These pages of start-to-finish decorating how-tos and hold-onto-your-hats interiors are bound to inspire your next home project
We, the design-obsessed, thrive on photos of inspiration. Seeing a naturally lit roomscape is like taking your vitamins, a spoonful of grandma’s porridge or a hunk of peanut butter and a chocolate chip Clif Bar. Good, page-turning interior design books nourish our creativity and kick-start daydreams about cozy breakfast nook redesigns, new bedroom palettes and feature-wall experiments we are growing bold enough to try.
And while high-production coffee table tomes aren’t exactly the hottest beach reads, we all know there’s going to be a day this summer when the skies will be overcast and the temps will drop, and you’re going to want to curl up with a cup of hot tea and pore over a delicious design book.
When that time comes, here is a list of our current fave seven...
1. Dream Design Live by Paloma Contreras
Amazon.caThis is an in-depth interior decorating book with staying power. Author Paloma Contreras is an Elle Decor star and Instagram maven who runs her own interior-design firm out of Houston, Texas. In Dream Design Live, the decorator takes us through three sections of the redesign process: “dream” is about inspiration and generating ideas, “design” is about how to translate dreams into reality and “live” is about how to make the most of these spaces for everyday living. You’re going to love the large, sumptuous photos of spaces that tread the line between modern and traditional, and the watercolour illustrations that break down the key pieces in each look. $30, Amazon.ca
2. Decorating with Plants by Baylor Chapman
Amazon.caWe’re in the eye of the indoor-houseplant hurricane, and this book is the guide to everything you need to know about the topic. Expect a deep-dive on various plants and their at-home benefits (e.g. air purifiers for the bedroom); deets on how to keep these hardworking organic accessories alive; and practical advice (with gorgeously photographed examples!) regarding how to style blooms in entryways, on desks, by the bathtub and elsewhere. (There are even creative planter ideas for small spaces.) Decorating with Plants has thought of plant everything. $26, Amazon.ca
3. Tree Houses: Fairy-Tale Castles in the Air by Philip Jodidio
MunroBooks.comA slight departure from the large-scale lap book, Tree Houses is a super fat pocket-book collection of 50 of the coolest modern arboreal builds from around the world. Expect beauty shots of minimalist treetop condos, hippie-chic shacks and airy hotels in the sky, as well as a concise intro for each gorgeous space. This book is the sequel to the uber fabulous Cabins, which is an equally coveted collection from Philip Jodidio that features everything from local mountain cabins (like one by Vancouver’s Scott and Scott Architects) to off-the-grid Norwegian boat houses. Get them both if you can. $27, MunroBooks.com
4. Maison: Parisian Chic at Home by Ines de la Fressange and Marin Montagut
Indigo.caAt first glance, the phrase “Parisian chic” may seem to refer to the beyond luxe, untouchable, haute-couture side of Paris. But Maison: Parisian Chic is more kombucha than it is Champagne. The book depicts modern Parisian style as beautiful and cosmopolitan, though, at times, it's also rustic, homestead-y and flirty. (Think French countryman meets Scandinavian—one who's really into throwing dinner parties.) The result is a wonderfully eclectic mix of interior styles, with each featured home accompanied by a get-the-look scrapbook guide that includes colour palettes, trends and decor tips. It's accessible, packed with style advice and features big, beautiful inspo photos of how the real Parisian tastemakers live. $25, Indigo.ca
5. Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines
Amazon.caA quick history of Joanna Gaines, in case you're not familiar: Gaines and her husband, Chip, found fame on the HGTV show Fixer Upper. In 2018, they opened a restaurant, Magnolia Table, in their hometown of Waco, Texas, which led to a successful cookbook, Magnolia Table, and magazine, Magnolia Journal. Last fall, Gaines’s renovation guide book, Homebody, was released, though nothing about it feels like an attempt at diversifying the former HGTV personality's revenue stream.
A start-to-finish guide on how to makeover spaces so that they represent your personal tastes and needs, this book reflects Gaines's extensive experience renovating and flipping houses. Design lovers will greatly appreciate how Gaines breaks down contemporary homes into distinct style stories—boho, traditional, farmhouse—each of which is accompanied by mood-board-esque vignettes. She even includes room-design tear-sheet templates for you to get started on your own project once you've taken in the step-by-step advice. $44, Amazon.ca
6. The Scandinavian Home by Niki Brantmark
Amazon.caDid you buy and deeply love Remodelista: An Organized Home? Then chances are you’re going to want this anthology of contemporary homes in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Scandinavian Home is pure Scandi candy: reading it is like flipping through homes after they’ve undergone a thrifty and ingenious Remodelista edit. In other words, Niki Brantmark has curated a tome of uniquely detailed spaces that are never white-on-white stark or accessory-starved and boring. The book is a joy to read, not least because it offers a glimpse of how style is evolving in today’s Scandinavian homes (and where domestic trends are headed in future). $34, Amazon.ca
7. 101 Things I Learned in Urban Design School by Matthew Frederick and Vikas Mehta
Indigo.caOur favourite iteration from Matthew Frederick’s 101 Things I Learned series (also see 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School—ditto Engineering School) is like a picture-book for adults that sieves urban design into easily digestible factoids that are relevant to all humans living in urban centres. A lesson on how to draw a one-point perspective of a street and the importance of apparent exits in spaces are just some of the knowledge included. You’ll learn a lot—and quickly—without ever having to write a signal exam on urban design. $22, Indigo.ca