Monday, 18 March 2013

Pastel Style and Giveaway Result Time

I'm here, it's true, I survived Legoland.  Only just mind.  

Anyway, where were we?  One of my readers spotted Jacky Ginge having a look at Pretty Pastel Style and asked me what I think of it.

What about what I think of it? says Jacky Ginge.  I think it's none too cosy to sleep on, shift it, please.

I have Selina Lake's other books (Bazaar Style, Romantic Style, Homespun Style) so was pretty excited about this one.  I haven't quite finished reading it yet.  I think this latest tome was one to which I was most looking forward because well, pastels and pretty is right up my street, I think.

What became clear when I started reading the book is that this is about pastels with a twist.  Take the front cover, those maroony cushions and the touches of 1970's brown (something you'll either love or hate).  

(Jacky Ginger will not get away from that book!)

That sort of style is what I think this book is aiming at, pastels with shots of other basically non-pretty-pastel colours.

Fairly soon, the book lets us know that it wants to encourage us to "create unexpected combinations" and team pastels with "rich textures and contrasting accents of super-bright colour".  There is the suggestion that "electric blue or neon pink work particularly well against chalky pastels".  Hmmm.  That was a bit of a surprise. 

Some of the writing in the early chapters of the book, referring to "sugar sweet pastels", alarmed me ; oh dear, I thought, they're right up my street!  There's talk of "saccharine visions", we're told to "...stay the cool side of sweet"... "keep the look sharp, rather than sugary"...  "forget rooms dressed entirely in sugary shades and lacking edge"... "prevent pastel overkill".  The schemes suggested in these chapters were valid but could have been better, more positively, expressed in my opinion. I felt like the author was having a go at me for liking pretty pastels.  Hold on, isn't that what the book's called?!  Maybe we differ on what constitutes "pretty pastels"?

I will be honest and say I love this book for its images and not for its words.  I make myself read them, rather than just treating this book as a coffee table purchase, but I don't feel I learn anything from the words in these books.  To me, they feel like filling and so much of it is not rocket science;  "Another innovative approach to pastels is to use them as accents in a mainly white scheme" (page 14). Innovative?

Golly, I don't like to be negative (but I am a Northerner and straight with it).  So let's get on to the positive stuff now we've got the negative out of the way.  And you know, it's not to say I didn't find things to please me in Pretty Pastel Style because the majority of the images do actually go in for the "pretty" approach to pastels.  I particularly loved the images shot in the home of Nicky Grace (above and below).

I am familiar with the images from Yvonne of Yvestown's fabulous home but very happy to see them here in their quality-printed glory.  The internet is great but you can't beat having a real book in your hands, can you, especially a heavily visual one like this (Kindle is fine for trashy novels)?

Do you know what I think my problem is with this book?  It's that it's called "Pretty Pastel Style".  In parts, that's exactly what this book is about, especially in many of the pictures which I like, but on the other hand, there's been an effort to be different with the injection of neon and the non-pastel shades.   

I'm not sure I think the words always go with the pictures and I will stick my neck out and say I don't think they go with the book's title.  Why put down "candy colours" in chapter two when we are shown just that in images elsewhere in the book?  I wonder if these issues stem from the fact that this book is produced by a team, a stylist choosing the images, a writer for the words.

Perhaps they should have called it "Modern Pastel Style" or similar. It's not to say I don't like '70s brown, maroon or lime green but they are not what I would term "pretty". 

As these sorts of books go, I guess my own preference is for books like those in the "Perfect English" series (eg. Perfect English Cottage by Ros Byam Shaw, fab author, one of my fave books.  I wrote about it here.).  They allow me to see the homes and read about their owners, I can make my own mind up about the style and how to recreate or adapt it should I wish.  That's just me.

I wonder what impression I've given with this book, Pretty Pastel Style? I am glad I have bought it and I know I will enjoy going back to look at most of the photos which give me inspiration and eye-candy pleasure.  I have seen a few reviews and comments on other blogs and funnily, enough, one lady loved the cover and the fact it was not "sugar sweet" so there you go. Remember, all this waffle is just my honest opinion. I don't doubt I'll be first in the queue for Selina Lake's next book, something to do with neon maybe! (I also will be reporting back to you from her fair on Friday).

You know one reason why I started doing this book review (other than to answer somebody's question in my usual long-winded way) was to show you something I've made inspired by the book.  So there you go, that's a good thing about it!  I think that will have to wait for another day though, time marches on alarmingly.

