Books about pared-down minimalist décor--most of them featuring the much-ridiculed all-white-box room with one lonely straight-backed chair in the center--are plentiful. Few people can actually live in those rooms, though, and for those who prefer a little color in their lives, there's Jane Cumberbatch's Pure Style Living.
The first third of the book is dedicated to the "sources" of the author's style: the vibrant yellow-orange of a cut melon, the texture and deep rust of freshly dug red potatoes, the orderly rows of a plowed field, the satisfying sturdiness of a heavy, purely functional piece of furniture. Next is a somewhat ephemerally organized section called "Live," in which Cumberbatch's ideas of the simple life are fleshed out with huge photographs of simple and practical kitchen gardens, bedrooms, autumn picnic spreads, slipcovered sofas, and distraction-free home office spaces. There are a few easy projects, like making a table runner or a bulletin board, planting bulbs, canning marmalade, or whipping up a raspberry fool (the author is British and so are the recipes). A breezy bit about al fresco dining is particularly inspiring. The final third of the book, "Directory," is, essentially, a well-designed version of that literary masterpiece known as the IKEA summer catalog, lacking only the prices. It's a guilty pleasure, perhaps, to leaf through the pages and pages of essential items--good sherry in the pantry, vintage watering can in the garden, cork flooring in the workroom--but a pleasure nonetheless. --Liana Fredley [via]