Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Favorite Design Books of 2013: The Bold


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Last week we showed you some of our favorite design books released in 2013, a group of five that focused on the beautiful – European antiques, flowers, gardens, marble floors, homes in the Hamptons, idyllic lakeside spots. Now we’d like to share some that feature the bold – international style, modern and contemporary, minimal and downright sublime  … here are five of our favorites from the past year. Note, these make great gifts for the architecture fans in your life; I’ve included the Amazon links for each book in case you’re interested in ordering.

Building Seagram by Phyllis Lambert. I’m not going to lie, ever since I took Richard Guy Wilson’s architectural history course, this has remained one of my top five favorite buildings. Lambert was there every step of the way, spearheaded the search for an architect that resulted in finding Mies, and her amazing tale will surprise you.

Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscape, published by MoMA. This is an absolute MUST HAVE for any architectural library, you cannot begin to understand the roots of International Style without understanding Corb, and this may just be the most comprehensive tome on the market. Plus, more shallowly, it’s got a really cool spine that will pop on your shelves.

The Houses of Louis Kahn by George H. Marcus and William Whitaker. You may know all about the library at Exeter or the Salk Institute, but this book is a collection of Kahn’s lesser-known work, his residential homes. Again, I must declare this an architecture library must-have.

Tadao Ando: Houses by Philip Jodidio. Ando took concrete, known primarily for heavy brutalist architecture, and created thoughtful and ethereal buildings with it. A master of proportion and light, these qualities can best be seen (IMHO) in his residential designs, which are the focus of this beautiful book.

Nelson Byrd Woltz: Garden, Park, Community, Farm by Warren T. Bird Jr., Thomas Woltz and Elizabeth Meyer. Full disclosure: I used to know all of these people ten years ago. Warren made us chase him on four hour plant walks with his long fast stride, while we furiously scribbled down Latin names for plants and tried to sketch them at the same time (sometimes while climbing up the Blue Ridge Mountains; the class was a better workout than Barry’s Boot Camp), I knew Thomas Woltz socially and Beth Meyer was a horrible person to have to turn in a paper to, because she’s probably the best at writing about landscape architecture and landscape theory (she doesn’t get mired down in all that nonsensical archi-speak that plagues so many academic design writers). Anyway, now that that’s out of the way — the work of this firm is wide-ranging and puts into practice all the elements you dream about putting into practice back when you’re a wide-eyed idealistic student.

Any books you’d recommend for 2013? Please share any that caught your attention in the comments section.


Friday, December 6th, 2013

Favorite Design Books Published in 2013: The Beautiful


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What’s on your holiday book wishlist? To get you started, here are five notable design books that were published in 2013; I realized after selecting a few that with this list, I was going for the beautiful. I’ll be back with five more favorites next  week, perhaps the bold, or the gritty.

In the meantime, if you scooped up a favorite title this year, one that now has a permanent spot on your coffee table or nightstand or in your workspace for inspiration, please drop us a comment and let us know.

In With the Old by Jennifer Boles. I’ve enjoyed Jennifer’s blog, The Peak of Chic, for years, and this glossary of the elements of timeless design is a great and entertaining reference that should grace any design lover’s shelf.

Timeless Style by Suzanne Kasler. I love the way Kasler can use antiques and luxe fabrics, yet her clients are so airy and fresh. The latest volume does not disappoing (her Inspired Interiors is another one of my favorites).

Beauty at Home by Aerin Lauder. Yes, you kind of want to hate her because she’s beautiful, but this book is just so full of pretty rooms and vignettes that you can help but love it.

American Beauty by Thom Filicia. This book chronicles the former Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s adventures in renovating his lake house. It even has an intro by Tina Fey.

Stephen Sills: Decoration by Stephen Sills. This man’s designs are so good, Karl Lagerfeld himself claims if he ever had a house in America, he’d hire Sills to decorate it for him.

So those are just a few of the wonderful books full of elegant style. Stay tuned for modern inspiration in a few days.


Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Fun Book: The First Apartment


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A great new book hit the shelves this week – Kyle Schuneman’s The First Apartment: Cool Design For Small Spaces. Kyle has crossed the country helping folks who have spread their wings and flown the coop feather their first nests, or some such mixed bunch of metaphors that mean making their first apartments livable AND cool. This guy is full of clever tricks for all sorts of spaces and personality types, and he’s really good at explaining D.I.Y. projects – he’s included  projects that range from super-easy to more advanced, so there’s something for everyone.

In the somewhat more advanced D.I.Y. arena, he created an argyle wall for his chapter for the preppy. I suggest mastering a horizontal or vertical striped wall first, which is also covered in the book.

Also from the preppy files, Kyle teaches us how to transform a ho-hum dresser to a playful plaid piece with decorative paper and some Modge Podge.

