A Literary Approach to Decoration

Design-loving bookworms, rejoice: Your perfect coffee-table companion is here

The joy of reading takes center stage in this room, even in the presence of a gold-leaf table by Yves Klein.
The joy of reading takes center stage in this room, even in the presence of a gold-leaf table by Yves Klein.
Photographs by Ivan Terestchenko; courtesy of Potter Style


The hall was large and high, with a flagged floor; . . . antlers full of stags ornamented the walls, opposite the full-length Van Dycks.” So wrote Vita Sackville-West in The Edwardians; and for those of us who derive a certain pleasure at the sight or sound of these words—people who get a vicarious thrill reading about rooms and spaces in literature—then Lisa Borgnes Giramonti’s blog, A Bloomsbury Life, is nothing short of digital catnip. This month, the writer and embroidery artist has released Novel Interiors, her collaboration with World of Interiors photographer Ivan Terestchenko, which jumps right to the top of our required-reading list.

A Literary Approach to Decoration

Name-checking everything from Gatsby’s West Egg mansion to the indoor conservatory in Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, the book evokes a collection of beautiful worlds while also putting forth some relatively achievable design ideas. (Invest in gold-rimmed china, which the author calls “one of those purchases you’ll never regret”; set a patio table with white-petaled flowers and silvery fronds for an alfresco dinner scene straight out of Tender is the Night.) A frequent host, Giramonti has a gift for being both fanciful and friendly, and the advice contained in Novel Interiors runs the gamut. You’ll learn how to create the ultimate cozy corner just as you’re being persuaded to name your home and print out a set of house stationery.

Deep and moody hues look dramatic but welcoming in this triptych of rooms.
Deep and moody hues look dramatic but welcoming in this triptych of rooms.
A Literary Approach to Decoration
A roomy entryway with a patterned settee calls to mind the comforts of an English country home.
A roomy entryway with a patterned settee calls to mind the comforts of an English country home.
Bookshelves, wallpaper, and a well-positioned chair are set off by handsome dark-wood floors.
Bookshelves, wallpaper, and a well-positioned chair are set off by handsome dark-wood floors.
A trio of wildly varying artworks breaks up the otherwise linear nature of this space. 
A trio of wildly varying artworks breaks up the otherwise linear nature of this space. 
A Literary Approach to Decoration

Needless to say, we devoured this book, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll love it too. You know who you are. With any luck—and a little inspiration from Novel Interiors—we may someday have a space like this one described in David Copperfield: “In every nook and corner there was some queer little table, or cupboard, or bookcase, or seat, or something or other, that made me think there was not such another good corner in the room; until I looked at the next one, and found it equal to it, if not better.”

Novel Interiors, by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti: Random House; $35

Indoor greenery and a subtle undercurrent of eccentricity imbue this garden-like sitting room with personality.
Indoor greenery and a subtle undercurrent of eccentricity imbue this garden-like sitting room with personality.
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