Earlier this month, Christy Turlington Burns and Patricia Lansing hosted a launch party for the new and absolutely stunning book The Finer Things: Timeless Furniture, Textiles, and Details ($39; amazon.com) by Christiane Lemieux, founder of the newly launched bespoke furniture company Cloth & Company. In it, Lemieux examines the foundation of design: quality.
Consulting with authorities on the subject, she presents readers with the basic elements of home décor and decoration—walls, floors, furniture, textiles, and accessories—and instructs them on how to identify quality of form and craftsmanship therein. “This book started out as design journey and ended up being a loose encyclopedia of the decorative arts with a deep dive into everything from walls to knowing how to appraise a collection,” says Lemieux, who spoke to so many experts in various fields that she couldn’t limit it to one topic. “I wanted to include it all,” she says.
This resource is sure to impress those already well-versed in home interiors, but given its extensive scope, it will also prove invaluable to the uninitiated. With Lemieux’s guidance, anyone can learn how to recognize superior style and create space for it in his or her own home. But you don’t have to take our word for it. “The Finer Things is the perfect gift. It’s equal parts encyclopedia and design object. This book is a must for the coffee table of any design lover in your life,” says Turlington Burns.
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Scroll through to uncover seven style lessons we learned from Lemieux’s The Finer Things.
1. Know what’s under your wallpaper
“Mitchell Ehrlich, who installed the wallpaper at the Obama White House, taught me that it is equally important to make sure what is under your wallpaper is as considered as the paper itself,” says Lemieux, who favors the chapter on wall coverings. “It’s visually stunning and I learned so much,” she says. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Obamas, it’s good enough for us.
2. Don’t be afraid of lacquer paints
A glossy, shiny paint looks amazingly modern and can do wonders for a small space like a hallway. The lacquer reflects light like a mirror and makes the space appear larger. If you want a perfect finish you would do best to hire a professional, because achieving that look is no small feat. “Basically, the walls need to be like glass,” says designer Miles Redd. “A really high-quality paint job is all in the prep … it’s essential to have a great painter who appreciates and understands that finish, that sort of skill.”
3. Fabrics must be functional, not just pretty
When purchasing upholstered furniture, remember to look beyond “pretty.” You must consider durability and practicality when making your selection. The fabric must hold up to wear and tear and work within the context of the larger room. When choosing a sofa, follow interior designer Bunny Williams's advice: “If the sofa is very deep, the seat needs to be low,” that way you can get back up once you’ve sat down—you don’t want your guests thinking you’ve lured them into a trap.
4. Don’t be fooled by thread count
We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, so do yourself a favor and invest in high-quality sheets. Don’t let thread count fool you: Some weaves require a high thread count, others a lower one. Instead, try to develop a feel for more luxurious materials simply by touch. In the meantime, look for key words on labels like “Egyptian long staple,” “pima,” and “Supima” to identify the best cotton sheets. If all else fails, consult Aziz Ansari.
5. Build a room’s color scheme around a rug
“So many people are scared of color,” says Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the designer behind the homes of both Khloé and Kourtney Kardashian. In an all-white room, a multi-hued rug can “instantly change the whole vibe.” If, however, you prefer a more vibrant space, select the carpet first and let it dictate the palette of the entire room. Per Lawrence, “If you find a good rug, it’s a great place to pull the colors from, and to decorate your room around.”
6. A strategically placed floor lamp creates ambience
The benefit of tall and narrow floor lamps is that they can slip into whatever space you need illuminated. The fixture shown here is very high-reaching, allowing it to disperse light throughout most of the room, which is especially important in a room like this that has darker walls. When it comes to the bulb, the softer the light, the more intimate the ambience.
7. Metals Can Add Brightness To A Space
A favorite of the 19th century, metalwork can be incorporated into every room of the house. In this instance, the addition of the brass table and brass lining on the pink chairs, in a pink room, adds brightness and artistry. As an added bonus, they’ll inspire you to throw a costumed tea party and are almost too cute to sit on.