a visit to the library.

I gave up reading ‘real’ books quite a few years ago.  At least when it comes to fiction.  And by ‘real books’ I mean those made out of paper with a cover.  It’s just so much easier to read on my Kindle.  It lights up at night, I can make the font larger (good grief, I feel old when I say that), and I can take a bunch of books with me on a trip without weighing down my suitcase.

So I hadn’t stepped foot in a library in years.

My mom, on the other hand, is a regular patron of her local library.  She needed to return some books, and get new ones, while I was out there last week so I went along for the ride.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that her library had quite a lot of decorating books that appealed to me, so I used my mom’s library card to check a few of them out.

I spent a good part of my time out there pouring over these books, so I thought I would do a quick review on each for you guys.  Just in case you’re in the market for a new decorating book.  Or perhaps you want to go see if your library has some of these!

I’ll start at the top of the pile and work my way down.

Modern Farmhouse Made Easy by Caroline McKenzie was the newest of the books in my pile having been published in 2021.

If you’re one of those who is in agreement with the ‘farmhouse is out’ opinion out there lately, this book might be a good one for you.  There are lots of good examples on how to give the farmhouse vibe a more modern twist …

But with plenty of vintage appeal to keep me happy too …

I enjoyed the section on ‘how to get the look’ depending on whether your style is traditional, rustic, minimalist or cottage.

It was fun to see a couple of houses in my neck of the woods used as examples for exteriors, one in Stillwater and one in Ellsworth, Wisconsin.

My only problem with this book was that much of it felt unattainable to me (ie. way out of my price range) and most of the homes shown were new construction.  It was definitely worth checking out from the library, but doubt I would ever purchase this one.

Next in the pile is Restore.  Recycle.  Repurpose. by Randy Florke with Nancy J. Becker.

This one was published in 2010, and is a Country Living book.  I tend to really like the Country Living books, so even though this one is around 12 years old I thought it would be worth a look.

The focus of the book is on how to be ‘green’ through reusing vintage finds, which is right up my alley.  It included lots of practical ‘how to’ info, and I loved that many of the examples were from genuinely old homes.

Some of the décor shown was perhaps a bit outdated, but a lot of it felt timeless to me.

One piece that really jumped out at me was this desk …

We’ve all seen these old (super heavy) mid-century steel desks, and I love how this one is painted in that gorgeous turquoise.  The next time I see one of these for sale I may have to take a second look.

Flea Market Chic by Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell was published in 2012.

This one had a plastic cover over it, so it was tough to get a good photo of that cover.  I wasn’t about to deface a library book by trying to remove it.

This book has a distinctly UK vibe that always appeals to me.

I always keep an eye out for painted furniture inspiration too, and this book had plenty of it.

The Rachel Ashwell book, My Floral Affair, was published in 2018.

Are there any other Rachel fans out there?  I have to say, I still absolutely love everything she does, even if I no longer have much in the way of ‘shabby chic’ in my own home.  I actually own most of her books, but had never seen this one before.

It’s filled with gorgeous floral eye candy, whether it’s real flower arrangements …

pretty floral china …

or subtly flowered wallpaper …

There are a few examples of classic Rachel Ashwell shabby chic style painted furniture too.

I have to confess, it makes me a bit sad that this style is no longer as popular as it once was.  I’d love to still be creating pieces like the one above, but I fear that they wouldn’t sell well.  Any opinions on that?

Of all the books I’m sharing today, this is probably the only one that I would actually purchase.  And you know what?  The more I think about it, the more I think that the next time I see a gorgeous set of old floral plates at the Goodwill I’m going to buy them and start using them.  Who says you can’t have pretty mismatched floral china?  Who cares if it’s no longer trendy, right?

That brings me to the bottom of the pile and The New French Décor by Michele Lalande.

Published in 2007, this is the oldest of the books I checked out.  It’s translated from French, and thus it has a very authentic European vibe.

Much of the featured décor has that mad scientist feel, if you know what I mean.

Lots of taxidermy, animal sculls, labeled apothecary jars and creepy anatomy drawings.  If you’re into that look (and I know there are plenty of people who are), then this book is a good option for you.

There was some fabulous painted furniture inspiration in this book as well …

One of my favorites was this Swedish piece …

And I was inspired by this snowy garden photo.

Clearly I need some of these mini greenhouses to pop up out of the snow in my garden.  Although they’d have to be a bit taller, I think this size would mostly just be buried in snow in my garden.

My friend/picker/ex-coworker/garage sale mentor (she has a lot of titles!) Sue recently suggested that I check out our local library, so I might just have to head over there and see what kind of decorating books they might have.

How about you?  Do you have a library card?  Or maybe you own some of these books, or see one that looks like it could be a favorite?  Or maybe you have another favorite decorating book that you’d like to recommend.  If so, be sure to leave a comment!

25 thoughts on “a visit to the library.

  1. You could probably learn to make the garden cloche in a stained glass course. They look stunning. Often seniors centres ( people are usually 55 plus) have courses. Check out your community.

