Books celebrate a variety of styles

Since ``Southwestern'' is a current buzz word in today's decorating circles, it seems natural that a book that explores the origins and current manifestations of the Santa Fe style would be produced at this time. Santa Fe Style, by Christine Mather and Sharon Woods (Rizzoli, $35) has it all - adobe brick houses, simple hand-carved furnishings, rough-hewn beams, Indian pottery and baskets, and richly colored Navajo rugs, put together in actual Santa Fe homes.

The authors have scouted out houses that reflect the progression of indigenous styles, from the early pueblo style that stemmed from the Spanish colonists through the territorial and later hacienda or ranch styles that are popular today. They describe the architectural elements that make up each style, including those by modern architects.

Through more than 450 photographs by Robert Reck, Jack Parsons, and others, the authors show how Santa Fe style in both architecture and interior design has generally evolved and adapted itself to changing conditions and new demands.

The authors are successful in illustrating the delightful mixture of old and new, and in conveying the background for the congenial and casual lifestyle for which Santa Fe is famous. They have lived there, with their husbands, for the last 10 years, and, after the extensive research that underpins the book, they fully appreciate the cultures and elements involved.

For those who know the town, and those hoping to know it, this book is a handsome visual reminder of the inherent charm of Santa Fe style.

Colonial Williamsburg, by Philip Kopper (Harry N. Abrams, $60), a hefty coffee-table volume that came out last fall, is almost as good as a visit there, and considerably less exhausting.

It is a book for the arm-chair traveler, or for the visitor who has explored the byways of the restored 18th century town many times. The book, with original photography by Langdon Clay, is claimed to be the most detailed and comprehensive volume on Colonial Williamsburg to date. It details the resurrection of the old capital of Virginia, chronicling the mammoth achievement of its restoration from beginning to the present. It celebrates the lively restored city as it exists today and revels in its period architecture, fine furnishings, splendid gardens, and numerous seasonal celebrations.

Also included in this book is a sampling of the superb holdings of Colonial Williamsburg's two art museums - the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center - as well as archival materials that offer glimpses into both colonial life and the early days of the restoration.

When Terence Conran describes ``the stylish use of soft furnishings'' he is referring to fabric and all the good things that can be done with it to enhance interior design. And, of course, you can count on Mr. Conran, master of presentation, for some refreshing new ideas, quite beautifully illustrated in photographs of actual room settings.

In Terence Conran's Home Furnishings (Little, Brown & Co., $29.95), he gives many helpful and detailed instructions for using fabric effectively to make everything from tented rooms to Roman and Austrian blinds, draperies, curtains, hangings, pillows, and the like.

He assumes that many readers will have both the time and the inclination to make things, either by hand or by sewing machine. But even if you can't sew, the photographs are wonderful and yield plenty of ideas.

Conran, who opened his first retail store in London in 1964, and has since revolutionized the selling of low-cost furnishings in many countries of the world, thinks that not enough has been said or written about fabric and its ability to add color, texture, and pattern to rooms, as well as warmth, comfort, and protection.

``Textiles,'' he insists, ``can be an enormously flexible medium for interior decoration, and they don't have to be the prerogative of the wealthy.''

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