5 Fresh, Inspiring Books on Design – The Best Design Books to Read Right Now

We all have “things that matter” in our lives, possessions that mean more to us than they could to anyone else, objects that tell our life stories. When we honor those objects and live with them in a functional way, it brings a sense of calm and order to our homes. The most inspiring design books don’t provide a list of things to buy. Instead, they show us how to hit refresh on our homes by balancing what we already have with our day-to-day needs.

Here are the five best design books I’ve read lately. Whatever your lifestyle, whatever your aesthetic, you’ll find plenty of ideas for making your home more beautiful, functional, and livable. Learn how to arrange what you already have; how to style an entryway, bookshelves, or any space; how to live with art, mix modern with vintage, or bring the outside in.

Every one of these books offers a wealth of photos, as well as room-by-room guides and isights on how to think creatively about your space. And they all prove that you don’t have to spend lavishly to live stylishly.

Best Design Book for Busy Moms

Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide by Gabrielle Blair.

Gabrielle Blair really knows how to live with kids. She has six of them! DESIGN MOM shows you how to create a beautiful, functional, unfussy, kid-friendly home. Featuring great advice on how to live with kids’ stuff without letting it take over the house, and great storage ideas for corralling stuff while keeping a warm, modern aesthetic. Blair lives in Oakland. Go to her blog, Design Mom, for inspiration.

Best Design Book for Styling Tricky Spaces

Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson provides a 10-step guide to arranging your tricky spaces, like entryways and bookshelves, with “1,000 design ideas for creating the most beautiful, personal, and livable rooms.” This is a photo-heavy book without a whole lot of text. The book is broken down by room, and tends toward the midcentury modern and boho styles.

Best Design Book for the Naturalist

Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating by Lauren Liess

In this meaty design book, Lauren Liess, the blogger behind Pure Style Home,, provides a crash course on architectural elements (“The Fundamental Elements of Design”), then walks readers through “The Intangible Elements of Design”–style, mood, comfort, luxury, and charm, among others. She finishes with a room-by-room guide. This is a book for readers, not just lookers. Less, who specializes in bringing the outside in, shows you how to mix natural, vintage, and modern elements; how to use color, lighting, and texture; and how to live beautifully with art.

Best Design Book on a Budget

The Inspired Room: Simple Ideas to Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a beautiful home. Michaels encourages you to begin with what you have. She divides rooms up by function–a place to gather (living room and dining room), a space that nourishes (kitchen and pantry), a place for conversation (family room). A beautiful, thoughtful, and doable guide for the happy I’mperfectionist.

Best Design Book for the Nostalgic

The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus

Part memoir, part design book, The Things That Matter feels like an intimate conversation with design guru Nate Berkus. See inside Berkus’s home and discover the people, places, and things that influenced and inspired him. Berks believes that every home tells a story. Featuring detailed photos from 12 homes and the stories that make each home unique. Booklist raves, “This is truly an awe-filled, happy book, on the surface about decorating, but, on a deeper level, how the things we love unfold our soul.” More a by-the-bedside book than a coffee table book, this is one you’ll want to sit with for a while.

3 Great Last Minute Gifts for Men

Give your man a classic: the Fred Perry Polo. This is the only polo my husband will wear. Very comfortable, roomy in the shoulders, in traditional colors with not-boring trim. Purchase the Fred Perry polo for $59.50 – $85.00

Not sure of his size? Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses, with their iconic design and made-to-last frames, are flattering and practical across the board. Purchase for $134.24 (regularly $179)

Whether he’s a couch potato or a fitness geek, the Fitbit Wireless Tracker is a fun, useful, and utterly addictive little device that tracks your steps and your sleep. You wear it on a band on your arm, and it tells you how many times you wake up each night, when you’re sleeping restfully and when you’re sleeping fitfully, as well as how many steps you’ve taken and how many calories you’ve burned. I’ve had one of these for more than a year and can recommend it without reservation. Read my full review of the Fitbit here.

Stella & Dot On the Mark Necklace

If you’ve been watching 30-Rock this season, you may have seen Katrina Bowden, who plays Liz Lemon’s ditzy assistant, in the Stella & Dot On the Mark Necklace. Featuring a pretty arrow on a delicate silver chain, the on the mark necklace is great with jeans and a T-shirt.

About the necklace:

Silver arrow on a sterling silver chain.

  • A Maya Brenner Collaboration style.
  • 17″ length with 2″ integrated extender.
  • Lobster clasp closure.
  • Lead & nickel safe.

Purchase the On the Mark Necklace from Stella & Dot. Price: $49

Sign up to be a Stella Dot stylist to receive discounts on beautiful jewelry, including the On the Mark necklace. As a stylist, you can share Stella & Dot jewelry online with your followers or host trunks shows in person. When you sign up for the Online and On the Go Starter Kit through Nov. 30 ($199), you’ll receive $350 in sample product credit and the Bryant park scarf.

Stella & Dot Wonderland Charm Bracelet

Channel your inner Alice with Stella & Dot’s beautiful wonderland Charm Bracelet

Alice Temperley is a famous British designer, known for combining femininity with cool Britannia sensibilities. She’s reigned over the London fashion scene for the past decade with an impressive celebrity following including Beyonce and Kate and Pippa Middelton. Now, she brings her signature style to Stella & Dot, with a collection of limited-edition jewelry.

About the bracelet: An array of vintage inspired charms attached on bold link chain bracelet. Gold plated brass with cubic zirconia accents.

Adjustable to 8 1/2″.
Toggle Closure.
Lead & nickel safe.

Purchase the wonderland charm bracelet from Stella and Dot.

Stella & Dot Fox Necklace

Down the rabbit hole you go. Hand sculpted fox pendant with cubic zirconia accents on gold plated brass chain. This is part of the Alice Temperley design collaboration with Stella and Dot. Limited edition.

Limited edtion.
17″ length plus 2″ extender.
Lead & nickel safe.


Alice Temperley is a famous British designer, known for combining femininity with cool Britannia sensibilities. She’s reigned over the London fashion scene for the past decade with an impressive celebrity following including Beyonce and Kate and Pippa Middelton.

Purchase the fox pendant necklace from Stella & Dot. Also available: limited edition Alice by Temperley wonderland charm bracelet.

Sign up to be a Stella Dot stylist to receive discounts on the Alice Temperley collection and more. Details: when you sign up for the Online and On the Go Starter Kit, you’ll receive $350 in sample product credit. That’s enough to fill the stockings of every nice girl you know!

Not ready to be a stylist? Just shop online, and for every $50 you spend in December, you’ll earn 25 Dot Dollars to spend in January.