Now on to other business!  The matchbox tweeter.  Thank you so much for all your entries, I've tried to delete mistaken multiples etc to get a fair number for the draw.  Sorry it seems some of you have had trouble commenting, it seems comments were actually there even when it looked to commenters that they weren't as some comments were left several times (eg. 6!  Oh the popularity!). Sorry your time was wasted as a result. 

It may have been a Blogger-generated glitch (please note angry lady, this is not within my control, please vent your frustration in their direction!)  I wonder if you've noticed the message which pops up after you've left a comment, which is that comments are "moderated".  This means I do read each comment to make sure it is not advertising or spam before it is published, I don't otherwise delete, so you will not see your comment appear straight away.

So, of the 115 entries, the random thingy has done its work and chosen... number 101.

If my dodgy counting is correct, that makes Josie-Mary the winner.  Please get in touch with your details and the birdy shall fly away.  

Toodle pip, back to the chores. X

P.S.  I have sorted the no-reply blogger thingy (by clicking on the down arrow next to my profile pic in the top right of the screen, choose "Blogger Profile" then "Edit Profile" and check the box next to "Show my email address"), thanks for the advice.  So now if I leave you a comment on your blog, you have my email address. Please know, I am not offended if you do not reply again.


  1. Glad to hear that you survived Legoland! Weather is just ghastly at the moment.
    Anyway interesting book review Hen - I had a look at in Waterstones the other day. By pure chance I then bought two of those chairs that feature on the front cover for £2 each! Not sure that if they will be painted in pastel shades as the girls are going to have one each in their bedrooms. I couldn't buy firewood at that price!
    Lovely to read your blog and that normal service is resumed!
    Best wishes

  2. Hi there Hen, What a lovely book!! Lots of great ideas!!!
    Tomorrow I will be scratching through my off-cuts to make some matchbox birdies for Easter!! I think they will make a great table present on my Easter Brunch table!! Thankx

  3. It looks a fabby book. I am intrigued by your wonderful box with Hexies in, and what are you embroidering?
    Julie xxxxxxx

  4. Now then! I'm a brusque northern lass too, but as I haven't yet read the book, daren't comment, however I have heard reviews of it ...

    Why call a book Pretty Pastel Style if you are trying to veer the reader away from exactly that? You stick with what you like Hen, and don't let anyone persuade you otherwise! Looks like a lot of eye candy, my sort of book, but may not be tempted unless it appears in The Works! Loved Homespun Style with a passion ...

    Lucky Josie Mary! Congratulations on a lovely win.

    Have a lovely week Hen, no doubt I'll see you via IG!

    Love Claire xxx

  5. Glad to hear you are a lego land survivor! This ghastly weather is inclined to make any outing something of a challenge. We went to the coast to visit our son and family, but it rained for a lot of the time.

    Loved your book review. I do find a lot of books very similar and some with very complimentary reviews can be rather thin on words, relying on pretty pictures instead.

    Sue x

  6. I think that's exactly what Jacky Ginge was thinking! I think a lot of these books take one template and basically squeeze out as many variations on the same theme as they can - still make for good eye candy though! Jane x


  8. Thank you for the honest review. I really appreciate it though I still can't decide if I will get it or not. I love pastels and pretty things but I am not a neon person. I liked Homespun Style but didn't love it as it was too modern for me. Your little corner is so pretty.

  9. I shall have a look out for this book, what pretty pages!

  10. I enjoyed reading your book review Hen. Reading between the lines of what you say, the book seems to be a bit of a mish mash with members of 'the team' having conflicting ideas! If I bought a book called Pretty Pastel Style I wouldn't be expecting to see neon brights!!! I don't think there are enough pretty pastels in the book to warrent the title. I think you should write your own book Hen and use loads of sugar sweet pastels! Congratulations to the winner of the matchbox tweeter! x

  11. I buy these kind of books purely for the images and rarely read the text as I find it doesn't enhance my experience... Was hugely disappointed at first, but it does get better each time I have a browse through x

  12. hehe ! it was probably me who multiple commented ! oops :) I enjoyed your review of Pretty Pastel style I do find with a lot of these style books I end up just looking at the pictures and skipping the words, it's like you say it's not rocket science x

  13. I enjoyed your peeks of the book and your honest assessment. I love honesty! I love pastels - but I have a house full of antiques in rich woods such as oak, mahogany (such as my baby grand piano) - and can't imagine painting them - it would be a sin! But I do appreciate those mostly white and aqua painted rooms. I love that you have a gardenia in bloom! I've tried to keep them going and they always drop all their leaves! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  14. Thats a great review, very honest and lovely to see all those images. I think I'd side with you, eye candy but probably not one to read.

