Rose Tarlow and The Private House

Irish moss in wood bowl, image via The Private House by Rose Tarlow as seen on linen & lavender
Antique chair and tick stripe fabric, image via The Private House as seen on linen & lavender
Collection of pewter ware, image via The Private House by Rose Tarlow, edited by lb for linen & lavender
Though The Private House was published some 9 years ago, it remains one of my favorite design books and I still enjoy perusing its pages. That said, I just realized yesterday that I had never sat and read more than just a few lines of text from the book. I’m an avid reader by any standard, so I’m still confounded by this oversight as I have haunted my library shelves at midnight many-a-night looking for something to read —or even re-read.  Not to mention the many times I have scoured my design books to ascertain specific source information.   Why not this one?

The only plausible explanation I can come to is that I was so enthralled by the imagery, -so pulled in to her roomscapes- that I never got around to anything else. –And this must have happened each time (of the dozens of times) I picked up this book! 

In any case, some sort of aligning-of-the-stars must have finally occurred and I became immersed in its pages today; reading it from cover-to-cover. Now, on top of admiring her design acumen, I feel a special bond with this woman whom I have never met.

Though it’s not a large book, it has a wealth of design advice from color and light to space planning; however, it doesn’t read like a text book.  The practical advice is interspersed with enchanting memories of her childhood home “Windrift” and inspiration garnered from the green fields of Ireland to antiquing jaunts in the heart of Paris.  From the very first chapter “A Window Inside,” I recognized a kindred spirit in her:

“I live inside my head, often oblivious to the world outside myself. I see only what I wish to see.  Everything else is obliterated by a convenient discerning device, a window inside-a window that, in an instant, will open and record the vision of a single blade of grass reflected in a raindrop, a gift to store in the recesses of my mind…”

–And then in chapter 3, “The Perfect Puzzle” she describes how she happily immerses herself for many hours on a plane from Marseilles to Manhattan working and reworking the floor plan of a farmhouse she had seen in Provence (Oh, how I can identify with this!):

“The small stone-floored entry hall was enormously charming just as it was, suggesting the comfort and pleasure promised within. In the center, I could picture a round hall table with a big glazed bowl filled with lovely fragrant lavender. Maybe a worn white-and-gray-blue linen rug would sit under the table, along-side a chipped, chalky, painted bench, heaped with finely woven baskets for gathering flowers, voluptuous straw bonnets, and a stack of soft cotton quilts for picnics on the grass…In my mind’s eye, I could picture a big, cozy kitchen: see the sunlight filter in through the panes of the window; smell the scent of drying herbs and baking bread; taste the pear-and-almond tart prepared for afternoon tea on the heavy wooden table in front of the centuries-old stone fireplace…”

I’ve extracted a few images, a few of my favorite elements here…but these are just a few. This book is well-worth the purchase price if it is not in your collection already. It’s been almost ten years and as is clearly evident here, I’m still finding inspiration in its pages.              Thanks, Rose! 

 all images, The Private House

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Posted in 06Inspiration File, antiques, design inspiration, designer, interior designer, Ireland, Paris, Provence, Rose Tarlow, Rose Tarlow-Melrose House, The Private House.

One Comment

  1. I'm going to add this one to my wish list. And I definitely identify with her quote, ""I live inside my head, often oblivious to the world outside myself." Can be good and bad sometimes.
    Melissa in the UK

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