"Chinese Style: Living in Beauty and Prosperity" by Sunamita Lim Gibbs Smith, $39.95 Our emotions and our homes are inextricably linked...

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“Chinese Style: Living in Beauty and Prosperity”
by Sunamita Lim
Gibbs Smith, $39.95

Our emotions and our homes are inextricably linked, influencing and feeding off each other, says Lim. So naturally, it is preferable — if not vital — to fill our homes with things that nurture us, heal us, refresh us.

Say, for example, this book.

When you rifle through stacks and stacks of home books on a regular basis, you start to pick up a certain vibe here and there.

Lim’s book? Literally, physically soothing.

The big, beautiful photos are elegant and refined, but not condescending or pretentious. The colors are bold but not scary — lots and lots of red, which makes sense, Lim says, since it invites good fortune to bless a house and its inhabitants.

And we’re especially calmed by the notion that you can incorporate Chinese style into your home without making the whole place look like the New Peking takeout joint. Lim shows how even a centuries-old piece here and there can bring feng shui sensibility — as well as a distinctive sense of style — to any home’s design: artful Chinese vases surround a Southwestern fireplace, Chinese horseshoe armchairs ground a contemporary office, and a painted Qing armoire sits just steps from a big-screen TV in the den.

Lim, who grew up in a traditional Chinese household, writes with authority and clarity and includes a helpful chapter on recognizing authentic Chinese antiques. She also gets points for not cropping out the Corgi-looking dog and Socks-like kitty that appear in a few photos. They look very peaceful, too.

“The French-Inspired Home”
by Kaari Meng
Lark/Chapelle, $24.95

Before I picked up Meng’s très joli book, I had expressed my heritage with warm French toast and the occasional “Sacre bleu.” Now, dang it, I am compelled to bring all of France into my home. Except maybe for the smokers.

If you like French Country décor, you, too, will want every pretty thing in this book.

In it, Meng, who owns a décor store in Los Angeles, leads us through the French-inspired home, stopping in the bedroom, the “creative space,” the dining room, the garden, even the laundry room to point out sweet inspirations, from little do-it-yourself projects to whole-room palettes.

Even better, she doesn’t interrupt all these gorgeous photos of paperweights, leaf pressings, sachets and more with dull project directions; instead, a subtle line of text leads you to an entire well-organized section of materials, instructions and diagrams.

Other bonuses: Loads of vintage artwork (labels, glass etches, cards) you can clip and save, recipes from the garden, a list of suppliers and handy metric-equivalency charts to add just the right touch of French authenticity.

You can almost smell the lavender coming off the pages. And you’re going to want that, too.

“Nell Hill’s Entertaining in Style: Inspiring Parties & Seasonal Celebrations”
by Mary Carol Garrity
Andrews McMeel, $29.95


Who the Sam Hill is Nell Hill, and why is her name on a book written by someone named Garrity?

Thank goodness for The Introduction. Nell Hill, it turns out, is Garrity’s grandmother. And one of Garrity’s three specialty shops in the bustling décor capitol of Atchison, Kan., is called Nell Hill’s. So this book collects Garrity’s “creative ideas, secret tips and practical techniques” on entertaining, gathered over 25 years at Nell’s — and lots of parties.

Man, that’s an awful lot of work just to decipher the cover.

Luckily, once you get inside, sumptuous inspiration awaits, from room décor to table settings, all arranged by season, on pages covered with luxurious type, soothing colors and elegant photos.

This is not “entertaining” as in a football-shaped glob of Super Bowl dip. This is entertaining. As in heirloom pearl-handled silverware; stacked, gold-trimmed china plates topped with a stone pedestal and a bird’s nest; and juice goblets served on a sugar-dusted mirror.

And that’s just under “Winter.”

Each seasonal section covers four or five events, along with a sample menu and even a recipe. Then Garrity tells you how each party was put together, either by her or one of her equally clever friends.

It’s just a luxurious book, filled with high-end ideas. It also assumes you own plenty of precious handed-down pieces — and that you don’t mind spending a pretty penny on some new ones, too.

Don’t know where to go for those? You can find info on all her Kansas shops in the book.

Compiled by Sandy Dunham, Seattle Times desk editor