The best books to help explain how our interiors can support our wellbeing and reflect our true personalities

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong interiors obsessive, which I’ve managed to turn into a multi-stranded career: I style commercial photoshoots and set up events for brands, write about interiors trends for magazines and a trend forecasting agency, have authored several interiors books of my own, and recently I’ve begun teaching my own blend of authentic yet actionable interior design tips to others, through courses, workshops, and creative consultancy. I am always interested in the why behind what makes us feel a certain way when it comes to design, and believe that creating a home that reflects and supports our emotional needs will ultimately support us in all aspects of life.

I wrote...

My Bedroom Is an Office: & Other Interior Design Dilemmas

By Joanna Thornhill,

Book cover of My Bedroom Is an Office: & Other Interior Design Dilemmas

What is my book about?

Acting somewhere in the middle between a coffee table book and an instructional manual, this title focuses on a multitude of design dilemmas (of which setting up a home office in your bedroom is just one) and is designed to be easily dipped in and out of as required, with each spread posing a single dilemma then offering practical, actionable solutions to help readers achieve this. It touches on everything from styling and decorative quick-fixes, to more DIY and structural dilemmas, aiming to talk readers through the options, rather than impose specific rules to follow.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Sensory Home: An Inspiring Guide to Mindful Decorating

Joanna Thornhill Why did I love this book?

Pippa has artfully woven her visual expertise as a stylist and art director, with her research and understanding of the role that designing for the senses plays within our overall wellbeing. Inspired in part by the needs of her autistic daughter (and in turn, others on the neurodivergent spectrum who may have sensory differences and sensitivities), there are lots of brilliant ideas in this book for everyone wanting to learn about the role of colour, texture, and material when it comes to helping soothe our often-frazzled nervous systems.

By Pippa Jameson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sensory Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Embrace mindful decorating and create a comfortable home that is kind to your senses and improves your wellbeing.

The Sensory Home will help you to understand whether your home is working for or against you. Layout, colour, texture, scent, lighting and more can be used to create a calming or stimulating environment according to your family's unique needs, including for neurodiverse individuals. This book offers hints and tips as well as long-term solutions to bring your vision of a warm, inviting and harmonious home to life. Chapters covering each room of the house include sensory checklists to help you identify…

Book cover of Heritage Style: A fresh new take on traditional design

Joanna Thornhill Why did I love this book?

Selina is one of the most prolific stylists I know (and when I was starting out in the industry, I had the good fortune to assist on her shoots many times!). She’s produced a number of beautiful books over the years, finding her niche within blended spaces that bring in the outdoors and retain a sense of creative freedom. This book is her latest release, and shows how to authentically blend vintage and antique pieces into the home to create character and imbue a feeling of warmth and comfort that sometimes only older, charmingly weather-worn pieces can deliver. The schemes she shares here simultaneously feel nostalgic and fresh.

By Selina Lake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heritage Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Heritage Style, Selina Lake celebrates the new nostalgic mood in interiors, using vintage and inherited furniture and other accessories in a fresh, original fashion.

Our homes are more important to us than ever before, and heritage style harks back to the reassuring comfort of traditional interiors. Panelling, wallpaper, floral fabrics and heritage paint colours provide a backdrop for house plants, artworks and contemporary crafts, while upholstered and wicker furniture, pretty decorative detailing and plump cushions feel warm, welcoming and familiar. It's not only a comforting style, but also a sustainable one, built around pre-owned and vintage pieces sourced at…

Book cover of Happy Inside: How to harness the power of home for health and happiness

Joanna Thornhill Why did I love this book?

Interiors expert and host of Interior Design Masters (BBC), Michelle has a fascinating view on interiors, honed through her many years working on magazines alongside her personal interests in Buddhist philosophy, sustainable design, and ‘clean’ living within the home. She goes deep into her research within this title, examining potential pathogens that might be lurking in a typical household (and advising on what to do to mitigate them), alongside thoughtful prose on how you can identify both your aesthetic and wellbeing needs and decorate accordingly.

By Michelle Ogundehin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Happy Inside as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I love this book. Strong, clever, intelligent advice with soul.'
Mary Portas

'A wonderful look at how to transform our homes to be more mindfully aligned with our true nature and a reflection of who we are.'
Fearne Cotton

'A happy home is a fundamental building block of happiness, and Michelle's book is an essential, step-by-step guide to creating a home we love.'
Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

'A must-have read for anyone looking to improve not just their home but also their quality of life within it.'
Matthew Williamson

Be happier, healthier and more empowered with Michelle…

Book cover of Life Unstyled: How to embrace imperfection and create a home you love

Joanna Thornhill Why did I love this book?

