Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: French Chic Living by Florence de Dampierre

French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your House Beautiful by Florence de Dampierre brings the art of French living right to your fingertips. Dampierre's latest book is best described as a hybrid between Heloise Helpful Hints and Parisian Chic; it is not just a photobook filled with beautiful interior photographs, it is an instructive and charming guide to making your home all the more French.

French living is all about warmth, comfort and a feeling of invitation. Dampierre's book is filled to the brim with practical advice that will give your home (and your life!) that charming French touch.

The book is separated into a series of chapters dedicated to different areas of the home care; each chapter features various tips, hints and other advice based on the principles of French living. The reason that French Chic Living stands out from similar "French style" books is that it's not just about what your home looks like--it's about the staples you should have in your home, how you clean and maintain your home, and how to make your home radiate warmth to the friends, family and other welcomed guests you invite inside.

 [credit: © Tim Street Porter. Used with permission.]

Most notable of these are the sections dedicated to the kitchen. This section includes everything you need to know about keeping a French kitchen: from essential kitchen tools to recipes for cleaning your pots and pans to a full fledged-guide about what staple foods to have handy, which includes fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms and more. Gardening tips, recipes, and other helpful tidbits are also sprinkled throughout the "Kitchen" pages. I have actually already started to incorporate the advice from this section into my own home and I couldn't be happier with the results!

What I find myself coming back to again and again are the practical aspects of the book. I suppose  there is a stereotype about "home living" books which dismisses them as just pretty pictures of pretty homes--but I can't stress enough how substantial the information in this book is! Just about anything you could want to know about keeping a 'French chic' home is here; from perfuming your home with clever sachets to cleaning just about any kind of stain (with recipes!) and even a considerable section regarding cleaning, keeping and collecting silver utensils.

Even a seemingly simple one-page spread on floor care includes: a recipe for homemade floor polish from the author's grandmother, tips for keeping wood floors nice, tips for keeping tile floors looking great, and a guide to mopping wooden floors the proper way. There is so much to learn from this book that you will find yourself reading and re-reading just to take everything in.

 [credit: © Tim Street Porter. Used with permission.]

Of course, French Chic Living doesn't skimp on interior decorating: there is ample advice about everything from floral arrangements (including floral arrangements for different occasions and areas of the home) to keeping your displays and collections clean and more. The section on floral arrangements is definitely a highlight of the book; after a brief history of interior floral arrangements, there is a discussion about how best to prepare and cut flowers for your arrangements and even a guide to the author's favorite flowers. which also includes helpful tips about extending the life of each type of cut flower. And if you aren't keen on live cut flowers for your home bouquets, Dampierre also has some advice about other arrangements, including those made from artificial flowers.

 [credit: © Tim Street Porter. Used with permission.]

Another highlight of French Chic Living is the section on entertaining in the home. This section includes French cocktail and simple dinner recipes, tips regarding table settings, and advice about inviting guests over for leisure activities such as croquet, billiards and more. If you plan to host any luncheons or dinner parties, this is the section to turn to! I do wish there was a little more advice on hosting the party (perhaps a bit of etiquette or other suggestions) but since the book focuses more on making your home warm and inviting it would have been a bit much.

I definitely did enjoy this book! If you are looking for a pretty coffee table book with lots of flash and no substance--this is not the book for you. But if you are looking for a gorgeously illustrated book teeming with charming, helpful and very practical advice concerning just about everything in your home, then I heartily recommend adding French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your House Beautiful to your collection.

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