In case you don't know, Diana Phipps is a countess, whose family had to leave their ancestral castle in Czechoslovakia, owing to political changes. She now has returned and fixed up the castle, but for many years, she practiced frugal home design, while hanging out with the social and cultural elite.
Many years ago, when I was in graduate school, I spent a lot of time going to yard sales as a way of avoiding finishing my dissertation--oops, I mean, as a way of making ends meet. I bought a copy of Phipps's book Affordable Splendour. I was transfixed by her tales of ingenuity and making do; the results were luxurious and elegant, though not to my taste at the time.
Naturally, a friend borrowed the book right after I got it and lost it (her name was Rose). And I always wanted to look at it again. So, I put it on my wishlist at paperbackswap.com. And lo and behold, it arrived yesterday.
Unlike those days, when I thought I might one day cover walls with fabric, figure out how to do staplegun upholstery, paint lovely trompe-l'oeil pictures on cabinets, make a wall look like tortoise shell, I now know that I hate doing things that require fine-motor skills. Plus, I lack Diana's fearlessness and patience.
As it happens, I--older and wiser--love her style. I will never attain it, because, in addition to lacking her skills at DOING all these things, I lack the discrimination that let her find all these neat bits and pieces (which she uses in clever ways) at flea markets and auctions. Here is the picture of her living room, courtesy of another blog.
And her writing style! It probably helped that she numbers among her friends Gore Vidal and Antonia Frasier; still, the book has a really distinctive voice.
I look for frugal friends everywhere and how thrilling to find a frugal countess. This is another book to check out of your library (or buy on Amazon). I link to one that shows the cover, but there are copies available for under $1.00!