Books + Magazines

10 Must Have Decorating Books

January 15, 2014

Hello friends! How are you doing? We moved last week! Yep, I’m two weeks from my due date and we’ve moved. I know, nuts right!? I’ve been very busy with packing, unpacking, sorting… You know how it goes – I was freaking out a bit last week but once we moved, it was all good. And then we had a big flea market this past Saturday morning where we held a private sale to only my local readers and close friends. It was so nice, my husband ran it for me so I stayed in our new place cozied up with cake and tea. Some of my friends came by over the weekend to visit and some came bearing the sweetest little presents for the baby and I which warmed my heart. Our friends can really do the best things during times when you feel a bit like having a nervous breakdown.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

Now that we’re in the new space, THANK GOD, I’ve been obsessed with how I will plan everything out and decorate it though I’m trying to hold back a little and rest – but man, it’s HARD to rest when you are surrounded by boxes, am I right? It’s fun to visualize how you’ll live and then to see if you can create that vision in real life – which is really what decorating is all about, isn’t it? But first you need the vision and sometimes we just lack that, even the best of us. I thought that I’d show you where I’m collecting inspiration lately and some general great books that I think you should have in your library just because they’re so good… And I’d LOVE for you to add to this post with decorating book suggestions of your own that you own and refer to for inspiration, too. Ready to get started? Drool fest to follow…

10 Must Have Decorating Books

1. Gypsy by Sibella Court – This book is so visual and perfect for times when you’re in a creative rut or feel a tinge of wanderlust. In this special creation, you’ll find Sibella’s latest inspirations as part travel / part decor book, where she takes us to the Galapagos islands and Ecuador, Indochine, Transylvania, Scotland and Turkey. Out of those destinations, I’ve only been to Turkey (and loved it!) so it was fun to travel with Sibella to see the more uncharted places, like Transylvania, through the eyes of a stylist. I appreciate how she didn’t go to the typical destinations – Paris, London, New York, Sydney… But her approach was to comb destinations a bit out of the ordinary to shed more light on exactly what each offer to the world of design from patterns to colors, that are so often overlooked. A mix of photography shot by herself and her brother, Chris Court, it’s jam-packed with beauty. Aside from the gorgeous full-page photography, she gives us glimpses into her process – how she approaches her work – and shows a color board for each of her destinations which is becoming more and more popular in decorating (and wedding) books these days – color palettes and mood boards – they are all the rage because most of us genuinely want to see how collections of things can be organized into a definite palette that can later inspire an interior. Sibella’s palettes are very earthy and rustic, deep and intoxicating. You won’t find that many pastels or primary colors in this book, Sibella just isn’t a pastel kind of girl. My favorite palette is Scotland where I fell completely in love with all of the green tones. Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

2. A Life Less Ordinary by Alex Legendre and Zoe Ellison – Authors Alex and Zoe are the shop owners behind i gigi in Brighton, England and do a brilliant job translating their shop aesthetic directly onto the pages of this gorgeous book. Known in England for their covetable style, I really like the restful muted tones and the rustic, vintage recycled vibe in this book along with their styling – so many gorgeous arrangements to look at and try at home. Their design philosophy boils down to this, “The most important thing for us is to create a space that is practical and can be lived in, as well as looking beautiful and feeling relaxed”, which is completely in line with how I feel about decorating… Living in a non-fussy space that is still lovely, organized and practical is the ultimate goal for me, always. The pages are so stunning, I’d like to turn them into prints to hang on my wall! In addition to decorating, this book also discusses their friendship and business, which I found interesting but honestly it is the photography that tickled my heart strings the most. Stunning! Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

3. Creative Spaces by Geraldine James – Author Geraldine James, a home buying manager at one of the most gorgeous department stores in the world, Selfridges, travels extensively to source products for the store and so her vision is crystal clear and extremely trained. With a background in fashion and design, her passion for collecting and finding gorgeous things shows through each page of this book – her eye is nothing short of inspiring. When her first two books released, Creative Walls and Creative Display, I immediately bought and read them cover to cover which was quite easy as they’re mostly visual with her interesting thoughts seasoning the overall feast but never covering the delicious presentation. In Creative Spaces, she takes you on 20 very personal home tours of those whom she knows personally, people whom she thinks we should know and be inspired by, too. She takes us from Italy to London to New York to share the way her creative pals live in spaces of all shapes and sizes. I definitely recommend this book along with her two others. All are a perfect addition to the library of any decorating lover. Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

