Every now and again an interiors book comes out that truly feeds my soul. A book, so beautifully and painstakingly created as to take over my whole-being while I thumb through it’s inspirational pages. “Curate” by Lynda Gardener (@lynda.gardener) and Ali Heath (@aliheath_uk), with photography by Marnie Hawson (@marniehawson), has ignited in me a burning hunger for an impromptu visit to my nearest flea market, that old curiosity shop I found in Arundel and that woodland I remember that had an abundance of lichen-covered branches strewn across the forest floor.
A great interiors book transports you to another world, a place so full of ideas and stylised beauty that you can’t help but be motivated into creating mood boards in your mind for your own home. So many books seem to centre on the latest trends and pop culture with an ever-present desire for super speedy transformations and Instagram design hacks. Curate, however, focuses on a “slow curation of revered pieces, from different centuries and countries.” Where “imperfections are celebrated, environment is nurtured, and a sense of timeless longevity is enjoyed.”
A Love Of The Old And Often Discarded
It’s a book that has truly stolen my heart as I have long had a love of a foraged find, or a an old antiquity that no one seems to want, but in which I find solace and a place to dream. I have often been asked by friends who have visited our home, where they could “buy the look”. My answer is always the same: you can’t.
That’s because my home is a collection of pieces from a life well lived and travelled. Each object holds a memory. The gnarled rustic wooden coat rack was found for £5 in a pop-up antique store after we’d had a fab lunch with my bestie. I stumbled across the American Windsor chair in an old forge on my way back from the dentist and the dried allium seed heads in the cracked glass dome came from last year’s floral harvest after a long hot Summer.
A while back my mother-in-law asked me why I had a collection of bobbins in various blue hues on our coffee table. I said: “because they are pretty and they bring me joy”. She couldn’t understand it. “You don’t use them then?” I’m a huge fan of displaying objects that once had a purpose, but have morphed into art over time. I have a feeling Lynda, Ali and I are kindred spirits.
I was truly honoured when Ali Heath asked me to review her book. I hold her in very high esteem as one of the great writers and stylists of our time. We first came in contact with each other a few years ago, discussing a possible magazine feature. It turned out that she was very good friends with two of my favourite people in the whole world: Abi Birch and Ashley Nuttall of @hudsonhomesinteriorsuk , two more lovers of the eternal quest for the old and intriguing – small world. After that, we hooked up on Instagram and chat regularly.
When she told me she had written a book with her friend Lynda Gardener (the incredible stylist and hotel owner) I was so utterly thrilled to bits for her and not in the least surprised. It’s a book that just had to be written. Two great women with astonishing taste and a spirit so rare, with an ability to make a collection of almost anything look perfectly imperfect.
Lynda is an interior stylist and boutique hotelier in Australia. She connected with Ali for the first time during an interview for an international press feature. They soon realised they had a shared “appreciation of monochrome aesthetics, natural imperfections…and an attraction to soulful, often discarded finds.” And so, the seed for this book was sown.
Ten Homes And Eight Elements
Curate features ten homes, including Lynda’s collection of seven properties in Australia and Ali’s home in Surrey, England. The Shed – a striking rural home in Victoria, Australia is of particular interest, as is the tranquil home of the book’s incredible photographer, Marnie Hawson, an hour’s drive from Melbourne. Through these truly individual and unique homes and the exploration of eight fundamental style elements, the reader can start to discover the secret to a curated home and begin their own journey.
Each chapter that reveals a new home has a Q&A section at the end, which allows us to delve deeper into the mind of the creator and get a sense of what it must be like to live there. It’s not just about objects and a well considered colour palette. Here, we find out about what sounds you can hear, which scents are evocative of the space, house secrets and what quality time there means. It’s such a clever way to transport us to that home and really feel like we may have visited in a past life.
I’m very fond of two sections at the beginning of the book, which talk about what makes a home and what makes a stylist. In both there seems a compulsive need to seek out seemingly pointless, slightly worn objects that have seen better days. However, once the stylist puts these pieces together as a collection, there is a collision of history, texture, patina, memories, love, colour and cosiness that creates a magical atmosphere unlike no other – a home.
Curate is published on 10th June 2021 and is available to order now on Amazon.
If you liked this you may like my previous interior book reviews: My Top Five Interiors Books.