26 of the Very Best Coffee Table Books of All Time, According to Designers

updated Feb 22, 2023
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Whether you have a full-blown collection of coffee table books or have just a few titles that inspire you, it’s always fun to know what others are flipping through. From coffee table books inspired by music and film to fashion and design, the variety is almost endless.

Given that the majority of my coffee table books are interior design related, I just had to hear which texts some of my favorite designers love and come back to time and time again for inspiration. Below, design pros share their favorite coffee table books, from under-$10 finds to worthwhile splurges and investment pieces you’ll treasure — and flip through — for years to come.

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1 / 26

“One of my favorite coffee table books is '30,000 Years of Art' because it’s such a bold and vibrant summary of history! The book itself is a work of art, with its super-thick, bold, pink and yellow hardcover, and the engaging descriptions of each featured piece are beautifully written. I like that it’s a smaller scaled (yet incredibly heavy) coffee table book, making it perfect for smaller accent furniture. But don’t be fooled; the fun color ensures it doesn’t get lost on larger coffee tables and shelves. It’s also a great conversation starter for guests, since it makes everyone want to peek inside.” —Designer Whitney Jones, founder of Whitney J Decor

2 / 26
was $75.00

“There are few things you can find in a home as exquisite as de Gournay hand-painted wallcoverings, so I was quick to purchase this coffee table book when it came out. I keep it on my desk so I can easily reference it anytime I am seeking inspiration for a project.” —Designer Sterling McDavid, founder of Sterling McDavid Design

3 / 26

“I found 'Wallpaper, a History' in a used bookstore in Berkeley, and it’s become one of my favorites. Learning the historical origins of the decorative items that we use in our trade deepens my appreciation for the history of design. For example, wallpaper originated from the middle class desire to decorate their spaces; without the financial resources for pricier items such as tapestries, they turned to wallpaper. It’s a beautiful coffee table book to have sitting decoratively on your table, and an even better book to pick up and read.” —Designer Clara Jung, founder and principal at Banner Day Interiors

4 / 26
was $85.00

“I love this Schumacher book because it’s not only packed with inspirational images but also because it’s organized by aesthetic. I give it to clients and have them mark the rooms that speak to them — they’re usually surprised by which ‘category’ they fall into!” — Designer Hattie Collins, founder of Hattie Sparks Design

5 / 26
was $45.00

“I love this Kinfolk book’s photography and the concept of capturing a diverse group of families that have created homes that are unique to them and that capture their individuality. The focus on ‘slow living’ is what I’m all about!” —Design Instagrammer Patrice Stephens

6 / 26
was $95.00

“The ‘Alexander McQueen’ coffee table book has literally sat on my coffee table for several years and for good reason. Fashion has always been a huge part of my life and continues to inspire and inform me creatively in the design of interiors. I need not to explain the mastery McQueen evoked into the world of fashion, and this little capsule of his creations exploring his artistry, theater, and designs has always inspired me looking to it for colors, textures, tones, and unique compositions. My idea of a fabulous evening is opening a bottle of wine, sitting back, and flipping through the pages of the magical world of (what was) McQueen’s brain!” —Designer Aleem Kassam, principal at Kalu Interiors

7 / 26
was $65.00

“I love being inspired by this book’s timelessness, the relationship between the architecture and the interiors, the cohesiveness, the simplicity, the scale, the forms, and the attention to detail. They are all things that I strive for in our interiors. As a perfectionist myself, I can truly see the immense attention to detail in Jean-Louis Deniot’s interiors. As he says, ‘I want to achieve a point of equilibrium where the materials, the scale, the colors, the proportions, the volume, light and shade, and a degree of contrast are in balance. I want the rooms to look alluring or calm during the day and to have mystery at night, a different mood. And I never want the family who lives there to have any idea how much work it was.’ I love everything about this quote. After all, many of our clients truly don’t recognize how much work goes into each and every project! I think the pure timelessness of the interiors makes the book something that will make it a forever read. His work does not focus on trends.” —Designer Gemma Parker, founder and principal at Gemma Parker Design

8 / 26
was $29.99

“I have 'Humans of New York' currently on my coffee table and I love flipping through it and reading the stories. It helps inspire me because I think reading other peoples’ stories connects us all. Many of the people featured in the book have overcome a lot and it inspires me to work harder and keep a positive open mind in my life.” — Designer Amala Raj Swenson, principal and founder of Amala Raj Interiors

9 / 26

“My current coffee table book was given to me by my late husband’s mother. The cover showcases a triumphant, smiling President Barack Obama. I must confess part of the book’s appeal is its size, color, and shape. The other attraction is what the AA community hoped the Obama presidency signified — an end to racial disharmony with the election of America’s first African American president. Now reflecting from the other side of that election, I’m still filled with a sense of optimism every time I glimpse the book cover. Emotions of awe are awakened as I am reminded to strive for creative solutions to combat common problems.” —Designer Charmaine Wynter, founder of Charmaine Wynter Interiors

10 / 26
was $75.00

“The laid-back coastal homes in this book inspired me to purchase our own lake house and continue to inspire when it comes to decorating it. Each of the homes featured feels eclectic and casual — perfectly imperfect. The pages also showcase a lifestyle that’s a little but more carefree. I love the linen cover and the graphic black lettering on the spine. It instantly adds a bit of cool to any interior.” —Designer Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski, principal and founder of Tiffany Leigh Design

