The Pretty and Proper Living Room
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About The Pretty and Proper Living Room


Fox Hall Living Room by Caroline K. Holden

A few years ago Holly Holden's daughter, Alexandra, posed the following question to her mother: "How do I create my first 'Big Girl' house?" Alexandra wanted to create a house with elegance, sophistication and refinement. Holly was well-suited to answer her daughter's question, she had been designing stately rooms for more than twenty-five years. As Holly began to write down a few notes to educate and guide her daughter, The Pretty and Proper Living Room was born.

Over the next two and a half years, Holly worked constantly to distill her considerable experience down to a set of rules that was easy to follow and easy to understand. The Pretty and Proper Living Room is meant to be both a guide and a reference. The book introduces newcomers to the prevalent themes of formal decorating. Everyone can appreciate the regal charm of a tailored room, but there has never been a gentle manual about how to create one... until now.

The book is as entertaining as it is informative. Personal anecdotes of Holly's experiences as a designer, a mother, and a hostess are interwoven with detailed descriptions of the must have items for a formal living room. The book is replete with practical advice about how to acquire, display, and maintain these items. Each chapter ends with a set of Forbidden Faux Pas that explain common design mistakes and points of etiquette.

The Pretty and Proper Living Room contains 378 full color pages and more than 1000 photographs. The book is organized into three sections:

  • Aristocratic Accessories
  • Old Guard Furniture and Rugs
  • Stately Lighting and Wall Art

Within each section are chapters that focus on specific items found in genteel living room. The chapters are:

  • Pretty Porcelains and Pottery
  • Polished Picture Frames
  • Charming Collections and Petite Vignettes
  • Preppy and Posh Pillows
  • Elegant Entertaining
  • Regal Rugs
  • Sumptuous Seating
  • Fine Furniture
  • Classic Chandeliers and Wall Sconces
  • Lovely Lamps and Candlesticks
  • Magnificent Mirrors and Wall Art

Additionally the book includes:

  • A foreword by Michael E. Scully
  • Holly's 13 Secrets of Classic Old-School Interiors
  • An in-depth conclusion that showcases six actual living rooms from real houses
  • A guide to attending auctions
  • A guide to list of museums with relevant exhibits
  • A guide to Holly's recommend sources for goods and services
  • An index
  • A glossary

In The Pretty and Proper Living Room, Holly speaks of formal design as "secret code", an oral tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. The secret code spells out a style that is timeless and tailored. Readers of The Pretty and Proper Living Room will be able to apply the knowledge in the book to create their own stately interiors with the goal of decorating once... for a lifetime.