Wedding Tales - Janet & Paul

Off the Shelf Review - The French-Inspired Home by Kaari Meng


I know. I know. It wasn’t too long ago that I was gushing about French-Inspired Jewelry by Kaari Meng. Well, gusher warning ahead. I finally had a chance to read her first book, The French-Inspired Home ($24.95, Lark Books, 2006), and I found it equally wonderful.

So what does any of this have to do with vintage? Let’s just say, and apparently Meng agrees, that French and vintage aren’t that far apart in the dictionary. Decorating mavens know the French are famous for their ability to re-purpose lowly objects, to bring the outside in, to incorporate family heirlooms and to simply do something old in a fresh, new way.

Meng tells us lay people how to do it in this, her first book, drawing on her store French General in
Californiafor inspiration and photo opps as well as her time spent accumulating treasures in France. And not only are the photos gorgeous, illustrator Melissa Easton deserves a mention.

The book is divided into rooms, such as bedroom, studio, laundry room and more. Her ideas for storage and organization are not merely to get things in their places, but to make something of it, while doing it. Why shouldn’t we decorate with things we love? Meng uses notions, millinery, vintage linens, fabrics and ephemera in new ways.

The garden section also include recipes for some yummy but useful herb concoctions, and the archives section offers up artwork to be copied for vintage-looking labels, tags, place cards and more. There are also step-be-step instructions for several of the projects.

The only criticism of the book, which I read in another review, was that the writer felt the book did not include enough whole room scenes. It does not. But, I don’t view that as bad. This book is about vignettes, settings, little corners where you can add a touch of French charm. And if anything, perhaps whole-room decorating will be the subject of her next book. Bring it on!

Kaari Meng’s store French General can be found in


, CA. She has been featured in Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion and Martha Stewart Living. Meng has sold her designs through Anthropologie and has been an artist for Hallmark. You, too, can get in on the action, as Paula’s Kit Club features a Meng-designed DIY jewelry kit by monthly subscription at


- Guest Author, Gina Smith

{All contributed content Gina Smith © Lilly*s of London*ish}


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