Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Must-Have Books

Looking at my stacks of decorating books recently got me to wondering:  which are my absolute favorites?  If I could only choose five, which ones would they be?  So here is a list of my Top Five Favorite Decorating Books.  

1.  At Home with Carolyne Roehm.   For anyone who loves dishes and setting tables as much as I do, this is an absolute must.  It is organized according to season, with  wonderful tables set for all sorts of occasions in each season.  The glassware and silver are beautiful, the flowers are gorgeous, and the dishes are to-die-for.  This is porn for dish-a-holics.

2.  Nell Hill's  Style at Home, by Mary Carol Garrity.  This is all about the accessories, and boy does she have some great ones.  Garrity is the owner of Nell Hill's, a home furnishings store in Kansas, which is a mecca for many decorating enthusiasts.  She is also a master of the vignette.  Her tabletops are always whimsical, interesting, well-thought-out, and just plain beautiful.  For someone who shops the thrift stores as much as I do, this is a must-read.

3.  Charles Faudree's French Country Signature.  All of my favorite things -- dishes, needlepoint, tole, old prints -- are layered with beautiful antiques and fabulous fabrics to create comfortable, warm and approachable rooms.  And just look at that cover photo -- RED!  Learn to layer fabrics and accessories from Faudree -- he is the undisputed master.

4.  Inspirational Interiors by Roger Banks-Pye.  Of Colefax and Fowler fame, Roger Banks-Pye was one of the premiere English interior designers of the twentieth century.  His interiors are filled with wonderful antiques, painted furniture, and quintessential English fabrics,  and layered with beautiful accessories.  If you love a room that looks as though it has evolved over time, this is the book for you.  

5.  An Affair with a House  by Bunny Williams.  I've written a post about this book in the past, and it has got to be my all-time favorite decorating book.  It is the story of Williams' love affair with her 18th century New England house.  A total feast for the eyes, and also a very inspirational volume, it is filled to the brim with gorgeous photos of Williams' house, gardens, outbuildings and guest house.  I could get totally lost for hours in this book, and very often I do.  It is my decorating bible.

Well, I had a lot of fun browsing through all my books to choose my favorites.  Do you have a decorating book you return to again and again for inspiration?  I'd love to hear about it!

I know that brand new decorating books can be very expensive.  You might want to try and find any of these books secondhand here.


  1. Ashamed to admit I don't have any decorating books. I do collect decorating magazines, and browse through BH&G, and rip out pages that speak to meet and have them stuffed in a folder.

    Love your porn for dish-a-holics ;)

  2. I love Kitty Barthlomew's home dec book. I can't think of the name of it, but it is a favorite.


  3. Very interesting! One of my best friends is a definate dishaholic! I am going to look for that first book for her!

  4. I have one decorating book and it sits on my coffee table. I'm more into magazines & will keep the ones that inspire me the most and pass on the rest.
    Enjoy your day!

  5. Miss Mary, I need a membership card to your lending library :-) Your selections look great. I have more magazines than books. I'll have to work on that!

  6. I like Faudree. Doesn't he believe that less is just simply less??

    - Suzanne

  7. I love Mary Englebreit's "Home Sweet Home" ... and then she went on to move and change her entire decorating scheme! I forgive her. But I'm glad I still have the book.

    And ... a whole bunch of others.

  8. I've got that same Mary Hill book you have & would LOVE to get Feather Your Nest too. I imagaine I'd love the Bunny Williams book also, but don't have it. Must look for it!


  9. Enjoyed your post today. I have all of Mary Carol Garrity's and Charles Faudree's books, which I read over and over. I'm going to check out your other recommendations soon. Sally

  10. the affair with the home has me drooling at the cover. for me, that style house, that has grown, and adjusted to need is the absolute ultimate. it exudes security and comfort. i want that book! so i'll see where i can find one. today's my 31st anniversary, so i think this is just about the ticket for celebrating! thanks! jkj

  11. Great list, thanks for sharing. My all-time favorite is Classic English Interiors by Henrietta Spencer-Churchill. Fabulous pictures.

    Have a great day!

  12. Beautiful books...My favorite, though, is a magazine called Southern Accents. It is always a winner!

  13. I LOVE to decorate, but I have to admit I don't own any decorating books. I've always gotten ideas for magazines, my mother in-law and blogs (like yours) but now I want to go find these books. They sound wonderful and I bet I wouldn't be able to put them down.
    Thanks and *hugs*

  14. I'm looking at all of those on my office bookshelves right now! You might also like Winter House by Charlotte Moss.

    Happy Day to You!

  15. Thanks for this! I'm reading this at work at a library (don't tell anyone...), and I've already put two of these titles on hold.

    A current favorite of mine is Perfect English by Ros Byam Shaw. Magazines--those WONDERFUL British ones: Period House, Period Living, etc.

    I love decorating books and magazines that show real homes, not overly styled. A big turnoff to me is books and magazines that are filled with fake rooms settings and showhouses.

  16. I wish I could have them all!

    You have a really nice blog!


  17. I think I'll come over to read and peruse with you.

  18. You are a girl after my own heart! I have 2 of Carolyne Roehm's books, The Spring & Summer Notebooks, and I have several of Mary Carol Garrity's Nell Hill books!

    I am actually hosting a giveaway for one right now! If you don't have it in your library, stop by & leave a comment.


  19. I do like "Bringing Tuscany Home"
    by Frances Mayes. I like her easy mediterranean style.

  20. I want that last book. What a great title!

  21. Mary, your list is very similar to mine. Roger Banks-Pye was simply brilliant. So much attention to detail where you wouldn't think to look for it, and the King of Blue & White.
    Then the queen of blue & white, Carolyne Roehm.
    Can see you'd love her, you dish-a-holic. Till I inherited beaucoup dishes from my Mom & Sister, I wasn't much interested in them, but collecting some missing pieces, I got hooked!
    The Bunny Book is my WISH BOOK. Anonymous, GET the Affair With A House book to celebrate. It's HOUSE PORN.
    Great Post!

  22. We do have a lot in common! I have all these books and love them. i have so many books on decor and never tire of them.


  23. Found your home yesterday and have fallen in love!! You're a gal after my heart; addicted to dishware, red, decorating books, cozy rooms.

    One of my all time favorite decorating books is "Creating a Beautiful Home" by Alexandra Stoddard. It's been around for awhile, and while not full of pictures it is a wonderful read and really gives you a sense of how to LIVE beautifully. But I am constantly buying decorating books - they bring such joy.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love to hear what you have to say!