Posts Tagged ‘books’

Book Nook - Things I Love

Well it’s only month two of our book club and I’ve already slipped on the schedule – oops! I hope you can forgive me for being a day late since I was flat out working over the weekend (on my birthday no less).

Excuses aside, let’s get into it!

While I love being immersed in the whole blog/Pinterest world, I do find that too much time online makes me stressed and unfocused. Plus sometimes I do want to dig a little deeper than the online personas of my style icons and find out more about their philosophy.

This is why I’m so happy about this new column, so I can actually spend a solid amount of time delving into one author’s mind.

The author in this case is Australian stylist Megan Morton. Her name kept popping up everywhere at once for me so I resolved to check her out. I immediately loved her refreshing quirkiness and use of colour and was keen to see more.

Here’s my take on her book Things I Love.

Chapter 1: Houses I Love

Right from the opening page there started to appear a few snippets that I found myself saying ‘Amen!’ to. I 100% agree with her advice that before starting any project you need to be honest about your lifestyle and budget and that you should work with the home’s existing personality. She also has you ask yourself, ‘If your house were a person, who would it be?’ which sounds like a worthwhile exercise that I should try.

The homes themselves ran the decorating gamut from ramshackle cottage to grand designer home. To be honest none of the homes really resonated with me as they were all a bit extreme in their own way. I suppose Megan was trying to show the ultimate in each style, but I prefer more realistic and livable. Perhaps if there had been more of a description about why each space worked, I would have found it more useful.

What I did love was the (sometimes hilarious) personal anecdotes that introduced each homeowner.

Chapter 2: Things I Love

This was a really quirky and fun chapter that featured a set of themed items on four tear-out sheets per page. You could use them as postcards, on your pinboard or clip them all together for a kind of inspiration Roladex. I admit I won’t be doing this as I hate damaging books (even magazines I can’t bear to tear out pages!) but it’s certainly a cute idea. A bit like the grown-up version of tearing the song lyrics from your issue of Smash Hits, remember that?!

The cards feature vintage items and found objects to inspire you to mix these into your home decor for a look that’s truly unique. The chapter also includes quick lists such as ‘Rules to break’ and ‘Brave decorating moves’ which I’m sure I’ll be referring back to when I need a boost in decorating confidence.

Chapter 3: People I Love

What immediately struck me in this chapter was Megan’s humbleness. She begins by acknowledging that a stylist’s result is only as good as the sum of its parts, then introduces some of her most talented creative collaborators.

I always find it fascinating to peek inside the lives of creative people and find out how they think, work and live. It was an interesting mix of people – not just people like decorators and photographers as you might expect – but sculptors, button merchants and colour scientists. It did go on for a wee bit too long though – maybe try reading that section in more than one sitting.

Chapter 4: Things I Love to Do

Tucked in the back on the non-glossy pages is where I found the really juicy stuff! It included insider tricks from the mundane (‘How to fold a fitted sheet’) to the sublime (‘How to antique a mirror’). I always appreciate when stylists go beyond the visuals and discuss practicalities, such as Megan has done here with a traffic flow plan and seasonal cleaning chart.

I adored the Homelove Manifesto which was not (as it sounds) a wordy document, but rather a set of rules (some to follow and some to break) displayed in a fun, visual way in a fold-out spread. ‘When in doubt, go for bentwood chairs’ made me smile and ‘Something old, something new, something rough, something smooth’ is a worthwhile rule of thumb.


I adore that Megan’s philosophy is centred around loving your home and making it personal. You can incorporate trends but make sure you look elsewhere too, in the form of vintage, handmade or found objects too.

I loved her witty writing and personal stories, but I still wanted more of her advice throughout the book, not just sectioned off at the back. Especially since Megan is a styling teacher, I felt there could have been more specific lessons to be learnt.

Similarly, the tear-out objects were visually appealing, but what would have been more useful is how to style them into a vignette or examples of vintage/found objects in various settings.

It was great to find a book featuring some Australian homes and language, but with an international outlook. Her Homelove Manifesto is a charming concept and the book itself is presented beautifully.

