Do you want to know my absolute favorite decorating accessory? It’s not gold brass urchins, white ceramic animals, or orchids. My favorite home accessory is coffee table books–specifically, books on home decor. Seriously, the moment I get a new one, all I want to do is hunker down with a glass of wine and pore over each and every page studying it. From looking at the way the designer arranges the furniture, to the fabrics used, all the way to the color schemes used, I try to absorb everything. I will often go back to my favorites years later, seeing what I notice anew. By rereading the books at different points in the home decorating process, you’ll notice different designer solutions to common problems. What light blocking shades do they use? What kid-safe coffee tables do they employ? How do they corral toys? What is the height of their side tables?
But, their value doesn’t end there. My favorite decorating is layering a stack of great decorating books. Nothing makes a house a home more than artwork and books. That is the stuff homes are made of. I still remember wandering around my parents’ house as a kid picking up books randomly off the coffee tables, off the many bookcases (my mom is even worse than me with collecting books!). I remember re-reading a book on Chanel, and staring at the supermodels in full ball gowns with leather jackets layered over posing by motorcycles! Or picking through a book on Sister Parrish and her work for the Kennedys in the White House and seeing her drawings, her fabric swatches, and her notes.
B’s favorite book right now to look through (she is 2) is a book on Wes Anderson that I gave my husband last year. She loves looking at all the different characters. And I simply love looking at all of his wonderful set designs, so much that I wrote a post about it!
So in the spirit of the season, today, I want to share not only my favorite go-to home decorating reference books (books that everyone can learn from and are great to go back to time and time again!) But, also this year’s newest books which are destined to become classics–and would be great gifts for Christmas! I have recently added a few of these to our collection (they are all going to be wrapped and put under the Christmas tree); but, I couldn’t help taking a peak beforehand! And hey, for my journalistic integrity I have to read what I am recommending you buy!
Domino: The Book of Decorating– an absolute classic. Mine is so worn between sunspots from being out all the time, to sticky notes adorning so many of the pages. When Domino Magazine shuttered their doors in 2009, we all took respite in the fact that at least we had the book!
Elements of Style– my hands down favorite decorating book from last year. I am a huge fan of Erin Gates–she is Connecticut College alum (where I spent my freshman and sophomore years of college before transferring to be closer to my then future husband!) She walks you through decorating a house room by room, and lists many of her favorite resources. Her guideline on how far a couch should be from a coffee table is spot-on (it’s 18″ FYI)!
The Home Book– a beautiful book from the editors at House Beautiful. A great reference for anyone!
Elle Decor: Style & Substance– Margaret Russell is one of my favorites! This book is another classic. Just this past weekend, I pulled it out to show E a table that I want him to build for me. #handyhubby
House Beautiful: Colors for Your Home– my favorite guide for getting designer’s favorite colors. While the swatches in the back are not accurate at all, you can see lots of pictures of rooms by designers with all of their paint colors in one place. For more guidance on how to pick out paint colors, read my guide where I talk about this book!
Tory Burch– I mean, who doesn’t love Tory Burch? I remember driving down to her first store on Elizabeth Street when I was looking at colleges with my mom (that was before Tory Burch was ubiquitous! She didn’t even have a website you could order from!) Oh, how far she has come! Her book gives you a look at the inside of her homes which is just too much fun! I absolutely love all of the color!
A Privileged Life: Celebrating Wasp Style– this has been on my list forever. One of my friends from college was even featured in it alongside her sisters! A fun book looking at the preppy lifestyle. Lots of inspiration!
Slim Aarons: Once Upon a Time– if you can’t swing one of his photographs (even on One King’s Lane the large prints are still quite expensive!) buy the book! Flipping through the pages of this book gives me not only serious wanderlust and nostalgia for bygone eras; but, seeing some of the chicest locations is so much fun! I mean C.Z. Guest’s pool? Come on, people! Gorgeous!
Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People– I don’t have this one yet but it is on my list! A book with a collection from tons of the most stylish people they have ever featured in the magazine. Who doesn’t want to see how their favorite designer’s live?
Absolutely Beautiful Things– the cover of this book is what caught my eye. Seriously, all of the colors? Come on. And it has wonderful content inside and is from the internationally acclaimed blog of the same name. Do you sense a trend? All these bloggers are publishing books!
Styled by Emily Henderson. One of this year’s best picks! Emily Henderson a) couldn’t be cuter or have a cuter family; but, her house makes me want to ditch my colonial and grab a mid-century ranch and paint everything white like hers! She has concrete tips on styling your home (something I need help with, in all honesty!)
Emily Henderson’s Styled shown on my Target Threshold tray (no longer available) on my DIY Chiang-Mai For Less Ottoman!
Palm Beach Entertaining– like Slim Aarons, this book gives me serious desire for all things preppy!
Katie Ridder Rooms– Another one on my someday list. I love all of Katie Ridder’s rooms. Her kids rooms are plastered all over my Pinterest boards. Preppy, classic rooms that are colorful yet tasteful.
Modern Mix by Eddie Ross. After watching Design Star, where Emily and Eddie both competed (why did that show go off the air! And Million Dollar Decorators–seriously, the best!) I fell in love with Eddie’s preppy style. He formerly worked for Martha Stewart Living, and is now a BHG contributor; but my favorite way to follow him is on Instagram. He and his partner scour estate sales and antique stores every weekend and score amazing stuff! Their collection is one that every girl dreams of. So, when his book came out and it came with the promise to educate on what to buy at estate sales and what key pieces to look for, I jumped! Can’t wait to dive into it!
You might notice some new additions to our living room. E made a new frame for the painting (inherited from his family.) We also raised up the painting which brings your eye upwards, and helps the 8 ft. ceilings seem higher. In addition, we added some bamboo blinds (we bought them last year when they were on closeout from Lowes for…$2.50 a window!!!!) We only have two for this room, and I wish we were able to have picked up more but E got the last ones and they were discontinued.
More new additions to the house will be revealed next week! Hint: one of them is huge and makes tons of noise! And no, it is not another great dane (who to be fair are quite quiet when they are not on guard dog duty) They just sleep all day!
I am working on a complete Home Decor Resources Guide for the blog, so you can see my absolute favorite places to shop, paint colors, books to read, everything! So stay tuned and cross your fingers my children nap so I can get ‘er done (and that said dogs be quiet and don’t wake up the children!)