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The humble home: four books that celebrate simple and eco-friendly abodes

Published in the Sunday Times

By Roberta Thatcher

Simple Home: Calm Spaces for Comfortable Living
By Mark and Sally Bailey
Ryland, Peters & Small, R499

For Mark and Sally Bailey, British designers and furniture makers, the three words you should be thinking about when decorating your home are: “repair, reuse, and rethink”. The duo, who have collaborated with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Liberty, Conran and Habitat, believe a simple home should be “calm and uncluttered with each item carefully chosen”. In this book, they share tips and advice on how to achieve this effect, from buying well-made, well-designed items that will age gracefully, to looking to nature for inspiration when it comes to your colour scheme, sourcing from artisans where possible, and recycling furniture to make it meaningful and lasting. Their take-home message is that surrounding yourself solely with objects that you really love will allow you to enjoy the beautiful calm of an uncluttered home.

150 Best New Eco Home Ideas
By Francesc Zamora Mola
HarperCollins, R495

A fabulous review of 150 forward-thinking eco-friendly house designs, this beautifully presented book showcases the work of internationally renowned architects and designers who have achieved practical, innovative and beautiful solutions around the globe. Think a rammed-earth desert retreat in Arizona, US, with a huge rainwater harvesting and filtering solution, or a house in the woods in Sardinia, Italy, which was built without a single tree in its dense forest surroundings being cut down. If you’re looking to build or renovate your home with a minimal carbon footprint, consider this the ultimate gift to yourself.

Handmade Houses
By Richard Olsen
Rizzoli, R795

If there’s a book that will make you want to go out into the woods and build yourself a cabin, this is it. Author Richard Olsen features around two dozen hand-built homes around the globe, all of which celebrate the return to “low-tech” or even “anti-tech” building techniques and slow architecture. All the homes are made from natural and reclaimed materials, and while wood and salvaged metals are the heroes of the pages, more unconventional materials such as boulders, driftwood and even old wine vats show face too. Olsen introduces us to the owners, too – professionals and amateurs who personally designed and built each home, and their passions and vision is contagious. It’s inspirational reading for anyone interested in environmentally friendly design, craft, and the expression of personal style in the home.

Small Homes, Grand Living
Editors: Gestalten, Gestalten, R950

The opening pages of this beautiful book share a quote worth thinking about: “If you are able to live in a smaller home, then your rental costs will be lower. Renting or owning a smaller space means you need to earn less money, which results in the possibility of working fewer hours and having more time available. In other words, the luxury of time is a value that can replace the luxury of space if you are willing to live in a smaller, more compact home.” The book duly goes on to share an assortment of projects and homes that pay homage to creative usage of space, as well as useful advice for creating small homes that are as comfortable as they are functional and beautiful.

Book details


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