The handy ‘Things I Love to Do’ chapter was my favourite because of all the practical advice I can actually apply to my own home. There are some tricks for colour schemes in particular that I need to consider!

Buy this book if you:

  • Are looking for inspiration on beautiful, daring homes.
  • Need some practical tips, how-tos and rules of thumb.
  • Want a glimpse into the lives of rock star creatives.
  • Want inspiration for incorporating vintage and found objects into your decor.

This book may not be for you if you:

  • Prefer a traditional or minimalist decorating style.
  • Are looking for a step-by-step guide on how to style your home.
  • Are a beginner home decorator looking for basic ideas and sources.

Buy the book at your local bookseller (I bought mine from Presence) or online.

Note: Australian version of cover is featured in the image above.

Have you read Things I Love or do you have any questions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.



I’m off galivanting around the world for a few weeks so I have lined up some some talented ladies to hold the fort while I’m gone. Hope you enjoy!

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Funky cushions, mid-century ceramics, quirky prints… oh yes! Notes to a Further Excuse has all of my favourite things covered. Blogger Diane also ‘daylights’ as a book editor so she knows what’s hot in publishing. Consider your summer reading list sorted!  – Alicia

Hello lovely Atypical Type A readers! This is Diane here from Notes to a Further Excuse, guest posting while Alicia is off on her travels. Today I’m going to be sharing some of the top new release craft and decorating books with you.

In my day job I work as a freelance book editor, and the end of the year is always a busy time for publishers trying to vie for attention with their big releases before Christmas. It can be a crowded market, so I’ve tried to make things easier by rounding up the best of the bunch. Here are my top ten picks (organised alphabetically) from the latest round of new release craft and decorating books to add to your reading list.

Craft & decorating books 1

The Art of Handmade Living: Crafting a Beautiful Home by Willow Crossley

This is the first book from journalist turned designer Willow Crossley. In The Art of Handmade Living Willow shares her ideas for turning basic objects into beautiful items for the home. Willow has spent time living in the south of France, and as a result many of her projects have a decidedly rustic feel. The book is organised into different sections including To Decorate, To Hang, To Nest, To Wear and To Use, and there are a range of simple projects on offer, from vintage fabric bunting to grain sack cushions and fabric-twisted bracelets.

Bowerbird: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the Things You Collect by Sibella Court

This is the latest release from Australian stylist and author Sibella Court. In Bowerbird (named after Sibella’s obsession with collecting and arranging, just like the bird itself), Sibella reveals her personal approach to collecting and collections, showing how to procure the elements of a collection, how to organise and store them and how to display them in creative and ever-changing ways.

Decorate Workshop: A Creative 8 Step Process for Transforming Your Home by Holly Becker

This is the second book from decor8’s Holly Becker, and comes as a follow up to her successful first release, Decorate. In this book Holly offers a personal approach to home decorating, drawing on inspiration from her own home in Germany as well as from stylish homes from around the world. The book is a guide to finding and filtering design information and offers practical information to readers on refining their style and tackling a decorating project, be it big or small.

Decorate Workshop

Find & Keep: 26 Projects to Spark Your Imagination by Beci Orpin

This is the first book from Melbourne-based designer and illustrator Beci Orpin, and it’s a great first release. Find & Keep is an inspirational craft book, but it also offers a unique insight into Beci’s colourful world and her creative processes. The book is neatly organised into three main sections: Studio, Home and Out & About, and each section begins with an overview of Beci’s life and work around these three themes, followed by relevant crafty projects. There’s certainly plenty to spark the imagination here.

Granny Chic: Crafty Recipes & Inspiration for the Handmade Home by Tif Fussell and Rachelle Blondel

This is a collaborative book from bloggers and crafters Tif Fussell of Dotty Angel and Rachelle Blondel of Ted & Agnes. Granny Chic offers inspiration to crafters wanting to breathe new life into vintage fabrics and second-hand objects. The book includes twenty projects in total, each with a granny chic theme, and also offers advice and tips on living the granny chic lifestyle.

