The best interior design books

5 authors have picked their favorite books about interior design and why they recommend each book.

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The House in Good Taste

By Elsie de Wolfe,

Book cover of The House in Good Taste

Known as the First Lady of interior decoration, de Wolfe (1865-1950) excelled in a predominantly male profession which she is credited with inventing. Her book which, is still thought of as a decorator’s bible, was first published in 1913. It’s a compilation of several of her chatty magazine articles so even though her clientele was elite the strong doses of common sense, wit, and sophistication in her voice have mass appeal. Described as an ornamental minimalist she upturned the oppressiveness of the Victorian and Edwardian sensibility by avoiding clutter, dark colors, and heavy draperies in favor of sparsely furnished, naturally lit rooms (which she considered to be optimistic) that seamlessly aligned themselves with their natural surroundings. In that sense, she was one of the first decorators to acknowledge nature and to emphasize the importance of incorporating garden and exterior views into interior planning.

The House in Good Taste

By Elsie de Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The House in Good Taste as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’ve spent several decades immersed in the world of interior design. As a writer and creative director, I’ve worked alongside many, many talented decorators and architects and seen how they’ve enhanced people’s lives by creating beautiful, practical living spaces. To my mind, if one truly feels inspired and at ease in one’s home environment the chance of living an authentic, fulfilling life increases significantly. All the books I’ve written emphasize the importance I place on thoughtful design. A partial list includes Shoes: A Celebration of Pumps, Sandals, Slippers & More; Brilliant: White in Design, Stripes: Design Between The Lines; Heart and Home: Rooms That Tell Stories, and Inside Outside: A Sourcebook of Inspired Garden Rooms. I live in Upstate New York where my house is surrounded by a fledgling fragrance garden.


I wrote...

Inside Outside: A Sourcebook of Inspired Garden Rooms

By Linda O'Keeffe,

Book cover of Inside Outside: A Sourcebook of Inspired Garden Rooms

What is my book about?

Inside Outside chronicles 25 different gardens, throughout the world from Paris to Palm Beach to Poughkeepsie as it expounds on the theory that landscaping and interior design are two sides of the same coin. A few shared characteristics of well-designed rooms and gardens include spatial awareness, strong proportions, an emphasis on texture, energizing and/or calming colors, strategically placed accessories, and a palpable sense of place. I also talk about symmetry, rhythm, informality, humor, harmony, flow, layering, suitability, and integration in an effort to bring the outdoors inside and vice versa. I hope the book inspires people to personalize their own outdoor spaces.

Dirt

By Dianne S. Benson,

Book cover of Dirt: The Lowdown on Growing a Garden with Style

Even though her heroine is Vita Sackville-West who, in the 1930s, created Sissinghurst, one of the world’s most visited gardens, I think of Benson as a hippy, outdoors version of Martha Stewart. In this paperback, her fast lane, quick gratification approach to gardening comes across with equal doses of humor as she emphasizes the joy of digging one’s hands into the soil and the importance of channeling one’s own aesthetic into hedge and plant choices. Her opinions are pithy, to say the least - she considers marigolds to be ‘hackneyed’ flowers; she talks about weeds having brains and calls the green thumb notion a fallacy - but her passion for nature, which shines through on every page, is contagious.

Dirt

By Dianne S. Benson,

Why should I read it?

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


Who am I?

I’ve spent several decades immersed in the world of interior design. As a writer and creative director, I’ve worked alongside many, many talented decorators and architects and seen how they’ve enhanced people’s lives by creating beautiful, practical living spaces. To my mind, if one truly feels inspired and at ease in one’s home environment the chance of living an authentic, fulfilling life increases significantly. All the books I’ve written emphasize the importance I place on thoughtful design. A partial list includes Shoes: A Celebration of Pumps, Sandals, Slippers & More; Brilliant: White in Design, Stripes: Design Between The Lines; Heart and Home: Rooms That Tell Stories, and Inside Outside: A Sourcebook of Inspired Garden Rooms. I live in Upstate New York where my house is surrounded by a fledgling fragrance garden.


I wrote...

Inside Outside: A Sourcebook of Inspired Garden Rooms

By Linda O'Keeffe,

Book cover of Inside Outside: A Sourcebook of Inspired Garden Rooms

What is my book about?

Inside Outside chronicles 25 different gardens, throughout the world from Paris to Palm Beach to Poughkeepsie as it expounds on the theory that landscaping and interior design are two sides of the same coin. A few shared characteristics of well-designed rooms and gardens include spatial awareness, strong proportions, an emphasis on texture, energizing and/or calming colors, strategically placed accessories, and a palpable sense of place. I also talk about symmetry, rhythm, informality, humor, harmony, flow, layering, suitability, and integration in an effort to bring the outdoors inside and vice versa. I hope the book inspires people to personalize their own outdoor spaces.

