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'Tis a Gift to Be Simple' Especially in the Home

By Jennifer G. Wolcott. Jennifer G. Wolcott is on the Monitor staff. She lives in an 1840s home in the historic village of LincolnMass. / March 28, 1996



DECORATING NATURALLY: WHITE, CREAM AND NATURAL MATERIALS IN YOUR HOME

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By Julia Bird

Crescent Books

192 pp., $19.95

NATURAL DECORATING: SOPHISTICATED SIMPLICITY WITH NATURAL MATERIALS

By Elizabeth Wilhide and Joanna Copestick

Abbeville Press Publishers

144 pp., $45

LESLIE LINSLEY'S 15-MINUTE DECORATING IDEAS

By Leslie Linsley

St. Martin's Griffin

Houghton Mifflin

232 pp., $10.95

THE ESSENTIAL HOUSE BOOK: GETTING BACK TO BASICS

By Terence Conran

Crown Publishers, Inc.

272 pp., $37.50

HOME

By Kim Johnson Gross, Jeff Stone, Text by Julie V. Iovine

Alfred A. Knopf

190 pp., $25

THIS year's white winter gave many of us a chance to whoosh down steep hillsides on inflated snow tubes, try out new skis on fresh powder, or brave Michelle Kwanesque twirls on thick ice.

But at the end of the day, we happily returned to the warmth and comfort of our homes. These familiar spaces provided cozy refuge from subzero temperatures and record snowfalls. After cocooning in them for so long, however, we have had ample time to think about how things look and what we can do to spiff up the old place.

A good spring cleaning always helps. But even a spotless kitchen, cobweb-free corners, or a tidy desk may not be enough to satisfy the natural yen for change that often comes as we pass through the vernal equinox en route to summer.

If the urge to redecorate is irresistible, and you're not sure how to begin, turn to the pros.

The home section of your local bookstore may appear daunting at first; there are almost as many guides to interior design as there are rug patterns. And while those glossy coffee-table tomes on styles ranging from Californian to Caribbean dazzle the eye, they often fall short on practicality.

Don't despair. Especially if you, like many people today, are seeking to simplify.

Publishers are catching on to the economic and practical needs of today's consumer. They are delivering an appealing new generation of accessible, unpretentious, and empowering guides to home design. Instead of preaching magaziney magic that perfectly coordinates every detail, they offer tasteful ideas for a simple, relaxed, down-to-earth style.

This approach is at the heart of Julia Bird's Decorating Naturally: White, Cream and Natural Materials in Your Home. "Keeping up with the current ultimate in interior accessories has become an exhausting and expensive process," writes the British stylist. "This is when you start valuing what is simple and naturally available around you."

For her, that translates to whites, creams, and natural materials. "With white there is no colour matching. All whites work well together, picking up the hues of the spectrum." The only vivid colors that enter Pia Tryde's handsome photographs appear in casually placed zinnias, tulips, or berries. Each page of text is framed by - you guessed it - lots of white space.

Calming neutrals are also favored in Natural Decorating: Sophisticated Simplicity With Natural Materials, by Elizabeth Wilhide and Joanna Copestick. In this useful book, the authors spell out steps for such projects as stenciling, bleaching floorboards, and sewing curtains after presenting their thoughtful views on bringing the outdoors in.