4. Couture Prairie: And Flea Market Treasures by Rachel Ashwell – If you’ve ever longed to live in whimsical prettiness right to the heart of cowboy country, complete with cowgirl boots and ruffles, this book is for you. What I found so inspirational about this book is that I’ve met the author a few times, I even visited her at home a few years ago in LA for tea and a chat, and her book is completely in line with who she is without any “fluff”. This lady is the real deal and doesn’t care if you love ruffles and lace, she loves it and has a massive following of fans who do as well. Rachel has been authentic from the start, way back when I used to watch her flea marketing shows on television in the 1990s. This book shows her gorgeous ranch in Texas and the homes on it, where she teaches and allows others to teach as well as host retreats and fun flea marketing excursions. It’s all so interesting as I’ve often dreamed of having a big house in the middle of nowhere where I host retreats and vacations, too. A sort of blogger retreat. This book is big, gorgeous and completely perfect for dreaming those home on the range dreams, whether Shabby Chic is your style or not, there are so many elements of it that have been brought to other design styles, so much cross-over, that you’re bound to find elements that you could easily work into your home no matter what the style. Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

5. Remix by Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason – I had the pleasure of meeting both authors at my own book signing in Philly a few years ago and felt such an immediate connection with them because they radiant warmth and enthusiasm. Remix is all about decorating with cultural objects and soul (some refer to this style as Ethnic Chic). As the bloggers behind AphroChic and the designers under the same name, Jeanine and Bryan share only homes where cultural, global style (they term this soulful), is key as they show you how to decorate with bold colors and patterns from around the globe to create cozy and stylish rooms. I like this book because I adore the authors and find their approachable decorating sensibility a nice break from the usual titles floating around that talk at you more than with you. This book is like sitting down with friends, and I love that personal flair. It was also such a nice bonus to see their own home towards the end. Great job, you guys! Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

6. A Place Called Home by Jason Grant – Most of my friends don’t know who interior stylist Jason Grant is, which is a bit of a shame because he is SO GOOD. He hasn’t had much exposure yet in the states or Europe, he is however a styling rock star in Australia and is one to definitely watch elsewhere, too. He has a bright, happy design approach with loads of clear, fresh color in mostly yellows, reds and blues which you can see more on his website and blog. He also has his own paint line with Australian company Murobond, and now this glorious book which just became available in the UK (here) and in the US (here) so definitely grab a copy and check him out. If you like interiors with a casual, joyful spirit and aren’t big on reading a lot of text (perhaps you’re more visual like me), then this book is one to pick up and cherish. It covers everything from inspiration to styling and storage and Jason’s personal approach along with photos from his travels and quick tips throughout that are just great. Bravo, Jason! Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

7. Decorating With Style by Abigail Ahearn – Far from minimalistic and cheery, Abigail has a unique sensibility that is all her own which is often described as edgy, dark, moody, eclectic and quite quirky. This lady definitely has an unexpected, yet refreshing, voice in the design world. Based in London, Abigail also owns a shop (which I visited), blogs, and teaches out of her home when she’s not doing client work. I was so pleased when I met her and she spoke at my book party at Anthropologie not too long ago – she brought her mood boards and explained her process and style. I have a soft spot for any designer who blogs, especially with the passion – and she clearly has passion in her posts about decorating. It’s not the typical designer fluff blogs that are out there which are constantly pushing the next product. Her blog is intimate and funny and completely not textbook designer. This is my favorite of her two books, because it feels much more in tune with her voice and style, and because it’s full of interesting perspectives on decorating, styling and her overall philosophy. Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