Less

By Rachel Aust,

Book cover of Less: A Visual Guide to Minimalism

From the cover to its contents, Rachel Aust’s beautifully illustrated book, Less, lives up to its promise of minimalism. It is an excellent introduction to dive into living with less. She is fun and quirky and with her book’s guidance, you’ll be organized and decluttered, physically and mentally, in no time! 

Less

By Rachel Aust,

Why should I read it?

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


Who are we?

After specializing in minimalism and zero/low-waste in luxury residential design, Lori Dennis Inc. was tapped to author two books on Green Interior Design. The mission is to make sustainable design and living fun and accessible. Both Lori Dennis and Courtney Porter discovered their passions for design at an early age, spawned from resourcefulness and creative resstaint. Having lived in NYC and LA, Lori and Courtney have a love of cities, community, and the great outdoors.


We wrote...

Green Interior Design

By Lori Dennis and Courtney Porter,

Book cover of Green Interior Design

What is our book about?

Green Interior Design is the most comprehensive guide to sustainable building, designing, and decorating on the market. This beautifully illustrated guide covers every detail of your home—from the drywall to the finial on the curtain rod—and how to find the most environmentally friendly versions of products and décor. This second edition of Green Interior Design is meant as much for the budget DIYer as it is for the luxury homebuilders looking to dip their toes into sustainability.

We hope readers carry this reference guide with them as they decorate apartments, furnish their first properties, and build their dream homes from the ground up. “Going green” is more than just a trend: It’s a global economic and social necessity.

Small Space Style

By Whitney Leigh Morris,

Book cover of Small Space Style: Because You Don't Need to Live Large to Live Beautifully

She sheds are usually small spaces and everyone can relate to the challenges of creating beauty with limited resources. This smart book pays homage to living small and makes you see wonderful possibilities where none existed before. I love walking through Whitney’s charming “Tiny Canal Cottage” as she calls it, the 400-square-foot place she shares with her husband, young son, and two dogs in Venice, California. The table of contents isn’t satisfied with vague chapter titles – nope, you get numbered ideas (238!) that are specific and doable. I love #026, which shows you how to trade a coffee table for a shallow shelf behind the couch. Also handy are tricks to quickly turn your living room into a spare bedroom, or a dining room, or a home office, and then turn it back into a living space again. You’ll meet kindred spirits in the design realm who offer their…

Small Space Style

By Whitney Leigh Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Small Space Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Interior design maven Whitney Leigh Morris makes living in under 400 square feet look elegant and effortless-even with a husband, baby, and two Beagles in the mix. In her debut book, Whitney shares her ideas and practices for making any tiny space efficient and stylish-whether it's a rustic A-frame in the woods or a chic microapartment in the city.

Featuring more than 200 tips for making the most of your little home, Small Space Style is the must-have, incredibly inspirational guide for living large in compact quarters. Join small space lifestyle expert Whitney Leigh Morris as she demonstrates how to…

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.

The Eyes of the Skin

By Juhani Pallasmaa,

Book cover of The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses

In my profession and working in a world that is bombarded with high-resolution images it might seem ironic to choose this book. Discovering this title as a student I was struck by the straightforward exploration of the broader sensory ability we all share. Pallasmaa explores the full sensory perception of built space and how relying on the merely visual, particularly at the design stage, robs us of a deeper sensory understanding of the architecture we create and inhabit. This book taught me how to recognise and trust what all my senses tell me rather than assuming I can fully understand something just by looking at it.

The Eyes of the Skin

By Juhani Pallasmaa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First published in 1996, The Eyes of the Skin has become a classic of architectural theory. For every new intake of students studying Pallasmaa s classic text, The Eyes of the Skin provides a totally fresh understanding of architecture and a new set of insights. This third edition is intended to meet students desire for a further understanding of the context of Pallasmaa s thinking by providing a new essay by architectural author and educator Peter MacKeith. This text combines both a biographical portrait of Pallasmaa and an outline of his architectural thinking. The new edition will includes a new…

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.

Andy Goldsworthy

By Andy Goldsworthy,

Book cover of Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature

Goldsworthy is the grandfather of impermanent nature art, creating one-of-a-kind ephemeral sculptures out of snow and ice, stone and twigs, leaf and bark. This book carries the quiet intensity of his art that lives at the edge of decay and change. The book wove me into a world of understanding the impermanence in nature through the lens of art being created on the precipice of change. He sculpts spiraling ice crystals just at the time in the morning when the temperature would permit and builds stone structures at the edge of the water, just before the tide would come in and carry it away. Enchanting art, magical photography, a genius in our midst.

