If You Only Buy One Coffee Table Book About Color for Your Home, This Should Be It

published Jul 26, 2021
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It’s surprising how few decorating books focus on color when it’s such an elemental part of interior design. Look through the shelf of design books at your local bookstore, and you’ll find books about individual designers or ones dedicated to a particular design style or place. Color might get a few pages or footnotes in these books, but good luck finding a whole book on it.

For the last nine months, I’ve been lucky to write a column about color for Maine Home + Design magazine. As I’ve researched a new color each month, I’ve explored what books I could find about decorating with color, but Rebecca Atwood’s “Living With Color” remains my most referenced volume by far. 

“Living With Color” is less a visual compendium of the world’s most colorful rooms and more a handbook for real people looking to experiment with color in their homes. The rooms and homes profiled feature color in the way stylish everyday people’s homes are — not a Miles Redd-decorated showhouse room or a World of Interiors cover image. The focus on livable color makes this book so valuable.

Trained as an artist, Atwood gives her readers an inside look into a scientific understanding of color. Then, she explores how to feel and see color before finally diving into home tours of a dozen stylish homes. My favorite part of the book, though, is the final section: Finding Color. For a color-phobe like me, Atwood’s helpful prompts and exercises take the ideas from the beginning of the book and make them actionable. 

If you’re looking for a book to help you choose colors for your home, “Living With Color” fits the bill. Just be sure you take the time to read what Atwood has to say. The pretty pictures, some of which you see here, are a plus, of course, but the images — paired with Atwood’s thoughtful, sensitive perspectives on color — make this book my favorite color book of all.