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Sheer Opulence (Decor Best-Sellers) Hardcover – October 1, 2002

10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Nicky Haslam has not only reinvented himself - he's reinvented English interior design, turning it around, twisting it and coming up with something exquisite and undreamt of by anyone else. Not one to pander to restraint or minimalism, Haslam goes all out for his individual interiors: adding pillars, columns, fake doors don't daunt him in the slightest and his commissions for furniture, lights, wallpaper and carpets, made to order, will no doubt one day end up in an art gallery for their beauty and perfection. Decorator to the stars, and a star himself, he has been fortunate enough to carry out his dreams and visions the world over. In this, his first book, he explains his ideas, methods and the inspiration behind the multitude of fabulous interiors which fill this wonderful book. His sound design advice is lucidly given to ensure the everyday person can translate it into their own homes. As he says, "decoration is about making people look prettier and feel happier" and although most of us cannot afford hand-painted wallpaper or marble floors, we can, as he often does, improvise. For an indulgent, inspirational read, transport yourself to a world of perfection, beauty and "Sheer Opulence" with Britain's number one interior designer. - Lucy Watson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

An interior decorator since 1971, Nicholas Haslam lived in Los Angeles and New York and was the art director of Vogue magazine. He currently lives and works out of London and Hampshire, England. He decorates town and country interiors all over Europe and the US for private clients, who include Ringo Starr, Joan Collins, Mick Jagger, and several British royals.

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Product Details

  • Series: Decor Best-Sellers
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Watson-Guptill (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823047970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823047970
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 9.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,139,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By TW on March 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Nicholas Haslam must surely be the most well-connected decorator of his time. As a very young man he was hanging out with the likes of Lady Diana Cooper and company. The book's inside-flap wastes no time in reminding us of his celebrity clientel.He has had privilged entree to some of the most ravishingly beautiful rooms of his time, and he is an astute observer of the elements that go to make up that thing called Style. His essays are excellently presented, his watercolours delightful.
If only he had brought these talents to bear upon his own interiors, which are at their best merely whimsical and at worst faintly tawdry. The gorgeous photography serves to reinforce the notion that all interior decoration is somehow suspect. Use of materials and architectural detail is arbitrary to a fault.In short, nothing quite rings true, and the quality of Character that this designer admires in the works of his predecessors is disconcertingly absent from these hollow excercises. Perhaps when Evelyn Waugh's Mrs Beaver noted that "decoration is not an exact science" she gave the world something to chew on.
Several years ago Mr Haslam moved into the Hunting Lodge, lived in previously by the great John Fowler. A double paged spread illustrates a corner of the diminutive Sitting Room. A bulky sofa having an array of "accent" cushions is thrust further into the room by a table behind it, and above that table are 18century French engravings in gilt frames. The effect is ludicrous. One hardly expected Nicky Haslam to dupicate the Fowler scheme, but at the very least he might have honored the spirit of the place, and restrained himself from tarting things up.
Nonetheless, this is a fascinating glimpse into a sort of unreal, fantasy world where publicity and social skills count for
something alarmingly persuasive. Being a good interior decorator isn't in the least a simple matter, yet the myth lives on in these pages.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Don Diego on June 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful book, lots of ideas. This is a decorator who is not afraid to combine "grand" with "simple" and makes it all look great. Here is someone who goes beyond what most people think of as proper and good decorating and because of his ideas and boldness, makes rooms come alive.

Anyone can follow the rules and create a nice room, it takes a creative mind to go beyond that, and this book shows that.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Third Time Lucky on April 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm reading Nicholas Haslam's autobiography, 'Redeeming Features' at the moment, and so enjoying it that I decided I'd treat myself to his interiors book, 'Sheer Opulence'. It's recently been re-issued in paperback so I figured "no great loss" if I didn't like it. I live in a titchy little terrace myself, but I do like my property porn, and Haslam's reputation as the best in the business suggested something really quite fantastic.

Well, what a disappointment. The cover of this book shows a really lovely, restrained yet homely and restful interior, and definitely whets the appetite for more; then you get into the body of the book and discover it's full of some of the naffest, most dated rooms you ever saw in your life.

If you are a faux-toff desperate to make your newly-minted money look old, Haslam is obviously your man. He seems to love his frilly-knicker curtains, gopping rococo antiques, and fussy fabrics and upholstery; never layers the passing of time or incorporates the patina of age and wear; and he absolutely doesn't know when to stop. It's like a caricature of 'posh', and exactly how a sink-estate dweller who's won the lottery might furnish his new country pile.

Haslam's colourways are also very dated (I suspect the publisher didn't bother to incorporate any of Haslam's newer work), and his room treatments devoid of any real interest because everything is simultaneously excessive and totally bare of any real personality. Even in paperback, and even if you merely bought this book to accustom your design eye to tastes that aren't your own, this book is a complete waste of time and money. I'm returning my copy to Amazon, and you should save yourself the trouble of even borrowing it from the library.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Leonard S. Worman on August 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Beautiful photography of Haslam's work illustrates how a home or apartment can be transformed into a place of magic that will constantly delight not only the owner, but all who visit. Lots of good ideas for decorating not often seen in contemporary property. Shows you don't have to have access to an antique dealer to create the effect of being traditional.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Warren on September 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Really enjoyable; I'm glad I bought it. His designs are beautiful, even though they may not not appeal to everyone. In addition, they are exciting, and above all, most appear comfortable and inviting. He is adept at weaving in personal history and anecdotes, which provide insight into his thought process and inspiration.
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