Andy Goldsworthy

By Andy Goldsworthy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Andy Goldsworthy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Illustrates outdoor sculptures created with a range of natural materials, including snow, ice, leaves, rock, clay, stones, feathers, and twigs

Who am I?

I came to discover the healing power of art, nature, and ritual while I was grieving the loss of my father a decade ago. I would go to the park and make impermanent and symmetrical art from found twigs, flowers, pine cones, berries, and leaves as a way to ground, heal my broken heart, and make sense of a chaotic time. Since then, I‘ve made over a thousand nature altars, written a book about it (Morning Altars), and have taught tens of thousands of people around the world to make meaning in their lives through a creative collaboration with the natural world. It still amazes me that something so simple and impermanent can bring such wonder and resilience.


I wrote...

Hello, Goodbye: 75 Rituals for Times of Loss, Celebration, and Change

By Day Schildkret,

Book cover of Hello, Goodbye: 75 Rituals for Times of Loss, Celebration, and Change

What is my book about?

Embrace the power of ritual with simple practices that slow us down to honor and mark the real moments in our lives—from the loss of a parent to the birth of a child, from grieving a pet to celebrating coming out of the closet.

Day Schildkret, artist and author behind the international Morning Altars movement, believes that what we need is ritual. Rituals are the rhythms and traditions that give us a sense of stability in the face of uncertainty by reminding us that there’s always something we can do, say or make that conjures awe, contentment, and gratitude. They give us a way to acknowledge through our actions that, as life changes, we too must change.

Faith & Lettering

By Krystal Whitten,

Book cover of Faith & Lettering: An Inspirational Guide to Creative Lettering & Journaling

Faith and creativity come together in this gorgeous, colorful journal by Krystal Whitten. Filled with gorgeous illustrations, tutorials, and spaces for you to create, this journal will inspire you from start to finish. Whether you work in it daily or pick it up when you need some quiet time, you’ll find yourself feeling renewed creatively and spiritually.

Faith & Lettering

By Krystal Whitten,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Faith & Lettering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Something special happens when you learn to write or draw God's Word. In Faith and Lettering, Krystal Whitten's advice and encouragement will help you draw near to God and pursue a deeper faith by expressing your creativity. You will learn three basic types of letters and variations on them, what tools to use and how to use them, and step-by-step instructions for decorative flourishes and embellishments. Krystal will also show you how to find inspiration and accept grace when mistakes happen. Her inspiring tips, techniques, and ideas will help make your Bibles, journals, and home decor uniquely your own.

Who am I?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an artist at heart. As a child, I loved to draw and to make all kinds of crafts with my mother. Now, I make a living creating and teaching art. From presenting at conferences and workshops around the country to doing segments on lifestyle shows like Hallmark Home & Family, Good Day PA, Great Day Live Tampa, and more, my favorite things to do are those that allow me to share crafty projects. I have also written five hand lettering books and a guided journal, all with the hope of helping others to discover, explore, and express their own creativity. 


I wrote...

Hand Lettering for Laughter: Gorgeous Art with a Hilarious Twist

By Amy Latta,

Book cover of Hand Lettering for Laughter: Gorgeous Art with a Hilarious Twist

What is my book about?

Get ready to giggle your way through these clever hand lettering designs with bestselling author Amy Latta, back from her books Hand Lettering for Relaxation and Express Yourself: A Hand Lettering Workbook for Kids. Whether you’re lettering for the first time or brushing up on your skills, you’ll be highly entertained as you create your own works of witty, hand-lettered art. Draw, doodle, and dream right in the book on high-quality paper that will make your designs pop.

With tons of ideas for special hand-lettered projects like pillow covers, gift tags, and personalized signs, it’s easy to share the laughter. Be careful: It’s contagious!

Design Drawing

By Francis D. K. Ching, Steven P. Juroszek,

Book cover of Design Drawing

Ching has a great gift for illustrating with his visuals, and his amazing handwritten text, all manner of information about drawing and designing space. This is a comprehensive and instructional book introducing design drawing from basic principles to the communication of designed space as a structural diagram or atmospheric perspective. A wonderful exploration of sketching and drawing methods to illustrate theory, atmosphere, and the communication of three-dimensional space.  For me, it transcended the textbook approach and provided a clear exploration of the communication of design method and its potential outcomes.

