In our humble opinion, the best interior design books check three boxes: They should be inspirational, educational, and aesthetically pleasing. These tomes aren’t meant to gather dust after a single read; instead they should serve up style points and enduring design inspiration in equal measure, whether it’s topping off a stack on the coffee table or filling one last gap in a bookshelf arrangement.
But since there’s no shortage of inspiring design books (including The Book of Decorating by yours truly), we decided to defer to the pros. The books listed below have not only served as rainy day reading material for these experts, they’ve fundamentally influenced their decorating styles. Ahead, find the six best interior design books that they reach for time and time again, from photo-forward designer retrospectives to no-frills how-to guides.
- For color inspiration: Steven Gambrel: Perspective by Steven Gambrel
- For free spirits: Haute Bohemians by Miguel Flores-Vianna
- For rookies: The Interior Design Handbook by Frida Ramstedt
- For traditionalists: Billy Baldwin Decorates by Billy Baldwin
- For art enthusiasts: For Art’s Sake by Tiqui Atencio Demirdjian and Jean-François Jaussaud
- For nature lovers: Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating by Lauren Liess
Designers’ Top Picks
Steven Gambrel: Perspective by Steven Gambrel
Steven Gambrel’s second book is a look at the New York City–based architect and designer’s acclaimed work, specifically 12 new projects across the U.S. and Europe. Gambrel peels back the curtain on his unique design process and rich, colorful interiors, from a Manhattan apartment to a villa in Zurich. “As you’ll see in my work, I’m somewhat obsessed with junction points and molding, and Steven is a master at these details,” says Sibella Court, Australian designer and owner of The Society Inc., who lists Perspective among her favorite design books. “He always considers the history and character of a space when creating his signature look, and his projects make my heart sing. Let’s just say my copy is well thumbed and marked.”
Haute Bohemians by Miguel Flores-Vianna
In his debut interior design book, famed Architectural Digest photographer and editor Miguel Flores-Vianna captures what he considers bohemian interiors: perfectly imperfect country cottages, beach bungalows, and city apartments that are bursting with color, patterns, and soul. “This book inspired me to take more risks when designing,” says Carley Summers, a North Carolina–based interior designer. “It taught me that designing a vignette is just as important as designing the overall room and you should always lean into color and bold accents in unexpected places.”
The Interior Design Handbook by Frida Ramstedt
If you’re aiming to familiarize yourself with the basics of interior design, look no further than this Amazon best-seller by Swedish blogger Frida Ramstedt. With an emphasis on comfort and practicality, the author explains why certain interiors succeed while other spaces flop. “This book not only has the prettiest muted cover, it’s chock-full of practical, no-nonsense design advice,” says Aliyah Sadaf, Chicago-based artist and interior designer. “It covers all the basics, from furniture placement and flow to proper rug sizing and lighting heights. It can help you avoid so many basic design mistakes!”
Billy Baldwin Decorates by Billy Baldwin
Originally published in 1972, this book offers a peek inside the mind of iconic New York–based designer Billy Baldwin during his heyday. In it, the quintessentially American creative showcases some of his most famous projects, including his own Upper East Side studio apartment and Cole Porter’s apartment in the Waldorf Towers. “Billy Baldwin’s work has been a huge personal influence for me, and this book is like my decorating bible,” says Nicole Gibbons, interior designer and founder of Clare Paint. “He was the original mix master of old and new and believed that good taste has no price tag. I love that this book is filled with practical design advice and how-tos. I’ve referenced it over and over again throughout the years.”
For Art’s Sake by Tiqui Atencio Demirdjian and Jean-François Jaussaud
Fans of modern art will pore over the pages of For Art’s Sake, a 384-page celebration of the intersection of art and interior design. Authors Tiqui Atencio Demirdjian and Jean-François Jaussaud take you inside the homes of some of the most noteworthy art collectors around the globe, including Axel and May Vervoordt, Peter Marino, and François Marcq. “I love peering inside these incredibly chic but very real homes where the art and design are equally important,” says Alyssa Kapito, a New York–based interior designer. “Not only does it spark a wonderful conversation about art and its connection to interiors, each art dealer has a distinct aesthetic point of view that I find so inspiring.”
Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating by Lauren Liess
Habitat could be considered an ode to author Lauren Liess’s two greatest loves: interior design and nature. Throughout the 272 pages, the Virginia-based designer reveals 25 beautiful homes that epitomize her signature style, creating an aspirational guide to decorating with nature. But this book isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s also a handy educational reference that dissects the art of interiors. “This is one of my absolute favorites. I reference it often during design projects, especially when tackling a challenging layout,” says Sadaf, the Chicago-based designer. “Lauren’s approach to interiors is so thoughtful but always effortless and natural.”
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