Because choosing just one outstanding book related to house and home is no mean feat, I decided to focus on the latest 2010 releases. But even within the narrower category, there are several beautifully written—yet wildly different—new titles. That said, many who appreciate refined antiques and classic interior decoration (not to mention soft luminous color, comfort, and gracious old houses) have been eagerly anticipating Suzanne Rheinstein’s debut book, At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past.
In her introduction, Rheinstein vividly describes the sights and sweet olive scent of her New Orleans childhood along with myriad influences she still carries with her today, living and working on both the East and West coasts. In an era when interior designers tend to flip houses or sell off possessions almost annually, Rheinstein and her husband, Fred, have for more than 30 years made their home base a 1914 Georgian Revival in the Windsor Square section of Los Angeles’ Hancock Park.
Fans of Mrs. Rheinstein’s work know this house well. Its slow evolution has been documented by so many shelter magazines over the years. The treat of the book is the expanded coverage—detailed views of the tailored dressmaker details for which the designer is known, the patina of painted 18th-century Italian chairs, nooks and crannies, fresh angles of her “object-driven” rooms.
And the same holds true for the other houses featured. Special attention is paid to butler’s pantries, laundry rooms and outbuildings.
I hope this peek into the Hancock Park house whets your appetite to see more. The dining room (chock-a-block with light-reflecting surfaces including glaze-painted striped walls, old glass, Sheffield plate silver, and a Russian chandelier) is set for a Southern-style breakfast that is calling my name!
Civic-minded Rheinstein is a good teacher. She sums up her book by paraphrasing her friend William Yeoward: “All design is an opinion, and this happens to be mine.”
(all photographs: © AT HOME: A Style for Today with Things from the Past by Suzanne Rheinstein, Rizzoli New York, 2010. Images © Pieter Estersohn)