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The Nightstand | January 2015

Editor-in-chief at Kirkus Reviews hand selects a few interior design books that are great for enduring inspiration.

If the exterior of your house tells the world how you want to be seen, the interior tells it who you are. But even the most confident homeowner can benefit from the ideas of others. Successful interior designers routinely earn book deals that result in sumptuous coffee table books that show off their talent and taste; buy one of those books if you know you want to emulate a particular designer’s style. More useful, though, are books by writers who take a broad survey and let you flip through the pages to nab an idea here and an inspiration there.

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Cabins

Architecture writer Jodidio puts the emphasis on minimalist, funky, and odd outdoor structures in this epic survey but there’s a lot to learn from these cabins about innovative interiors. One of the hallmarks of this beautiful book is how global its reach is; it’s fascinating to see how various cultures conceive of rural architecture. For every showy setpiece of a cabin in this book (it’s as if the architect is screaming, “Look at me!”), there’s another whose comfortable, welcoming interior belies its flashy exterior. It’s like meeting someone for the first time who seems cold and distant but then opens up and becomes a close friend to trust; homes can thrive in standoffish houses.

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Total Design: Architecture and Interiors of Iconic Modern Houses

None of the design elements in the 18 houses covered in this authoritative book can easily be replicated but that doesn’t mean Total Design is useless. The houses profiled here are masterpieces of modernist design and include structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. All of the architects Marcus includes intensely oversaw every element of these houses’ designs, from the edifice to the most minute fittings. Every house featured has numerous photos, so the opportunities for inspiration are plentiful.

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Elle Décor: The Height of Style: Inspiring Ideas from the World’s Chicest Rooms

If you read Elle Décor, you already have a sense of the looks this well-composed book provides, but the way it’s organized is particularly helpful. The book’s sections are titled “Classical,” “Fanciful,” “Practical,” and “Personal,” so it’s easy to hunt for the styles that will give you the best ideas. Another design magazine, Veranda, published a new book last fall, Veranda: A Passion for Living: Houses of Style and Inspiration, if you prefer that magazine’s style.

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