The 8 Books Every Home Decorator Should Own

On the whole, Apartment Therapy readers are a book-loving bunch, and we writers are no different. With so many gorgeous home decorating books out there, and with online shopping so quick and easy, I accumulate design books at an alarming rate.

Many of the design books published these days fall into the category of inspiration; full of gorgeous, aspirational images rather than practical advice. While I love me some design eye candy, I get through these types of books rather quickly. The ones that hold my interest longer are the practical, how-to manuals, full of tips, tricks, and projects to flex my DIY muscles.

While I don't own every single one of the books below, these are the kinds of volumes I think every DIY-enthusiast should own.

1. An Inspirational Book. Flying in the face of what I said above, I do think inspiration is important, particularly for those starting out in a new home, or just getting to grips with their decorating style. A favorite of mine, Holly Becker's book Decorate is full of inspiring homes, and also covers the practical processes of creating floorplans and moodboards to get the ball rolling.

2. A Color Book. Understanding color is important when creating an inviting and coherent home. As a big fan of Farrow & Ball's range of paints, their books The Art of Color and Living in Color are favorites of mine. For those of you who like ebooks, Maria Killam's guide How to Choose Paint Colours: It's all in the Undertones is hugely informative without being overly technical.

3. An Upholstery Book. Upholstery projects are often some of the first that keen DIYers want to tackle, and no wonder; recovering a piece of furniture is loads of fun, and can change its look completely. I have The Essential Guide to Upholstery by Dorothy Gates and love it, but there are many options out there. My advice to the read the reviews, and choose one which includes projects you can actually see yourself attempting.

4. A Soft Furnishings Book. In other words, a sewing book. Novice sewers might tackle some toss cushions or table linen, while more experienced ones could make quilts, drapes or slipcovers. I've heard great things about Sweetwater's Simple Home: Sew Something Handmade for Every Room and The Liberty Book of Home Sewing.

5. A Book on Furniture Restoration. If you frequent garage sales, flea markets and Craigslist, then you've probably at some point fallen for a piece of furniture that's a little the worse for wear. A how-to restoration guide like Brian Hingley's Furniture Repair and Restoration will help you sand, stain and buff it back to its former glory.

6. A Book on Painting Furniture. Of course, not every piece of furniture is worth restoring. There's a time and a place for colorful, painted pieces, and this is it. A book like Elise Kinkead's 50 Ways to Paint Furniture: The Easy, Step-by-Step Way to Decorator Looks goes into the ins and outs of different paint types and techniques.

7. A Salvage Style Book. Eclectic, vintage style is all the rage these days, but incorporating it into modern decor can be a challenge. I've heard great things about the Salvage Secrets: Transforming Reclaimed Materials into Design Concepts, which promises to both inspire and instruct salvage novices.

8. A Book with a Bit of Everything. For the DIY dabbler, a book of fun, crafty projects should fit the bill. I love Grace Bonney's Design*Sponge at Home, which covers projects both big and small. I'm also waiting with bated breath for the release of Young House Love's first book later this year. If it's anything like their blog, John and Sherry's book, tentatively titled Spruce: 257 Ways To Show Your Home Some Love, should be chock-full of useful and fun projects.

Which types of books do you think belong on the DIY bookshelf? Share your recommendations below!

(Image: Leela Cyd Ross)

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