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We have compiled a list of products, services, and other useful documents below that we recommend because they are valuable resources we trust. I recommend you bookmark this page for your reference and convenience.
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Decorating and Entertaining
Freakin’ Fabulous – Playfully gives readers a crash course to help make the best possible first impressions when entertaining and socializing. I especially love the way Freakin’ Fabulous covers some of the essential areas of good public manners that so often get overlooked, such as when and how to write thank you notes and make apologies, what to do with guests who arrive early, what kind of gifts to bring (if any) to a dinner party, how to encourage guests to leave when you could use some new kinds of effective yet tasteful techniques, and how much to tip your hairstylist, coat check girl, and valet parking attendant.
The big surprise for me about Freakin’ Fabulous is how many wonderful recipes are included… so when you’re done reading this book, you will feel confident knowing four fabulous recipes by heart (Hollandaise, Roasted Chicken, French Omelette, Nice Vinaigrette) and can whip them up in a flash anywhere, any time! Basic wines and mixed drinks will be a snap, and you’ll have the most marvelous assortment of hors d’oeuvres for miles around.
Colin Cowie Chic – This book is packed with a million ways to literally make your life better. It feels more like book about good values than anything else. Colin constantly reminds us about considering other people’s feelings. His definition of style is fantastic: Self respect, which leads to respect of others and their respect of you. That is why every other idea he comes up works so well and so well together.
The book has so many useful tips, guides, practices, drawings, photographs, etc… that literally show you step by step how to get your personal organization setup as well as how to host a party that you can actually have fun at. It’s honest and has real nuts and bolts advice to help all of us live “life as it should be“.
Domino: The Book of Decorating – This is a terrific book for beginner decorators and people in their twenties to thirties, as I think the style and language is most appealing to young adults.
The introduction sets up the mission of the book: “How can you decorate without making making unnecessary, costly, and time-consuming mistakes? How can you produce a result that reflects who you are, how you live,–and perhaps even the image you want to convey?”
Getting started has lots of tips like: find inspiration, determine your style, draw a floor plan, set and budget, research and more–all designed for the beginner to gain confidence in the decorating process.
Style & Simplicity – The book perfectly captures the essence gathering things that you love and have meaning to you and using them to decorate your home. When you surround yourself with items you love you are instantly comfortable. Decorating your home or office for that matter in this personal way helps to tell the story of who you are.
The book is a spark to get you to pay attention to the little things in your life that call to you. The photographs are beautiful and inspiring. Ted’s very useful tips are sprinkled throughout. The text as the title suggests is simple and straightforward and will help you on your journey to create a place you love and enjoy sharing with your family and friends.
Parisian Chic – Inès has clearly taken special care to create guide for all of us who are short on time and thus sometimes imagination, being sure to help us create a style that appears effortless, yet is full of great thought.
The Magnificent Seven are what is defined as the brilliant basics that are key to creating Parisian style in any scenario. Modeled by Inès’ daughter Nine, each of these items are demonstrated as part of a complete outfit in order to better exhibit how to incorporate exactly what she is suggesting must be in our closet:
1. A Man’s Blazer
2. The Trench
3. The Navy (cashmere) Sweater
4. The Tank
5. The Little Black Dress
6. The Perfect Jeans
7. The Leather Jacket
While this may be where many style books cease in their guidance, Inès has only just begun. For each of the Magnificent Seven she shares more ideas on how to meld it into anyone’s wardrobe, a list of fashion faux pas, a lux celebrity style idea and a hall of fame reference which in the case of the navy sweater was Eric Bompard’s cashmere company.
She is spilling the beans so to speak, sharing the secrets and letting us all in on where one can acquire the look of Parisian style. And be sure, after sharing her tips on fashion, she continues on to accessories, the five essential bags, shoes, beauty, entertaining, and home decor.
Living Life Beautifully – The photos in this book are truly an inspiration. The style is somewhat vintage yet with an elegance that lends itself to many styles of decorating. This has become one of my favorite home decor books. It’s the perfect book to enjoy curled up, with a cup of tea.
Living a Beautiful Life – Alexandra Stoddard’s work is special in so many ways. She’s the only decorator I ever saw who teaches you to be brave, authentic and cheerful. If you can’t afford a bunch of new dishes, then use the beautiful ones that have a few chips in them. She does! And she even uses those same dishes when she entertains the rich and famous. If it looks good and it feels cheerful then go for it.
Can’t afford a new dining table for a big party? Put a plank over two barrels and top it all off with a cheerful table cloth. Can’t afford a fancy centerpiece? Why not keep fruits or vegetables in a bowl like the olden days? Can’t afford a rich bubblebath? Why not put a little vanilla in the tub? Or lemon slices? She has tons of ideas (more than 500 actually because she throws in extras as a treat) for every economic situation.
You are Your Choices – This book is all about adding enjoyment, dignity, pleasure, beauty, “tenderness and love” to our hurried, crowded, and technologically-driven lives in order for us to “savor” the experience of living well, indeed the author sees it as “an obligation, a duty”.
Ms. Stoddard gives lots of good advice throughout the book on: making the right choices because “you are your choices”; the ability to say “No!” (my personal favorite and yes it can be “liberating” to use it); standing tall with realistic expectations; little pleasures; resetting priorities; the importance of comfort; “cheap thrills”; self possession; the great concept of “invisible possessions”; crisis management; trusting intuition; 13 bits of good advice in “Get Organized” (Chapter 48); and so on. This book is full of interesting ideas from a unique viewpoint, with some minor redundancy, that may have been forgotten by us along the way of life.