Design Sponge at Home is my new all-time favorite interiors book simply because it packs so much panache into 390 pages. You admire color photographs of actual rooms, but the captions and sidebars give the reader great practical suggestions.
If you’re really hands-on, a section on “Do It Yourself” craft projects might inspire bleaching tea towels in patterns or covering boxes with maps. I particularly loved the 20 page Flower Workshop because photos, cost estimates for the arrangements and alternative flower suggestions, in addition to instructions, are all included.
Very useful, too, is the section on recycling and adding vivid paint colors to aging furniture. The “before” and “after” photos are convincing. To wrap up a stellar book, the resource guide annotates a list of websites. I’m thinking this is a great gift for Mother’s Day or an apartment-dwelling college student. If you can’t get enough, go to Grace Bonney online at DesignSponge.com.
The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate & Live Well is a contrast in that the watercolor illustrations are unique, and the text is readable and reflective of the author’s personality. Listen to Deborah Needleman here: “A bit of humor, a touch of fantasy, or even something haphazard feels welcoming. It invites us to let our guard down. Quirk is less about shopping or objects and more about attitude. Quirk humanizes.”
Rachel Ashwell has attitude – reflected in her Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces. Her book has wonderful double page spreads of interior photographs reflecting her pale palette and love of flowers.
I tend to prefer the vivid punches of color in Katie Ridder Rooms. Each book gives the appreciative reader more information; the last section on Katie Ridder details includes fascinating photos of embroidery, wallpaper and tile.
In a smaller, less glitzy book format is Brian Batt's Big, Easy Style: Creating Rooms You Love to Live In . The New Orleans drama is there in this personal recounting of how his city influences his design choices.
Hers: Design with a Feminine Touch is yet another delightful compilation of photographs and suggestions from lifestyle editor Jacqueline deMontravel.
How to combine colors
The most specific book is Eve Ashcraft’s The Right Color: Finding the Perfect Palette for Every Room in Your Home. About one-third of the book covers the twenty eight colors in her own paint collection, but Ashcraft’s color combinations and color options for adjacent rooms might be helpful.
And to end with a guilty pleasure – take a look at Barbra Streisand’s My Passion for Design. The diva, of course, has millions of dollars to spend on her own mansion, and admits to having rooms rebuilt several times to meet her exacting standards. Streisand’s personal underground arcade of boutiques to house her vintage gowns and other collections makes one marvel!
She does not change much in her own home and even admits to white walls everywhere. However, Karen Y. still lusts for Barbra Streisand’s shade of blue on those velvet sofas…