Design Drawing

By Francis D. K. Ching, Steven P. Juroszek,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC GUIDE TO DRAWING FOR DESIGNERS, REVISED AND UPDATED TO INCLUDE CURRENT DIGITAL-DRAWING TECHNIQUES

Hand drawing is an integral part of the design process and central to the architecture profession. An architect's precise interpretation and freedom of expression are captured through hand drawing, and it is perhaps the most fundamental skill that the designer must develop in order to communicate thoughts and ideas effectively. In his distinctive style, world-renowned author Francis D. K. Ching presents Design Drawing, Third Edition, the classic guide to hand drawing that clearly demonstrates how to use drawing as a practical tool for formulating and…


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.

Royal—A Divine Design...Dream Your Dreams and Push Through

By Latisha Carey, Blueberry Illustrations (illustrator),

Book cover of Royal—A Divine Design...Dream Your Dreams and Push Through

This is a lovely book with beautiful illustrations. Kids will learn that nothing is impossible as long as their parents are there to encourage them. It really hit home as I am a father and have 3 kids, my son has a dream of becoming a professional soccer player, my firstborn daughter has a dream of becoming a renowned fashion designer and my 2nd born daughter wants to be a world-famous make-up artist. I encourage them all the way and this book just drives that point further.

Royal—A Divine Design...Dream Your Dreams and Push Through

By Latisha Carey, Blueberry Illustrations (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Royal—A Divine Design...Dream Your Dreams and Push Through as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

My passion is writing. I started writing when I was 10 years old and my passion was reignited by my 11-year-old son. Writing runs in my blood as my late father was a journalist and the first black editor of the Zambia Daily Mail and my late brother was a poet. To date, I have published 17 children's books. I love writing children’s books with a positive message and also to make them laugh and entertained.


I wrote...

Chuck the Cheetah

By K.A. Mulenga, Tsabitha Yahya (illustrator),

Book cover of Chuck the Cheetah

What is my book about?

A delightful story that explains the well-known adage, “Pride comes before a fall” in a refreshing way that is relatable and enjoyable for young readers. Chuck’s experience warns children of the danger of smugness and arrogance, teaches them about the nature of true friendship, and offers valuable lessons about the art of winning and losing graciously. Children will recognise the sense of competition amongst the cheetah friends and will be able to identify with the characters – whether they see themselves as Chuck, or as any of his cheetah friends.

The story contains many important messages for children. It teaches them that just because you are not the best, you are not any less lovable; it teaches them that life is not always about coming first.

Book cover of Writing What You Know: How to Turn Personal Experiences Into Publishable Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

We’ve all got one of those life stories that we end up telling over and over again. Research has confirmed that those stories hold power. Meg Files in Writing What You Know offers us a path to transform those stories from the telling onto the page, and just maybe into the larger world. I credit Files’ workshops for helping me refine work that was later published. While you might notice that she draws on her teaching, conference creating, and publishing experience, she also writes with the voice of a supportive, nurturing friend. She reminds us not to be too self-critical, gives us the questions to get started, and challenges us with many opportunities to be “Jumping into the Abyss.”

Writing What You Know

By Meg Files,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writing What You Know as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's easy for people to write about their feelings in a journal. It's more difficult, however, to convert personal experiences into stories worthy of publication fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Filled with engaging exercises, Write from Life guides writers in identifying story-worthy material and transforming their raw material into finished pieces, through conquering fears associated with personal exposure, determining a story's focus, shaping the material into a cohesive whole, and editing and revising as needed. Writers working in any form will find this book invaluable for supplying them with the inspiration and practical instruction they need to get their experiences and…

Who am I?

As a kid, I loved how words on a page transported me. Later, I was astounded by how the words I wrote myself could help me solve problems, deepen my understanding, and expand my thinking. Over time, that writing offered clarity and built my confidence. And in my most challenging times, writing has saved me over and over again. Learning to observe like a writer or an artist continues to help me be more present in my life. Sharing expressive writing experiences with others, during a 35-year career as a writer and workshop facilitator, allowed me to witness how this creative engagement offers a respite while building resilience and joy in others too.


I wrote...

Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing

By Marge Pellegrino, Kay Sather,

Book cover of Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing

What is my book about?

Neon Words is a book that will illuminate the writer in you. By using the tools and activities here, you'll connect the word-organizing part of your brain with your free-ranging imagination—and you'll love what you've captured on the page! It's an exciting, confidence-boosting, and deeply satisfying experience.

Whether you want to be a writer, or just want to explore what it's like to create with language, you'll discover that playing with words can help you be more present in your life. Best of all, it's lots of fun. Who knew writing could be so enlightening?

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