Trim Take: Our Favorite Interior Design Books

It’s the perfect time of year to curl up in front of the fire with a good book and a mug of something hot (we recommend a Hot Toddy or some mulled wine), so this week we’re sharing our favorite design-related books with you.  Happy reading!

Most likely to make you laugh out loud:

Orlando is hilarious and writes like he is speaking directly to you.  Reading this book felt like having brunch with an old friend. He’s also got a laser sharp eye for styling and isn’t afraid to go for bold and playful accents.  The book covers topics ranging from art and decor to personal style, aging gracefully (spoiler: distract from your slow decay with your stunning decor!), the trials of modern dating, how to throw a successful party, and even some easy DIY projects.  Soria brings relatability, sarcasm, and humor to every topic he tackles, and I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this book! It was so good I even brought it to the beach to read (and it’s a big hardback book so that tells you something).


Most likely to be filled with post-its:

This book has been out for a few years now, but it is an indispensable part of my design book collection still. Of all the books I recommend, this truly is a field guide that you’ll refer to time and again. Liess breaks design into three parts, from understanding the fundamentals (color, lighting, furniture), to identifying and creating more esoteric elements such aesthetic, style, and mood, to the synthesis of it all: how to put your design knowledge to task when faced with a challenging space. Liess has a quiet, timeless aesthetic that makes this book a perennial favorite.


Best Styling Advice:

This book was my go-to for tips on room styling when I first began photographing our condo.  Henderson’s voice is friendly and casual, and she offers practical, easy-to-follow tips for selecting color schemes, arranging furniture, and styling every manner of surface.  And every strategy is accompanied by beautifully photographed examples making it incredibly user-friendly.


Best DIY Guide for Designing Your Own Home:

It’s impossible to overstate how much I like this book and it has nothing to do with the pretty pictures.  Garlough, who is by the way the style director for home decor site Joss & Main, takes a totally different approach to interior design and it is goshdarn refreshing.  The premise of the book is that you would do best to focus on your personality and how that informs the way you approach decorating rather than trying to identify your decor style.  And don’t worry- there’s a fun quiz in the first chapter to help you identify yours! (I’m a tinkerer with a little bit of self-expressionist in the mix.) This personality framework makes total sense when you stop to think about it, because Garlough’s approach actually addresses questions like what room should I start with? What items should I spend more money on? What kind of timeline is right for me? Do I do everything at once or go slowly? Her refusal of a one size fits all approach (the opposite of design style quizzes that have variously declared me to be “classic” “happy modern” “eclectic chic” among others) makes this book incredibly relevant to anyone who reads it and her practical advice empowers her readers.  She’s also not afraid to point out what you shouldn’t do, based on your personality type.  If you’re a self- expressionist for example, beware the impulse purchase!  Garlough delivers her tough love decorating advice in the wise tone of a kind friend.  It’s what I imagine it would feel like if Ina Garten came over to my apartment and gave me cooking tips.


Best read for the vintage lover:

Eddie Ross,  Modern Mix

Eddie Ross, Modern Mix

For your vintage lover (like me!), there’s no better book than Modern Mix, by Eddie Ross. Not only does Ross’s circuitous journey into the world of interior design by way of catering and culinary school make for an interesting read, but his keen eye and appreciation for unique treasures also makes this book an incredibly useful tool for those interested in curating eclectic finds for their homes. He gives us tips for navigating flea markets, estate sales and thrift shops. He teaches us what to look for, how to refurbish it once we’ve found it, and perhaps most important, how to style it in our homes so that we too can create the perfect “modern mix.”


Most likely to bring out your inner goddess / be found next to an incense holder:

If you are a homebody, this is the book for you.  It’s got advice on making your own organic cleaning products, creating zones in your home that mesh with your daily routines, and even guides on what plants to choose based on the directions your windows face.  It also has lots of fun features like a horoscope guide that tells you which colors and materials you should incorporate into your home based on your sign, and a section on decorating spirit animals and even a quiz to identify your “spirit environment” (Mine’s beach - no surprise there!).  It’s a great mix of practical advice (furniture layouts for better room flow, a guide for identifying various textiles from around the world) and impractical fun (the aforementioned decorating spirit animals). I liked that it included activities for me to try out in my own space and the maximalist boho interiors featured in the book make epic eye candy.


Most attractive on a coffee table (& most likely to impress your guests):

Miles Redd,   The Big Book of Chic

OK, so unlike the rest of the list, this book is truly coffee-table size and it’s really all about the pictures.  This book is mostly images and I’ll be honest, I’ve got this book on my coffee table as I type this and I’ve barely skimmed the actually text.  Miles Redd was the creative director of Oscar de la Renta Home before opening his own design firm and he’s decorated the homes of many elite members from the fashion world.  His designs are simultaneously sophisticated and whimsical. You know the vibe I’m talking about- that mix of classic glamour and sassy irreverence that makes you think of Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette or cardboard boxes of pizza being passed around the dancefloor as a late nite snack during a white tie ball at The Plaza Hotel.  


Best book for the design loving dog-person:

OK, so you know how sometimes it seems like dogs and their owners totally look alike? Btw I have mixed feelings about this idea since I have a French Bulldog… Anyways this book takes that idea but replaces owners with famous chair designs.  Amodeo, the author and illustrator, is a graphic designer and the book is set up as 20 sets of images - a dog and their “matching” chair. Her illustrations are clean yet offbeat and this collection of visual puns makes for a very appealing way to test your knowledge of iconic furniture design.  I got this as a birthday gift and I agree that it would be an excellent gift for any design and/or dog lovers in your life. Or maybe you gift it to yourself in the “treat yo’ self” spirit (shout out to all my fellow Parks And Recreation fans).  


Happy reading!

-Jen & Annabel

P. S. We’re sure this list is anything but comprehensive; tell us what we missed!