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Big, Easy Style: Creating Rooms You Love to Live In Hardcover – October 4, 2011
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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.
"[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
Top Customer Reviews
Importantly, I found the ideas for picture arrangements to be just what I needed. I had tons of framed pieces piled up against a wall in a spare room (been gathering there for years). I grouped them, weeded some out, replaced a few frames (inexpensively) and now I have a whole new look going on with one wall. It suddenly seemed easy - such a sense of achievement!
I love this book - it's what I consider true "design" to be about - bringing together the old and the new into something that is so uniquely special, that it becomes art unto itself, while still being something that you can truly live in, and engage in, and enjoy. Environment has such a profound effect on so many things - so it's nice to have inspiration to bring everything together so that a room becomes truly unique and beautiful, not to be duplicated. This book helps you achieve that - very satisfying. And while it is very New Orleans in its inspiration, these styles and inspiration would be appreciated anywhere. This book, for me, was money very well spent.
It may be the only city in America where the cool, fun, creative people still own antiques. If you like, or have inherited, antiques but don't want your house to look like Grandma's, this is an essential book (along with Southern Cosmopolitan).
Big, Easy Style is incredibly chic, but the writing is non-snobby New Orleans hospitality. Bravo.
The best lesson, and perhaps the main theme of Bryan's entire book, is to throw out the rules of decorating. Don't fear color, but embrace your favorites as neutral backdrops (even purple, orange or red) to showcase your favorite things. Your room won't decorate itself, but evolve as you start with a few key pieces and begin to build on them.
When Bryan tells stories about his charmed New Orleans childhood and love of diverse architectural styles, you can see that his experiences mirror our own: visiting Grandma's formal home and drinking in its personality, hanging out in his parents' more modern place, and strolling through the ornate French Quarter, perhaps thinking "If I lived there..."
Bryan has provided us with artistic photographs of rooms of many styles, and shown us how to use amazing finds like hanging Lucite bubble glass chairs, Louis IVX settees and artwork of every style. The seamless but casual way he integrates everything from suptuous antiques to attic treasures and thrift store lamps is an outstanding primer that any novice can enjoy and use to help find his or her own big, easy style.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Entertaining reading with charming, occasionally witty writing. Batt is talented and modest. He has a laissez-faire attitude toward color and provenance, but there is some subtle... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Solange
The book was disappointing.It did arrive promptly and in prefect condition. No inspirational ideas found in it.Published 4 months ago by karen harding
its good. less about stuff and more about details of design would be preferable.Published 9 months ago by Janice
Bryan really brings it all together here with style. Outstanding work and we thank you for your contribution. Kindest, GMPublished on January 25, 2014 by Dr. jur. George Mentz JD MBA CWM (Author and Teacher)
It's hard for me not to love everything about New Orleans, and this book does a good job of capturing the eclectic charm of a city even a Cat 5 hurricane couldn't destroy. Read morePublished on January 2, 2014 by Linbeck
The book arrived dog-eared. I was going to give it as a gift. I kept it, but the purchase was a disappointment since it was supposed to be a new book. Read morePublished on November 16, 2013 by Ms. Nanners
Although this book does not contain photos of traditional, grand LA homes, I do like some of Bryan Batt's decorating style. Read morePublished on September 18, 2013 by lostdesigner