I really want to hate this book. It's full of smugger than smug families, with wonderfully romantic sounding jobs and huge loft apartments. "It's just... gah! I mean, all the names are so trying to be so horribly trendy!", I said to A as I was explaining why I kept tutting and sighing at the book. I mean, one of them has the same name as my Nan, which all of my cousins and I spent much of the 80s and 90s laughing at secretly. Karma struck when I turned to a page describing a family of four boys, two of whom had virtually the same names as my boys (different spellings, but essentially the same names). I had to admit that maybe the book was aimed at people like me. Except that, though I liked the party hats that the Dutch lady makes her kids wear for dinner every night ("to spread the celebratory joy of a party throughout the year" gushes the book), I wouldn't pay six quid each for them. Also, can't you just imagine the kids rolling their eyes as they don the hats once again to tuck into their Wednesday night quinoa? It's all a tiny bit bleak and try-hard.
I think what annoyed me the most is that the message of the book is trying to be "everyone can be this trendy and creative!". However, although lots of the homes are decorated with kids drawings and stuff picked up in a flea markets for a few centimes back in the 80s, these are "interspersed with design classics". For this, read "I've put a selection of enamel plates I bought in the charity shop on an achingly trendy sideboard which was custom-built for the space and cost me £15,000." I mean, anything would look good on that dresser. And yes, you let your child paint onto a canvas and put it on the wall. But you put it on the wall surrounded by bespoke oil paintings custom-made for your apartment by your friend who sells prints for 2 grand a pop.
This was followed close behind by phrases like "Jurgen's high-tops left artfully in the hallway provide a utilitarian reminder of the necessity of wearing shoes for a busy family". No, Jurgen has left his shoes under a stool in the hallway. That's not a design statement; that's shoe removal. This is the book for you if you have a spare £500 to spend on cushions that look like pebbles (why yes, I am bitter because I couldn't afford them), and you make lifestyle statements out of things like taking off your hat and hanging it up on a (£67, bespoke) peg.
That said, I did actually get a lot out of this book, other than feelings of rage, envy and a slight sense of hopelessness. There are some really nice ideas that anyone can use and that make any space look instantly better. For example our Shelf of Stuff I Don't Want to Get Rid of but Don't Know Quite What to Do With looks a million times better now that things are grouped according to colour and size, in easy-on-the-eye groups of three or five, and the clashing photo frames are arranged in a fetching group. This has made me feel better about the distinct lack of pebble cushions for my trendily-named children to muck around with, "providing a whimsical note of the great outdoors in this loft-apartment in one of the trendiest districts of Barcelona". Mine can play with actual pebbles in their garden. AND I don't make them wear party hats to eat their scrambled egg on toast. Take that Jurgen and Marta.