8. Paper to Petal by Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell – Okay so this isn’t a decorating book but I’m going to review it anyway on this list because you can decorate with these projects in your home, so it sorta fits here. It’s more crafty and entertaining-related, just so you know… Anyway, the talented Rebecca Thuss has long been an inspiration to me, ever since her days at Martha Stewart, who happened to write the foreword. This gorgeous, huge book is LOADED with 75 paper flower projects so you can make your own by hand for crafting, decorating, events and beyond. I grew up with a mom who was trained as a floral designer and so you can imagine how much influence flowers have had over my life. My mother was a flower whiz but not just with the real ones. She also made tons of paper flowers too – she found them to be a nice complement to her fresh arrangements. I remember when I was little and she taught me how to make paper pom pom flowers out of tissue paper and how she loved making tiny blooms using crepe papers and fabric, too. Years later, when I worked in a millinery shop in Boston making headpieces for brides, I was trained to sew and create fabric flowers. Several of the projects in this book took me back a bit to crafting with my mother, and to my days in the millinery shop, which brought a smile to my face. Today, I’m still a lover of blooms – both fresh and paper (I’m not opposed to great looking silk ones too, if used in a quirky untraditional way). This book is a must-have for anyone who crafts and loves flowers. You will seriously eat it up. In addition to the step-by-step projects, there are gorgeous photos showing how to use your paper creations as well as a hearty section of templates in the back. Stunning, really. Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

9. Bring The Outdoors In by Shane Powers – This book has been out for a bit, but I find myself flipping through it whenever I need garden project ideas for indoors. I have to admit, that unlike my mother and husband, I’m not a big collector of plants indoors with the exception of succulents (which I adore). In fact, I own only a few, including an aloe that I proudly raised from infancy when blogger Iro gave me a single stem that she brought back to Germany from Greece. Now it’s a big, happy aloe on my windowsill and I feel like a bad ass because I haven’t managed to kill it yet. Plants add so much beauty to a home and are so good for the air quality, but are also trending at the moment – have you noticed? More and more designers, stylists and bloggers are getting into plants which before, were mostly seen in very contemporary, minimalistic spaces or those with a more boho, hippie vibe. Plants are great in all homes, all styles, it’s just a matter of finding those that you click with and can maintain since plants do require regular care just like kids and dogs. This book is a delight because American stylist Shane Powers gives you a briefing into to plants before showing 22 simple yet stylish projects that will enable you to work plant magic into your decor without turning your space in creative ways. Buy Here.

10 Must Have Decorating Books

10. Creative Family Home by Ashlyn Gibson – I’m going to have a baby in two weeks, have you heard? ha ha. Anyway, he’ll be my first child, so you can only imagine what I have running through my head at the moment… Topics ranging from breast feeding to sleep schedules and the best way to decorate his nursery and child proof the house, to name a few of the fifty thousand thoughts I’ve had about this whole mommy hood thing. There is so much to think about, good grief, yet I do love exploring this new world. All of this exploration brought me to this book by Ashlyn Gibson which covers a slew of delightful spaces for creative families with a focus on kids’ spaces. My husband and I consider ourselves a creative family (we love neat and orderly but not minimalistic by any means), so the eclectic mix of homes shown really speak to me. Ashlyn takes you home-by-home by theme from the Urban Hub (a personal favorite) to Ship Shape and Mediterranean Heights. I like the intros to each family throughout along with the home tours. What a pleasure. Great read. Buy Here.

SO IT IS YOUR TURN! What book do you currently own (not upcoming titles please!) and refer to often for decorating inspiration? Please comment below and share! :)

(images linked to their sources above. Also, I’m an Amazon affiliate so I may earn a big fat 5% if you buy a book. Woo hoo.)


  • Reply Conchita January 15, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    dear holly, loved this post, because I did not know many of these books. are really an inspiration. love teresa

  • Reply Sophie Martin January 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Hi, I’m definitely going to get these. I’m obsessed with interiors books and it’s always good to get recommendations so thank you. The ones I have that I look at time and time again are Pale & Interesting by Atlanta Bartlett and Dave Coote; Casual Living by Judith Wilson; and Home Design Ideas by Caroline Clifton-Mogg. Hope you enjoy them. Sophie.

