Interior Design Books

Written for SEO company Mutelabs.

- your interior design library

It’s time to decorate. You’ve got a room that sprucing up, or maybe an entire house. You’re seeking a little inspiration and while the endless parade of TV makeover shows offers plenty, you’d like some pictures that you can look at whenever it suits you, something that you can hold in your hand, put on the coffee table. You want a book.

But which one? The sheer range of TV tie-ins on the shelves of WHSmith is daunting, and Amazon is just insane (a quick search in’s book section for “interior design” gives 24,248 results!). So how do you choose your creative kick-starter. Even if you’re prepared to buy two or three different volumes, there’s still a lot of whittling down to do.

First of all, the old adage, ‘know thyself’ is appropriate. Ask yourself what you like when it comes to décor. If your tastes lie with minimalist Scandinavian then you can probably safely cross The Laura Ashley Book of Home Decorating off your list. On the other hand, if it’s country cottage chintz that you adore, then leave the Ikea catalogue in the magazine rack.

Secondly, research. Browse the bookshelves, both online and in your local bookshop.  Try Googling the names of a couple of designers you admire and search for books that they’ve written. Or you could start here, a short list of starters for ten…

1000 Home Ideas, by Stafford Cliff

Very much the visual treat, this really is one for the coffee table. Pick it up for five minutes and find yourself still turning pages an hour later – beautiful photographs to stimulate your creativity, from tiles to spiral staircases, ideas large and small.

Eco House Book, by Terence Conran

Want to overhaul your home and do your bit for the environment? Icon in his own right, Conran has applied his considerable experience to telling you all you need to know in order to ‘green’ your home and do so stylishly.

The Fundamentals of Interior Design, by Simon Dodsworth

If you’re interested in going beyond colour swatches and the pros and cons of wood flooring, then this more academic text might grab you. Aimed at students of interior design, it covers all the basics from ideas to methods to actual construction. Rather than just be inspired by a designer, why not aspire to be one yourself?

Colour Now, by Kevin McCloud

If you’re struggling with your colour scheme, then these 160 pages from the presenter of Grand Designs will help you out. No more puzzled faces in the paint aisle of B&Q, McCloud has provided 70 different colour palettes; you’re guaranteed to find the mood you’re looking for.

Principles of Decorative Design, by Christopher Dresser

Victorian style? Rather than read about the 21st century version of classic design (buy a couple of rolls of William Morris wallpaper) why not go back to the source? Published in 1873, this book covers furniture, ceiling and wall decoration, carpets, curtains and woven fabrics, pottery, glassware, metalwork, decorative hardware, and stained glass – all from the perspective of the era itself.

Feng Shui That Makes Sense, by Cathleen McCandless

A very recent book on a very ancient system of interior design. If you’re looking for something more esoteric or spiritual, apply the principles of feng shui to create your unique (and relaxing) home.


So, something for everybody but still the surface is barely scratched. By all means, go out and acquire all the books mentioned above but also do your own burrowing and dig out the text (and photographs) that excites your fancy.

(A final word of warning, these books are gorgeous to look at and inspiring to read, but try not to fall into the trap of just reading about interior design. That’s like reading the recipe instead of cooking the dinner. Sooner or later you have to get out the paintbrush or the pasting table.)