Interior Design Inspiration

By Chris Breitenbach

I’ve always been curious about the subtle ways interior design affects our mental and physical well-being. Access to natural light, the materials we use to furnish a room, the colors we paint our walls--these can all play an often unconscious role in fostering how connected, safe, productive, or rested we feel. Here are some interior design books that offer inspiration and guidance on how to create places that reflect, inspire, sustain, and even grow with us.

  • Love the House You're In

    2016 by Rien, Paige

    An approachable manifesto for self-expression through interior design, the author argues that our homes should be reflections of our unique personalities rather than imitations of social media trends or the latest magazine spreads. She also offers practical advice on everything from choosing paint colors to arranging furniture. This book reminds us that our favorite homes are those that reflect the character of those who occupy them.

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  • The New York Times Right at Home

    2020 by Kaysen, Ronda

    New York Times Real Estate writers offer sage advice on the intricacies of embellishing, arranging, and sustaining one’s abode. Various luminaries (Marie Kondo, Bunny Williams, etc.) appear as well, shedding light on turning raw space into a refuge enlightened with personality. This is the perfect book for beginners, renters, or new home buyers who want to dip their toes into interior design.

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  • Rental Style

    2020 by Brown, Chelsey

    Having lived in my fair share of apartments when I first moved to the Chicagoland area way back yonder, I wish I would have had a book like this to help inspire me to give those spaces some of my own flavor. This book makes clear that it’s possible to transform rentals into places showcasing our own aesthetics. The recommendations are practical, the costs affordable, and the examples achievable.

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  • Bibliostyle: How We Live at Home with Books

    2019 by Freudenberger, Nina

    If you want to up your game when it comes to showcasing your literary collection, if you’ve found yourself awake at night considering that perhaps there’s a certain grace in the deliberate, even stylish presentation of books beyond those Ikea shelves of yours, then check this one out. Showcasing the homes of bibliophiles the world over, the author demonstrates many ways to elevate the act of displaying books.

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  • Interaction of Color

    2006 by Albers, Josef

    Originally published in 1963, this book is a classic design school text that made the magical leap into the mainstream. Gentle with pedagogic theory, this slim volume inspires readers to see color in nuanced ways and helps us consider colors' ability to evoke certain moods or emotions. A classic for a reason.

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  • How to Live with Objects

    2022 by Khemsurov, Monica

    Most interior design books at the library are about helping you figure out your own taste. And like most, this book offers stunning examples of interiors where the owners have populated their rooms with unique, meaningful objects. This book wants its users to be creative, to take a chance, and to use objects that exude distinctive personality and charm.

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  • Your Space, Made Simple

    2023 by Magidson, Ariel

    This warm, conversational book offers “recipes” or adaptable solutions for spaces of any size, with commendable emphasis on sustainability and accessibility. Design, the author makes clear, is not a privilege, and backs it up by offering a practical guide, replete with color photos, diagrams and layouts to accompany the author’s own work with clients. A pragmatic companion.

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  • Interior Design Master Class


    This collection of essays written by some of America’s leading designers explores the fine art of interior design, covering everything from the basics to those pesky finishing touches. Organized by themes, the subjects of the essays span topics like floor plans and comfort to light and vintage modern, with each essay paired with images of the designer's own work.

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  • Design A Healthy Home

    2021 by Heath, Oliver

    Bibliophilic design, the idea that we’re innately attracted to and stimulated by nature, is at the heart of this slim, encouraging book. Bibliophilic design elements consider things like how to incorporate more natural light into a room; how to include natural shapes, patterns, and colors; and why using objects in shapes reminiscent of what you might find in nature can all help make your interior a healthier, happier, calmer place.

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  • Patina Modern: A Guide to Designing Warm, Timeless Interiors

    2022 by Mitchell, Chris

    Combining opulence and functionality, the welcoming and the austere, this interior design coffee table book caters unabashedly to a rarified audience of exorbitant wealth. I can’t recommend it, though given how it resembles far too many interior design books that tantalize the unattainable, it’s worth showcasing as an example of its genre.

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  • The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness

    2020 by Anthes, Emily

    A book of fun facts. Like, did you know that North Americans and Europeans spend roughly 90 percent of their time inside. We need to get outside, people! This book explores some of the research that has occurred around how the indoor environment shapes our lives and why mindful interiors matter.

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  • AphroChic

    2022 by Mason, Bryan

    Interior design is not neutral, as this work of vivid storytelling helps us understand. The history of the Black family home in the U.S., for example, is intimately intertwined with stories of migration, redlining, gentrification, and resilience. This book is a lovely testimony to the weight of those histories, while also celebrating how Black homeowners and designers have enriched their homes, aesthetically and symbolically, with identities both personal and political.

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  • Lighting for Interior Design

    2012 by Innes, Malcolm

    Illuminating our rooms can be transformative, though understanding how to achieve this can be daunting. This book, created for students and the rest of us, helps navigate not just the scientific subtleties of lighting but its practicalities as well, equipping readers with the proficiency necessary to master the subtle art of lighting interiors.

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