What I'm Reading Right Now: Decorating a Room of One's Own

Susan Harlan, a close family friend, English Professor and humorist recently wrote a delightful book taking a satirical look at “Conversations on Interior Design with Miss Haversham, Jane Eyre, Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Bennet, Ishmael and Other Literary Notables.” Through a collection of “interviews” the author takes the reader on intimate guided tours of some of literature’s grand  homes, such as Charles Dickens Bleak House, that Susan dubs Leicester & Honoria’s Rain soaked Place in Lincolnshire discussing their “thinking” behind their interior design choices.  Her engaging perspective is a new and witty approach to the well known and much loved homes found in classic novels. Susan keeps it all current by mixing contemporary design sensibilities within historical environments, deftly weaving Ikea, Design Within Reach, Anthropology and Restoration Hardware throughout Decorating a Room of One’s Own.

Ancestral Estates (Real and Fake) is the first of 6 sections, wherein Cathy and Heathcliff’s Ghost infested Residence of Revenge and Regret are interviewed and Susan’s sharp humor and keen sense of the absurd are very much in evidence and kept me turning the page.  This section also includes Jay Gatsby’s Desperately Sad McMansion of Unfulfilled Dreams - so on point!

Susan’s home is a charming 1920s bungalow, in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where she’s surrounded of course, with books. She classifies her maximalist decorating style as “bookish Bohemian grandma.” During her interview with Robin Anders for HGTV, Susan explained that - “I had this idea of what a professor’s house would look like, with books everywhere.  In the Howard’s End chapter they have salons and people over for discussions.  The idea about intellectual spaces where you can have conversations really spoke to me.” Read entire interview here…

 

what-im-reading-right-now-decorating-a-room-of-one's-own-doreen-chambers-luxury-interior-design-brooklyn-new-york-miami-delray-beach-south-florida
Susan at home - love the luscious mix of textures, colors and patterns  website:  Susanharlan.com  - instagram:  @susanharlan   photo Sarah Torretta Klock

Susan at home - love the luscious mix of textures, colors and patterns

website: Susanharlan.com - instagram: @susanharlan

photo Sarah Torretta Klock

Susan’s “bookish Bohemian grandma” decorating style flourishes throughout her home

Susan’s “bookish Bohemian grandma” decorating style flourishes throughout her home

what-i'm-reading-right-now-decorating-a-room-of-one's-own-doreen-chambers-luxury-interior-design-brooklyn-new-york-miami-delray-beach-fort-lauderdale
Mary Shelly Frankenstein’s Chapter - Illustration by Becca Stadtlander

Mary Shelly Frankenstein’s Chapter - Illustration by Becca Stadtlander

An avid collector of “unnecessary objects” Susan’s tiny French dictionary and Coralie Bickford Smith Penguin editions make a decorative vignette atop her guest bedroom dresser

An avid collector of “unnecessary objects” Susan’s tiny French dictionary and Coralie Bickford Smith Penguin editions make a decorative vignette atop her guest bedroom dresser

C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe chapter - illustration by Becca Stadtlander

C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe chapter - illustration by Becca Stadtlander