A couple of years ago, Ali Heath released a beautiful homes book called CURATE, written with Lynda Gardner. That was a real success, selling over 20,000 copies. Heath’s new book, CREATE (do you see how similar those two words are – CURATE and CREATE) has a very similar look and feel. In other words, it’s simply gorgeous – it even feels great, with its beautiful linen bound spine and heavy matte pages. That first book was all about designing your own interior space to be authentic and unique. In CREATE, Heath shows us how to combine the best elements of old and new, antique, vintage, and contemporary, to create interior spaces that are warm, inviting, and stylish. 

The book opens with a few pages devoted to ‘establishing your style.’ Heath encourages the reader to trust their own intuition and to embrace the creative process. She reassuringly tells us that ‘before creativity there is always an element of chaos’. There’s also a step-by-step guide to getting started from accepting the imperfections and limitations of your home to simply allowing your style to develop and evolve. 

Section Two is all about ‘developing your eye’ and learning how to put design ideas into practice. Various design templates are explored, such as ‘natural and earthy’ and ‘bright and bold’. And whilst many of the items featured are designer pieces with price tags to match, Heath is also a fan of treasure hunting at flea markets and yard (garage) sales. This is music to the ears of someone like me whose home is full of op shop finds.  ‘Recycle, reuse, repair’ and a mantra of sustainability with a ‘less is more’ philosophy underpin much of Heath’s approach. 

Heath then takes us on a magical ‘open house’ tour of some seriously divine homes. From a stunning beach shack in Tasmania to a Georgian town-home in Cambridge and a cottage in the Cotswolds, these are truly beautiful places. And whilst each leaps off the page as a work of art, there are myriad little touches we can all adapt for our own homes. 

If you’ve ever wondered how to stylishly integrate old and new elements, this is the book for you, overflowing with ideas and inspiration. It will encourage you to let go of perfection (even though all these homes look pretty perfect to me!) and have the confidence to express your own style.

Ali Heath is a UK-based interiors journalist, stylist, creative consultant with many years of high-level design experience and the success of that first book behind her. This one really is a true celebration of mixing the old and new in a way that is both inspirational and attainable. Put this one on your Christmas list immediately! 

CREATE is published by Hachette Australia, $55 (hardback); it’s also available as an ebook.

Review by Dr Diana Carroll