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AROUND HOME : The Country House Book BY BARTY PHILLIPS (Salem House; 1988)

December 18, 1988|Virginia Gray

UNLIKE MANY BOOKS devoted to things country, this one bridges the gaps, both philosophically and aesthetically, between American, English, European and Scandinavian country decorating styles. Phillips believes that the broad appeal of country houses symbolizes something we might be losing in today's technology-oriented society: "a way of life based on the earth and the things that grow in it and live off it." Six of the eight chapters are devoted to certain styles of country houses: cottage, farmhouse, manor house, colonial, French provincial and Mediterranean. In her narrative on cottage style, the author explains that it's "simple and unassuming, an unaffected style originally created out of thrift and economy." She reminds us that cottage style has been dictated by climate and available building materials and that these cottages, "rather like a pair of comfortable old shoes, they take on the shape of their owner." Phillips suggests appropriate and practical solutions for each style for fabrics, window treatments, floors, furniture, decorative accessories, kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, and explains how interior and exterior influence each other. The final chapter is devoted to country gardens. Every category is handsomely illustrated in numerous color photographs. ($34.95)

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