Coffee Table Essentials: 10 of the Best Interior Design Books

Take a look at our favourite books on all things interior design (some say we're pretty well read on the topic...)


Book collection in Maillol & Rodin, Plum Guide home in Paris

Interior design books offer windows into rarefied spaces. Their beautifully presented pages inspire, exhilarate, soothe and teach, taking us instantly inside some of the most amazing homes anywhere. (And you know how much we like to do that.) So, shall we visit a Hamptons surf shack, a loft in Williamsburg, a Palm Desert designer ranch? Yes, please. All of the above. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mood for an amazing daydream, or seriously planning future rooms and travels...this list of Plum Guide's favourite interior design books will take you anywhere you want to go.

Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life

This book by Erin Gates is a best seller, and not just because it offers gorgeous, relatable design inspiration for every room in a home. (We personally applaud the practical advice for establishing a consistent design theme - something we Home Critics love to see.) Truth is, you don’t even have to open this book to appreciate it. Design fans love it for its striking cover design. The graphic black and white pattern along the spine is perfect for those who take the aesthetics of their coffee table book stacks seriously.

Coffee table books in Country Modern, Plum Guide home in the Cotswolds

Coffee table books in Country Modern, Plum Guide home in the Cotswolds

Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century

With this in mind, the velvet cover of Interiors is offered in a variety colours, including vibrant orange, midnight blue and yellow. But inside lies the real treasure. The book takes readers on a jaw-dropping ride across 25 countries, featuring chateaux, luxury penthouses, desert ranches and all manner of beach house. Works by famed interior designers, new and old, make this a must for students and fans of the craft.

For the Love of White: The White and Neutral Home

We seriously believe that flipping through the pages of this book by Chrissie Rucker could lower your blood pressure. Image after image of clean spaces and calming colour palettes—perusing this book becomes almost a religious experience. Do we hear an angel’s choir? But don’t worry—there is nothing dull about the monochromatic theme here. The bright whites, pale whites, off whites, ivories, and creams are balanced by the occasional pop of beige or sand. (We're kidding, we love this book.) Anyone who appreciates subtle, soothing décor and a moment of zen will too.

Surf Shack: Laid Back Living by the Water

Let’s face it, interior design books often celebrate the unobtainable (for most of us). That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy them, of course. Surf Shack: Laid Back Living by the Water by Nina Freudenberger brings the grandeur down a notch but shows homes that are no less desirable--just a lot funkier. (Think lots of natural fibers, plants, vintage, and of course, surfboards stylishly strewn about.) From Malibu to Montauk, Australia to Japan, these hip cottages represent the life we all sort of wish we were cool enough to live. Who wouldn’t want a laid-back, beachy place with an incredible view, to crash and wait for the next swell… we can dream, can’t we?

Surfboard in sand dunes

Surfboard in sand dunes

Sophisticated Simplicity

To keep the serenity tour going, this book by Suzanne Kasler is the perfect next stop. Her colour palette opens up to blues, greys, pinks and the occasional print, but understated, uncluttered elegance remains the ideal, and truly a balm for the soul. Odd coincidence: ‘sophisticated simplicity’ is a personal, as yet unachieved, goal for us here at Plum. Yes, realising a streamlined ‘less is more’ state of grace is a whole lot harder than it looks. But this informative book might just get us there.

Vogue Living: Country City Coast

If the ‘more is more’ approach suits you better, this book offers a crash course in exciting, glamorous design. The cover’s vibrant mash up of orange drapes, a surfboard and French antiques tells us instantly that rules are going to be deliciously broken. The 450 pages that follow explore the homes of fab fashion and design celebrities including Tory Burch, Stella McCartney, and Kelly Wearstler. It is truly a thrilling worldwide tour. Plus, it’s absolutely gorgeous… because, Vogue.

Travel Home: Design with a Global Spirit

Temporarily grounded globe trotters will certainly enjoy Caitlin Flemming and Julie Goebel's Travel Home: Design with a Global Spirit. This book highlights the home décor of designers who have made it a priority to infuse their personal spaces with ideas, objects and textures that reflect their favourite places on earth. Marrakesh, Tokyo, Portugal and Paris are a few of the far-flung destinations reinterpreted here, in personal and stunning ways.

Eiffel Tower across the Seine, Paris

Eiffel Tower across the Seine, Paris

Oasis: Modern Desert Homes Around the World

The dramatic light and landscape of the desert has long served as inspiration for artists and dreamers. Interior designers and architects are no exception. In Oasis: Modern Desert Homes Around the World by iO Tillet Wright you will see some of the most extraordinary dwellings set in these extreme climes. Lovers of the American West should take note--the stark beauty of the place is featured prominently here.

Natural Elegance: Luxurious Mountaintop Living

The first chapter of Natural Elegance by Rush Jenkins and Klaus Bauer is Mountaintop Meets Modern—a thousand times, yes. These styles mesh brilliantly, avoiding any of the clichés that one might associate with one or the other. Thoughtfully built into breathtaking sites that stretch from the American Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, the homes depicted represent a deep connection to the natural world. More brilliant meshing: the dramatic stone and timber is softened by comfy furniture and décor that invites you to 'settle in and enjoy the view', as the authors say. (We’ll be right over, if the offer still stands.)

Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool

It’s winter in enough places right now to justify adding Splash: The Art of the Swimming Pool by Tim Street Porter to our list as a mood booster. (Looking at pools has been scientifically proven to make people happy, according to us.) Maybe the designs here are more exterior than interior, but outdoor living spaces are now vital to our very health and sanity. These mini sanctuaries just steps from our doors have never been more important.

Pool and landscape around High Desert Mirage, Plum Guide home in Joshua Tree

Pool and landscape around High Desert Mirage, Plum Guide home in Joshua Tree

The Art of Outdoor Living

Last but certainly not least, The Art of Outdoor Living by Scott Schrader is another great choice. The author teaches us how to work with all sorts of terrain to make outside spaces feel like home, via landscaping and smart furniture choices.

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Plum Guide Home Critic

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