Design New England

Book Lust: “The Birding Life”

Birding Life cover.jpg

If anyone on your Christmas list loves style books, the natural world, or both — look no further. A new book called “The Birding Life: A Passion for Birds at Home and Afield” is the perfect gift ($50, Clarkson Potter, New York, 2011). It’s really an exquisite interiors book masquerading as a book about the world of birding.

The foursome who created the lovely volume — writer Laurence Sheehan, photographer William Stites, and producers Carol Sama Sheehan and Kathryn George Precourt — are consummate magazine professionals who know quite a few things about putting together pages filled with beautiful photography and informative and inspirational words. They all have ties to New England, as well — either currently living in Massachusetts or originally from the area.
Describing not only the birding hobby itself, the book goes many layers deeper by visiting the enchanting homes of people who collect bird-related objects (think Audubon prints, English transferware, bird-themed wallcoverings, and the like) or live in a manner that celebrates the naturalist’s love of birds. One fascinating chapter describes a couple in western Massachusetts who built a hexagonal stone dovecote — a home for pigeons — as a folly for the garden of their Federal-era house. (Best of all: Two dozen snow-white pigeons live there.)
In the book’s 240 pages, you’ll get ideas for displaying bird-themed artwork or starting a collection yourself. There are resource pages for antiques shops — many in New England — specializing in bird-motif objects. And you’ll get advice on gearing up to go out birdwatching too — a pursuit that 50 million Americans enjoy, according to recent data.
One caveat: You may not want to part with the book so if you’re buying it as a gift, best buy two.
Inspired by the book, we asked our good friend David Webster, of Webster & Company, at Boston Design Center, to keep an eye out for bird-patterned fabrics. Thank you for your fantastic eye, David!


Fabrics shown (clockwise, from top left): “Cranes” in Green, linen-cotton-nylon, by Emily Burningham; “Isis” in Carob, 100% linen, by Katie Leede & Co; “Bird in Blossom” in Chinese Red, linen-nylon, by Emily Burningham; “Tantalus” in Cream, 100% linen, by Carleton V — all available through Webster & Company.

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