The best home decoration books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about home decoration and why they recommend each book.

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The Interior Design Handbook

By Frida Ramstedt,

Book cover of The Interior Design Handbook

Finally, a book for regular people that spells out the golden rules of design in a way that’s easy to understand and to apply to the homes we live in, whatever they may be. Ramstedt guides us through everything from lights to flower vases to the arrangement of furniture to choosing white paint. A book to help us see the places where we live with fresh eyes and tackle the kind of tweaks that will make us feel more at home in them than ever.


Who am I?

Laura Calder is a recognized advocate for living well at home. She is the author of four cookbooks and received a James Beard Award for her long-running television series, French Food at Home.


I wrote...

The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

By Laura Calder,

Book cover of The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

What is my book about?

I wrote The Inviting Life as an exploration into how we can "get a life" at home, particularly through making a welcome home and hosting. More than a social activity, "entertaining" is a form of self-care. Done right, it can take us from coping our way through life every day to celebrating.

Beata Heuman

By Beata Heuman,

Book cover of Beata Heuman: Every Room Should Sing

If you are going to live in an organized, consciously created space, you will want to understand design and be inspired by the greats. My list of designers is extensive but I chose Beata’s book because her work is so outside the box. Think about a room and the list of items you traditionally find in it.  Beata will have them but she will put a twist on her use of them that is incredibly unique. I think her work inspires you to find your style rather than slavishly copy her or anyone else.


Who am I?

I am known as The Zen Organizer and the author of 10 books on organizing. I’ve been working one-on-one with clients for over 30 years. I grew up in Brooklyn and now make Los Angeles my home. We tend to see our lives in unrelated compartments. I grew up with organized parents. As an adult I began to study the body from nutrition to movement. I opened myself to therapy initially to be a better actress. All of these interests dovetailed in the world of organizing and I found my life’s purpose. Zen Organizing creates a physical environment that nurtures you as you find and fulfill your Life Purpose.


I wrote...

One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week by Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good

By Regina Leeds,

Book cover of One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week by Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good

What is my book about?

A successful battle with cancer 20 years ago showed me that organizing was more than closets, kitchens, or file systems. It was in fact a way of thinking that would enable you to face any challenge life offered from chemotherapy treatments to taming an unruly closet. Organizing was a tool in a grab bag of self-help tools that might include modalities like meditation, aromatherapy, or Feng Shui.

The book is a combination of how-to organizing instructions and my philosophy called Zen Organizing™. The newly updated version will be out in late December 2022. It’s now a very Mindful book.

Pacific Natural at Home

By Jenni Kayne,

Book cover of Pacific Natural at Home

Jenny Kayne personifies the easy, laid-back approach to design and life that is so characteristic of California. Comfort plays a role equal to that of style, which is always organic, natural, and textural. Jenni Kayne's style leans toward a neutral palette that embraces and accentuates the light, color, and texture of the California landscape. She shares work from her own home, as well as homes of other creative women who share her natural design ethos.


Who are we?

At Home in the Wine Country coauthors Heather and Chase love the open, nature-focused attitude toward living that California does so well. Heather worked in the field of architecture for 25 years and is the author of The New Architecture of Wine. Chase has been a western lifestyle writer for 30 years and is the author of 14 books, including Modern Americana, American Rustic, Cabin Style, and Bison. As writers and consultants they work with publishers, magazines, and design, hospitality and wine clients to craft and convey their stories. Heather and Chase live in spectacularly scenic Marin County, halfway between San Francisco and California's iconic wine country.


We wrote...

At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture & Design in the California Vineyards

By Chase Reynolds Ewald and Heather Sandy Hebert,

Book cover of At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture & Design in the California Vineyards

What is our book about?

Through compelling narrative and stunning photography, At Home in the Wine Country features architecture, style, and design in California’s picturesque wine country, showcasing the work of California’s top architects and designers in styles ranging from modern farmhouse to refined rustic to updated agrarian to unapologetically modern. This virtual tour documents a native terroir-derived style that has evolved dramatically since the days when the region looked to European chateaux for inspiration. The range of styles is broad and pays homage to wine-country living in an atmosphere of understated, family-focused, nature-intensive hospitality.

