Top Five Interior Design Books for Happy Modern Homes

Cotton & Flax / Favorite design books

I’ve been taking advantage of the public library lately, checking out some relatively new books from famous designers, and revisiting some of my favorite interior design books. I wanted to share a roundup of my top five favorite interior design books, the ones that I’ve been mining for inspiration for my own home.


Domino: The Book of Decorating – this book was something of a game-changer for interior design books. So many of the interior design books I encountered before Domino were way too specific for my tastes (for example, how to decorate your home in beachy cottage style, or traditional Chinese decor, etc.) Domino has a way of mixing and matching styles that really appeals to me (and many others, it seems!), because you don’t have to get bogged down in tradition or living up to some set of rules.


Domino has chapters dedicated to each room of your home, and is filled with varied examples of how to approach design in those spaces. While the magazine is no more, I’d say Domino is well-remembered for helping thousands of readers create happy modern homes.

nate berkus

The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus – I’ll admit, I’m a fan of Nate Berkus. I think a lot of people I know are a bit burnt out on hearing about him, perhaps he suffers from a bit of overexposure on TV (but really, who could say no to Oprah when she comes calling?!) I don’t watch much TV, so perhaps that explains why I am still fascinated by his new book. In it, Berkus makes a pretty compelling claim against the trend of minimalism, arguing that our “stuff” is what helps to define our lives, and brings meaning into our homes.

Nate Berkus

Many of the interiors featured are stunning, but it’s the strange details that I find most interesting (for example, the bizarre homemade sculptures found in the home of Barbara Hill shown in that second photo.) Berkus reminds us that the unique things that we accumulate, “give our everyday lives shape, texture, and a sense of who we are, who we’ve been, and where we may be heading.”

design sponge at home

Design*Sponge at Home – I was so excited to check this book out when it first debuted; my first weekend browsing it’s pages put a huge dent in my post it notes supply, I had marked almost every page! There’s so much inspiration in these pages, and I love that Grace Bonney made a serious effort to feature homes of a wide range of people – not just professional designers. The last half of the book features a ton of great DIY projects, and if you’ve spent any time on the Design*Sponge blog, you know that they do a great job featuring high quality projects that you actually want to keep in your home.

design sponge

The Selby is in your place

The Selby Is In Your Place – The Selby is another wonderful blog featuring the homes of people who take a DIY approach to decorating their homes. He features so many wonderful creative spaces, and has an eye for capturing the unglamorous but important details of a home. I love that the homes range from over-the-top super collectors, with shelves of books that reach the ceiling, to artists working in their homes, surrounded by their creative messes. This book feels real to me: mostly unpolished, and certainly focuses on the things that make a home unique.

The Selby

The Selby

Mary Randolph Carter

A perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life by Mary Randolph Carter – I stumbled on this book quite by accident, but was delighted by what I found inside. If the title isn’t quite clear enough – this books features decidedly messy spaces. It talks about why our homes are often disorganized (kids, hobbies, collections, busy lives), and why it’s OK to embrace a little mayhem in your home.

mary randolph carter

I love that Carter focuses on what I think is most important: getting enjoyment out of your home. If you can’t relax and be yourself in your own home, what’s the point?!

Did I choose one of your favorite interior design books? Any others you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

About Erin Dollar

Owner, maker, and designer behind Cotton & Flax. Since 2010, she has been creating modern screenprinted home goods, as well as fine art prints on paper, from her home studio in Los Angeles, California.
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