Inspiration in Print - 405 Magazine

Inspiration in Print

Reviews of Dee Nash’s “The 20/30-Something Garden Guide” and “Gracious Rooms” by star designer Barbara Westbrook.


From The Bookshelf

The 20/30-Something Garden Guide By Dee Nash | St. Lynn’s Press, $17.95

Dee Nash wastes no time in getting to the point – in fact, the first five words of her introduction to The 20/30-Something Garden Guide have the ring of a mission statement: “Anyone can be a gardener.” In that inclusive spirit, know that the book isn’t written in a special code only intelligible to that age bracket. It’s intended, rather, to speak to the beginner in general, someone who has only now decided to try their hand at harnessing and guiding the beauty of nature.

Nash has toiled in spots of earth from pots in a small apartment to happily planned swaths on an acreage – and her lifetime of working with plants and flowers has given her a passion for guiding others into the same love, especially in the early stages when their thumbs haven’t yet greened up.

The book is a trove of well-explained information, illustrations and charts, organized on the concept of starting small with a couple of containers of vegetables and expanding over time. It’s also packed with helpful tips from what to stock in a toolbox to an explanation of why going crazy with high-nitrogen fertilizers is not a good idea. It’s also a plus that Nash herself is an Oklahoma native and thus familiar with our demanding climate.

Even if 2016 isn’t your very first arboreal rodeo, you might be a little rusty after the depths of winter, and there’s a wealth of handy information in this book on multiple aspects of the gardening experience. Pick up a copy, replenish your knowledge and let your appreciation for this pleasurable pastime bloom.

For The Coffee Table

Gracious Rooms By Barbara Westbrook, written with Heather MacIsaac | Rizzoli International Publications, $50

The word “gracious” is such a delightfully connotative descriptor for a space, at once indicating luxury, refinement and welcoming ease. It’s the kind of effect star designer Barbara Westbrook pursues in her projects, and if there’s a hint of Deep South in your conception of the term as well, that’s apt – her firm Westbrook Interiors is based in Atlanta, after all. Still, the basic guiding lights of decorating and design she espouses are universal: make a room interesting, beautiful, personal, welcoming and warm.

“Something as simple as the way a room glowed, the sympathetic coming together of color and light, may be what stays with you,” she writes. “It’s that sense of comfort, of being cared for and uplifted, that makes the biggest imprint and endows only certain places with lasting influence and special affection.”

Gracious Rooms travels through a set of 10 homes in which Westbrook has personally undertaken visual rejuvenations, from lakeside getaways to contemporary family homes, and uses each to illustrate a particular design principle … as well as showcase the spaces’ luminous appeal.

The photos are captivating, but it would be a shame if they were to pull attention completely from the accompanying text; Westbrook offers practical advice about design aspects like the importance of symmetry and knowing when to use a lighter hand in decoration (“An interior should never compete with a spectacular view”), and she has an enjoyably lyrical style that emerges in musings like this one about large spaces: “It’s not just a matter of filling rooms up. The rooms need to invite you in, make you comfortable and provide what you need. Just like a good host.”

Say, rather, a gracious one. Whether referring to person or place, it’s a quality worth emulating.