A Room of Her Own

By Chris Casson Madden, Jennifer Levy,

Book cover of A Room of Her Own: Women's Personal Spaces

This rich album of peeping in the windows of intensely private spaces may have been published in 1997 but its message of calm and possibilities burns just as brightly today. The lives of beloved personalities like Maya Angelou, Jessica McClintock, and Oprah Winfrey are opened so that you feel privy to what makes them who they are, or were. You can tell that Madden, one of HGTV’s first hosts, knew all of these women personally and was given great latitude so that we could have a real sense of the spaces these women run to for respite. Some may surprise you – a spartan bathroom with killer views, a guest room that was carved out of a living room – but all of them have a similar message theme of quiet triumph over stressful living. We all need a room of our own and there is more than one way…


Who am I?

I am an English major turned magazine editor turned book author, with a longtime love of outbuildings. Sheds, carriage houses, studios, barns… I love them all. When I had the chance to do a book about she sheds I was thrilled. Now with two books about she sheds on the market, I’m busy running She Shed Living with my business partner. We design sheds for women throughout Southern California, sell our own line of exterior chalk-based paint, and offer resources and advice to women who want a room of their own.


I wrote...

She Sheds: A Room of Your Own

By Erika Kotite,

Book cover of She Sheds: A Room of Your Own

What is my book about?

She Sheds: A Room of Your Own shows women the possibilities of having their own tiny, quiet space to enjoy in their backyards. The book answers the question “what is a she shed?” and goes on from there. I show more than three dozen different sheds and highlight the way women enjoy and embellish their spaces. Divided by chapters about artists, gardeners, dreamers, and old souls, the book is deeply aspirational but also realistic. It contains lots of practical information and even provides a first-hand look at my efforts to build a shed for my sister-in-law from a kit. Warning: you’ll definitely want one of your own when the final chapter is read.

Dictator Style

By Peter York,

Book cover of Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colorful Despots

Most books about dictators are written by scholars and academics, but Peter York has a different background — he is a style guru and cultural commentator who writes about trends for magazines and newspapers in the UK. His approach, therefore, is very different from the other books on this list and in Dictator Style he casts a witty, acerbic eye over the interior design choices of some of the world’s most evil men. Multiple photographs are provided to document their crimes against taste, and York skewers everything from the leopard skin rug of Romania’s Nicolae Ceacescu to the soft porn sci-fi fantasy paintings collected by Saddam Hussein. Whereas most authors focus on the depths of evil contained in each dictator’s soul, Yorke shines a spotlight on their shallows, revealing in the process that they are also frequently banal and vulgar in their tastes, and easily seduced by shiny baubles.

Who am I?

I lived in the former Soviet Union for ten years, primarily in Moscow, the home of many a brutal tyrant. My obsession with dictator literature began after I discovered that Saddam Hussein had written a romance novel, following which I spent many years reading the literary output of all of the 20th century’s most terrible tyrants, from Mussolini to Stalin to the Ayatollah Khomeini. This monumental act of self-torture resulted in my critically acclaimed book The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, And Other Catastrophes of Literacy


I wrote...

The Infernal Library

By Daniel Kalder,

Book cover of The Infernal Library

What is my book about?

Since the days of the Roman Empire dictators have written books, but in the twentieth century the phenomenon went into overdrive, and despots inflicted their soul-killing prose upon (literally) captive audiences. They produced theoretical works, spiritual manifestos, poetry, memoirs, and (as I mentioned above) even the occasional romance novel. What do these books reveal about the dictatorial soul? What function did they serve for so many terrible regimes? Did any of these despots have even a smidgen of literary talent? These questions and many others are answered in The Infernal Library.

