Maybe it's the student in me, but I find the need to study up before undertaking most home projects, and especially when we're planning an entire new space. There are certain books that I find myself referencing time after time for their accessible— and easily applicable— design wisdom and practical organizational advice... The common denominator of the books on my reading list is the emphasis on the rather basic elements of home design and organization, not on showy interiors and outlandish design suggestions that rarely suit those of us in the real world (i.e. "create a more open floor plan by changing the wall arrangement"— but of course, why didn't we think of that?). These are not the flashiest books on the shelf, but ones that offer great solutions for a wide range of budgets.
•Apartment Therapy: The Eight Step Home Cure Don't roll your eyes, this isn't just shameless site-promotion. Aside from the more obvious reasons for including it, the book is one of the easiest guides to follow whether you're starting a home from scratch or looking to refresh your well-lived-in space. Unlike many design books, this one isn't about "creating a look," it's about knowing your own home, discovering your own tastes, and then putting your knowledge and vision to work— all explained in layman's terms. It offers floor plan ideas, product suggestions, and a step by step, room by room guide to setting up a healthy home. Don't expect glossy, inspirational photos — that's what we're here for :)— the only pictures are simple sketches corresponding to the chapter topic.
• Real Simples: The Organized Home Just like their magazine, the mini-book provides crisp images and straight-forward organizational advice. My favorite element is the list it provides of "room basics"— a shortlist of items that each type of room should contain. It also provides minor design tips like how to arrange a bookshelf .
•House Beautiful: The Apartment Book Gorgeous interiors and inspirational advice with regard to color schemes and furnishings make this a great book to have on tap. It highlights the design elements that make the beautiful interiors featured in their magazine work. Most of the featured rooms are in a transitional style, some leaning towards modern, others rooted in traditional decor.
• Domino: The Book of Decorating A lively, contemporary decor book detailing design schemes, color choices, and furniture pairings all in keeping with the beloved Domino style. It also offers a wonderful resources section and a comprehensive style guide describing many of the most commonly used design terms.
• The Pottery Barn Home Book By far my favorite Pottery Barn item. The first time I flipped through it I didn't expect it by be as helpful as it is. I thought it would be more like a glorified version of their catalog. However, it is a pleasant and practical book packed with floor plan suggestions, color and material guides, and comfortable suggestions for every room in the house. What's on your list? (Image: Jake Curtis)