You don’t have to go to art school or commission a designer to have a beautiful home—but a tasteful design book will provide you with plenty of inspiration. In these four books, you’ll learn to mix high and low interiors and incorporate plenty of bright color. Filled with gorgeous photographs, design books make lovely gifts for a loved one or yourself, and will be at home on any coffee table for years to come.
NEUTRAL IS OUT
Katie Ridder founded her design firm in 1995 and has since become known for her bright color palette and international influence. Take one look at the mesmerizing pictures in Katie Ridder Rooms, and you’ll soon see why: These interiors are truly works of art, at once sunny and bright, extravagant and balanced. In her introduction, author Heather Smith MacIsaac explains what makes Ridder’s rooms special: “No matter how lavish a project, no matter its style and degree of sophistication, it remains accessible, family friendly, absolutely inviting, and subtly practical.” Though not everyone can spring for custom wallpaper or a custom sofa to fit the shape of a space, we can all project relaxed hospitality in clutter-free rooms. There are many tips here that will be of use to any DIY home decorator, like lining the backs of bookcases with beautiful paper, or painting a dining room in a dramatic color to transform it “from the runt of the litter into best in show.” (MacIsaac rightly notes that dining rooms are typically only used and “dressed up” for special occasions.) After reading this book, you’ll be itching to add drama and flair to your house with sari-like curtains or Chinese lanterns, an upholstered headboard in the bedroom and bold wallpaper in the bathroom—anything that ups the wow factor and, as Ridder says, the “delight factor.”
STYLE AS SWEET AS PIE
Even if you live above the Mason-Dixon Line, like your tea unsweet and would never say “y’all,” you can still find plenty of inspiration in Southern Living Style. The Southerners among us—bless their hearts—will joyfully take pride in their region’s many fabulous interiors. This inviting guide is divided by room, with additional sections on “Defining Southern Style” and before-and-afters. So what is Southern style? It can be modern or traditional, but a proper Southern-inspired room should include some sort of ancestral influence—whether a portrait of Grandmother, a chest passed down for generations or cherished monogrammed family linens. A Southern home will also invite entertaining, comfortably mix functionality with formality and not shy away from color. Alongside pretty pictures of rooms, in this book you’ll find tips from decorators on getting the looks for yourself, with advice for both major re-dos and budget-friendly updates. One of the handiest features is the “pulling it all together” pages, which explain how to assemble the players in each room, from the most essential furniture pieces to fun accessories that make the space your own.
DECOR FROM THE BIG EASY
Bryan Batt may be best known for his role as art director Sal Romano on AMC’s hit show “Mad Men,” but Big, Easy Style joyfully celebrates his passion for design and decor. Batt was born and raised in New Orleans, and his philosophy in both life and design is laissez les bons temps rouler—“let the good times roll.” Readers are encouraged to embrace color, follow their hearts when making design choices and not be afraid of making mistakes. Based on the photographs of Batt’s Crescent City carriage house, it is clear that he has plenty of fun with his own design choices, like hanging huge papier-mâché flowers on the wall in homage to Mardi Gras floats. A helpful feature of Big, Easy Style is Batt’s list of favorite colors; with names like Petticoat White, Chocolate Mousse and Blue Hydrangea, you’ll be eager to start picking out paint chips. Fans of “Mad Men” will appreciate the glimpses into Batt’s childhood and personal life—his family owned the beloved Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park—and anyone with a space to decorate will be energized by his helpful, happy advice, like to work toward synergy between “a home’s great style and its owner’s personal flair.” They’ll also want to make a jaunt to New Orleans, where Batt and his partner, Tom Cianfichi, have owned a home accessories boutique, Hazelnut, since 2003.
A HOUSE FIT FOR A BIBLIOPHILE
Since everyone at BookPage is a booklover, most of us have the same problem: where to stash all the evidence of our addiction. Damian Thompson turns book accumulation into an art form in Books Make a Home, a dream of a guide for any devoted reader. Learn how to store your books more effectively (so you’ll have room to buy more!); how to arrange your books in artful displays; how to organize your collection; and even how to care for your books. (Rule number one: Do not allow them to lean!) Are you cohabitating for the first time and need a solution for combining two libraries? Having guests come to stay and want advice on how to thoughtfully provide reading material? You’ll find plenty of ideas here. Not surprisingly, the stars of the stunning photographs in Books Make a Home are books—stored in sleek kitchens, cozy bedrooms, corridors, office nooks, living rooms and even “loos” (Thompson lives in East London). In a chapter about arranging books in children’s rooms, the author quotes education reformer Horace Mann, writing: “A house without books is like a room without windows.” Any bibliophile would surely agree, and Thompson’s book provides show-stopping ideas for what to do with your beloved tomes.