For us less experienced D.I.Y.ers, he’s rolled out the chalkboard paint, but taken us from simply painting the wall (been there, done that!) to the fridge and the cabinets in this kitchen that he’s dubbed “Le Petite Bistro.” He took a shabby rental kitchen and gave it a crisp yet cozy European vibe with paint and some drapes.

Sometimes something as simple as a headboard wall decal and charming drawer pulls will add your personal style stamp to a room.

In this artist’s tiny apartment, Kyle went all Jack the Dripper on a canvas slipcover for the owner’s hand-me-down sofa. He also made the yellow no-sew pillow and the yarn frames, and instructions for all of the projects are included.

This book is a great to give as a housewarming gift, a graduation gift or holiday gift for someone looking to up their style ante but is unsure where to start. If you’re feeling uninspired, treat yourself to a copy. The book is currently under $15 at amazon.

All photos from The First Apartment Book, taken by Joe Schmelzer


Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

On My Coffee Table: Design Books for Spring and Summer


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I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the weather this spring; while I dread the hot and sticky and brutal Atlanta summers, I do look forward to watching my herbs sprout from seeds and eating farm-fresh veggies. One now-classic favorite of mine is Edible Estates, which will have you looking at your yard with loads of new ideas.

I also look forward to fleeing north and hitting the New England coast as an escape. Even if you don’t have a dreamy beach house to decorate, it’s time to switch out that dark heavy quilt and throw pillows for some lighter textures and colors. Take some California seaside inspiration from Interior designer Tim Clarke’s recent release, Coastal Modern, is one of my favorite new books on the market. He presents a spare and uncluttered aesthetic that’s still warm and inviting.

Going across to the opposite coast, one of my new favorite coffee table books is Yankee Modern: The Houses of Estes/Twombly. These architects have such a great way of capturing the spirit of the vernacular architecture in a contemporary way when they are designing these beautiful homes.

Well, Sal may have been unjustly fired from Sterling Cooper (I wish he’d some back!), but the actor who played him, Bryan Batt, is not only running his chic New Orleans home boutique, but also wrote this fabulous book, Big Easy Style. It’s full of great style and wit, as Batt has a discerning eye and a killer sense of humor.

What’s on your coffee table at the moment? Please share your favorite design tomes in the comments section.


Monday, January 9th, 2012

2012 Resolutions: Catching Up on Your Design Reading


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Have you been meaning to catch up on your design reading but just haven’t had the time? The lucky thing is, now you can figure out which books from 2011 lived up to the hype and which ones you should take a pass on. As for the best design books of 2011, here are ten that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend from interior designers, shop owners, magazine editors, bloggers and trendsetters, in no particular order.

1. Decorate by Holly Becker: The top blogger, along with co-author Joanna Copestick, has come up with 1,000 design ideas. That’s right, 1,000, for every room in your home.

2. Black and White (and a bit in between) by Celerie Kemble: Kemble breaks out of her Palm Beach roots here. She has collected the most stylish uses of black and white rooms around. She’s one of my favorite design writers – insightful, intelligent and she doesn’t take it all too seriously.

3. The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman: The founding editor of Dominio and current editor of the Wall Street Journal’s magazine has compiled a charming tome of design advice, accompanied by wonderful illustrations by Virginia Johnson.

4. Undecorate by Christiane Lemieux: While it’s not the opposite of Decorate, this book is about loosening up and the beauty of casual comfort. By the way, Christiane is the founder of DwellStudio.

5. Katie Ridder Rooms by Heather Smith MacIsaac: I love that Ridder has her own distinct style that really cannot be categorized. It’s fresh and feel-good.

6. Big Easy Style by Bryan Batt: This is a more personal pick, because I love this actor, who played Sal on Mad Men, and I love almost everything about New Orleans, a city that’s unique and special in so many ways, including its architecture.

7. The Happy Home Project by Jean Nayar: I love not only that this book provides a guideline for making your home healthier and thus your life happier, but also that Nayar digs deep into everything she’s doing, whether it’s learning about how to be greener or how to achieve Wabi-sabi.

8. Patina Style by Brooke and Steve Gianetti: Perhaps you recognize Brooke from her popular blog, Velvet and Linen. It’s so much fun to finally have her and her husband Steve’s style all wrapped up in a beautiful hardcover book!

9. Alexander Girard by Todd Oldham and Kiera Coffee: I’m so glad that Todd Oldham has gotten into books. This book as well as his giant Charley Harper book that came out a few years ago are must-haves for graphic design aficionados.

10. Summers in France by Kathryn M. Ireland: Kathryn Ireland is one of those people you wish you were friends with.  With this book, you get to take a vicarious visit to her beautiful home in France and pretend you are friends with her.

What were some of your favorite reads in 2011? Please share with us in the comments section. I’ll be sharing whatever I pick up in 2012 as I go along this year. Happy Reading!