Recycled Home: Transform Your Home Using Salvaged Materials by Rebecca Proctor

Recycled Home features fifty craft projects for the home, each using discarded or repurposed materials. There are step-by-step tutorials and every chapter covers a different room in the house and garden. Because there are so many projects on offer, there’s sure to be something to suit different tastes, budgets and skill levels.

Craft & decorating books 2

Sew Over It: Sew It, Wear It, Love It by Lisa Comfort

This is the first book from British sewing extraordinaire and crafter Lisa Comfort. Here, Lisa shares her passion for sewing and guides readers through the basics of sewing by hand and machine, as well as the skills needed to follow her simple but stylish projects. The book features twenty-five fully illustrated step-by-step sewing projects, as well as advice on customising and altering clothes. Perfect for those who want to start sewing or improve on their skills.

Stitched Gifts: 25 Sweet and Simple Embroidery Projects for Every Occasion by Jessica Marquez

From the founder of the popular Etsy shop Miniature Rhino, Stitched Gifts offers twenty-five embroidery projects for different occasions including weddings, holidays, baby showers, birthdays and anniversaries. Each project is simple enough to complete in a weekend and can be easily customised using the templates and alphabets provided. The book also features an illustrated stitch glossary and twenty-five perforated reusable template pages.

Supermarket Sarah’s Wonder Walls: A Guide to Displaying Your Stuff by Sarah Bagner

If you’re looking for creative ways to display items in your home, then this book is for you. This book comes from the creative lady behind the popular site Supermarket Sarah, and is packed with ideas for displaying your treasures. Sarah visits homes and studios of designers and collectors from around the world, explores the ideas and thoughts behind objects and collections and offers useful advice on how to look at your own collections in a new light.

Things I Love by Megan Morton

This is the second book from Australian interiors stylist Megan Morton (after Home Love, first released in 2010). In it, Megan shares her enthusiasm for homes, people and design via a range of visual examples, but the book also has a practical slant via decorating advice and tips.

So there you have it – plenty of fantastic new books to keep you inspired in the craft and decorating department. Happy reading!

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About the guest poster:

Diane is a Melbourne-based freelance editor, proofreader and project manager working in non-fiction illustrated book publishing. She has a passion for all things design and writes a design blog called Notes to a Further Excuse. She also loves taking photographs, crafting, drinking coffee and obsessing over mid-century homewares.

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At the beginning of our Going Paperless journey I talked about preventing the influx of magazines and the like. The Man and I aren’t too bad with this as we don’t buy newspapers and we don’t subscribe to any magazines.

I do buy my favourite mag Real Living every month (I don’t subscribe because our letterbox is part of a big bank of them at the front of our unit block and I would worry about theft/rain/damage). Plus I will buy the occasional bridal or lifestyle glossy for work for research purposes or if I’ve been featured in it (tax write-off, oh yeah). The Man doesn’t buy any magazines and hasn’t the whole time I’ve known him.

Even so, we seem to have magazines everywhere.

magazine storage fail 1

Believe it or not, our primary magazine storage lay at the back of that cabinet. (Sorry for the terrible shot, taking a photo of the inside of the cupboard at night is never going to end well.)

magazine storage 2

There was also a stack on the entertainment unit…

magazine storage 1

Plus some in a magazine rack…

magazine storage fail 2

And an inevitable pile on the side table next to the sofa…

Alicia office after 08

Not to mention the three chock full magazine files in the office.

That’s not even counting the pile that, for a while, lived on the FLOOR. (Sorry, didn’t capture that attractive scene.)

stack bookcase

That’s why I’m so jazzed about our recently purchased bookcase. It now holds my entire back catalogue of Real Livings (The Man called it my Real Living shrine) and the small stack of Home Beautifuls. All of the wedding mags are stashed in the office for easy reference. After purging a ton of stuff I’ll never read again, the ‘miscellaneous’ pile now fits easily into the magazine rack. I still generally leave my current month’s reading material lying around on the coffee table or side table, but overall it’s much less cluttered and easy to access.

