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Book Review

Styling Homes

A coffee table book that's as heavy as a coffee table sounds something Kramer, the eccentric character in "Seinfeld", the popular American comedy series of the 80s would have come up with, having sold the idea of 'a coffee table book that's actually a coffee table' to a publisher. But there is nothing gimmicky about Homes of Bangladesh which is heavy with 13 laborious sections that go into every nitty gritty of home décor. Meticulous in its details, this book covers practically every space of a home and every part that can be shaped or adorned to bring about a particular look.

Enriched with hundreds of pictures--all reproductions of the author Nazneen Haque Mimi's own work, the interior designer has emphasised a basic philosophy to each ensemble balance and harmony whether it is a simple entrance to a home or an elaborate living area. Line, shape and form, colour, texture, pattern and light are basic guidelines discussed.

In her book, Mimi journeys into the past and reinterprets age-old traditions into contemporary formats. Obviously a bit of a history buff, and keen on following architectural trends over the decades, Mimi has tried to include interiors that are reminders of each decade, giving brief descriptions of each along with a few personal anecdotes. The book's first chapter is on entrances and goes into surprising detail as the author believes that the entrance 'makes a statement about our living spaces and about us…' Take the intricately patterned conventional mosaic, high ceiling and three-seat Victorian-looking bench at an entrance verandah that is reminiscent of a spacious 50's home; or a 60s style white console with mirror and white walls to welcome the visitor into a colonial off-white living room.

Going through the book is quite a heady experience. The countless ways each space can be decorated and the vibes that can be brought about through the process indicates a feverishly creative mind that is constantly searching for innovation. While living rooms have been elaborately designed for the purpose of entertaining guests, there are cosy studies, family lounges and tastefully decorated bedrooms that become private refuges for the inmates to escape to from their hectic, city lives.

As with many books on interiors a huge chapter has been devoted to bathrooms showing off an impressive collection of just how pretty and exciting this most personal of spaces can be.

The 'Kitchens' chapter has also gone into detail and discusses the importance of demarcating the wet and dry areas. Wet areas are spaces in a kitchen where vegetables and meats are washed and so can be quite messy. 'Dry' areas are wider spaces where one may have fancy wood or Formica centre-tops and cabinets as well as the main stove or oven. The two can be kept separate through clever use of space so that the dry area can always look spic and span.

The chapter on studies give interesting ideas on how to turn corners into functional, fully equipped study areas making maximum use of the space available. There are also useful tips on ways to create comfortable offices for those who work from home.

The author evidently has a weakness for staircases, as they are an important part of the overall aesthetics of a home. She gives the reader a good idea of the different types of stairways from simple, straightforward stairs illuminated by natural light from tall windows to traditional winding staircases that always add an element of old world elegance and mystery.

Published by Journeyman and edited by Raffat-Binte-Rashid, the text of the book is rich and offers far more than practical guidelines to interior designing. It is filled with the author's insight into the philosophy of designing particular looks of particular spaces. The book also covers every aspect of a home including windows, doors, open spaces and so on. The quality of printing and photography are certainly impressive and have an international look.

If it is the weight and size of the book that seems intimidating, rest assured that there is enough reading and visually pleasing material in Homes of Bangladesh to browse through and be enlightened by. It will also look pretty good on a coffee table.

-A M Amin

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