I’ll be honest: I’m a little obsessed with interior design books right now. While I like the ones that show a bunch of nice houses and could make great coffee table books, the ones I can’t get enough of are more educational. In other words, they explain various aspects of interior design so readers can try to implement some of the ideas they love in their own spaces.
After all, some people were gifted with natural talents that allowed them to make their home spaces look like they were featured in a magazine. For my part, I am not such a person. I love all kinds of weird stuff and have no idea how it all fits together (or even if it’s even possible).
But these interior design books break down some of the key elements of interior design so they’re accessible. Some of them even offer ideas for small projects that you could undertake if you wish. Others offer fun (IMHO) quizzes to help you better understand how your tastes might translate into a beautiful living space.
As a bonus, they are certainly all a pleasure to browse. By that I mean: they are really pretty.
Whether you’re redecorating your home, moving into a new place, or just looking for inspiration, I’ve compiled a list of interior design books that I hope will give you plenty of good ideas. Good decoration!
Books with quizzes to get you started
Style: Secrets to matching rooms, from tabletops to shelves by Emily Henderson
Stylized is the only book on this list that is more than a few years old. But I had to include it because I think it’s a good place to start, especially if you’re feeling a little lost or insecure about interior design. Henderson starts with a quiz to help you identify your design style (which I’ve had almost everyone in my life take), and then she Explain each of these styles. The rest of the book is dedicated to demystifying interior design. While Henderson focuses on different room types, she also provides helpful insider tips on how to think about styling your own space. If you like this book, you might want to know that she has a new book called The New Design Rules due out in April.
Your Home, Your Style: How to Find Your Look and Create Rooms You Love by Donna Garlough
The quiz in Your home, your style aims to help readers understand their design “layout” (as opposed to Henderson’s “style” quiz). It’s quite interesting to consider whether you’re looking for items for your home that each have their own story or whether you’d rather decorate once and never have to do it again. Whatever your design layout, Garlough then dedicates the rest of the book to planning your space – from inspiration to execution. I like the distribution of spaces not in rooms, but in types of spaces: social, relaxing, working and in between.
Books on specific styles or spaces
Jungalow: Decorating Wild by Justina Blakeney
Justina Blakeney’s first book, The New Bohemians, caused a stir in 2015. So great, in fact, that she published a follow-up manual 2 years later. Jungalow is his latest book, and it’s my favorite book on this list. Not only is it full of color – which seems rather rare when it comes to interior design books, surprisingly – it’s also very well organized, with chapters that look at color, pattern and bring the outdoors in. . Blakeney’s conversational tone makes the book super fun to read, and I love his argument that design is culturally inflected: “The ‘clash’ is cultural. Vibrant color combinations that are rare in some cultures are ubiquitous on walls, outfits and accents” in others. The vivid colors, patterns and textures of Jungalow are a welcome and refreshing departure from the more common palette of beiges, whites and grays.
Design Remix: A New Take on Traditional Pieces by Corey Damen Jenkins
As the title promises, Design Remix offers a new approach to the “traditional” style. Jenkins definitely updates the traditional, giving it a bit of color here, a subtle twist there. The result? Rooms that are both innovative and familiar, always welcoming. The organization of the book moves from basics to more complex ideas in a way that builds so that once you’re done, there’s been real learning. Jenkins’ original sketches are a lovely visual complement to the beautiful photographs that will have you drooling over upholstery and rugs and everything in between.
Homebody: A guide to creating spaces you won’t want to leave by Joanna Gaines
Gaines’ charming book begins with a few chapters on the basics (“Homebody 101” and “Identifying Your Design Style”) before launching into nine individual chapters that each focus on a single type of room (bedrooms, entryways, spaces for children, etc). I like that each chapter has a short section called “What to Consider” and ends with another short section called “Troubleshooting”. These sections are very helpful and easy reference guides if you are planning something in a specific room in your space.
Wild Interiors: Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Spaces by Hilton Carter
If you enjoy keeping plants in your home, this book is for you. After the introduction, the book is divided into three sections. In the first, Carter shares her ten biggest inspirations and presents in-depth information on ten trending plants. In the second (and longest) section, he showcases beautiful interiors as examples of different ways to incorporate plants into home design. In the third and final section, he offers tips for thinking about how to successfully introduce plants into your own home. I particularly enjoy the tips and tricks of the trade that Carter sprinkles throughout the book.
Small Garden Style: A Design Guide to Outdoor Rooms and Containers by Isa Hendry Eaton and Jennifer Blaise Kramer
Ok, I know I said this list was about interior design books, but I had to include this one. This is the best little guide to styling your outdoor space! It’s fantastic for thinking about small gardens (as the title suggests), but I think it would also give a lot of ideas to those of you who are lucky enough to have large outdoor spaces. Eaton and Kramer cover many design principles for yardscapes, including planters and outdoor furniture and creating a balanced garden design.
Bibliostyle: How We Live at Home with Books by Nina Freudenberger
I couldn’t leave this book off the list. After all, it’s Book Riot! No way I can do not tell you there’s a whole book on how people incorporate books as a central element of interior design. As a disclaimer, this is probably the only book on this list that goes along the lines of a coffee table book, since it’s actually more of a showcase book than a a practical book. Nonetheless, I think you’ll understand why I’ve included it if you pick it up – just flick through Bibliostyle will give you about a million ideas on how to store your own books.
If you’re feeling inspired, you might want to check out this article on How to Build Built-In Shelves. Or, for more eye candy, read Bookish Exteriors: Libraries That Look Like Books!