Design and Detail, the Practical Guide to Styling a House is a visual autobiography, says Tricia Guild, its English author. ``It is a book about my own life and my own home, and my own impressions and inspirations.'' Ms. Guild sees her new book, which was published last month (Simon & Schuster, New York, $35), as a ``culmination of my work and a testament of my present design philosophy. It illustrates all the extraordinary mixtures of textures, colors, furnishings, and crafts that I believe in most.''
Step by step, she talks readers through the redecoration of her own terraced mid-Victorian house in London - from grand initial design to the final details, as well as through her brother's small mews house.
David Montgomery's 200 glorious full-color photographs bring all the rooms to life, while sketches and diagrams are used for how-to instructions.
Guild shows how to treat attic rooms exuberantly, how to use wallpaper effectively, and how to give each room its own distinct atmosphere. Every page of the book highlights her flair for dramatic display, as she mixes and mingles furniture, decorative objects, art, and fresh flower arrangements.
She also demonstrates how to use craft objects imaginatively. ``A lot of very talented craftspeople are not taken seriously,'' she said during a New York interview, ``because people do not know how to use their work. I show them.''
What she finds most amazing about design, she said, is the fact that it's always in movement, never still or static, always drawing from the past, yet evolving into something that is current and has its own vitality.
Guild co-founded Designers Guild in London in 1970 and has become known for her innovative textiles, printed fabrics, wallpapers, and home furnishings. She has also always kept her hand in home styling.
``My ongoing involvement in interior decoration serves as both a test of my various ideas, and as a stimulus for new ones,'' she says.
The many sides of her approach to design puts her in a class by herself. Her personal sense of joy and willingness to change and update her decorating schemes permeate the pages of her book.
``There is nothing more lifeless than the `perfect' room,'' she says, ``which is painstakingly designed in every detail and then left unaltered for years, like a museum exhibit.''
She calls ``Design and Detail'' a practical guidebook to more exciting rooms, and that it is.