  15. I think we should see your house in a book!!!!!!!

  16. And all of your lovely projects!!!

  17. Blimey, I bought the book because I love her previous books and I too love "pretty pastels"! Unfortunately I fall into the 'not loving '70s brown group' and maybe I will selectively read the text and just focus on the lovely photos. I'm still waiting for my copy in the mail (released a bit later in Canada). Now I'm even more eager to get my copy!

  18. Hello Hen
    Thank you for the book review by puss ! I am one for taking just little bits out of books that I like, as I hardly ever like the whole idea, this way I think you make the look yours,
    Congratulations to the winner, sounds like you had a few gremlins (or a gremlin)...giggle
    Happy Week
    Thea x

  19. Hen, I applaud your review of the book. You are very fair in all your observations. I'll keep a lookout for the book at a local bookshop, and do a little browse there, and eventually send you a message about what I thought of it.

    Meanwhile, it's good to see that you are as busy as ever, making beautiful things. Hoping that you'll be going to the Selvedge Fair and will have a full report!

    Thanks for your message, and best wishes to you and yours, including those photogenic kitties. xo

  20. I love a good book but I often find that you only get a couple of ideas from them rather than a 'bookful'! However, I do love Home by Anita Kaushal and Poppy Treffry's first book, Free and Easy Stitch Style. S x

  21. Thank you for the honest review. Sounds a bit of a strange book, I've read a few similar comments about it. You're probably right about it being written by a group, never the best idea! xx

  22. I loved, loved, loved your book review - I would certainly 'read' it for the pictures but I soooo get you on the text as filler rather than offering valid insights. Can't wait to see it though - I will looove the prettiness factor! Love Kate xxooxx.

  23. Looks like a lovely book, and that pink cabinet is so pretty! Love your sweet embroidery! Have a fabulous week! xo Heather

  24. Great review, Hen, very honest.
    Will have to look out for it in the library, some lovely images in there to dream about!!
    Glad to hear you survived Legoland, and congratulations to Josie Mary.
    Linda O xx

  25. I agree with Miss Holly but feel you should go a step further. We need a book about your crafting experience and how it relates to your passion for vintage. I love your photos of family trips, Munchkin and the cats enjoying the fruits of your crafty labour and - here I know you will wish to back away, you shy, retiring person - pics of you in your own lovely style of dress and in your natural, home environment. Go to it Hen! A Hen House book would be top of my buying list!

    1. Am I allowed to add a bit here? Totally agree with jenann, I just know it would be a lovely book........heheheh! Just throw one together when you've got a spare hour or two! Seriously, I bet you've been know we'd buy it! Lx

  26. Great review, Hen. As a Northerner myself (ahem, perhaps we shouldn't upset our more southerly sisters with our claim to straight-speaking!! But I sneakingly agree!) I applaud straight speaking, and nothing puts me off more than a sycophantic gush when I want the real goods.

    I haven't read this myself, but judging from the shots I'd agree with you. I was a young married woman in the 70's and I'm afraid I found it a style and sartorial desert! (sorry, Vintage lovers!) brown, orange = shudder. I love your lovely pastel home even though my natural inclination is towards her Homespun Style - minus the brown and orange. I'm a bit split-personality about mouth waters at bright colour combinations, but my heart goes 'ahhhhh' at your pastel photographs.
    Sorry I have rambled all over your blog! Yes, wrongly titled, I'd say, and the author clearly should not be putting her name to books about which she feels ambivalent unless she can remain dispassionate and objective; pastel is obviously NOT her thing! Still really loving those little matchbox birds, you are clever! Lx

  27. I too have brought books thinking they are one thing but quite the opposite ~ usually, i see a review about a book and think mmm, that sounds my cup of tea then buy it and its nothing like my cup of tea...I guess i am more visual and like 'real home design' not just set up...but to be inspired by words helps also.
    One book i won recently, i was so excited to recieve it , the front cover and words made it sooo appealing, the front cover was meeee, but the whole inside of the book seemed aimed at a rather boring, non-inspiring design...I love books like 'where woman create' and real home interiors...usually by creative artists, designers and crafty souls. If, you ever produce a book let me know as i love your interiors!!!! x

  28. Hi Hen I did try to leave a comment last night after reading your Blog but it escaped into the mist somewhere. I already have this book and bought it as I was attacted to the title. I love pastels as they are so fresh and uplifting and I agree with the comments you have made about the book. I loved the photographs but these are just 'eye candy' as our American cousins would say. The text slightly irritated me at times with the comments made. I will keep the book for the images but it was a disappointing read for me - however this is purely my opinion. Hope you enjoyed Lego and found inspiration there. I loved your little birdie - thank you as always for a wonderful read, you brighten my day.
    Dorothy :) xx

  29. You said it so much better than I did... about the 'Pretty Pastel Style', I mean. I like the photos, even though I don't think most of them really are 'pretty pastel-ey' . The writing I tend to leave, more often than not, alone. I lso agree with you about the books by Ros Byam Shaw (the cottage one being my favourite too).

