The Design Books We Can't Live Without

It's no secret we adore design books. Pop into the shop and you'll see titles about New England style, nature-inspired style, traditional decorating, and modern interiors. But while some design books are superb eye candy, or make great conversation starters, a few standouts actually opened our mind about decorating over the years, and taught us more about our own style than anyone else's.

First up: The Perfectly Imperfect Home. Written by Deborah Needleman, a founder of Domino magazine and longtime editor at the New York Times' T magazine, this joyful and insightful read is all about living with our things.

Via witty essays and watercolor illustrations, Needleman explores the many, many nuances that go into making spaces not just look good, but feel good. She breaks down how to style a space, not with specific must-have items, but rather categories of things, ranging from “A Really Good Sofa” and “Pretty Table Settings” to concepts like “A Bit of Quirk” and “Cozifications.” You’ll learn what to look for, whether treasure hunting an an antiques shop or browsing a high end boutique, and uncover new ways to use things you already own. Her approach is genius, and so very chic.

For those who could benefit from very concrete styling guidelines—that is to say, all of us—we haven't found a more concise, user-friendly volume than The Interior Design Handbook. Whether you're trying to choose the right rug size, considering paint hues and color matching, or deciding how high to hang your wall art, Swedish stylist and author Frida Ramstedt comes through with the rules of thumb. Her book has been called "the new comprehensive bible of interior design"—need we say more?

Finally, Melanie Acevedo and Dara Caponigro—like Deborah Needleman, fellow alums of the old monthly Domino mag—are the aesthetes behind a book we don't hear nearly enough about: The Authentics.

A display-worthy dive into the homes of stylish creatives, the oversized book's text and photos are intriguing, real, and inspiring. Who wants perfect when you can have a home with such a mood? Who needs pretty when you can be so unbelievably cool? Trust us: Flip through a few pages and you'll see just what we mean.

Want more? A selection of our curated book lineup can be found right here