Building a Design Library: Our Favorite Design Books (and a Giveaway)

It’s no secret that the Internet is full of design inspiration. A quick scroll through Instagram or our favorite design blogs always leaves us with dozens of new ideas to ponder, but there’s something about books that I find especially inspiring and honestly a bit less overwhelming. Sitting down with a well-curated book gives you the chance to take in the style of the designer(s) and really study what it is that makes their work stand out. Are there any trends you notice that you may not have seen by just looking at a single photo? What things do they do differently than you would normally do? What can you learn from them? Developing a collection of go to design books really gives you a solid foundation of inspiration and knowledge to build upon.

In selecting design books to purchase, we of course try to choose those with beautiful spaces that we feel align with our design taste, but we also try to select books that teach or highlight styles we are less comfortable using but would like to pull in elements of in our design. A good example of this is Justina Blakeney’s The New Bohemians. I definitely wouldn’t say our style falls on the side of Bohemian, but we respect the interest and casual comfort Bohemian style brings to the table. Because Justina is the Queen of Bohemian Design, it was obvious that her book would be a great addition to our library. Whenever we find that certain spaces are lacking life, her book is our go-to for ideas on how to bring that in.

Today we’re sharing those books we find ourselves using time and time again in hopes of offering you a bit of hard copy inspiration. Another perk of most of these books is that the attention towards design isn’t just found in their pages. They also have beautifully pulled together covers that make them some of our favorite coffee table and styling books!

Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style (Amazon/Indiebound)

This new addition to our design library has quickly become a favorite. Each chapter is organized by color story like “Blue and White Forever,” “Timeless Neutrals,” etc. This unique organization really brings to life the power of color.

Old Home Love (Amazon/Indiebound)

Such a charming read! Andy and Candis have such a deep respect for old homes, but they also don’t take themselves too seriously, adding unexpected elements like a floral mural along an updated staircase.

Simple Matters: Living With Less and Ending up With More  (Amazon/Indiebound)

We’ve read Erin’s blog, Reading My Tea Leaves, for years, and I was so proud when she released her recent book. While it’s not a typical design book, I’ve learned so much from Erin. She puts such focus on creating intentional spaces with items that earn their keep. Her Life in a Tiny Apartment series had a big influence on how we approached our last 400 sq ft apartment, and many of those habits like limiting the number of items you bring into your medicine cabinet and choosing those you like the look of have carried over into our home. I would argue that having a space pared down of non-essentials and full of things you love makes a difference in the design and feel of a home.

Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves (Amazon/Indiebound)

Emily Henderson is such a wonderful teacher! Her blog was one of the first design sites we started reading, and her straightforward how-to videos were always on repeat. This book is a must for anyone wanting to up their styling skills whether it be a whole room or small nightstand.

Living with Pattern: Color, Texture, and Print at Home (Amazon/Indiebound)

This book will change your mind on how you approach pattern and help you feel more confident with putting it to use. We’re big fans of Rebecca Atwood’s fabrics and wallpapers, and to have someone as skilled as she is break down pattern in all it’s forms is really special.

The Great American House: Tradition for the Way We Live Now (Amazon/Indiebound)

What a breathtaking book! I find myself constantly flipping through the pages of this beautiful work! Each space is so grand, classic, and inspiring, and while I may not live in a house to the scale of any of those featured in the book, there are so many elements that I’d love to incorporate into our design. So beautiful!

Design Brooklyn: Renovation, Restoration, Innovation, Industry (Amazon/Indiebound)

Adam purchased this book several years ago, and it’s remained a favorite. Besides the beautiful images and spaces, I really enjoy how the book conveys Brooklyn style by highlighting spaces throughout the borough. It’s not just limited to beautiful homes, but it also shows neighborhood restaurants, destinations, and outdoor spaces, giving a comprehensive view of the facets that influence this design style.

Anthology Magazine

Sadly, this publication is no longer, but it was one of our favorite pieces of mail to receive. This quarterly design and lifestyle magazine took on a new theme for each issue, such as bringing the outdoors inside, using pattern, etc. While it’s no longer available for purchase, snippets of each edition can be viewed here.

The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes (Amazon/Indiebound)

Like we mentioned above, this is a fantastic guide to Bohemian style. One interesting feature is that it is broken down into different types of Bohemian style. We especially love the Romantic Bohemian.


What are your go to books for design inspiration? In an effort to help you build your own design library, we have decided to give away Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style by Mark Sikes. To win, all you have to do is share your favorite design book below by this Friday, July 21 at midnight! We will randomly select a winner from the comments below!

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  • I actually don’t have any home styling books, but love looking though them at friends’ homes. I tend to collect more party and recipe themed books, but would love to start gathering home inspired books too.

    • I too have an obsession with recipe themed books! So many are styled so beautifully that they can be really inspirational as well!

  • I like Emily Henderson’s Styled, too, as well as Sage Living by Anne Sage. You’ve done a great job with your house so far, and your website is lovely.

  • Living with Pattern is one of my favorites as well, and I also love Domino: The Book of Decorating. I’ll have to check out some of these other ones!

    • Hi, Christina, thank you so much for sharing! I also love Domino’s work- good recommendation! We wanted to let you know that you were chosen to win the copy of Mark Sikes’s book! If you will email your preferred mailing address to, we’ll ship it your way 🙂

  • Thanks for the great list – there are some new to me books I want to check out. One of my favorites is Habitat by Lauren Liess.

    • Cheryl, I really appreciate that suggestion! It’s not a book I was familiar with, but it looks like it’s full of great information and inspiration. We’ll definitely have to add it to our list of books to buy!