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The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual—and the Modern Home Began
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The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual—and the Modern Home Began

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  20 reviews
This remarkable history of late-seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century France introduces the age when comfort became a new ideal. Home life, formerly characterized by stiff formality, was revolutionized by the simultaneous introduction of the sofa (a radical invitation to recline or converse), the original living rooms, and the very concept of private bedrooms and bathr ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 6th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2009)
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3.91  · 
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 ·  152 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The premise of this book is that during a single century (1670-1765) in France, many of the things we consider basic to life were invented or came into use: cotton clothing, clothing designs with the emphasis placed on comfort as opposed to imposing court dress, sofas, armchairs, bedrooms and bathrooms as separate rooms instead of one corner of a grand hall, flush toilets and running water, large paned windows to let in light, nightstands and writing desks, hardwood floors, and more. Part of thi ...more
Sep 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: zz-2010-read, donate
I won this book on a Giveaway and was delighted.

This book, about a subject of particular interest to me (history of decoration, lifestyles in the past, fashion of the past, etc.) amply fulfilled my expectations.

It was fascinating to learn the history of the development of bedrooms, flush toilets, and the use of cotton in clothing, to name but a few things.

This book would serve, perhaps, as more of a reference type book than just a read-it-all-at-once book; the style of writing is very understan
Linda Harkins
Oct 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an informative book by University of Pennsylvania Trustee Professor Joan DeJean that caused me to look at the sofa in an entirely new way. It was not until the turn of the 18th century that the societal desire for comfort and privacy surfaced. People wanted spaces that were less formal and in which they could feel fully at ease. Architecture, clothing, and furniture became more casual. New words describing interior design became part of the lexicon: sopha or sofa from the Arab word for c ...more
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it
A pure joy for my inner fashionista as it is a plunge into the days of Pompadour with everything that changed (furniture, clothes, lifestyle)
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Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book starts large and works its way down. It details how comfort spread from architecture all the way down to furniture, fixtures and what people wore, but also gives an accurate picture of the personalities who made it more than a trend. The little details about the people, some Royal and some not, really made it for me. The final few chapters from 'The Bedroom' to 'The Fabric of Their Lives' are the most enjoyable as they are the most personal. My favorite picture was of the Marquise de P ...more
Jamie Crouthamel
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a really fun read! DeJean walks the reader through the grand, imposing spaces of the Age of Magnificence and explains how the changing cultural, political and economic landscapes morph these spaces into plush, warm and comfortable places where homeowners are given the new freedom of privacy. Learning about how the idea of privacy and private spaces developed was absolutely fascinating! The only fault I could possibly find is there were a few moments that were a bit tedious in their minu ...more
Oct 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Enjoyed this book I won. This was very interesting and was well written. It told of the invention of some of our modern conveniences, such as indoor plumbing and some of our more comfortable furniture, & how and why these things were conceived. I certainly learned from it. I had not known that a lot of what we enjoy today came from Paris, or what period of time these things were first designed. Anyone interested in history would find this book a good read. Anyone with an interest in Paris or ...more
Sherwood Smith
This book fits nicely into period histories of architecture, clothing, and social history, for example the salon. Anyone who wants to find out how the hostesses fitted up their salons, and how having comfortable rather than stately rooms changed how rooms were used, will enjoy this detailed ramble, but be wary of some of her claims; there are some distressing errors, especially about life in the 1400s and 1500s.
Margaret Sankey
Jul 14, 2013 rated it liked it
The material culture history of several of my favorite markers of civilization--toilets, privacy and comfortable furniture, placing the emergence and availability of these things to the convergence of the whims of French royal mistresses, increasingly rich non-elite merchants who wanted to emulate them, the availability of lightweight Asian textiles and the new philosophy that suggested human beings did not owe it to humility and propriety to be in physical discomfort all the time.
David Richardson
Oct 01, 2010 rated it liked it
I received this book for free from the Goodreads first read giveaway. I thought this book was good even though I have no interest in decorating or furniture. The author did some painstaking research. If you want to know about the eveloution of decorating, fashion and lifestyle changes in Europe of the 1700's, this is the book for you!
Sep 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
If you've ever enjoyed an episode of Antiques Roadshow, this is at least an interesting skim. I passed my copy on to my mother, who went through an intense French antiques period and who is going to appreciate this book much more than I. :)
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How does she do it over and over again? Fun read that is just chock full of facts that support a brilliant analysis of the interconnection between philosophy, style, art, fashion, politics, mores. Loved it. Now . . . moving backwards to the Essence of Style.
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very useful, and entertaining, reference if European Decorative Arts is your thing. I bought the book after reading it so that I could continue to mine it for all its historical context.
Sep 13, 2010 marked it as to-read
I'm very excited! I just won this book and am greatly looking forward to reading it :)
Katharine Holden
Interesting, unusual, fun to read. Frustratingly few illustrations, so it's often hard to "see" what the author is talking about.
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Please read my blog for a review:

I won my copy through First Reads.
Marilyn Brooks
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was very interesting to me as a former fashion and textiles student and now as a Rienzi docent. Great reference book.
Jan 28, 2011 marked it as to-read
I've read her book on the influence of Louis XIV on the fashion industry and I'm sure this one will be equally pleasurable!
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“By then, [1737]...the French were taking advantage of the new "reading rooms" created by architects such as Blondel and of new seat furniture and had begun a practice we now call curling up with a good book.” 3 likes
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