Design: Books I Love

Jessica Lawson is an interior designer who edits a stunning collection of "Cozy" books including:
Cozy Atmospheres (Bedrooms)
Cozy Country Interiors
Cozy Hotels
Cozy Atmospheres (Interiors)

(There may be more books in the series, but my library and favorite booksellers don't list others).

My favorite feature of the series is that most of the photos appear to have been taken in Europe (judging by the square electrical outlets and architecture, etc). I think many of the photos were taken in Spain since the books were published there and many of the rooms have a Mediterranean feel. Interestingly, the books totally exceed their description as "cozy"- many of the rooms look very old-world, uncluttered, superbly stylish yet entirely unstudied, and very sophisticated despite the often rustic architecture. Many of the rooms look decidedly minimal. "Cozy" does not come to mind so much as, perhaps, "comfortable".

It never occured to me that I'd love Spanish or Mediterranean design since I always associate these locales with hot colours (those warm reds and corals and dark blues), open-air design and tropical plants, none of which I immediately love. But these books blew my socks off and I found there was nothing formulaic or predictably "Mediterranean" about them. Diverse colour palettes and decorating styles are included, from traditional country to predominantly modern, and from all-white to vividly-coloured.

In most of the rooms, the architecture is utterly amazing (decoration is barely needed!). But all the rooms all have an easy, undone, often eccentric quality to them.

So far, I've read (and meticulously studied the photos in) all the books except "Cozy Hotels" which is on order from my library!

I highly recommend these books for North American design lovers - the look and feel of the rooms is so different from North American ones. Mostly it's the amazing European architecture, but also it's the relaxed, unstudied approach (oh, and impeccable good taste). Not a single homeowner appears self-conscious about design, yet all the rooms are so timelessly beautiful.

If you only read one of the books, my favorite was "Cozy Atmospheres: Bedrooms". The rooms are often unassuming and humble. For example, most of the beds aren't "done" in a sea of pillows and bed skirts, but just feature a simple superb bedspread with a pillow or two tucked under the covers (how my Mom made my bed when I was little). There is occasionally a simple throw pillow or two. It's so refreshing to see "real" beds, not magazine beds.

My suggestion: READ THESE BOOKS (and un-do some of the damage done by the overly self-conscious decorating philosophy espoused by so many North American designers!). Do yourself a favour and take the time to un-learn a little. Plus, the text accompanying the photos is fun to read - it appears to have been translated, or perhaps written by a non-english speaker,so the prose is a little odd and flowery, but still a delight to read.


  1. Thank You! I have not read these books but I can tell they will be totally up my alley. I think you and I share a lot of the same sense for how houses should be! So many people need to "unlearn" what they've been fed about decorating. You are absolutely right!

    The more you travel and learn about other countries and their style the more broad your appreciation becomes. I love so many styles, it is wonderful to be able to appreciate all the options and not be limited to what the trendy cheap stores tell us is "in". There is so much more out there!

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Hi Terri.

    Thanks for sharing this with us, I used to be very much into the Spanish theme, I think it was because it reminded me of holidays and living abroad so therefore it gave me an escape from everyday life. Now though I am living abroad even if it is France and not spain, therefore I am more able to just go with what I feel rather than following a certain look.
    Racheal x

  3. Cool! I haven't heard of this series but can't wait to try and lay my hands on them!

  4. Terri - These books look great! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I would be happy to e-mail you, but your e-mail does not seem to be on your blog. E-mail me first (my e-mail is on my blog) and I will respond.

  5. Hi Terri,

    Thanks for the photography advice, I really appreciate you taking the time to write at such length.
    And thanks for the comment on my Etsy launch post.
    Take care
    Racheal x

  6. I think i saw one of these at a bookstore close by- but now I think I will actively look for it :) "Timelessly beautiful" "relaxed unstudied approach" sounds very good to me :) thanx for sharing :)

  7. If the pictures you have shared from the book are any indication - this series of books is a must buy! I am so eager to turn the pages beyond the cover and see what is inside..

    Stubmled to your blog via Vineeta's ...will be back for more

  8. oh ~ i love these books! i'll add them to my wish list. thanks so much, i really enjoy reading your blog!

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