If you didn’t receive everything that you wanted this holiday season (or if you simply want to add another great book to your library), then consider contributor Susan Sully’s reasons to pick up a copy of Phoebe Howards’s book The Joy of Decorating.
One of my favorite design books of the year 2012 is The Joy of Decorating: Southern Style with Mrs. Howard by Phoebe Howard (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)–a volume I’m sure will delight those who share my love of Southern decorating, past and present. This recommendation has utterly nothing to do with the fact that I had the pleasure of co-authoring the book and everything to do with the fact that interior decorator Phoebe Howard is delightfully articulate, infectiously in love with her subject matter, inspiring, fun, and gifted. Her very first decorating project (outside of the lovely rooms she has created in her Mrs. Howard stores since 1996) appeared on the cover of House Beautiful, to be followed by countless covers and articles in top decorating magazines.
Phoebe is a compelling storyteller, and in the introduction she describes her evolution from awkward teenager to full-time mother to a design entrepreneur whose empire includes four Mrs. Howard stores, four Max & Company stores, the Mr. and Mrs. Howard line of furniture, and a thriving decorating career. The inspiration that launched this journey came from Phoebe’s Aunt Myra, a loving relation who designed an intimate and charming retreat for her teenage niece, teaching her about the healing power of interior design.
“I can still close my eyes and recall every detail of that room,” Phoebe writes. “It embraced me and allowed my wounds to heal. When I think back to the impact the room had on me, I realize how powerful our environments can be. They affect us far more profoundly that we realize. In every room I decorate, my goal is to re-create that same sense of inspiration and comfort I felt in that bedroom.”
Arranged in seven sections with beautiful pictures of rooms decorated by Phoebe (many of them including architectural settings by her husband Jim Howard), she addresses the questions of how to design environments that are Inviting, Inspiring, Timeless, Graceful, Tranquil, Casual, and Comfortable.
If you love beautiful décor, this is a book to sit back and enjoy. If you love to decorate, it’s also one to study and learn from. Either way, The Joy of Decorating is a gift that is sure to delight and inspire anyone who receives it.
Susan Sully is an authority on Southern architecture and design. She is the author of many books published by Rizzoli. Most recently, she has co-authored a series of monographs about Southern designers including Bobby McAlpine, and Phoebe Howard.