Book Review: Living Normally: Where Life Comes Before Style

Come in, we're normal

An interesting idea: the interiors book for the rest of us. The stylish have had it their way long enough, least in Britain, where there are plenty of style magazines and TV programmes about interior makeovers. The British houses photographed for this book are probably very typical of how many people live.

Look through the photos and you'll see plenty of organised clutter because there is too little space in the average house, basements are unheard of, and garages didn't exist in most pre-sixties houses build for ordinary folk. Interior style, according to the magazines, seems to depend on lots of space and not too much to go in it, the opposite of the families in the book who would rather be comfortable than stylish. Trevor Naylor's heart-warming text confirms this.

What let the book down for me was the average photography and bland design. There are too many pages with badly cropped images frequently made worse by have several butted together. Six pages near the beginning use this format and I think it weakens every photo. If more thought had been given to the book's design and especially the trimming of the photos it would have given all the pages a lift. Magnum photographer Martin Parr did a similar booked called 'Signs of the Times' (ISBN 0948797910) which I think was much more successful in putting the same idea across.

Living Normally reveals how folks live in their homes. To see how they live outside have a look at Welcome to Britain: A Celebration of Real Life or Is Britain Great?: The Caravan Gallery two wonderful offbeat celebrations of everyday life in Britain.

Living Normally: Where Life Comes Before Style is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

Living Normally: Where Life Comes Before Style
Evelyn's house.

Living Normally: Where Life Comes Before Style
The interiors of Shaun's house.

Living Normally: Where Life Comes Before Style
Undoubtedly the untidiest house in the book though Sarah, Lizzie, Anne, Sasha, Nell and Ted who live there seem happy enough.

Living Normally: Where Life Comes Before Style
I thought it was rather unfortunate that these photos were all butted together as it weakens each one.

Living Normally: Where Life Comes Before Style
Right: could this be typical of the Brit shower room?

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