We may have the world at our fingertips and hours worth of Pinterest content to consume, but they can’t exactly replace a great coffee table book. Here are the five books I purchased while working on our overall vision for our new home. You’ll find a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of inspiration from these amazing designers.
I had the pleasure of touring Darryl Carter’s D.C. townhome back in 2013 and it was one of those defining moments that changed my approach to design. From upholstering chairs with traditional fabrics inside out, to reconstructing historic architectural features to give them new life, Darryl takes traditional American design and breaks all the rules, almost so subtly it feels like an inside joke. His designs are clever, classic, and always, always overflowing with beauty.
The title of this book grabbed me as soon as I saw the cover. My friend Eric loaned me his copy when we started working on our house, as he had just finished putting the final personal touches on a historic home with his wife. The book reminded me that family is at the center of the home; that while home should be a personal expression of your tastes and style, comfort will always remain timeless and should be kept at the forefront of any design.
by Pierre Yovanovitch
Designer Anne McDonald gave me this book as a housewarming gift, fully knowing I was going to be taking a new direction with this home. Yovanovitch plays with color, form, and texture like no other designer out there. The simplicity of the final rooms appears effortless, yet so much focus and attention is required to achieve that look. I go back to this book when I need to remind myself a room doesn’t need fifteen interesting elements to be interesting. It’s the kind of minimalism I’ve been searching for—one that isn’t monochrome or whitewashed, one that’s full of texture and intentionality.
Athena has captivated me like so many other design lovers on the Internet, so when her book came out, of course it was in my shopping cart. What I took away from her book is similar to the takeaway from that of Yovanovitch, with an added emphasis on found objects and antiques taking center stage. Athena’s styling is always intentional and museum-like, without the fear that comes from breathing too hard. She balances the enjoyment of fine art with the comfort of easing into a sofa to eat takeout.
by Ros Byam Shaw
This was the first book I ordered when I decided to embrace color in this home. With my plans to paint everything white out the window, I didn’t know where to start. I knew I felt at home with color, and that this house begged for each room to have its own point of view. So I looked at the biggest source of design inspiration I could glean for this house, which was found in the homes decorated by British designers.
There I discovered a balance of color, pattern, and found objects that felt approachable and even familiar to me. I started bookmarking rooms that had elements similar to those in my own home, and because our approach has become a bit more eclectic than filling our rooms with antiques, the heart of this book will be seen throughout our house as we continue to reveal our updated design plans.
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BY Kate Arends - October 14, 2020
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.