Book Review: Perfect English by Ros Byam Shaw


Perfect English by Ros Byam Shaw is one of those books: one for which you’ll want to set aside a whole afternoon, turn off your phone, brew a big pot of tea, and spend hours immersed in the engaging text and delectable photos. Like that other great English institution Mary Poppins, it is practically perfect in every way.**


It has everything you’d expect from a book about English interiors: plump tufted chesterfields, sumptuous chinoiserie wallcoverings, and antiques galore! I’m pretty much convinced that every house in the British Isles has a hidden attic filled with glorious remnants from times passed…


But there’s so much more to this book than manor houses and country estates. An entire chapter is devoted to that weathered, spare aesthetic that the English do so well. Modern furnishings mix with rustic architecture to create rooms that seem to stand still in time.


When it comes to interiors, ‘shaggy’ isn’t usually a desirable adjective. However, this bright and cozy living room takes shaggy to unseen heights of splendour!


Perhaps I’ve read one too many Regency-era romance novels, but I picture all English children playing with charming and wholesome toys like rolling hoops and spinning tops. This vignette is proof of that, right? Right? (Please don’t burst my bubble on this one, folks!)


Apparently the owner of this home wanted her living room to ‘look like Biba‘. Hence the
madcap mix of ethnic textiles, boho granny florals, and riotous color. As Austin Powers would
say, ‘Very grrrr, baby!’


Where do I even begin with this spectacular dining room? The marble floor, the classic lines of the chairs paired with the playful farmhouse linens, the botanical folding screen? Oh, and shouldn’t every home worth its salt should have a giant framed butterfly collection?


Of course if minimalism is more your scene, there’s nothing like a pure white room with
some carefully edited vintage tableware. Don’t you love the unexpected presence of those
red leather chairs?

perfect english.jpg

Reason No. 459 to start a teacup collection? To have a breakfast nook as sunny and cheerful as this one! (Better not ask me what the other 458 reasons are; I’m sure I could come up with them, and that would just be frightening for us all.)


And speaking of collections, Eddie Ross eat your heart out! Have you ever seen so many
ironstone vessels in once place? I have a feeling that woman above the mantel has heard the rumours about my propensity for breaking delicate objects. The expression on her face screams, ‘Look but don’t touch, Anne!’


All images courtesy of Perfect English by Ros Byam Shaw, photography by Chris Tubbs. A huge thanks to Chelsea from Frolic for the find—she too is ‘practically perfect in every way’. Have a beautiful weekend everyone!

**With most sincere apologies for dredging up every British stereotype under the sun!



26 Responses to “Book Review: Perfect English by Ros Byam Shaw”

  1. nkp Says:

    This is just too good for words, so I’ll just say that my life will be complete when I have a giant framed butterfly collection as well.
    Have a wonderful weekend and a wonderful, stress-free move, Anne.
    (thanks for sharing this one, I really loved it)

  2. Kristin @ Contented Me Says:

    I was just flipping through this book at the store… and now you’ve convinced me that I have to have it!
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    xo, Kristin

  3. Emily Says:

    these rooms are so inspirational. i love all of the brightly colored bowls and cups.

  4. Chelsea Says:

    I love this book! You chose some of my favorite photos from it.
    Ha! If only you really knew me:)! You may have something different to say:)
    Have a good weekend!

  5. Trina Says:

    Oh my oh my…. I’m an Anglophile at this is going on my wish list.. thanks for the intro.. and thank you so much for the velcro idea with the drapes.. how fabulous! You are such a smart one!
    Have a delightful weekend!
    xx Trina

  6. Pretty Little World Says:

    Each one of these rooms is so different, and yet I love them all.
    The weathered dark leather, tufted sofa is perfection, and I completely agree about the framed butterflies!

  7. Jess LC Says:

    Such great photos and lovely descriptions as usual!
    The teacups make me smile too.
    Have a great weekend!

  8. from the right bank Says:

    I love this book – definitely one of my recent favorites!

  9. Julia Says:

    I’m so curious about Perfect English now. I have a free weekend! I’m off to go explore the novelties you suggest 🙂

  10. Anonymously Chic Says:

    wow, you outdid yourself on this one! all of these interiors are so special (and who cares about british stereotypes, if they’re true:)?

  11. Sarah Says:

    Lovely, does make me want the book. Although I wonder if the Brits would describe those rugs as ‘shaggy’…. the root word has quite a different meaning over there.
    Have an event-free move!

  12. Joanna Says:

    You’ve pierced my anglophile soul. I could languish upon that shaggy rug for hours!

  13. Mary Jo Says:

    Totally delish photos and the book is on my must read list now. Thank you dear Anne!
    xo Mary Jo
    p.s. Hope your move is winding down now!

  14. gracieK Says:

    Hello there! I just wanted to say that you do such a lovely job featuring photographs in such intimate and story-like ways! I enjoy your blog very much!

  15. The Deco Detective Says:

    The red drum is extremely English, I feel. And I presume the E on the mantlepiece is for “English”?
    Great interiors!

  16. Shell Sherree Says:

    I love that chair and rug ~ very shagilific!

  17. robin pulsifer Says:

    hmmm, i think i’m off to purchase a new book. i could hang out in any of the rooms and spaces you featured in this post. i love the rough spaces, the cement floors, the worn leather couch. comfortable.

  18. Maryam in Marrakech Says:

    Love that darling children’s E room!

  19. Jeni Shirley Says:

    What a great tea collection!

  20. Rebecca @ Harmony and Home Says:

    Thank God you got “tea” in there! I’m off to the bookstore to find that book now! Beautiful creative post as usual Anne!

  21. suann Says:

    what a great book + photos! sigh … each photo is so perfect.
    hope you’re having a good weekend!

  22. Jeanne Says:

    Best. Book. Review. Ever. I am off to get the book and brew some tea:-)

  23. Michelle Says:

    Oh man, what a great find. There is that bird motif wallpaper again! (I must confess I know it is called chinosoiresese…whatever, but I can’t spell it, so there, bird motif will have to do.)

  24. Rachel Says:

    That book looks wonderful. I wonder if it is published here in England.
    I have a tea cup collection a little like that one, perfect for serving afternoon tea and scones.

  25. Bells Says:

    And as for the toys, well I definitely had a dog on wheels like the one in the children’s room and several old spinning tops … I wonder where they are now? probably stuffed in the attic with all the other old “remnants from time past” which sadly get labelled as “junk” until a book like this makes us think otherwise.
    Wonder if we can get hold of it here in old GB – could you tell us who it is published by?
    Thanks again for sharing the wonderful photos.

  26. Caroline @ Patagonia Gifts Says:

    The first image is absolutely dreamy, darling!

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