The charm of English country prints
A Victorian glass conservatory trimmed in a fresh coat of white paint and pink hyacinths overlooks a leafy garden. Inside, a white wrought-iron table is set for a summery afternoon luncheon and, at night, for a candlelit dinner under the stars.
This is just one of the many inviting scenes from ''The Laura Ashley Book of Home Decorating,'' which showcases a variety of rooms decorated in the quaint English country and unpretentious elegant styles made famous by Laura Ashley.
The full-color pages of kitchens, eating/dining areas, living rooms, bedrooms , bathrooms, and decorative extras range from stately interiors to intimate cottagelike settings and children's rooms.
On one end of the scale a spacious drawing room of an Irish castle echoes the misty serenity of the surrounding countryside with ever-tasteful cream tones and subtle prints. At the other end, a blue poppy flower print and carnival stripes transform a tiny room under the eaves into a light-hearted hideaway.
The section on kitchens runs the gamut from the laminated efficiency of a small city kitchen to a beruffled table in muted apricots and greens set for a cozy breakfast. There are several examples to satisfy any yearnings for the ultimate country kitchen with terra-cotta tile floors, pine cupboards against whitewashed walls, and stenciling around the hearth.
But it is in the restful atmosphere of the bedroom that the Laura Ashley patterns seem to find their most natural home. They lend themselves perfectly to bed linens, drapes, wallcoverings, and cushions to soothe the eye and pamper the spirit.
The text of the book is geared toward how to run a comfortable, efficient household and includes sage bits of advice such as ''It is sensible and fun to put effort into decoration , but sad to become a slave to perfection,'' or ''Refusing to work in a hurry is as important as refusing to work in a muddle.''
Practical information about decorating techniques is woven into descriptions of the rooms featured in an extensive section of do-it-yourself instructions.
This second section, which covers many topics including painting, wallpapering, stenciling, tiling, floorcoverings, window treatments, and upholstering is what makes the first half more than a ''wish book,'' since it shows how the same effects are achievable without hiring an interior decorator.
The coordinated fabrics and wallcoverings are available to the public. With some patience almost any decorating project can be completed without the help of professionals. Most important perhaps, doing the decorating yourself is the only way to achieve a truly individual look.