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13 best interior design books: From mid-century to modern inspiration

Updated: May 17, 2021

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, let these homeware tomes inspire your next project.

Wherever you are in your interior design journey – starting from scratch on the doer-upper you’ve just exchanged on, or wanting to add a personal touch to your long-term rental – there’s endless inspiration to be had from interiors books.

All recently published, the books in our round-up range from large pictorial tomes perfect for dipping into at the coffee table to practical handbooks that offer invaluable step-by-step advice on decorating and furnishing our own pads, whatever the limitations.

1. ‘Wild Interiors: Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Places’ by Hilton Carter, published by CICO Books

House plants are enjoying quite a moment in interiors but for stylist Carter and his crew of featured “plant parents”, this is no passing fad. Wild Interiors showcases 12 beautiful homes with lush and verdant inspiration to be had on every page – and in every room. Expect invaluable plant care advice and styling tips alongside swoon-worthy photography. Even a quick flick though the book offers instant calming effects.

2. ‘#Shelfie: How to Style and Display Your Collections’ by Geraldine James, published by CICO Books: £12.99, Blackwell’s

There are currently over two million Instagram posts tagged with #shelfie. It’s a brilliantly simple way to show the world a snapshot of our homes through our best loved bits and bobs we keep on display. In her book of the same name, James offers nifty ideas to make the most of our wall hung storage. The hardback features lovely real home photography with a wealth of ideas to steal.

3. ‘Biophilia: You + Nature + Home’ by Sally Coulthard, published by Octopus Books

Biophilia is a buzzword in interior design right now, which means a love of nature. More specifically, it’s the notion that we possess an innate connection with it. In this beautifully illustrated hardback, Coulthard explores the many benefits of biophilic design, drawing on environmental and neuroscientific research to uncover the links between home, health and happiness. A fascinating and uplifting read that looks at the science behind feel good furnishings.

4. ‘Faded Glamour: Inspirational Interiors and Beautiful Homes’ by Pearl Lowe, published by CICO Books

In Faded Glamour, vintage lover Lowe invites us into her beautiful bolthole in rural Somerset – plus we get to snoop around the abodes of some of her fashionable inner circle. We loved this aspirational coffee table tome, which focuses on vintage furniture pieces and room sets that celebrate the once plush: think ripped velvet armchairs, antique French lace tablecloths and the finest junk shop finds.

5. ‘Home Sweet Rented Home: Transform Your Home Without Losing Your Deposit’ by Medina Grillo, published by Octopus Books

This compact hardback from the acclaimed interiors blogger is full of practical projects and advice to make our rented space really feel like home – while protecting our security deposit, of course. From inspirational landlord friendly gallery walls to ingenious floor transformations with wallpaper, Grillo explores every conceivable way to up the homely when you’re not a homeowner.

6. ‘Sustainable Home: Practical Projects, Tips and Advice for Maintaining a More Eco-Friendly Home’ by Christine Liu, published by White Lion

Resolving to live more sustainably is one thing, putting it into practice is another, which is why we loved this helpful handbook packed with ideas we could implement straight away. Expect easy to follow projects to get stuck into, from crafting your own hairpin-legged wooden planter to experimenting with DIY essential oil room sprays. A hands-on guide to low impact living, and one to dip into time and time again.

7. ‘Interiors (Orange Edition): The Greatest Rooms of the Century’ by Phaidon Editors, published by Phaidon

For design inspiration that spans a full century, Phaidon’s coffee table tome features not only the most beautiful room sets but the stories behind them. The book is arranged from A to Z by designer, which allows the reader to easily choose their favourites and dip in and out. A fascinating deep dive into the history of modern interiors – and the trends that have come and gone – through real homes.

8. ‘Extraordinary Interiors in Colour’ by Jane Rockett and Lucy St George, published by Ryland Peters and Small

In their second book, the founders of online interiors boutique Rockett St George explore colour in the home, encouraging us all to be a little bolder with our palettes. And it is a visual feast – not only do the pair take us through the science and history of colourful interiors but we get to peek into the homes that dare to give that colour wheel a spin. This includes Lucy St George’s own home with its dark earthy tones and dramatic noir wallcoverings. One for lovers of quirky glamour and unapologetic maximalism.

9. ‘The Foraged Home’ by Joanna Maclennan and Oliver Maclennan, published by Thames and Hudson

This book inspired us to change our consumer habits for good. Not just for the sake of sustainability, but for creativity and aesthetics, too. Across four sections in different settings: coastal, rural, wild and urban, we’re taken on a global journey of fascinating homes that celebrate self-sufficiency. With a little imagination, found objects, whether salvaged, recycled or repurposed, can add drama and character to our interiors.

10. ‘House of Print: A Modern Block Printer’s Take on Design, Colour and Pattern’ by Molly Mahon, published by Pavilion Books

For fans of pattern and print, Mahon’s book is as informative as it is inspirational. The wallpaper and fabric designer takes us on a journey of creativity while uncovering the secrets behind block printing. We loved how the book seamlessly marries old and new, giving us insight into the ancient craft, and then encouraging us to create contemporary, funky homewares of our own – quite literally putting our stamp on them.

11. ‘Live Beautiful’ by Athena Calderone, published by Abrams and Chronicle Books

Be prepared for some serious house envy. Calderone, the New York-based interior designer and founder of lifestyle brand EyeSwoon, profiles the homes of 19 creatives in this aspirational coffee table book. From designer Jenna Lyons’ glamorous Soho loft that mixes mid-century furniture pieces with Art Deco furnishings, to architect Danielle Siggerud’s 17th century converted townhouse in Denmark – expect all neutral tones and exposed beams. There’s plenty to swoon over.

12. ‘Andrew Martin Interior Design Review, Vol. 23’ by Andrew Martin, published by teNeues

For those in the know, the annual Andrew Martin Interior Design Review is a veritable interiors bible. Now in its 23rd edition, this hefty tome – the very definition of a coffee table book – reflects on the inspiring work of 100 interior designers throughout 2019. From the palatial to the pared back, each featured property is extraordinary. And with over 1,000 photographs to pore over, it is one delightful and inspiring rabbit hole to fall into.

13. ‘Making Living Lovely: Free Your Home with Creative Design’ by Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe, published by Thames and Hudson

From the design duo behind the fearlessly creative 2LG Studio, this is a wholly refreshing hardback that seeks to unleash our freedom of expression as homemakers. For Whitehead and Cluroe, emotional wellbeing is intrinsic to interiors choices (there’s even a chapter on “decorative joy”), and with practical tips and advice, along with real-life case studies, the book encourages us to create a home that truly feeds the soul.

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