There are many reasons that you may want to renovate your home. Perhaps you’re interested in changing up your kitchen to mirror the latest country kitchen designs, or maybe you’re wondering what modern bathroom designs are trending this season, or you may need inspiration for what to do with those unintentional interior design mistakes you’ve made in the past. The list could go on and on.
With innumerable design possibilities out there, a guide could come in handy. Embrace your inner-creative by checking out some of the best interior design books on the market. The following list of coffee table books will help pique inspiration.
- BEST OVERALL: Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Inspire Your Home: Easy Affordable Ideas
- UPGRADE PICK: The Finer Things: Timeless Furniture, Textiles
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms
- BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS: New York School of Interior Design: Home
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: Small Space Style
Style is subjective, art even more so. You can follow along with the trends or you can go your own way—perhaps creating your own trend. When it comes to design, there is no correct answer. Ultimately, how you choose to decorate your home is a personal journey, and it helps if you have a guide book to point you in the right direction. Here are a few things to look for when searching for the best interior design book.
The first thing you should look at when buying a guide of any kind is the author. Ask yourself: Does this author have authority in the space? If so, is his or her educational background and professional experience relevant?
When it comes to interior design, authority can be gained in a variety of ways. According to the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), to become a certified interior designer one must earn a four-year degree at an accredited institution (in interior design), pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, and work for a minimum of two years as an ASID interior designer. Another way designers gain authority is through popularity, whether it’s garnered via social media, blogs or vlogs, or television.
If you’re interested in mimicking the latest trends, you’ll need the latest publications. But, if you’re not someone who’s looking to follow the trends, you may be more interested in reliving an era from the past—even if you didn’t live during that period yourself. The best interior design books from a hundred years ago could yield surprisingly fresh ideas for your 21st century home.
If you’re not completely sure what you want, a happy medium between the two may suffice since a newer book could show how designs of the past can be reapplied today. Besides, some design fundamentals never go out of fashion, no matter what century you’d like to be living in. In the end, you’ll want to choose the book that best inspires you, regardless of the date it was printed.
Interior Design Subjects
Interior design is a layered subject. The subject or specialization you choose will depend on what you’re remodeling. While some books might fixate on one particular room such as the bedroom, a man-cave, or the bathroom, others may feature every room. Some books may center on a particular cultural era such as the art deco period of the 1920s and ‘30s or the evergreen American Colonial style that’s been in fashion since the foundation of the country.
Other authors may spotlight specific details like dresser hardware (knobs and handles), lighting fixtures, or even styles of interior paints. Think of a subject that interests you and you can pretty much guarantee there’ll be a book to satisfy your craving.
Our Top Picks
We’ve done the research to find some of the best interior design books online. Each pick below takes the author’s credentials, their online following, and the book’s overall subject matter into account.
Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines guides you through the process of creating a home that reflects the identities and stories of the people who live there. While using examples from her own home, as well as a range of other spaces, this comprehensive guide helps you assess your likes and dislikes, your priorities and instincts, all with practical steps for navigating and embracing your design style.
Joanna Gaines and her husband, Chip Gaines, are co-founders and co-owners of Magnolia Homes in Waco, Texas. They co-host HGTV’s Fixer Upper, where Joanna is the lead designer and Chip handles construction. Their trendy approach to design is reflected in this volume, making it an ideal choice for the best overall interior design book.
Inspire Your Home will indeed inspire you to create a glamorous yet cozy home without spending a fortune. Farah Merhi’s book nails down the basics, starting with her most frequently asked questions about wallpaper versus paint color, lighting and rugs, home organization, and styling. Then Merhi takes you through every room in the house, from the mudroom to the kitchen and even to the kids’ bedrooms. Along the way, she includes tricks for adding seasonal updates on a budget, tips for maintaining your space, and a unique reward system that includes small styling ideas around your home.
Farah is the founder of the very popular Inspire Me! Home Décor website, which now has 5.5 million followers. She has appeared on the Hallmark Channel, E! News, and designs her very own décor line for QVC.
This book recognizes and emphasizes the maxim: “Quality matters.” Just as the literal foundation of your home should be built on solid materials, the objects and elements of your rooms should speak to a lasting sense of beauty and comfort. Everything should outlast the whims of fly-by-night trends—not to mention daily wear and tear. But how does someone recognize quality and judge whether something is well made?
Christiane Lemieux sets out to answer this question by interviewing some of the greatest design experts, collecting the guidance of dozens of wallpaper and paint specialists, accessories artisans, textile fabricators, and interior designers. Then she breaks down the fundamentals of quality design objects, themes, and concepts and delivers them to you in a concise and entertaining fashion. Lemieux is the founder of the lifestyle brand Lemieux et Cie, the design house DwellStudio, and has appeared as a judge on Ellen’s Design Challenge.
If you plan to redecorate your home for the first time, Styled offers one of the most valuable insights: While decorating can take months and tons of money, styling often takes minutes. This book is the ultimate guide to thinking like a stylist, proving that even the smallest tips and tricks can transform the way your room feels. At the core of Styled, author Emily Henderson gives 10 easy steps for styling any space. From editing out what doesn’t work to repurposing what is essential to arranging the most dazzling vignettes on any surface, you’ll learn how to make your style shine.
Henderson is an interior designer, stylist, TV host, and Editor in Chief of the daily website Style Emily Henderson. Her work has been featured in House Beautiful, InStyle, and domino.
Founded in 1916, the New York School of Interior Design has drawn a large crossover audience of ardent decorating enthusiasts and hobbyists—and many of them realize that thinking like a professional is the best way to achieve a magnificent home.
This richly illustrated and detailed interior design volume provides a comprehensive study on home decor and design. From color theory fundamentals to space-specific considerations (like choosing furniture for a living room), the authors collaborated with architects and other professionals for a far-reaching overview of interior design. Built on the school’s curriculum foundation, this book offers an unparalleled insight into the crucial elements of enduring design, making it one of the best books for professionals and students alike.
Even though she resides with her husband, baby, and two beagles, interior design expert Whitney Leigh Morris makes living in 400 square feet look elegant and effortless. In her debut book, Whitney shares ideas and practices for making any small space efficient and stylish—whether it’s a rustic cottage in the woods or a modern micro-apartment in the city.
Small Space Style features real examples from Morris’s own delightful and sophisticated cottage in Venice Beach as well as tours of some of her favorite tiny homes, micro-apartments, and other beautiful yet efficient, small spaces. She chronicles her daily life in her blog, The Tiny Canal Cottage while living in a 1920s bungalow in California. Her exquisite and dignified style demonstrates how to keep clutter to a minimum, personalize chic storage, go vertical when surfaces are limited, and even how to entertain a crowd within confined spaces.
FAQs About Interior Design Books
You may have some lingering questions regarding the wide world of interior design. We compiled some of the more frequently asked questions to help you out.
Q. What are the elements of interior design?
The seven elements of interior design are form, space, line, light, color, and pattern.
Q. How do I know my decorating style?
Research and browse as much as possible. Find interior design magazines, websites, and, of course, books to inspire you. Explore what you like, reject what you don’t.
Q. What is the most popular interior design style?
There is no ultimate style in terms of popularity. Tastes vary globally and what some might consider “traditional” in one culture, might be garish or risqué in another.