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on March 3, 2004
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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on June 12, 2005
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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on April 12, 2010
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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on July 1, 2013
I absolutely adore Mr. Haslam's book on his hunting lodge home. I have learned a lot and just think his taste and style is absolutely wonderful. Never far from the British basic but still he always has flare. His colour sense and portortion of furniture in small rooms leaves much to learn from.
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on September 27, 2013
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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on November 7, 2014
The book arrived in just a few days and was in very good condition. While Mr. Haslam's style is not always what I would choose for my own personal decor, I admire his daring and his ability to cheerfully bend and even turn traditional design styles upside down. A little drama, a little humor, and a lot of cheek obviously made him the darling of the celebrity design world. An interesting read and great photography.
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on August 22, 2009
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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on April 6, 2013
I totally disagree with some of the reviews above; Nicky Haslams' designs are timeless; if you're a fan of his you'll love this book ; if new, welcome to his world. I was not disappointed.
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on February 4, 2004
tacky, dated interiors that might delight the nouveau riches. Good photos, 'tho.
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on December 9, 2003
Great photos and ideas from a very innovative designer.
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