The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough
By Sarah Nettleton
The Taunton Press, $40
FT bookshop price £16.99
What is “simple” living? Is it grilling sardines for a dinner party in your feature fireplace because you’ve pared down your kitchen so much that you do not have an oven? Is it placing your light switches in non-obvious places because you do not want to compromise the visual authenticity of the restoration of your 18th-century Dutch colonial farmhouse?
Author Sarah Nettleton offers these vignettes, and many others, as examples of the lives of people who have thought long and hard about how to make their homes fit their fundamental needs without producing something austere. In The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough, which is illustrated throughout with beautiful photographs by Randy O’Rourke, she sets out to define some of the elements that go into an uncomplicated dwelling using maxims such as “simple is flexible” and “simple is timeless”.
She illustrates them with tours of existing houses, giving an account of how each home’s owners have created it. But while these biographies are interesting the overriding impression is one of The Emperor’s New Clothes: achieving a home that is unclutted by unnessesary items and features seems to be a very complex business indeed and simplicity can, like beauty, be in the eye of the beholder.