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Home Library: Cheap Chic

Interior stylist, author, and owner of London shop Caravan, Emily Chalmers has made a career out of finding beauty in objects that require more ingenuity than income. Cheap Chic ($20), which was originally published in 2003 in hardcover, will be released at the end of this month in paperback, and is a perfect example of her talent at transforming overlooked secondhand objects into things of beauty.

I was lucky enough to take a peek at the book thanks to a review copy from the publishers. While I'm definitely a fan of Emily's philosophy to use "more dash than cash to create inspirational interiors," it's often hard to know how to style the thrifted, flea marketed, and found objects and furniture that many of us pick up on weekends and on vacations. If you've ever been stumped by how to integrate that dinged-up antique dresser into your home, then Cheap Chic is definitely a book to add to your home library.

The photos in the book come courtesy of Debi Treloar, who also partnered with Chalmers on her books Flea Market Style and Contemporary Country. The photos themselves are often shot with natural sunlight, and are imbued with a fresh, buoyant feel. While the book provides plenty of practical tips, exploring flooring choices, building materials, and sourcing furniture and accessories, it's truly the beautifully styled photos that bring this book to life.

For some of my favorite advice from the book,


Check out five of my favorite tips from Emily, and then pre-order a copy of Cheap Chic.

  • Funky functional objects can easily be made to double as decoration — all they need is a showcase.
  • When it comes to furniture, it pays to acquire a few key items that have been chosen for their quality, particularly a proper bed.
  • Fabulous fabrics may have unlikely origins — your grandmother's shawls or your latest cast-offs, for example.
  • Old wrought-iron bedsteads from scrapyards and antique shops make romantic headboards and footboards for basic beds, while scaffolding poles can be turned into industrial-style curtain rods.
  • Decoration can cost no more than a walk on the beach. Collect objects such as striped pebbles, speckled seashells, and sculptural driftwood and put them on display.
  • Whatever you choose, ensure it is classic, since fashion fads are a waste of time and money.
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