Life Unstyled, the new design book by Emily Henson is the perfect antidote to the flawless images we are bombarded with on blogs, in magazines, and on social media. How to Embrace Imperfection and Create a Home You Love, is the byline and it perfectly sums up the ethos of the book. And it perfectly sums up Emily Henson, an interior stylist, who in her private life prefers a home to look like a home.
Knowing that those picture-perfect images she was creating in her professional life were completely unattainable and unrealistic, she decided to rebel, and show instead homes where real people live. It’s about taking inspiration from beautiful and creative homes that may be a bit rough around the edges, but show signs of every day life throughout. They are also homes that are constantly evolving and changing and show a real sense of the personality and history of the owner.
The first part of the book, ‘Embracing Imperfection‘, sets out Emily’s manifesto for creating a stylish home that is beautiful but lived in. ‘Work With What You’ve Got‘ suggests ideas for making the most of the space you have, while ‘Signs of Life‘ offers ideas for controlling life’s inevitable mess. Good Clutter tackles collections and displays, Paint is Your Friend presents creative ideas for using colour to breathe new life into an interior and Break the Rules shows how individuality can bring a home to life. Finally Creativity Before Consumption is packed with suggestions that will help you put your own stamp on your home.
But my favourite section of the book is ‘People Live Here‘. Don’t we all love a good nosy? And this is the section of the book where we can visit real-life homes and have a peak under the bed and a rummage through the record collection. Well maybe not that, but we get the chance to look round homes that are definitely not perfect and interior designed, but which display incredible style and creativity.
I have to confess that as a neat freak myself who has a horror of clutter, I wondered if this was the book for me. I might not be able to embrace all of the advice on offer, but I’m still inspired by the beautiful images and the ‘idea’ of living with “lumps, bumps and unfinished jobs”. After all, as Emily says “A Home is Never Done”.
Life Unstyled by Emily Henson, published by Ryland Peters & Small.
Photography by Debi Treloar © Ryland Peters & Small