...because home doesn't happen overnight.

decor reads 2

I got an email from a reader asking me to share my favorite design reads. She is wanting to gift her design loving sisters a few home-related books for Christmas and needs ideas. With Christmas only three weeks away, I figure there’s no time like the present. I thought it would be fun to share my favorite reads of the year as well as my steadfast standby’s. I love pinterest, e-mags and design blogs as much as the next person but there’s nothing like an actual page to sigh over, dog ear or tear out for inspiration.

First up, my favorite reads of 2013.

design related print gift ideas

Anthology ($48 for one year of quarterly issues) – a limited-edition print magazine that’s been around for a few years but I just became a subscriber this year. Each issue focuses on a different theme and features creatives. The material presented isn’t as practical as it is inspirational. Amazing photography on high quality, canvas-like paper makes this print extra special.

Home Is Where the Heart Is ($16 used, $75+ new) – published in 2005, this book isn’t exactly new but I read it for the first time this year via my local library and now it’s on my wish list. Some design books are all about the photos and styling but I especially connected with the narrative of this book. Although, the photography doesn’t disappoint. It’s as much about making a place feel like home as it is about making a place look like home.

Dwell Renovate Today ($10 single issue) – a special issue from the popular modern home magazine, Dwell. This magazine is chock full of articles and tips on home renovating. Images galore support the text. The focus is on the shell and finishings of a house versus decor.

Remodelista ($23) – from the creators of the popular sourcebook blog, the book by the same name was my absolute favorite read of the year and is sure to become a permanent addition to many design lovers’ personal libraries. From high-end to budget-friendly design, this book addresses it all. IKEA is mentioned more than once. I was happy to see home tours that haven’t been exposed before.

Domino ($12 single issue) – the ever popular style magazine returned this year after a four year hiatus. I was impressed with the rollout issue and hope future issues continue to impress. There’s a definite focus on decor and furnishings and an e-shopping site accompanies the new print. I’m not as impressed with the commerce site. I find it a little cumbersome to navigate. I stole the cauliflower gratin recipe in the current issue for Thanksgiving dinner. It was delish!

Next up, the design books I continually refer to for inspiration and ideas.

design related gift ideas

The Perfectly Imperfect Home ($20) – I don’t own a personal copy of this book but I’d love to. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve borrowed it from my local library. The author is the founding editor of Domino and she reveals decorating and styling tips for making any home inviting. Sweet illustrations replace real life photos. The one tip that has stuck with me is “include one ugly thing in every room.” Read it, then you will understand.

Design*Sponge ($27) – another decor blog spin-off. This book features a ton of home tours in a wide array of aesthetics, design tips, DIY tutorials and even some before-and-afters. It’s an easy read – practical and doable.

Apartment Therapy’s Big Book of Small Spaces ($26) – from the mastermind behind the interior design website, Apartment Therapy. I credit this book with instilling in me a curiosity and love for modest spaces. It’s a testament to the belief that bigger is NOT better. Covering everything from decor to organization to multitasking rooms, dozens of real life home tours prove that tight spaces can and do work. I always enjoy seeing genuine homes that aren’t overly styled.

Undecorate ($29) – from the creative director behind DwellStudio. Okay, this book is total inspiration. Lots of styled shots and home tours, many of which are beyond my budget and capabilities, but the message of the book is easily attainable. Rules, schmules. Make your home an extension of your style and personality. Live well. I open this book every few months just for the drool factor.

Domino ($20) – I know, another Domino reference, but they get it. It’s a classic featuring so many ideas, tricks and tips for creating timeless style. I’ve read it and re-read it a dozen times. Some of the images are easily recognizable as they’ve been overexposed by now, but it’s still a favorite standby.

Decorate ($26) – a stellar compilation from Holly Becker of the blog decor8. I love that it features rooms and quotes from some of interior design’s biggest names {along with lesser knowns} yet the text is down to earth and easy to read. I find the room layout sketches particularly helpful as sometimes it’s difficult to visualize a photographed room in context. This book quickly grabbed my attention from the minute I opened it. Every time I read it, I learn something new.

decor reads 1

So there you have it, a lengthy look at my favorite home reads right now and for years to come. Maybe I gave you some ideas for Christmas – for loved ones or yourself! Those magazines would make great stocking stuffers, no? Last year, I gifted a bunch of people Young House Love {another favorite but I’m featured in it so I didn’t include it in the official round-up for fear of bias} along with supplies to DIY one of the tutorials. It was a fun way to take book-gifting one step further.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



I love this post! It’s a great resource for me. You missed the best one! Young House Love


*embarrassed* I missed your last paragraph. :)
– over-exuberant fan of YHL


read the last paragraph ;-)


Just emailed this post to my husband for stocking stuffer ideas…thanks!


I love the photos that you took for this post! So simple and elegant!


Thanks, Dana. Our library has exactly 0 of your picks, so I treated myself to one (Remodelista).


No worries!


I’m secretly hoping HH picks up on the two books I’m missing ;)


Would you be able to help me. I took a look at your suggestions on amazon’s look inside feature and in the “Undecorate” book on page 16 there are those adorable boy and girl work accessories posters. Would you mind looking into your copy of the book and letting me know if they have a reference as to where those could be purchased? They are awesome!


Thanks for the awesome list!


And are those by chance upcycled toilet paper roll circles strung across the chair in the last image? (Ditto to second Robin’s comment about the simple and elegant photos.) I hope HH gets the hint and provides those missing books.


Good eye! Yes, it’s a garland made from toilet paper rolls and twine. I DIY’d the garland several years ago and it’s still kickin’.


Okay, I think I’ve got it! The two canvas pieces are part of a triptych by Kansas City painter Tom Gregg. The third piece of the set is framed and placed elsewhere in the living room (shown on page 39). Hope that helps!


all good choices! Another one I adore is HOME by Anita Kaushal (I think in the States it’s called The Family at Home: Love. Life. Style. http://www.amazon.com/The-Family-Home-Love-Style/dp/B0091XAH96/ref=pd_cp_b_0/188-5154242-4186343

In my dreams, the book I write one day (!) would be something like that one x


Thank you for sharing.


I was gifted Good Bones, Great Pieces last year and it is so good! Tons of good advice and help for those that need the push to look past furniture sets!

OMG seriously I LOVE every single book on your continually look to for inspiration list! I also really love I Brake For Yard Sales. Its another of my favs.


I like your idea of giving a book along with materials to do one of the projects. Very thoughtful.


I gifted that book to my MIL last Christmas! It has more of a traditional vibe but the advice is universal. {I snuck and read it before I wrapped it.}


Ooooooh, thanks for the suggestion Belinda. It’s going on my wish list. You should TOTALLY write a book. I’d be first in line to buy it!


I LOVE design books and so happy to read your thoughts on a few of them I don’t have. I’m actually having a giveaway of Nathan Turner’s book on my blog, if you want to stop by.

Thanks for sharing! I’ve now got more ideas to add to my wish list :)

[…] Good Reads For Home Lovers | House Tweaking […]


[…] doses of useful information. It’s a winning combination of beauty + brains. The book made my good reads list last year and I included it in my gift of favorite things earlier this year. I’ve read it all […]


[…] Need more ideas? Good reads for home lovers. […]