So I guess next on the list is to sit down with a cuppa and read an old favourite tackle the cabinet to make it into functional storage.

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stack bookcase

We ran out of storage space for books and magazines (again). The house is pretty chockers with furniture and the only real option was to use the sliver of space between our entertainment unit and the wall.

Even if the space was large enough for a proper bookcase, I didn’t want it to feel any more boxy and closed in that it already is. Enter the stack bookcase! I’ve wanted something like it for ages but didn’t have the budget for it, so when The Man spotted it at Milan Direct for just $70 we snapped it up straight away. Instant order for the reading material piled up around the house.

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Bookshelf Porn
500px via Bookshelf Porn

I got married in a library so it should come as no surprise that I love book-lined rooms.

If you’re looking for ideas of how to integrate your book collection into your decor or (as the name suggests) just like to drool over books, you must check out Bookshelf Porn.

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I’m hoping I will get a chance during the Easter break to get back to the neglected novel on my bedside table. Til then, I’ll get in the mood by printing out one of these cute free bookmarks from designer/photographer Sharon Rowan.

Sharon Rowan bookmark 1

Sharon Rowan bookmark 2

Sharon Rowan bookmark 3

Grab your fox, mod or birdie bookmarks via How About Orange.

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 Obsess & Inspire - Penguin Threads

Being bombarded daily with beautiful images from design blogs can leave you a bit blasè to everything after a while. But then you come across something so incredible it stops you in your tracks.

These Penguin Threads Classics covers, featuring the stunning embroidery of illustrator Jillian Tamaki, fall squarely into that category.

Do yourself a favour and head over to Jillian’s blog to see the full wraparound covers.

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watercolour covered books

I love a home with plenty of books, but let’s face it: they don’t always go with the decor.

With the landing bookcase I shared yesterday, I want a classic look that’s a lot more toned down than much of our home. I’m planning to enlarge and frame a black and white wedding photo to hang above it, so too many garish book spines will ruin the look.

I found these gorgeous watercolour patterns over at August Empress. I simply printed them out on my home printer, cut to size and folded around the books (if they’re books you use often, I’d suggest protecting them with clear contact).

I used (from top):
Chevron watercolour pattern
Geometric watercolour pattern
(subtle light grey so it’s hard to see in the photo)
Floral watercolour pattern

The patterns are free for personal use and there are more colours and patterns than I’ve shown here, so head over to check them out.

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Obsess & Inspire - Penguin childrens classics

How delightful are the new editions of Penguin children’s classics? I’m a sucker for cloth-covered books anyway, but when they’re also printed with whimsical illustrations consider me sold!

Available at Anthropologie (which now ships to Australia – can I hear a woot woot?).

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book vases

To tie in with the literary theme of our wedding, I made these cute ‘vases’ from old books. Here’s how:

Atypical Type A - book vase materials

You will need:

  • old, unwanted book
  • piece of dense cardboard
  • scalpel
  • pencil
  • double-sided tape


Atypical Type A - book vase tutorial1

1. Trim the piece of cardboard to the height of your book and the width of the margin (if you go right to the edge of the page, you’ll see a blank strip at the widest part of your vase, ruining the effect of the text).

2. Freehand draw one half of your desired vase shape.

Atypical Type A - book vase tutorial2

3. Cut out the vase template.

4. Place the template against the spine of the open book. Cut around the template with the scalpel until all pages are cut through. Try to keep the blade as vertical as possible to keep the shape uniform the whole way around.

Atypical Type A - book vase tutorial3

5. Slice between the front and end sheets to remove the pages.

6. Apply double-sided tape to the front page; fold back and attach to the back page. If your book has quite loose signatures (that’s the lingo for a stitched group of pages) you may need to bend back the pages to make them a bit more flexible.

I picked up the books for small change at a local op shop and the rest of the gear I had on hand, so it was an incredibly cheap project for a rainy afternoon.

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A collection of pretty meets practical ideas to inspire a happier home

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