A Pale View of Hills 

Dulwich Hill branch manager, radio personality, and book selling superstar, Morgan Smith tells us how it is.

November 2018

 - Thursday, November 15, 2018
Readers of this column will be well aware of my passion for literature and especially Australian literature as it is pretty much all I talk and write about. In this last column of the year I’d like to indulge another of my passions you may not know about—domestic architecture and interior design. I sometimes think it’s because I spend so much time with my nose buried in a book that I so appreciate colour and form and beautifully designed spaces. I’ve never owned a place of my own and unlike most people, have always enjoyed moving, just so I could decorate a new space. Luckily, I’ve lived in my current flat for 13 years and can only satisfy my interior décor lust by occasionally moving the furniture, changing the curtains or cushions or repainting the walls. Or indeed, poring over books such as the following…

Like a few other gleebooks staffers I’m enamoured of mid-century modern houses and interiors. You’ll find no better examples than in the gorgeous new book, Hollywood Modern: Houses of the Stars by Michael Stern and Alan Hess. Before you sneer at the thought of Hollywood stars houses, these people had the money and the foresight to pay some of the great architects of the time to build houses that would become synonymous with southern Californian style. Using local stone and wood and incorporating walls made entirely of glass to maximise the views was a very new idea. Hitherto, Hollywood stars favoured European styles like faux Tudor mansions, so these new streamlined houses made a statement about modernity and the actors and architects place in it. From Dolores del Rey who was married to the incredibly influential MGM art director, Cedric Gibbons, to the homes of Lucille Ball, Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra and even Tina Turner, the houses in this book are an endless joy to behold. The editors have thoughtfully chosen stunning images of the relevant stars taken by the top photographers of the day. Worth every cent of the $99 price tag.

For a more contemporary look at interior design, go no further than Maison: Parisian Chic at Home ($55) by the poster woman of Parisian chic, Ines de la Fressange and Marin Montagut. The authors (compilers might be a better word—there’s not much text) take us into the houses of eclectic Parisians in what is a delightful feast for the eyes and the senses…if like, me, you love this kind of thing. These houses and apartments are brim full of interesting and enviable ideas. A lot of people don’t have a unique style of their own and don’t find it easy decorating a lovely home, so a book like this can be a great inspiration. Another feast for the visual senses is Bohemian Living: Creative Homes Around the World ($65) in which Robyn Lea takes us inside the homes of artists and designers. There’s some truly beautiful pages in this book—I love the entire wall of gorgeous small animal paintings in the house of artist and photographer Jeffrey Jenkins. I’d love to replicate that, if only I was able to paint!
So, that’s my very non-literary farewell to 2018. 

I hope to see you On D’Hill in the next two months, but if not, have a fab festive season one and all. See you on D’Hill, Morgan