Nathan Turner's I Love California

By Nathan Turner,

Book cover of Nathan Turner's I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way

One of our all-time favorite books. Nathan Turner loves California, and we love how he translates that love to us, transporting even those of us who have lived here all of our lives to a new level of appreciation for our beautiful state. A combination of food, family, design, and adventure, it is an ode to our state — a love letter that is an absolute joy.


Who are we?

At Home in the Wine Country coauthors Heather and Chase love the open, nature-focused attitude toward living that California does so well. Heather worked in the field of architecture for 25 years and is the author of The New Architecture of Wine. Chase has been a western lifestyle writer for 30 years and is the author of 14 books, including Modern Americana, American Rustic, Cabin Style, and Bison. As writers and consultants they work with publishers, magazines, and design, hospitality and wine clients to craft and convey their stories. Heather and Chase live in spectacularly scenic Marin County, halfway between San Francisco and California's iconic wine country.


We wrote...

At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture & Design in the California Vineyards

By Chase Reynolds Ewald and Heather Sandy Hebert,

Book cover of At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture & Design in the California Vineyards

What is our book about?

Through compelling narrative and stunning photography, At Home in the Wine Country features architecture, style, and design in California’s picturesque wine country, showcasing the work of California’s top architects and designers in styles ranging from modern farmhouse to refined rustic to updated agrarian to unapologetically modern. This virtual tour documents a native terroir-derived style that has evolved dramatically since the days when the region looked to European chateaux for inspiration. The range of styles is broad and pays homage to wine-country living in an atmosphere of understated, family-focused, nature-intensive hospitality.

Country Living Tiny Homes

By Country Living,

Book cover of Country Living Tiny Homes: Living Big in Small Spaces

Do not be deterred by the words “country” and “tiny” in this book’s title! This is a fantastic collection of small-ish homes that ran in the American edition of Country Living magazine. There are only a couple of actual tiny homes—most are more in the range of 1,000 or so feet. Likewise, very few of the homes are deeply “country” in style; instead, the overall look of the interiors is a fresh take on farmhouse style – with urban apartments and minimalist homes in the mix. The photography is beautiful, and there are so many homes included that this is a great value for its cover price.


Who am I?

I know small spaces from first-hand experience. As a writer based in New York City, I have lived in a series of impossibly small spaces, including a 6’ x 8’ bedroom in an apartment with no living room and a teeny-tiny studio that was made livable by installing a Murphy bed. Today I live in less than 700 square feet with my husband and son. When I set out to write my own book, I wanted to inspire readers to make the most of their own small homes and discover the freedom that living small provides. I have an extensive personal library of books about small space design, but these five are my all-time favorites.


I wrote...

The Little Book of Living Small

By Laura Fenton,

Book cover of The Little Book of Living Small

What is my book about?

The Little Book of Living Small offers practical advice for managing a tight footprint. Packed with actionable advice, The Little Book of Living Small shows readers how to make the most of limited square footage―with grace and style―and serves as the cheerleader readers need to help themselves feel satisfied and proud of their choice to live with less. The book features twelve case study homes in which style-savvy, small-space dwellers (from singles to families of four) open their doors and share their design secrets. Stylistically these homes range from urban to rural, minimalist to bohemian, with the unifying thread that they are all real homes of 1,200 square feet or less and offer clever solutions for you to use in your own home.

An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration

By Mario Praz,

Book cover of An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration: From Pompeii to Art Nouveau

Mario Praz’s Illustrated History of Interior Decoration is a wonderful chatty collection of case studies that explores the history of the subject in a well-informed and erudite manner. Interiors are generally lost to the mists of time, remembered only as the backdrop to other activities in paintings and prints, Praz has searched out the best of these to generously illustrate the book.


Who am I?

For more than thirty years I have been discussing, formulating ideas, and writing about Architecture, Building Reuse, and Interiors. I lead the MA Architecture and Adaptive Reuse programme and direct graduate atelier Continuity in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture. I am currently the Visiting Professor at the University IUAV of Venice where I am conducting research on the sustainable adaptation of existing buildings with particular emphasis on the environmental concerns within the inherently fragile city of Venice.


I wrote...

