What’s a Home Without Books?

OK, it’s fair to say this post has an ulterior motive: To get you to buy my book. But in all honesty, I think I’d be pretty happy if it got you to buy ANY book for your home, because design books have just had that much of an impact on me, my space, and my life.

It’s true: As I infer in the introduction to Your Home, Your Style, design books, along with home-makeover shows and that class of home-focused magazines known to insiders as “shelter mags,” taught me almost everything I know about putting a space together. That, and actually getting my hands dirty doing it—over and over again, in my own homes and as a part of my job at Joss & Main.

Design books

But books of any kind bring interest and wisdom to the home and a feeling of warmth and life to any space. Any time I need a shot to feel “finished,” one of the first things I grab is a book, which is how so many of other people’s design publications ended up making cameos in my own.

Here’s are just some of the volumes you’ll spy in Your Home, Your Style:

Restoring a House In the City

Appears on: The cover and page 93
Deep is my love for this guide to renovating and restoring townhouses by Ingrid Abramovitch, a Brooklyn-based writer and editor who shares my affection for quirk- and history-filled urban dwellings. I was partway through my own townhouse renovation when I purchased her book, and you can be sure it had me rethinking all of my design choices as I flipped through page after page of incredible homes ranging in style from ultramodern to piece-of-the-past.


Living With Pattern

Appears on: Pages 111 and 115
To peruse these pages is to see the world through a true creative’s eyes. Textile designer Rebecca Atwood takes us on a tour of spaces that are downright alluring in their ease and imperfection, pointing out all the ways pattern influences the look and feel of each room. Fabrics are only the beginning; she calls attention to every element in the home, from the arrangement of floorboards and tile to the weave of the rugs and paning on the windows. It’s utterly fascinating—and the organic dot pattern on the cover makes it look incredible on a coffee table, too.


Appears on: Page 175

Striking, typographic spine: Check. Clean, beautiful layouts: Check. Inspirational interiors that actually seem achievable: Check. It's no wonder this title appears on the bookshelves of chic people across the country. Remodelista blog founder Julie Carlson filled her pages with an edited mix of spaces that mix high-end and low, making "style at home" feel like a concept within everyone's reach. and the heavy, oversized book just feels good in your home and hand. 

Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home

Appears on: Pages 115 and 167
There is No. Book. On the Planet. That will ever compare to the original Domino: The Book of Decorating, written by original Domino mag editors Deborah Needleman and Sara Ruffin Costello. But lo, its followup, created by Domino successors Jessica Romm Perez and Shani Silver, comes pretty darn close. Like the now-iconic original, this tome delivers a TON of decorating know-how despite its compact size, and does so with Domino’s signature blend of whimsy and authority. Both Domino books are remarkable in that the covers themselves make the books covetable and recognizable—a clever move I took to heart when choosing the cover pattern for Your Home, Your Style.


Surf Shack: Laid-Back Living By the Water

Appears on: Page 20
Nina Freudenberger’s ocean-inspired book captures that amazing feeling of being away—that kind of magical “away” where the confluence of sun, salt, and sand seems to dust everyone and everything around you with contentment and peace. Unlike many books on beachside style, Surf Shack is 100% free of kitschy clam-shack decor; instead, Freudenberger spotlights environments that are mellow, sometimes minimalist, and that capture the cool, come-as-you-are attitude of life by the sea.  

Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves

Appears on: Page 115
Stylist and blogging queen Emily Henderson has admitted she dislikes the spine of her book, Styled—”too shiny gold—and therefore impossible to photograph,” she’s said of the design. But that didn’t stop us from popping it into a coffee-table vignette in Chapter Six, and I think it works. Styled is full fantastic advice for staging character-filled decorating “moments” around the house; I wish I’d read her tips on styling a mantel, for instance, before photographer Joyelle West and I shot Your Home, Your Style. We did fine, but if you want to take your Instagram skills to a whole other level, this is a must-read.

I could go on and on. A few design books that didn’t appear in YHYS’s final imagery, but that I adore for their down-to-earth approach to home and style:

And if you need a GORGEOUS showstopper on a console table or bookshelf, you must pick up:

What have I missed? Are there any design titles that changed your home and/or life?