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Mark Hampton on Decorating Hardcover – September 2, 1989

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is a collection of the monthly columns written by the author over a three-year period for House & Garden , plus additional material written especially for the book. Designed and illustrated by Hampton himself, the book is visually attractive. Unfortunately, the text is little more than a tour of the decorating styles of the rich and famous. The author's knowledge of his field is obvious, and his opinions are informed, but the rather breathless, gushy style that works in a popular magazine column does not carry over well as a serious book. Offering little real substance, the chapters all sound the same. Not an essential purchase.
- Constance Ashmore Fairchild, Univ. of Illinois Lib., Urbana-Champaign
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

This book treats essential aspects of design individually: colors, elements, styles, plans, rooms, outdoors, and materials. Illustrated with the author's full-color renderings of his own works.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (September 2, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394579879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394579870
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's important to note that this book is really more of an information/reference book...a true "reading tool" versus a visual inspiration book. There are illustrations throughout the book, but they are DRAWINGS/SKETCHES (in color) from Mark Hampton (which in-and-of-itself is quite spiffy since you rarely get to see a designers original sketches). There are NO photos, so if that's what you're expecting, keep moving.

That said, I do really like this one. It's written in a very friendly, easy to read style. I also have his daughter Alexa's book that was released last year ("The Language of Interior Design," ISBN 9780307460530), as well as the one his wife authored last year ("Mark Hampton: An American Decorator," ISBN 9780847832880), and you can feel a lot of similarities in his & Alexa's "voices." There is no pretension to be found in either book, which I find refreshing.

You will learn quite a bit about the decorating process, things that inspired him, furniture names & styles, how to work with color/pattern/fabrics, and so on, without feeling like you're reading a college textbook. If you can get it, the 2nd book mentioned above, "...an American decorator," is an excellent companion to this as they both chronicle his work thru the decades (this one with sketches, the other with loads of photos).

This would also be an excellent book to give to a design student since it shows him working very well with myriad design styles, which is important for any budding designer.

While "Language" and "American Decorator" are the more customary large format (aka coffee table) design books with lush photography, this one is a a good bit smaller (but certainly not miniscule). I was surprised when it arrived. Knowing now that it's mostly textual rather than full of photography, it makes sense. Just a little heads-up!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Absolutely the best book on American home design of the contemporary period!

It is not a "picture book," though it contains room sketches made by designer. In it Hampton writes about the principles of home decorating and interior design in a style free of professional jargon and in some of the purest, cleanest English to come from a design writer in our time. His prose is like his design style---deceptively simple, clear, welcoming, and entertaining.

He has chapters on the elements of design----Colors; Elements (fireplaces, dressing windows, lamplight, mirrors, deep comfort in seating, beds and bedposts, parameters of framing, setting the table, pattern underfoot); Styles (Victorian comeback, Classicism Is Always New, The Delights of Chinoiserie, Fresh Look at Baltic Styles, Early American Purity); Plans (Furniture Placement that Makes a Living Room Work, How to Create Interior Views, etc); Rooms; Materials (fabrics, uses of wallpaper, tassels and fringes, gimps and cords, rugs).

Each one is eminently practical and insightful. One has the feel of the writer speaking. In writing about furniture placement in the more "public" rooms of a house, Hampton writes, "To dwell on large parties can begin to sound silly. Think, instead, of room in which conversation can flourish, whether between two people or among ten, rooms in which visitors feel immediately at home and would rather sit than stand---rooms that really work. I believe the rooms in which all these things happen are those that are very well arranged. They appear to be comfortable to the eye even before one has experienced the physical comfort."

He offers "a little syllogism" for approaching furniture arrangement.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In reading Duane Hampton's book on her husband Mark, it is mentioned that Mark loved giving lectures on design. Upon reading this, I felt wistful wishing I could have attended his talks. I even looked on youtube to see if they were filmed. Found an interview there of Mark which was fun to watch. Mark was continually visiting historic buildings around the world and reading about design as an enthusiastic life-long learner. This book feels like a collection of his talks, the next best thing to hearing him lecture. In this book on decorating he shares his enthusiasm, education and erudition with the reader. Although the chapters feel like lively talks on each design topic, many of them were written as columns for HOUSE & GARDEN magazine.

The book is divided into seven sections: Colors, Elements, Styles, Plans, Rooms, Outdoors, and Materials. I found all of the chapters interesting - some of my favorite chapters included English country style, the slipper chair, living room arrangements and chintz. There are insightful design tips sprinkled throughout. Fetching illustrations by Mark featuring examples of his topics add much interest and grace to the this book. You may find yourself googling the names of designers, buildings and rooms he mentions to see what he is talking about. It is an informal and conversational education.

I found this a fetching and delightful read, and am glad to look at aspects of the design world through Mark Hampton's eyes and understanding.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mark Hampton is without a doubt, one of the most enduring decorators of our time. His presence is sadly missed. This book is one of the cornerstones of my interior decoration education. Although I am not a professional decorator, I have worked with several over the past 30 years. This is a book I have turned to many times for thought and inspiration. I see something new every time I open it up.
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