The House Book by Terence Conran

Great Finds

At the library's Big Book Sale this weekend, my friend Anne (of the Appealing Abode) unearthed a copy of this treasure: Terence Conran's 1974 The House Book. Of course Conran's had many books since, but upon revisiting this original, we were amazed by how relevant it still seems, from the incredibly detailed guidance to the chic interiors...

Recent fans of Domino's Book of Decorating will notice some similarities in this precursor, which was clearly an inspiration for Domino's editors. Many of the interiors look to be straight out of the shelter mags of our era, and the helpful, straightforward instructions for things like buying lightbulbs and hanging artwork are similar to those in Domino's tome.

The House Book is no longer in print, but used copies abound online, and of course there's always the library. In the meantime, here are a few bits of advice we'll pass on from our copy:

• On finding space for a home office: On the (stairway) landing, an unused patch of space can be adapted into a study as long as you can keep out of draughts, and don't need absolute privacy.

• On less-than-attractive children's toys and furnishings: To ban everything that you don't consider impeccable does not guarantee that they'll grow up with faultless tastes of their own; they're that much more likely to rebel against yours as soon as they have the opportunity.

• On working with what you have: Matching sets of towels and flannels in good strong colours revive a dreary bathroom.

• On eating comfortably in limited space: Free-standing benches seat more people than do chairs. They are best used with tables with a central support.

• On being flexible with your furnishings: Living-rooms work well only if they are given a chance to evolve. Each new acquisition will suggest changes—some small, some large—in the surroundings.

Are you a devotee of the original 1974 House Book? Share your favorite quotes and bits of advice below!

(Images: Susie Nadler)

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