rediscovering our favorite design books

For me, these days of sheltering-in-place have been both confusing and clarifying. I know I’m not alone in that feeling, and I also know that many of us have had the good fortune of rediscovering many things about the place we call home. I have found comfort in revisiting well-worn, well-loved design books full of beautiful homes and gardens. And I was curious about what books others return to for comfort and inspiration.

So I reached out to some of my creative and stylish friends on Instagram to learn about their favorite design books. We had a very nice virtual chat. And I realized this: Isn’t it interesting how our individual styles often reflect the designers whose work we admire and return to? I love to see how different people interpret and incorporate elements of another style, making it completely their own. (If you’re not on Instagram, you can still click on the link and get a glimpse of each person’s feed).

Here are the results of my very informal, unscientific survey. There are classics, old-favorites, and recently published books on this list.

(Several people chose the Ahearn, Schafer, Gatewood, and Bunny Williams books so I did not repeat them as I went down the line, but included the other books that each person added to the list)

From Linda @stonecottage2250

Timeless: Classic American Architecture for Contemporary Living by Patrick Ahearn

Patrick Ahearn

The Great American House: Tradition for the Way We Live by Gil Schafer

Gil Schafer

In both cases, they do a beautiful inspiring job of preserving classic American architecture and creating stylish and livable homes.

 From Matt @mattpmazure


Time and Place by Steven Gambrel

My copy is well worn; I constantly reference it for color inspiration and interesting architectural details.

Steven Gambrel

 From Diane @dianenicoll

One Man’s Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood by Julia Reed

Furlow Gatewood

Cecil Beaton at Home: An Interior Life by Andrew Ginger


Tiffany Taste by John Loring

From Ann @annscia

Americana:  Farmhouses and Manors of Long Island by Kyle Marshall


From Heidi @heidiwynne

Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People


Marella Agnelli: The Last Swan

Marella Agnelli

From Charmaine @charmainewakefield

Interiors by Design by Roger Banks Pye

Roger Banks Pye

Living by Design by John Stefanidis

From Brooke @lbtalbot


A Place to Call Home by James T. Farmer

He has several very nice books. We went to see him in Baltimore at the Walter’s Art Gallery. He was doing his floral arrangements! (Click here to read our post about it!)

James T. Farmer

 From Maura@m.o.endres

The English Garden Room by Elizabeth Dickson

…is a book I pick up constantly and a longtime treasure book on my shelves.

 An Affair with a House by Bunny Williams

Bunny Williams

From Karen @karenkeysar

Folly De Grandeur: Romance and Revival in the English Country House by Nicky Halsam

The Hunting Lodge,Nicky Haslam's home in the country
The Hunting Lodge,Nicky Haslam’s home in the country

Elements of Style by Michael S. Smith


Winter House by Charlotte Moss


Near and Far: Interiors I Love by Lisa Fine

from Near and Far by Lisa Fine

From Alice @largercross and

English Decoration: Timeless Inspiration for the Contemporary Home by Ben Pentreath and The Auction Catalogs of Bunny Mellon and The Duchess of Devonshire

Ben Pentreath

From Rie @portobellodesign


The Gardens of Bunny Mellon by Linda Jane Holden

Bunny Mellon’s Oakspring Farm

For historical purposes


 The Well-Adorned Home: Making Luxury Livable by Cathy Kincaid

Cathy Kincaid

Pure Beauty


 For The Love of White: The White and Neutral Home by Chrissie Rucker

For the Love of White

For the great styling

Although things are slowly returning to something closer to normal for many of us, we continue to spend more time around the house and in the garden (and if we are lucky, with our heads in books).

Hope you are inspired (like I am)…and thank you to my friends for chatting on Instagram with me!



2 responses to “rediscovering our favorite design books”

  1. So many interesting books to discover, thank you for the recommendations!


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post! Let us know what book or books you would add to the list. We’d love to hear about them. Thanks! Holly


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