13 Books to Add to Your Interior Design Library
Great sources for design inspiration that all designers should have on their bookshelves.
Interior designers are men and women of a higher order. We require a steady intake of the five food groups, water, and strong spirits. But design gods and goddesses require one thing that mere mortals don’t need, and that's design inspiration. We thrive on ideas and resources to help us put together the best possible interior schemes.
One essential way to stoke your design furnace is to develop an in-house library. It’s handy to pull books off the shelf during a project work-up, and riddle them with post-its on pages with just the right reference for a deco trim, chic window treatment, rooms with stunning colors, and architectural details that sing. First, a note about magazines: they’ll help keep your finger on the pulse of new resources, design trends, and inspiring designer projects. We love The World of Interiors, Art & Antiques, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, British House & Garden, and Traditional Home. Now on to our 13 favorite books.
- The Decoration of Houses by Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr. This 1902 book has always shaken things up. It changed interior design and still remains a great resource to ground us in the traditions of good taste.
- Elements of Interior Design and Decoration by Sherrill Whiton. In the author’s words, "its purpose is to guide the reader to an intelligent understanding of what is beautiful and useful in the design, furnishing, decoration, and equipment of all types of rooms."
- Miller’s International Antiques Price Guide. Each year this guide helps designers and collectors make good buying and selling decisions about antiques—it pays to look at a wide variety of furnishings and accessories and see recommended price ranges.
- Dictionary of Architecture and Construction edited by Cyril M. Harris. Most terms found on design and architectural drawings and specifications are explained in this handy look-up guide.
- The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details from 1485 to the Present edited by Stephen Calloway. If we only had one reference book to use in our practice, this would be it! Amazing for period details, the applications are endless. For example, my partner Irwin Weiner will adapt a period architectural element or style detail to design a client's cabinet.
Good taste is subjective. We won't tell you that a book on Rose Tarlow interiors trumps one on Jed Johnson's designs. The rest of our titles continue to give us master classes in good taste with every read, and they just might be inspirational for you, too.
- The Villas of Palladio by Vincent Scully. Wow. The photographs in this book always stun us.
- Billy Baldwin Decorates by Billy Baldwin. The Old Master inspires us on both professional and taste levels, covering topics from how to make the bones of a room work to how to decorate for how and where the client lives.
- Sir Edwin Lutyens: Designing in the English Tradition by Elizabeth Wilhide. Learn a zillion lessons in how to be creative from the prolific architect who not only designed the structures, but also created the furniture, interiors, lighting, and decorative hardware and details.
- Parish Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design by Sister Parish, Albert Hadley, and Christopher Petkanas. It's great to see designers in top form who crafted interiors that strove to be timeless.
- Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period by Adolphe Chanaux. Breathtaking decorating and furniture design.
- In the Pink: Dorothy Draper, America’s Most Fabulous Decorator by Carleton Varney. Daring and bold sums up the design sensibilities of Ms. Draper—look and learn!
- David Hicks: Living with Design. You see that we love British style; Hicks is exemplary.
- Nancy Lancaster: English Country House Style by Martin Wood. This American-born designer spent her time between England and the States, and she reinterpreted an existing style and made it sharper in scale, bolder, more elegant, and completely unpretentious. This inspires our work to also reinterpret and become more innovative.
In November 2006, Manhattan-based blogger Jay Johnson and his partner Irwin Weiner, ASID applied the popularity of watching videos on the Internet to the house-and-garden arena. The idea for Design2Share was born. On D2S, they share their insight, tips, and strong opinions about how people design and decorate their homes, entertaining over 300,000 visitors a year; their syndicated original videos had over 22 million video views in 2010.