11 / 26
was $40.00

“My favorite and go-to coffee table book is 'Jungalow: Decorate Wild.' Coffee table books in a way have become a form of self-care for me. With Jungalow, it takes me on a journey that allows me to explore global design through the art of storytelling and beautiful photography. I’m so inspired by the saturated color, culture, patterns, and texture this book explores. Literally every page is bursting with inspiration. I also love how Justina Blakeney shares so many usable tips and projects you can incorporate into you own home. Regardless of your design style, her tips can be translated to any style that makes your home unique and special to you.” —Design Instagrammer Nicole Reid

12 / 26

“I have a vast collection of coffee table books, but the one book that stands out to me is 'Venice' by Serge Ramelli. Serge is a brilliant French photographer who takes spectacular photos during his travels. The colors on the cover are absolutely beautiful. Inside, there are over 150 photographs full of intense hues and detail; it instantly becomes art on the table when the book is left open. I spent a portion of my honeymoon in Venice over 15 years ago. The photos in the book brings back so many great memories.” —Designer Imani James of Imani James Interiors

13 / 26
was $50.00

Ashley Whittaker’s work is such an inspiration to me — her use of color and textiles, as well as her furniture choices — are incomparable.” —Designer Kerri Pilchik, founder of Kerri Pilchik Design

14 / 26
was $55.00

“When I am working through design conceptualizing for a new project, I love turning to my design heroes for their techniques, theories, and principles. Beata Heuman’s ‘Every Room Should Sing’ is my go-to for her whimsical yet elegant and sophisticated style.” —Designer Elaine Burns, founder of Pistachio Designs

15 / 26
was $65.00

“I purchased Wendy Goodman's book at a signing she did at Doyle, a New York auction house, and to be honest, her lecture left me green with envy! As the title suggests, Wendy has managed to gain entry to the private homes of some of the most interesting people in the world. This book strikes the perfect balance between design inspiration and human interest, and as far as beautiful coffee table books go, how could you beat a cover photo of the Palazzo Brandolini?!” —Designer Tara McCauley

16 / 26
was $35.00

“London is blessed with world-class museums, and visiting special exhibitions is one of my favorite rainy day activities with the kids. Exhibition books would make great coffee table books, and my favorites are recent exhibitions of 'Yayoi Kusama' at Tate Modern [and of David Hockney at The Royal Academy in London]. They are beautiful to look at, one-of-a-kind, and would be a great talking point.” —Designer Yoko Kloeden, founder of Yoko Kloeden Design

17 / 26

Jan Shower's 'Glamorous Rooms' was the first time a book actually affected my design aesthetic very profoundly. She is very edited but glamorous and knows how to make things traditional in just the right moments.” — Designer Blanche Garcia, principal at B.Garcia Designs

18 / 26

“The stacks on my coffee table are ever changing. Currently, I have Hunt Slonem's When Art Meets Design' on full display. A gift from a friend that keeps on giving, this book not only anchors the coffee table with its beautiful mix of jewel tones but continues to pull you in as you flip through the captivating behind the scenes imagery of Slonem’s life and works. I always flip through to spark inspiration, as the unexpected mix of colors with the perfect mix of fun and sophistication always bring new ideas into play as I brainstorm for my projects.” — Designer Charli Hantman, owner of August Black Interior Design

19 / 26
was $35.00

“Rebecca Atwood’s fabrics and wallpapers are some of my favorite materials to work with so I love seeing them incorporated throughout this book. It’s a wonderful refresher on color theory and pairings!” — Designer Hattie Collins of Hattie Sparks

20 / 26
was $45.00

“I love an interiors coffee table book that is more than just beautiful images. This book is all about the people who reside in the homes that are featured. It gives the reader a glimpse into designer Athena Calderone’s home as well as the homes of some of her closest creative friends.” — Designer Sterling McDavid

21 / 26
was $60.00

“In the vein of unexpected inspiration, 'The Ultimate Sneaker Book' will never have you looking at a Foot Locker the same again. A pair of Nikes recently inspired a new color combo for our studio rebranding.” —Designer Emilie Munroe, founder of Studio Munroe

22 / 26
was $60.00

‘Doris Duke’s Shangri-La: A House In Paradise’ is definitely a tabletop staple. The style and architecture of her house is a fantasy and an escape. While her cultural period style doesn’t align with my own, those types of properties are decadent and allow you to escape to another world.” — Designer Blanche Garcia

23 / 26
was $45.00

“My newest favorite is 'Plantopedia' — a gift from my fella as I’m learning to enhance my green thumb, it’s been so easy to read and beautiful!” — Designer Lisa Gilmore, principal at Lisa Gilmore Design

24 / 26
was $55.00

“Well, there are so many interior design books I love for so many different reasons, but the one I’m particularly fond of at the moment is Lewis Miller's 'Flower Flash.' I have long been fond of his beautiful and altruistic gesture of upcycling florals from big events. After the last few years, we all need some beauty and wonder in our lives, and what better way than to share it with the entire city? In addition, despite the fact the topic is florals, living materials like this are still integral to the finishing touches of an interior. We always encourage having plants or cut flowers in a room.” —Designer Jean Liu, founder of Jean Liu Design

25 / 26

“I recently read Eddie Ross's 'Modern Mix' from cover to cover. I loved learning about his background and his tips for finding vintage and antique items are beyond useful.” — Designer Kerri Pilchik

26 / 26
was $75.00

“What I love about Pierre Yovanovitch’s book is that it’s filled with such great design, refined luxury, and attention to the finest detail. It’s simple yet iconic! When you see a piece of furniture from Pierre Yovanovitch, you simply have to say, ‘It’s just brilliant, and I need this in my next project!'” —Designer Ashley Danielle Hunte, founder of Style Meets Strategy