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    1. I never thought of making a garden cloche like those. Good idea Janice. I do have some stained glass skills (I took classes and made the window in my piano room). But that was literally decades ago and I didn’t hang onto any of the required tools.

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  2. I have a real thing for magazines. I, er, sorta problem. It used to be that a trip to the grocery store brought home food along with a few magazines, but they are SO expensive these days. Two new ones could easily add over $10 to my total. Then I learned a big ‘secret’! The library has an online section where you can check out magazines and flip through pages! The selection is awesome and includes the UK Country Living and many others, and also some Australian editions. It’s a revelation (to me) and is going to save me big bucks!! Good thing since grocery prices are soaring!!

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    1. What a great tip Vicki! I picked up a couple of magazines at my mom’s grocery store, to the tune of $10.99 for one and $12.99 for the other. That does add up! I think my friend Sue also mentioned getting magazines at the library. And I had no idea you can get them online at the library too! I’m definitely going to check that out.

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  3. Wonderful post! Enjoyed this thoroughly. I’m a book nut and loved reading your reviews. I pore over all the books you use for staging. I love to buy them used from Thriftbooks or Abe Books. No better way to waste time than with your nose in a book.

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  4. I have accumulated quite a lot of home decor books with the hopes of a lazy afternoon to sit and read them …. But that never seems to happen! *sigh* But I do think the more soft, feminine look is making a comeback, I’ve seen quite a lot in stores lately and more of the French themed decor as well. Which is good since I haven’t quite moved on from its last go round 🤣

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  5. I, too, love Rachel Ashwell decorating. And I do think the floral pretty look is coming back. Have you seen the latest trend cottagecore? Or grandma chic? Both are all about the floral, sweet prairie look. Good idea on checking out the library. I go to the Goodwill outlet in my city and find decorating books and at 30 cents a piece, I buy them. I just love looking at the photos.

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    1. I have seen those trends, and you’re right, they are more about a pretty floral look. I might just have to paint a few of that style pieces and see what happens. And great idea on the Goodwill, I often forget to check out the book section. I’m getting so many great tips from my readers today! Goodwill books, used book store, magazines from the library! Lots of great ideas 🙂

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  6. I currently have Country Brocante Style by Lucy Haywood checked out from my local library and am loving it. You blogged about it a while back and I was able to find it at the library so thank you for the recommendation

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  7. I’m definitely a book person. And I frequent the library as it’s a great resource to look at a book before you purchase. I even request books to my library for purchase which they have done.
    I’m with you on Rachel Ashwell I think her style is timeless. Sometimes we just crave bits of pretty in our lives. Courtney from French Country Cottage is one of my favorites. I have her two books. She incorporates, can I say causal, floral arrangements all over her home.

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    1. I’ve never seen Courtney’s book, but I follow her on Instagram and love her photos! I’ll have to keep an eye out for the books, maybe I can find them at my library 😉

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  8. Great review – thank you Linda!
    I love local libraries! Actually, i’m a member of 5 – their book/magazines selection is different, so that way i have a better chance to find a book i want. I also review their list frequently and put upcoming books on hold – even before they physically arrive to the brunch. Then i’m first in line and have a privilege of borrowing a brand-new book. 🙂
    As to the favorite books, i recently discovered Sébastien Siraudeau – ‘Vintage French Interiors: Inspiration from the Antique Shops and Flea Markets of France’ and another one is ‘French style at home’.

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    1. I’ve had not just one, but two copies of the Vintage French Interiors book! I originally purchased it quite a few years ago, and then several years later I purchased it again, not remembering that I already had owned it. I agree, it’s a good one! I see he has one called New Vintage French Interiors that looks pretty good too. I’ll have to see if I can find it!

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  9. I enjoyed this Miss Quandie 😀 Reminiscent of your tour articles, but with books…….yep, big reader here! But I DO love to hold the actual book……and to possess it!

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    1. I know there are still some of you out there (that want an actual book in their hands). I know I could save a lot of money by going that route and getting books from garage sales, and those free little libraries that are all over here. But the Kindle is just so much easier for me 😉 I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

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  10. Loved this post! I am a frequent library patron and will add a few of these to my list. I agree magazines have been priced out of my “treat” zone now but love a good decorating book.

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  11. I love Country Living books too, my all-time favorite being one from 1996 called Seasons at Seven Gates Farm. I read and re-read it for years and then one day I thought I lost it. So, not being able to do without it, I found another one on Amazon and then happened upon another at a Friends of the Library sale! Of course, my first one turned up, so now I have a copy on every floor of my house. Rustic, primitive, country decor! ❤️

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    1. I had that one too! Too funny that you have multiple copies. I’m going to make a note to myself to review some Christmas décor books this year, I have a few favorites that, like you, I read and re-read every holiday. I should share those with you guys 🙂

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  12. Yes, I too just love Rachel Ashwell’s style. I kind of have a minimalist shabby chic style as Cottagecore is too busy for me it literally makes me anxious to look at it 😄 I would love reviews of Christmas decor books!

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