Okay Books

Not good enough for our Resources page, but not bad enough to hate-read like the Bad Books.

Apartment Therapy: Complete and Happy Home included a lot of little quick-hit pieces of advice, along with some case studies of spaces that “work.” It’s a good “early” interior design book, but after reading some of the other books on our Resources page, a lot of the information felt familiar. The examples were good though, so it’s worth a read.

But Where do I put the Couch: Answers to 100 Other Home Decorating Questions is a nice little interior design book. As you may gather from the title, it presents information in a question-and-answer format. Which flooring options are best? How can I decorate with fabrics? Does a TV have to take over a room? It reads less like a handbook and more like a new homeowner’s search history. Not a bad resource, especially if you dig the format, but not a must-read.

Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design is on the other end of the spectrum. It generally takes the “do what you want” approach to interior design, without much in the way of structure. Not a bad result for pretty pictures to inspire a similar approach, but not a must-read.

150 Best Cottage and Cabin Ideas was a better book than I expected it to be. It’s a nice little collection of case studies, with captions and narratives that call out nice design details in each cabin in the book. And the ideas aren’t only applicable to “cottages and cabins” either. It’s not an architectural textbook by any means, but it’s worth a read for some inspiration.

Pottery Barn Workspaces: Not a bad collection of ideas for different home offices, which have become more relevant post-covid. The color palettes are a nice addition. 

Country and Modern: Contemporary Interiors for Rural Settings: Though the title suggested this book was totally up my alley, most of it felt pretty scattered. Some decent inspiration if you like sparse, somewhat rustic interiors, but little in the way of actionable advice or a thesis. 

Modern House 2: Case studies of modern homes, with a focus on the modern glass box architecture style (not just homes built in the past 20 years). Some great ideas if you like the style, but if not, this book won’t be up your alley.

The Iconic House: Architectural Masterworks since 1900. Some solid background reading on “important” modern houses. Not such a big focus on glass boxes. Interesting reading, though most of it isn’t “actionable” for most people.

Pure Color: A Pure Style Sourcebook for Colour Inspiration: A nice break from scrolling through instagram or pinterest for color inspiration. Not a heavy design book, but lots of photos of various color combinations that may be inspiring.

50 Architects 50 Buildings: An interesting setup for a book: architects choose buildings that inspire them and discuss why, and how the buildings have influenced their work. A little more of a UK/Euro focus than I’d like, and quite a bit of it is devoted to commercial spaces.

Human Spaces: Some decent ideas here but over half the book focuses on commercial space.

Home for the Soul: This whole book seems to be focused on the idea that everything must have as much texture as possible. Chipped paint + linen throws + chrome bowls… If that’s your style it’s a fine book. But otherwise it’s not a must-have.

Atmosphere: The Seven Elements of Great Design: Some okay ideas here, like the importance of proportion when it comes to interior design, for example. But the example photos are a lot like the Ray Booth interiors – they all look like they’re from staged high-end real estate listings that nobody has ever lived in.

Magical Rooms: “Magical” is code for “clashy” or “gaudy.” Lots of glam and big patterns, and very much not our style.