Reading list: A Room of Her Own, Floret Farm’s Discovering Dahlias, One, Simplicity at Home

Life-changing takes on decorating, gardening, cooking and elevating the everyday.  

A Room of Her Own by Robyn Lea (Thames & Hudson, $70)

Twenty extraordinary women and their remarkable homes animate the pages of this feast-for-the-eyes tome, and if at first it succeeds in making you feel like you could never reach such interior-design heights at your decidedly more humble abode, look again.

MAIN IMAGE Wallpaper goals in the home of design curator Alice Stori Liechtenstein, who lives in a 12th-century castle but prefers to mix old and new for interest. TOP Fashion designer Marta Ferri urges her clients to forget about what other people think. ABOVE Artist Lisbeth McCoy has overcome childhood grief to rise to the height of her power. For her, moving furniture around is a form of meditation. Photography: Robyn Lea.

Living their best lives in eight different countries, these formidable, trailblazing gals are obviously loaded, but you don’t have to be — amid the intriguing stories and opulence profiled here are lots of doable décor ideas to discover. Use their creativity as a springboard for more affordable home-based bravery that inspires you to decorate with a carefree abandon that reflects your values and desires.

ABOVE Philosopher and artist Beatrix Ost was forced to pivot after losing her possessions in a fire. She’s pictured with the beeswax busts she sculpts — and a shelf that offers ideas for arranging. Photography: Robyn Lea.

Why not paint a wall a winsome pink if you want to, stand a tree-like branch beside your bed for the beauty of it, or take a chance on chintz if that’s your thing? Going extra with your styling echoes the amplification of women’s voices worldwide and is another way in which ladies and gents can step out of the ordinary and follow our dreams. As California-born, Milan-dwelling fashion, jewellery and homeware designer JJ Martin says, “You absolutely must create a fertile environment for yourself for the creativity to flow.”


Floret Farm’s Discovering Dahlias by Erin Benzakein (Chronicle, $50)
Got a thing for dahlias? You’ve come to the right place. Erin owns famed Washington flower farm Floret, and has downed gardening tools to pen a guide to her favourite blooms that’s as heavenly to thumb through as the resulting flowers will be if you take her comprehensive tips on growing and arranging these prolific plants.

One by Anna Jones (HarperCollins, $55)
One day in the early 2000s, Anna quit her job after reading an article about following your passions. Next minute, she was in Jamie Oliver’s apprentice programme, and now she’s a cook, food writer and stylist qualified to write this plant-based recipe book that has one goal: to help you eat, live and garden better while genuinely saving time, money and energy — and healing our world. 

Simplicity at Home by Yumiko Sekine (Chronicle, $60)
Founder of Japanese brand Fog Linen Work, Yumiko designs elevated basics for everyday enjoyment, and this book brings their rustic minimalism to life — yours, specifically. Informed by the grounding rituals of her youth, she teaches how to invite joy into your home with simple pleasures, foster clarity through living with less, repair and repurpose, prepare her favourite  dishes and make stuff (soap, wooden utensils…). Even if you don’t get around to doing any of it, reading this lovely book will surely enhance your outlook. 

Words Philippa Prentice

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