Huts Havens and Hideaways by Jo Denbury is a colourful book designed to take the reader on a journey of exploration into the world of the retreat, whether that is to the waterside, the desert or to the country. I don't normally purchase interior design books but this one really captured my interest and imagination.
The idea behind the book is beautifully described in the introduction as Jo explains her own view that although we are bathed in electricity, which extends our natural daylight hours for productivity and leisure, that this also denies us the opportunity to slow down and to rest. She advocates an occasional escape to a place bereft of modern accessories. She isn't advocating a life of misery in a cold, dark place, but more an opportunity to slow down and to appreciate the basics. This journey the book describes takes us to the many hideaways others have created to do just that. So what better place to begin than with a chapter devoted to river and lakeside hideaways.
In common with all the later chapters this first few pages are as much about the architecture of the retreats themselves and the décor within as they are about the landscape surrounding them. It is an opportunity to peep inside the interiors of huts and havens which have been built as escapes from the daily pressures of the modern world.
What really impressed me about this book was the stunning photography which is of a superb standard.
There is a summer house which is blessed with views of the sea and has been built using reclaimed materials from all over the Scottish island where the owner lives. This retreat is nestled in woodland and has decking which affords space for cane chairs. There are roses entwined all over the edges of the summerhouse which soften the harsh lines encasing them in calm pinks and muted blues. I can just imagine sitting on the decking in the early evening with nothing to disturb me but the sound of the occasional bee looking for pollen.
The book is an international story of escapism and it touches many countries. This by definition encompasses many styles and influences from Mediterranean blues and whites to the sun-baked stone of the American desert. There are retreats from Africa to the Swedish arctic, but all have the same theme- a place to unwind and to appreciate time- a sanctuary.
I think the success of this book lies in the passion of the author who is herself an associate editor of The Daily Telegraph. The photographer Chris Tubbs is a French born artist who specialises in design interiors and architectural photography. This is why the images in this book are so outstanding.
Whether you purchase this book for design ideas or for a coffee table I think you will be delighted.
I particularly like the fact that there is a comprehensive list of suppliers in the back of the book. If you have a retreat and wish to steal ideas from within these pages then this provides inspiration and a place to begin. Also within this section is a link to a website specialising in unusual properties for rent or sale allowing you to formulate some very exciting holiday opportunities.
I think the book contains the right amount of text compared to photographs. This enables the reader to flick through fleetingly to gain ideas, or to linger more at length to gain further understanding of the scenes and colours and fabrics used inside the dwellings. There is adequate explanation regarding reasons for choices that have been made where necessary, but some photographs are so superb they need little clarification.
In all the pages there is outstanding peace and beauty and all the window views are mirrored in the interiors created within. So for the desert for example you can expect to see earthy browns and sunset oranges, but different textures and lighting.
For me this book is like being in a castle and pulling up the drawbridge for a few hours. Here solitude excludes noise and agitation and affords time for contemplation far from the chaos of city life. No phones, no chatter, no callers- just the crackle of the fire in winter, or the steaming summer rays of late August.
I have used some of the ideas in this book in my own retreat and continue to be impressed by the ideas portrayed on every page. You don't need a physical retreat; you can emulate themes and ideas within your own home to create areas which suggest calm and peace.
Every thing is in this book, from a railway carriage by a river, to a stunning Airstream caravan in the American desert. Inspirational ideas and superb photography make this book a joy to own!
Available from Amazon.co.uk for £13.29