  • Reply Pamela Bates/Mercantile Muse January 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    holly, they all look gorgeous and each with their own style. and those flowers— oh my.

    so you’re on the two week countdown! i took the most recent blogging your way course- and wow time has really flown since the beginning of november.

    ready or not, here he comes! then you can go through the boxes and do some nesting.

    i generally refer to my stack of out of date issues of domino, rather than a book but I’d any of these to my library.

  • Reply Evelyn January 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I did not know any of these books. But they all look great. I definitely have to buy the Remix.
    Greetings Evelyn

  • Reply Julie January 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    What a beautiful selection of books. For Christmas my wonderful husband bought me A Place Called Home which you mentioned and I love it. I also got Modern Rustic which is a reclaimed wood lovers dream. of course I have Decor8 and Decor8 Workshop!

  • Reply Priscila Cunha January 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I love this article. excelent tips. Thanks

  • Reply Amy January 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    What a great selection Holly – beautiful books! I love Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney and Undecorate by Christiane Lemieux both books show how people express their own stories, travels and personalities through their homes. Sending love for the next few weeks. PS. My little Noah arrived 4 weeks early ; D x not to freak you out even more! x

  • Reply Serena January 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I love all… I have Paper To Petal and Creative Family Home… simply amazing

  • Reply emma lamb January 15, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Oh, I SO need to go on a book buying binge! x

  • Reply Traci January 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    What a beautiful selection of books that I didn’t know I needed until just now! A Place Called Home especially looks inspiring to me.

  • Reply Toni January 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I want all of these books! Particularly loving the look of Creative family home. x

  • Reply Door January 15, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Lovely books!

  • Reply Laura @ Rather Square January 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Thanks for this list! I’m definitely going to check out some of these. My current favorites at home is the Young House Love book, the Apartment Therapy books, and the Domino Book of Decorating.

  • Reply Maggie@Maggie Overby Studios January 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Holly, I resently did a post on sme of my favorites but I think I may need to add a few of your to my collection. My absolute favorite that I go back to again and again is definately the Domino book of decorating. I see that I am not alone. Here are my favorites…

    • Reply decor8 January 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      @Maggie – Wow Maggie, I just had a peek at your link – THANK YOU for including Decorate, what a wonderful surprise!

  • Reply faciledecor January 15, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I like the first idea! Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Reply Elizabeth January 15, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Ha, pregnancy and moving – I totally know what you are talking about! Well sort of – I will be moving just a few weeks after I give birth. Talk about stressful! I have too many decorating books to count, but I always love new recommendations. I will check them out.

  • Reply Jules January 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    I thought I had a lot of books but I only have two of these! Must add some more to my birthday list…

  • Reply Lucy Chen January 16, 2014 at 12:26 am

    I have the first two Decorate books by you, Holly. and they’re my Must-Haves.

  • Reply Krysti January 16, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Christiana Interior and Remodelista! They are stacked with my copy of Decorate Workshop :)

  • Reply mr jason grant January 16, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Oh Holly thanks for including me!! – it has made my day! xx

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente January 16, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Well, I would of course add Decorate to this list! :) Thank you for all of these titles, I am excited to check them out! This is an awesome list! Thank you hunnie!

  • Reply suzy January 16, 2014 at 7:56 am

    love that a couple of aussies made your list and for great reason…their pretty amazing. my husband just brought sibella’s Gyspy for my b’day and i cant stop looking through it.

  • Reply Andrea January 16, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I have a book called Zanzibar style which I could move into straight away if magic were available. I just love the spaces, the pared back uncluttered but rich with fabrics, timbers, carved furniture and drifty white curtains. Love it.
    I also love a couple of others – a book called Índian Design, another called ‘The Way we live’ , and another of Sibella’s books. Etcetera..they are my go to books.

    I also frequent pinterest, but there is nothing like a book is there!!
    I think from your list I would add numbers 1, 5 and 6 to my collection if I could.

  • Reply Sharon de Jager January 16, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Looks like stunning book choices. I only have one of these books, the Abigail Ahern Decorating with Style. And I’ve just ordered Remix simply because it’s so different. My favourite decor books I have at home are Decorate Workshop by you as well as Decorate which I’ve just passed to a friend to read! My other decor books I love are English Decoration by Ben Pentreath and Perfect English Cottage by Ros Byam Shaw – although these two are all about decorating in the English Style, they are both drool-inducing!

