Rating:

Reviewed by F. Scott

If you have a home in the Hollywood hills, loads of cash, and not much to do, then Interiors: The Allure of Style by Mary McDonald is the book for you. Mary attended the Parsons School of Design and became a hot shot milliner (designed hats, I think) in her early twenties in New York City. Her first love was fashion but she turned to interior design by starting with her own apartment—others then asked her to decorate their homes. Mary’s signatures are self-described as drama, glamour (or “glamma”), and bold gestures.

The author divides her offering of gorgeous designs into five chapters; Seductive, Curate, Glamour, Grand Tour, and Theater. Names drop from the silent-era sky as Mary shows us the interiors she has designed at famous, or not, estates in Hollywood/Beverly Hills. Buster Keaton’s estate figures prominently.

Perhaps unusual for a book about interior design are a few outdoor shots—we simply must see these estates from the outside—and sometimes Mary actually designed something for the outdoors: “Everyone talks about bringing the outdoors in, but I like to bring the indoors out. Why shouldn’t your garden be just as glamorous as your house?”

Mary herself is also pictured several times, appearing as glamorous as her designs—sort of a cross between Grace Kelly and Jackie O. She looks quite appropriately placed in her Bergdorf Goodman duchesse satin ball gown. It is not stated, but apparently Mary designed herself.

There are a few musts in the world of MMI (Mary McDonald Interiors): chinoiserie in every conceivable form, including, but not limited to, drapes, furniture, antiques, knickknacks, ashtrays, wallpaper, [amazonify]0847833933[/amazonify]screens, planters, lamps, and vases. One simply must have a sitting area in the bedroom, preferably with a plush banquette beside the fireplace. (You can put a banquette in the master bath also.) Sea-grass rugs and lots and lots of drapes seem to be other imperatives. Oh, and she must collect things. If you see something that speaks to you, she says, you have to buy it. (“Chinoiserie” and “banquette” are just two of the thirty or so new words I learned from this book.)

The only faux pas this heterosexual male can see in her designs is found in a children’s playroom—done wonderfully in all white! One must wonder if Ms. McDonald has ever had children, ever been around children, ever seen children, or even just read about them.

The book is certainly aimed at the gals, but Mary throws an occasional sop or two to the guys. (She did her office in blue, not pink, so as not to turn off her male clients.) Her idea of a “men’s club” look doesn’t do much for this one, but I must admit that Piranesi’s prints of the Roman ruins adorn my own walls as they do her clients’. (Mine are very cheap, pirated photocopies, but on nice paper, you understand.) Not sure if I want a bust of Napoleon staring down on me as I sleep, either.

There is nothing to object to in this book, but my only disappointment came from not being able to hold it in my hands and linger over the photographs. I read the e-book.

F. Scott, now a copy editor by trade, is a once-and-future Latin teacher. He pursues his passions for brain plasticity, jazz piano, and golf in southeast Massachusetts. He lives alone with Cicero, Shakespeare, Mozart, and Ella Fitzgerald.

This book was provided free of any obligation by NES Creative Services. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.