Inside Information: The Defining Concepts of Interior Design

By Sally Stone,

Book cover of Inside Information: The Defining Concepts of Interior Design

What is my book about?

Inside Information is a chatty and well-informed conversation about the theoretical ideas that inform the interior. Written as a collection of 26 conversations, from Ante to Zeitgeist, Inside Information explores the rich diversity of areas that inform the subject, and ideas that underpin it. This thesaurus of interiors transcends the boundaries and genres that often define interiors, providing a comprehensive view of the concepts and vocabulary of interior design. It is a practical introduction for the professional, a set of provocation for the scholar, a ‘good read’ filled with anecdote and speculation for the amateur, and primer for the students.

Geography of Home

By Akiko Busch,

Book cover of Geography of Home: Writings on Where We Live

Recommended to me by one of my students this is a witty exploration of the places in our homes, what we call them, kitchen, bedroom, dining room and how they often don’t live up to or exceed their names. A view of the rituals and complexities of the American home and what it houses as it explores memory, aspirations, and the real meaning of home. This book is a trigger to encourage the reader to look at their own spaces and the pattern of how they use those spaces through habit, muscular memory, and cultural norms, all playing a part in how we define our living spaces.


Who am I?

As a child my heroes were designers and I thought designers could design across many disciplines, this was what I understood and aspired to. I'm fortunate to have been a designer, illustrator, and design teacher for many years. Passionate about the process I firmly believe if you can design in one area you can design in another. Understanding your material's potential is the key. As a tutor and author my job is to unwrap a student’s talent, support and encourage that unique view through skills building and advice to help them. I believe good design can solve many of the world’s problems and passing on that message is valuable.


I wrote...

Interior Design Drawing

By Alan Hughes,

Book cover of Interior Design Drawing

What is my book about?

Written as a guide to the early stages of design drawing and conceived to introduce the design process, this book explores how to communicate a complete design scheme. The concept behind a design should inform every stage of that project from first thoughts to realisation, including how you communicate with the client. 

Design drawing must be informative and accurate but also promote atmosphere, the feeling of a space, in an imaginative and evocative manner. Drawing space before it is built relies on observational sketching as much as the knowledge of scaled plans and sections. My approach is to encourage hand drawing as key to the design process, an essential skill that will inform and augment whatever communication medium chosen, be that pencil or pixel.

Simple Matters

By Erin Boyle,

Book cover of Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More

This book is not specifically about small spaces, but it would be a valuable addition to any small-space library for its message of living with less and conscious consumption. I discovered Erin’s writing and her blog Reading My Tea Leaves when I was a new mom looking for examples of families choosing to live in small spaces. Erin’s book Simple Matters is one I turn back to whenever I need a fresh burst of inspiration to declutter, simplify, and embrace a slower style of home-keeping. Simple Matters is not a coffee table book, it is meant to be picked up and read. 


Who am I?

I know small spaces from first-hand experience. As a writer based in New York City, I have lived in a series of impossibly small spaces, including a 6’ x 8’ bedroom in an apartment with no living room and a teeny-tiny studio that was made livable by installing a Murphy bed. Today I live in less than 700 square feet with my husband and son. When I set out to write my own book, I wanted to inspire readers to make the most of their own small homes and discover the freedom that living small provides. I have an extensive personal library of books about small space design, but these five are my all-time favorites.


I wrote...

The Little Book of Living Small

By Laura Fenton,

Book cover of The Little Book of Living Small

What is my book about?

The Little Book of Living Small offers practical advice for managing a tight footprint. Packed with actionable advice, The Little Book of Living Small shows readers how to make the most of limited square footage―with grace and style―and serves as the cheerleader readers need to help themselves feel satisfied and proud of their choice to live with less. The book features twelve case study homes in which style-savvy, small-space dwellers (from singles to families of four) open their doors and share their design secrets. Stylistically these homes range from urban to rural, minimalist to bohemian, with the unifying thread that they are all real homes of 1,200 square feet or less and offer clever solutions for you to use in your own home.

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