Books + Magazines

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

September 25, 2009

Time for a little book review of a most glorious decorating book that would do any coffee table proud: Perfect English Cottage by best selling author Ros Byam Shaw with photos by one of England’s most sought-after photographers, Jan Baldwin. Ros Byam Shaw is a freelance journalist and writes for design magazines in addition to being the author of a bestseller. A former Features Editor at The World of Interiors and Deputy Editor of the British edition of W magazine, she lives in a restored Elizabethan manor in Devon, England where she penned this inviting and informative book. Care to sit next to me on the sofa and flip through with me today? Oh good! Because you have no choice. :)

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

The publisher of this title, Ryland Peters & Small sent me a copy and not only did I fall in love instantly, I was so hungry for English that I read most of it too! I don’t review all the books sent in because I will not review just any title — if something doesn’t fit my taste or interest (no matter if it is free or not), I don’t bother. But this one — well it’s special — I had to share because it’s quintessential Britain. Whenever I’ve visited England, I always enjoyed strolling around the charming villages mostly for the ambiance — stone homes and pathways, rolling hills, traditional thatched roofs, and wooden floors… Along with the cozy, inviting rooms and rustic fireplaces. The perfect vacation spot in the Autumn is to break free from the modern conveniences of city life (or inconveniences, however you see it) and head to a cottage of any kind really, but an English one is like a big, warm hug. It’s where you go for a few weeks to roll out dough, bake apple pies and curl up under plaid woolen blankets with a mug of cocoa or hot mulled wine. No diets. No laptop. No television. That is what Perfect English Cottage feels like in book format – a big cozy vacation space meant for dreaming.

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

So, what do I like about this book? Nothing. I was so disappointed! Ha ha! No seriously, it is fabulous and I won’t at all be surprised if it becomes the authors next bestseller. For one, it’s huge and the photographs are inviting and vivid. For $22 (at least at Amazon), it’s a steal because I think it’s worth $50 due to book size and the amount of photographs inside. I love a good coffee table book. Photos are not used over and over again on different pages throughout the book, either. Each page is different from the last, each photo new and beautifully shot – the mood of the space reaches out from the pages and pulls you in like cookies beckoning you from the oven. And it was published, in my opinion, during the perfect time of the year (it just released) because it fits the weather and how I imagine England as I’ve only been there in the Autumn months.

I also like it because it  features real homes, 18 of them, and all categorized so you have rustic, whimsical, historical and cottages by the sea to name a few, all styled with absolute perfection. It is divided, by style, into five key chapters: Character, Holiday, Romance, Simplicity and Elegance. It reminds me so much of some of the homes I’ve either lived in or visited when I lived in New England back in the states, which is another reason why I love this book so much — it’s a reminder of a bit of where I’ve been and experiences I’ve had. The medley of patterns, prints, colors and textures in each room lures you in and holds your attention — and one theme I see through the photographs is simplicity, creating a retreat, layering experiences and years into the home decor, and infusing rooms with character while still using careful restraint so as to not overwhelm the space or yourself with too much clutter. These rooms are edited beautifully.

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Book Review: Perfect English Cottage

Bottom line: If you love a good English cottage, take it from me — this is a great addition to your decorating library.  This book won’t disappoint!

Please note: As most of you know but I’ll say it again… all book links to the title are associated with my Amazon store and will link to Amazon where you can purchase it. If you purchase the book, I earn 6% of the book total ($3.85 USD before tax).

(images: holly becker for decor8)


  • Reply Marquita September 25, 2009 at 11:15 am

    For my birthday I got two different books from this publisher and they are awsome! I hope I can buy a few more for my bookshelf. These are the perfect books to look at, to read, to fall in love with.
    Thank you for your review and your lovely photos.

  • Reply Littlemisswedding September 25, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Great photos – being english myself I love those shots of a typical english cottage – the wrought iron beds, the patchwork quilts, the log fires and mismatching crockery… thanks for sharing with us

  • Reply Letícia Ávila September 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Quero te dar os parabéns. Adoro seu blog. Sempre estou aqui olhando.

    Letícia Ávila
    .-= Letícia Ávila´s last blog ..Inspiração do Dia – foto 08 =-.

  • Reply Susan T September 25, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Okay, you sold me, I’ve just contributed a small amount to your income from by buying from your link. A small thank you for all the enjoyment your blog brings me. Plus i have never been able to resist a coffee table book on English cottages. sigh…wishful thinking considering i live in a 60’s Ranch house. But one can dream!

  • Reply Rachel September 25, 2009 at 11:49 am

    totally my style! Thanks for sharing. :)
    .-= Rachel´s last blog friday, green shower. =-.

  • Reply Nuit September 25, 2009 at 11:54 am

    This book review is outstanding Holly! thank you for sharing. It’s not really my style but I do love looking at english cottage pictures, loads of inspiration and gorgeous photography here. And your post about Martha Stewart made my day ;) too funny…. (and tragic at the same time!!!) xo
    .-= Nuit´s last blog ..Lovely Vanity…… =-.