I’m a big fan of Emily’s personal take on interior design: she’s been a long-time champion of decorating in a way that rails somewhat against the identikit perfectly curated homes we often see in magazines and on social media, and instead encourages her readers to find the beauty in the imperfect, unpolished, and sometimes rough-and-ready places that might not grace the cover of a glossy design tome, yet show a creative, relatable, and inherently charming style. Named after her blog, this book aims to encourage others to be brave enough to create a space that you truly love and that feels personal to you, regardless of what the proverbial Jones’s-next-door might say.

By Emily Henson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Unstyled as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We are bombarded by perfect interiors, images that aren't attainable because they have been styled to the point where they bear no resemblance to reality. These interiors may be stunning, but they aren't an honest reflection of how we really live.

Life Unstyled is about taking inspiration from real homes that are beautiful, creative and inspiring but at the same time a little rough around the edges, with signs of everyday life evident throughout. The first section, 'Homes Unstyled', sets out Emily's manifesto for creating a stylish home that is beautiful but lived in. A Home is Never Done advocates…

Book cover of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

Joanna Thornhill Why did I love this book?

I love how Ingrid’s background comes together so perfectly to create this book, which reflects the crux of her whole professional and personal focus. Her background in design and branding led her to delve deeper into the neuroscience between our instinctual responses to our environments and how this links to our mental health, which eventually led to her hugely successful TED talk, ‘Where joy hides and how to find it’ (which was where I initially discovered her work and became instantly fascinated in this topic). Ingrid champions the idea that we can all create more joy in our homes (and lives) and this book shares both the psychology behind why certain colours or spaces can have the power to make us feel anxious or happy, along with how to practically harness the power of joy to create a home that feels full of whatever joy means to you personally.

By Ingrid Fetell Lee,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Joyful as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Make small changes to your surroundings and create extraordinary happiness in your life with groundbreaking research from designer and TED star Ingrid Fetell Lee.

Next Big Idea Club selection—chosen by Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Dan Pink, and Adam Grant as one of the "two most groundbreaking new nonfiction reads of the season!"

"This book has the power to change everything! Writing with depth, wit, and insight, Ingrid Fetell Lee shares all you need to know in order to create external environments that give rise to inner joy." —Susan Cain, author of Quiet and founder of Quiet Revolution

Have you ever…

You might also like...

Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

By Edward Benzel,

Book cover of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

Edward Benzel Author Of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, I have witnessed many successes and failures over more than four decades. I recognized decades ago that communication with patients at a level that involves emotions is a necessary part of being a complete physician. This involves being empathetic and, henceforth, digging deep to find the strength to be transparent, vulnerable, compassionate, understanding, and, when needed, forceful (some would call this paternalism). Although the five books I have chosen to highlight vary widely in content, they have one common theme – finding within us the will and wherewithal to succeed.

Edward's book list on awakening of the strengths that are hidden deep inside each of us

What is my book about?

My book is a collection of monthly Editor-in-Chief letters to the readership of World Neurosurgery, a journal that I edit. Each essay is short and sweet. The letters were written for neurosurgeons but have been re-edited so that they apply to all human beings. They cover topics such as leadership, empathy, vulnerability, stress, burnout, and on and on…. These essays are relevant for all who strive to craft a better version of themselves.

Life lessons learned by the author during his 40+ year neurosurgery career are shared and translated into real-life scenarios. Between the covers are many lessons that are derived from the experiences of the author and then applied to all humans. The mastering of these lessons should translate into a sense of pride and satisfaction. In keeping with the theme of the book, this process should culminate in the feeling at the end of the day that ‘Today was, indeed, a good day.’

Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

By Edward Benzel,

What is this book about?

About the Book
Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon features many topics that pertain to how neurosurgeons interact with others and how each of us can use introspection to modify how we are using tools and strategies such as empathy, respect, stress management, and much more.
This book provides some insights into leadership, effective communication, and fulfillment from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, and it causes the reader to think about and consider many, many attributes of a leader.
We all want to have a good day. This book provides strategies…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in home decoration, self-actualization, and furniture making?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about home decoration, self-actualization, and furniture making.

Home Decoration Explore 27 books about home decoration
Self-Actualization Explore 205 books about self-actualization
Furniture Making Explore 13 books about furniture making