Interior Design Reference Books
As interior design book enthusiasts, we often get asked how to start an interior design book library. Thanks to so many online resources, it’s never been easier to purchase wonderful books, both old and new (and even out of print!). In our office, there are a a few “special” books on the bookshelf that we reach for time and again for reference, guidance, and inspiration. Each of these books serves a purpose, and combined, they cover a lot of ground in terms of providing information and expertise.
“The Interior Designer’s Drapery, Bedspread & Canopy Sketchfile” is a comprehensive sketchbook of real drawings of window and bed designs that can be used as inspiration or actual guidelines for any custom-made drapery, valance, or bed. Illustrated by Marjorie Borradaile Helsel in 1990, this book was a working tool for her interior design business. This book lives part-time on the bookshelf as inspiration, but it also travels with us to show our clients what to expect, as well as to our upholsterer’s workroom to present our intentions clearly.“Billy Baldwin Decorates” by Billy Baldwin is a favorite not only for its images of truly timeless Billy Baldwin interiors, but also for the practicality of Billy’s message. This book includes some notes in Billy’s handwriting (published in 1972), offering personal opinions on “The Things I love”, like “lots of white”, and “A county house look in the city”– all very fun to see his unique and influential point of view.We bought our copy of “Billy Baldwin Decorates” at a second-hand store and found this lovely inscription to it’s previous owner: “For Ned–who is like a Billy Baldwin room: honest, individual, timeless…”“Decorating is Fun” by Dorothy Draper was originally published in 1939. We cannot say enough about how much this book has influenced us. Dorothy Draper was a genius with timeless style. She was one of the most influential interior designers of her time. One of her most memorable projects was the renovation and redecoration of the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, which was visited by many dignitaries and celebrities. Many of the images of her design of the elaborate hotel public spaces are featured in this book- which are worth looking at- and admiring. This book is also written in an incredibly accessible voice, with practical information useful to anyone interested in decorating a home.“Interior Design” by John F. Pile. This is a wonderful all purpose text book for anyone interested in the field of interior design. It contains fundamental information about the design process, planning, lighting, materials, color and more. If you’re thinking of taking an interior design course, and wonder what it would be like, this is a great place to find out. “The New Fine Points of Furniture” by Albert Sack. Mr. Sack was a legendary collector and dealer of museum quality American antique furniture. He coined the phrase, “Good, Better, Best” as a way of making comparisons between pristine examples of antique furniture pieces and their not as valuable cousins. In this book, he teaches the untrained professional what to look for in terms of quality and provenance, whether they are searching at an antique auction or a flea market.
“Authentic Decor: The Domestic Interior (1620-1920)” by Peter Thornton is required reading for any student of interior design. Through beautiful illustrations and art work, this book is a wonderful historical reference book written from the perspective of a Decorative Art Historian from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London about how detail how people decorated their houses, including the architectural elements and details to the furniture plans in historic rooms in Europe and America spanning from the year 1620 to 1920.
“The Dictionary of Antiques And The Arts” by Louise Ade Boger and H. Batterson Boger is the dictionary of terms required for any interior design enthusiast. It contains definitions for everything from French terms applied to decorative painting, like gouache, to what is Delftware, the English name for tin-glazed earthenware. We refer to this book often when looking for the meaning of an obscure term we come accross or to find out more about an unknown (to us) furniture maker or influencer.
Do you have a favorite interior design book you’d like to share?