  • Reply Justina Blakeney September 25, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I LOVE that round, floral rug in the first shot! Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Justina Blakeney´s last blog ..just before & right afters =-.

  • Reply lindsay September 25, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Perfect Friday eye candy Holly! It’s just the time of year I start craving homemade quilts, backyard bouquets, more wood tones in the home, and piles of pillows by the fire! Thanks for giving me a dose of what I needed. I especially want to work on adding more color to our rooms this year, something to tide us over the grey winter.

  • Reply Daniella September 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I’m always amazed at how Ryland Peters & Small can make anything look gorgeous! All of their books are written so well and paired with amazing photography. This may sound odd but sometimes I scan the bookshelves of a store just for this publisher and no matter what the topic I end up loving the book!

  • Reply g. September 25, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    {so lovely! thank you for sharing!}
    .-= g.´s last blog ..{ parfum d’automne } =-.

  • Reply Sarah September 25, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    What a fabulous book! I must purchase it! I used to have in-laws that lived in Devon and I miss visiting…it is one of my favorite places on this planet. I dream of owning a cottage there someday myself…thank you for sharing!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Shabby Chic Returns! =-.

  • Reply Polly September 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Wow it looks lovely! And very English :) xx
    .-= Polly´s last blog ..2010 Calender =-.

  • Reply Wedding Chicks September 25, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Perfect Wedding Chick cottage!!! love love love everything we see!

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente September 25, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    What gorgeous spaces! Thank you for reviewing this hun….I would love to have this one!
    .-= Melissa de la Fuente´s last blog ..Wow… =-.

  • Reply sarathira September 26, 2009 at 8:32 am

    hi holly! that floral rug is so cute! and i can so imagine that beautiful tufted comforted being mine and snuggling it every day and night, and would love it even more if its bigger. i miss commenting on your page!
    .-= sarathira´s last blog ..My Saturday In London =-.

  • Reply Shanon September 26, 2009 at 9:31 am

    The next time I make a big book purchase from amazon, this is sooooo going in there! Love it. I actually tried to only breeze through the photos, so that I don’t spoil it for myself. =)
    .-= Shanon´s last blog ..~I’m keeping my head down today~ =-.

  • Reply Elizabeth E. September 26, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I have a conundrum/question for you. I searched through the photos of this book, looking in vain for an answer to my most difficult decor question (this month): how to decorate the wall at the END of the bed, when there’s only 3 feet of space (tiny U.S. bedroom, with queen-sized bed in this, the guest bedroom).

    I see lots of photos of tablescapes, heads of beds, nightstand shots, pillows-pillows-pillows, but no help on what to do with that blank wall facing those sitting in bed, reading. If there’s more space, I could see a small table or chair, but would love to see some answers to this problem.

    If there is an answer.

    P.S. I just returned from Munich and can relate to so many of your posts about enjoying the differences of life overseas. But I also related to “being hungry for English!”

  • Reply Fanciful Alice September 27, 2009 at 11:52 am

    lurvllllyyyyy … as a girl who hopes to have her own English cottage one of these days, I have already spied some ideas in this book. Thank you for sharing and for confirming to me all the reasons I love the English countryside so much :-)

  • Reply Melissa Allam September 27, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    You’re right, this does look cozy and perfect for fall. Thank you for the great in depth review. This is definately one I will think about buying.
    .-= Melissa Allam´s last blog ..Hydration Wrapped in Beauty =-.

  • Reply Ang September 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Love this site!
    Where did they get that butterfly mirror?? I want that!!!!


  • Reply cristin @ simplified bee September 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Looks like a great book! Thanks for the review.


  • Reply House Numbers September 27, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    My husband just got this book for me for my birthday, and WOW is a total understatement! Gorgeous photos of amazing homes. I would highly recommend this book!

  • Reply louise/artandghosts September 28, 2009 at 12:43 am

    oh, how i need this book!

    .-= louise/artandghosts´s last blog ..Calendar Competition =-.

  • Reply shalini September 28, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Looks like a really good book. All the photos appeal to me already.
    .-= shalini´s last blog ..My reading this year =-.

  • Reply Penny Patten September 28, 2009 at 10:36 am

    See me smiling! I love English and Cottage, so together looks like a lovely book.
    .-= Penny Patten´s last blog ..Introducing some new Hens an a couple of Roosters =-.

  • Reply Sheri September 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Terrific looking book, I think I’ll need a new coffee table to go with it! :)
    .-= Sheri´s last blog ..Groovy 70’s looking afghan =-.

  • Reply Amy October 4, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Ordered the book – perfect for my decorating needs! Trying to make my new old house, MY old house. So want the European look and it’s often hard to get inspired by the local furniture and decor shops living here in the middle of the US. Thanks for the inspiration and pointing me to the places I can order the things I need to create the look I love and so often see here on decor8. SO HAPPY you have created such a lovely blog!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..The Light of Fall =-.

  • Reply apdinesh October 8, 2009 at 4:17 am

    Very good to read this page.

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