    Thanks for leaving a comment ;-)

  30. ooh how exciting!!! Thank you, I'll email you now :) That book looks good x

  31. Your review is refreshingly honest! I am not a huge fan of pastel. I prefer bright colors - probably because I live in gray Southeast Alaska! Congrats to Josie-Mary!

  32. The photos look lovely ... but I agree with you, I don't much look at the words in books like this. (how many ways can you say isn't this nice? which is pretty much all it is. not rocket science.) I sometimes am sad that I can find books only on Amazon UK, and not the US version. I'm daunted by the thought of what it would cost to ship a I will have to satisfy myself with your blog! (on the comment issue - it seems as if sometimes my comment is consumed after I've typed it in, and I sigh, and I don't try again. but I would never blame you for that!)

  33. I don't buy 'style' books. I tend to stick to magazines but if I saw this book, I would probably have been tempted by the cover. I love pastels, although you wouldn't know it in my house! I just feel its a bit misleading though judging by some of the photos. I thought the whole point of pastel is that its pale versions of stronger colours? I too was a 1970's bride and my house was all very modern and matching in brown, cream (magnolia) and orange! My living room had habitat pine chairs with brown gingham covers, the carpet was beige the main wall had brown hession (very fluffy when it needed a vaccum lol) and magnolia walls with bright orange curtains for colour! The kitchen was orange paper and cream - you get the picture! The only place for pastels was in the nursery and mine wasn't it had Jack and Jill paper, which I might add I loved and would probably still buy today lol I actually still have an orange teatowel I got as a wedding present and only recently got rid of the last of the orange place mats I got to go with it! My house is full of vintage stuff, I just didn't realise it till I started reading blogs lol. Glad you survived Legoland, I'd love to take my grandchildren one day (preferably in the summer when its warm though!)

  34. Thanks for this review, will save me some pennies!

  35. Thank you so much for taking the time to review this book. I have been looking forward to buying it for some time, but now I think I will save my pennies for something much more sugar sweet. I'm with you, I love pastels and am unashamed to say so! Brown and lime green are not pastels. It sounds like she's trying to apologise for liking pretty colours. Huh! Not what I want from a book with the words'pretty' and 'pastel' in the title! Thank you for commenting on my blog, it was lovely to see you there! Karla xxx

  36. Hello lovely Hen, Thanks for the book review, I was waiting to see the star ratings on Amazon before I bought it (but no doubt will anyway!)I think you're right you know,the title doesn't marry up with the pictures you've shown us. I imagined it to be very 'pretty-pretty girly and sweet' but it doesn't look like that at all.'Romantic style' could have been called 'Pretty pastel style' I think you hit the nail on the head with saying it should have been called 'modern pastel style'. I do like the juxtaposition of different styles though, I must admit!

    Lovely birdy by the way..lucky Josie-m.

    ps.I'm currently re-prettifying you'll be pleased to was like living in a thunderstorm in that grey on grey lounge! Funnily enough I was toying with the idea of bright pink cushions against pale celadon walls! hmmmm... xx

  37. Dear Hen, I love your yummy little spot to sit and stitch. That chocolate cake did catch my eye!

    Thank You for the honest book review. It is always hard for me to know how much I will enjoy a book when selected on-line.

    Congratulations to the winner of that sweet little tweet : )

    Happy Stitching!

  38. I'm not sure if it was because I was born in the 70's and lived through the horror of orange and brown, but I loathe 70's colours and patterns. And anyone who suggests that pretty pastels should be combined with a 70's colour scheme is barking mad, in my opinion. Like you, I adore pretty pastels and as far as I am concerned the more sugary the better. I think pops of gorgeous jewel colours can work in a pastel scheme, but only with a vintage twist.I bought some dear little pastel coloured birdies for Easter decorations and my darling pussycat is obviously a fan because when I got home he had given one a through going over. Your divine house (and cottage) are an inspiration. XXX

  39. Thanks for the review, I think I shall get this out of the library rather than buying my own copy.

    Glad you managed to survive legoland, your stitching nook looks very comfy


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