As many of you know, I think of my books as my friends and feel that every person—no matter their background or station in life—should have a library, whether it consists of one bookshelf or a room full of custom-built cabinetry from floor to ceiling. When I travel, I always purchase books as a remembrance of where I have been and to use as reference for my design projects.
I’ve also started purchasing books from my travels for my great-niece after she was born (she is now 7 years old). Her library from ‘Unc Unc’ is something she can eventually pass down to her children. Starting a child’s library is paramount in their development and understanding of this world.
In my own library, my focus is, of course, on design-related books and autobiographies. I’d like to share four titles with you that I feel are worth adding to your collection, as well.
Designers at Home: Personal Reflections on Stylish Living
By Ronda Rice Carman
If you have always wondered how 50 of the leading interior designers and tastemakers of the 20th and 21st century live or have lived, this is the book for you. Barry Dixon, Tobi Fairley, Steven Gambrel, Kathryn Ireland, Charlotte Moss, Suzanne Rheinstein, Rose Tarlow, Hutton Wilkinson and Bunny Williams are just a few who have opened their front doors. Whether you are drawn to apartments or manicured estates, this book offers design ideas for all types of abodes. Of course, we each have our own personal likes and dislikes, so not all of these styles will appeal to you. But there always is at least one thing that you can take away from each designer, so see which 50 things you can gather to inspire you.
Flair: Exquisite Invitations, Lush Flowers, and Gorgeous Table Settings
By Joe Nye with Caitlin Leffel
I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Nye a few years back in Chicago at an Institute of Classical Architecture & Art event held in a Gold Coast apartment designed architecturally by David Adler and decorated by Adler’s sister, Francis Elkins. Nye, I am sad to report, passed away last month. He was a tastemaker to the stars not only in Los Angeles but the world over. His book—broken down into four categories: table settings, paper, flowers and essentials—is a must-have for anyone who entertains. Filled with photos of his projects and tables set to perfection, this is the go-to how-to book to have on your shelves. Nye believed that entertaining need not be something to fear, but to embrace. He left a wonderful legacy to us all!
Bringing Paris Home
By Penny Drue Baird
Who doesn’t love Paris? Truly the most romantic city in the world and undeniably the tastemaker that sets the standard for around the globe, there is something sensuous and sexy about Parisian design: the added curves to the boxlike cabinets or fireplace mantles, the gutsy fabrics that rest on a petit fauteuil, the iron detail on lanterns and curtain rods—all of the attention to detail that the French take such pride in is represented within the covers of this book. Baird systematically covers the topics of Architecture, Fireplaces, Furniture, Paint and Wall Treatments, Lighting, Cafes and Table Tops, Flea Markets and Collecting so that you can pull your whole look together and gain inspiration from the eclectic mix that the French do so well. From passementerie to pool tile, this covers it all.
Rose Cumming: Design Inspiration
By Jeffrey Simpson
Albert Hadley summed it up about Rose Cumming: She was vivacious and wicked. What a life this doyenne of interior design led and a good deal of it is told in this book! Cumming sort of fell into her career in design in an odd way. While lunching with Vanity Fair editor Frank Crowninshield at the Plaza one day in 1917, she asked him for a job. His response? “Well, perhaps you would like to become a decorator?” Her response: “Perhaps I would, but first tell me what it is.” Well, she certainly found out, and made her mark in a big way in the big city. Her client list read as a who’s who in New York society. Cumming was a woman who knew few boundaries in her career or personal life; and this book is full of images of her design work, as well as photographs that will give you a glimpse into her wacky world. Toward the end of her life, it was not unusual for Cumming to sit in her shop in only a slip and pearls with a hat on and wait for a customer to come in so she could regale them with stories of her life. Truly a one-of-a-kind gem!