  • Reply Galina January 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Holly,Thanks for your recommendations .
    I would like to buy “A place called home”.
    I have “Modern Vintage Style” by Emily Chalmers and your “Decorate Workshop”

  • Reply Ria January 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    My favorite is Decorating with Style by Abigail Ahern!
    I read it again and again…
    Her style is so confident and unique and she writes every day in the morning
    at her great blog.

  • Reply Marija January 18, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Wow, this is a very nice tip and I love the books. I am doing their research now and since I am in the home/interior/decoration, I am in love.

  • Reply Elena January 18, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Etsy by Sibella Court is also very inspiring.

  • Reply Epsita January 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Lovely post!!

  • Reply Sandra January 18, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Thanx for sharing these good books!

  • Reply Lulu January 18, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Great choice of books. I especially like books that give me ideas on how to make my home more homely and welcoming to friends and family. Not really interested in opulence.


  • Reply Tracy January 18, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Hello, great collection! I love all books by Selina Lake and Rachel Ashwell, so many inspiring pictures! They are great ones to pick up and flick through time and time again. ‘Creative family home’ and ‘life less ordinary’ are the next on my wish list. Thanks for sharing x

  • Reply Isabel January 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Ohhh I really want to read these books! I love to decorate :)

  • Reply Barbara Cortili January 19, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Hello Holly! Thank you for this beautiful list! “Gypsy” and “Paper To Petal” are next in my buying list! They look so interesting!

  • Reply Erin January 19, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Paper to Petal is exactly what I need. Can’t have live flowers in my home but I love making bouquets out of tissue paper

  • Reply Sheryl January 19, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I just found you via Bloglovin, and so glad I did! I am dismayed to say I don’t have any current decorating books, but now I have several terrific ideas!

    Of those above, I like the Bring the Outdoors In (because the look is fresh and natural), and Paper to Petal because, well, I’m just kinda partial to flowers.

    Your reviews and comments are wonderful to have, too .

    Glad you got moved and wishing you a wonderful delivery!

  • Reply zhi / curiouszhi January 19, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I actually have the book from Jason Grant. He’s not well known in UK either, but I happened to come across his book in a local bookstore and was impressed enough to purchase it. I will have to check out the other books you’ve recommended. Thank you!

  • Reply anthea January 20, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Thanks for sharing! Love how you included images with the books :)

  • Reply Michelle January 20, 2014 at 8:40 am

    I just purchased two Megan Morton books for my Daughter.
    Home Love and Things I love, they both look like interesting and fun reads.

    Other books I have been thinking about purchasing for myself are
    Creative Space. Urban homes of artists and innovators by Francesca Gavin.
    and Modern Vintage Style by Emily Chalmers.

    Of course there are so many great decorating books out there its difficult to make a choice.

  • Reply Beauty Follower January 20, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Books 3, 5 & 8 cut my attention!

  • Reply Romy January 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Hi Holly,
    just discovered your lovely blog yesterday and immediately ordered your book Decorate. It should arrive tomorrow. As a homing junkie I can’t wait to dive in! Thanks for your amazing list, will certainly add Gypsy and Couture Prairie to my pile:)

    • Reply decor8 January 24, 2014 at 8:39 am

      @Romy – Thank you, that’s so nice!

  • Reply Holly January 23, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I loved The Family Home by Joanna Copestick back in the day. Some classic ideas in there! Also, @home w the Novogratz’ is fun. They are a wildly talented couple.

  • Reply The Queen of Dreaming March 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I just can’t wait to move to my very own flat to start decorating it! I have so many ideas and I really think these books are going to help me (maybe even to try not to kill a plant? Who knows!)

  • Reply bellmount munnar December 11, 2014 at 6:42 am

    hi..this post is really helpful one because these books are new to me,thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us,this article is one of the best I have seen ,keep blogging

  • Reply Wini Gebremariam February 25, 2015 at 9:30 am

    I want to have this book please.Thank you

  • Leave a Reply

    Scroll Up