Guest Review: Janie Bryant Reviews Big, Easy Style
Emmy-winning costume designer Janie Bryant creates all of the looks seen on TV's Mad Men. She has worked on numerous films and TV shows. In 2005, she won an Emmy for her period costumes on HBO's Deadwood and this year, she took home the prestigious Outstanding Costume Design award from the Costume Designers Guild. Bryant also authored The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer for Mad Men.
Bryan Batt and I have been friends ever since his first costume fitting on Mad Men, and I was so delighted to hear about his home design book, Big, Easy Style. As soon as I started flipping through the pages, I immediately wanted to go home and redecorate my entire house!
As a Southern girl, I’ve had a love affair with Bryan’s New Orleans store, Hazelnut, for years. My husband and I even registered there for our wedding. Now everyone can be inspired by Bryan’s gorgeous designs and favorite rooms, which are splashed across these pages. The book is written in such a clever way, and you really get a feel for Bryan’s whimsy and his Southern, melodic voice. The text is even broken up with lighthearted headings, such as “A Call to Armoires” and “Home Wasn’t Built in a Day,” that really draw you in, and the gorgeous photographs keep you turning the pages.
My favorite chapter is “Don’t Be Afraid of Color” (Bryan jests, “What did it ever do to you?”). As a costume designer, I’m always playing with different colors and implementing them into my designs. I love to use color to tell a story about a character, and it’s clear that Bryan uses color to tell a story about a room. He encourages us to embrace color wholeheartedly. Then, he very deftly shows us how to “get a color clue” with a paint-by-number section that breaks down eight of his favorite swatches for each color of the rainbow, with photo examples. And if you don’t end up liking the color on your wall, Bryan reminds us that it’s only a can of paint—you can always start over. Of course—how quickly we forget!
Great designers hone their visions and then pair unexpected items that work together perfectly. That is overwhelmingly true about Bryan—in fact, he devotes an entire chapter to this idea and calls it “the mix.” Whether that mix is shaken or stirred, it’s how you blend a variety of styles that will, as he says, “keep your eyeballs moving around the room.” This ideology is also very New Orleans; using a combination of classic (especially French) and modern elements to create eclectic and beautiful designs is so intrinsic to the style of the city.
It is really impossible to choose a favorite room in Big, Easy Style. Bryan has created a book that is warm, elegant, and whimsical, and it makes decorating very approachable.
"You’ll love his collection of photographs of beautiful New Orleans rooms layered with his design tips and anecdotes of his own design experiences."—Southern Living
"[Big, Easy Style
] reads like a hard-copy extension of Batt's personality--elegant, gregarious, funny, showman-like. The rooms he's chosen to showcase are painstakingly designed, yet, in that enviable way, appear so easily tossed together."— Susan Langenhennig, The Times Picayune
"With great passion and a zest for creativity, [Bryan Batt] and Katy Danos offer thoughtful tips on color, collecting, patterns and much more along the way. Kerri McCaffety captures the beauty of each room in her inviting photographs. I love Batt's unique whimsy style. How many of us would think of placing giant decorations from a Mardi Gras float in a lavish dining room? Or how about hanging an ornate crystal chandelier in the kitchen? Or what about painting a Chippendale-style chair mellow yellow. But they all work!"—Jeryl Brunner, Stylist.com
"If you've missed Bryan Batt since he left the set of Mad Men
in 2009 (he played Salvatore Romano), catch up with him in a decor ode to his hometown: New Orleans. [In Big, Easy Style
], we're treated to his vision of making rooms inviting, festive and ultimately setting the foundation for entertaining, which is what this get-down town is all about."—San Francisco Chronicle
"The book is full of Batt's tips. It's like spending an afternoon with someone who you'd like to watch decorate a home."-- Karen Dalton-Beninato, Huffington Post Books