They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but there are exceptions to every rule. If you’re decorating with books or reading them for design and lifestyle inspiration, you’d be foolish not to.
There is so much you can do with coffee table books, from adding color to creating texture and layering. You can stack them on a nightstand, or buffet table and style them vertically on a shelf with a vase or candle on top.
Here are nine beautiful coffee table books that are just as good if not better than the cover would lead you to believe. With everything from helpful decorating how-tos, to magnificent illustrations and fabulous photography, you’ll enjoy reading these books just as much as you will love decorating with them.
Preservation of Style By Alexandra Gargiulo
Featuring a vibrant yellow cover, Los Angeles architecture lovers will truly appreciate Preservation of Style. “My love of old buildings, coffee table books, walks, and Los Angeles inspired me to create the book,” the author tells me. This is an ideal book to add a pop of color to any coffee table or bookshelf. The generous size also makes this book a great base for a stack piled on a table or even on the floor.
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Each page features photographs of some of the most iconic buildings in Los Angeles. This includes several of the famed buildings on Rossmore Avenue in Hancock Park such as The El Royale, The Ravenswood, and Country Club Manor. The large, wide-angle shots and contrasting closeups of the architectural details of these historical properties show Los Angeles in its finest form.
It’s also important to note the mission of this publication because not all of the structures are landmarked. Sadly, one of the first buildings in the book, the Beverly Rossmore is set to be developed into a larger co-living space by Domos. It will soon look entirely different than it does in its unique original state. So, Gargiulo’s work truly succeeds in preserving what may ultimately be the past.
Painted Stories By Rachel Ashwell
Painted Stories by Rachel Ashwell is a must-have for Shabby Chic devotees. With charming illustrations by Ben Peck-Whiston, it almost feels like a children’s book for adults.
While looking through the pages is a journey of traveling through a Shabby Chic wonderland, you’ll also want to read through the text, which gives insight into Ashwell’s design philosophy and favorite styles. It’s a helpful guide for anyone trying to furnish their home or explore their own sense of style in the whimsical and traditional realms.
There are also plenty of great design ideas and tips ranging from why you should paint half a wall, to how to choose vintage hardware and the difference between types of ruffles. It’s all about fine details.
Your Perfect Nursery By Naomi Coe
Skip the diaper cake! With a pretty pink spine, Your Perfect Nursery by Naomi Coe makes a perfect baby shower gift to give a friend or yourself. New parents can be so overwhelmed by having to buy so many important and often expensive items, but Coe’s advice helps calm the nerves. The author also wins points for practicality. This book is packed with lots of checklists from basic items to health and safety products, linens, and decor.
Your Perfect Nursery covers everything from modern to bohemian, farmhouse, Scandinavian-style nurseries, and more. So it’s useful for anyone who knows they want a sophisticated nursery but isn’t quite sure where to start or how to go about it. Still, the book aesthetically pleasing, you’ll want to keep it stacked on a bookshelf for years to come.
How To Make A House A Home By Ariel Kaye
Written by Ariel Kaye (founder of Parachute Home), How To Make A House A Home is essential for anyone redecorating, renovating, or buying a new home. Instead of photography, this book features contemporary illustrations by Babeth Lafont that help support the text and demonstrate Kaye’s ideas.
Kaye is great at answering basic the design questions many people may not even realize they have. For example, she explains how to design a gallery wall, what the purpose of wallpaper is, and reveals how to systematically organize a space. There’s also plenty of detailed information about more complex concepts such as how to work with color and the difference between types of textiles.
Get The Fuck Out Of The Sun By Lauryn Evarts Bosstick
This is not a book about interior design, but rather, it is one of the most beautifully designed books of 2021. With a bright pink cover and cheeky yet beautiful photos of entrepreneur, podcaster, and influencer Lauryn Evarts Bosstick, it’s hard not to judge Get The Fuck Out Of The Sun book by its delightfully Instagramable cover. There’s no better way to add a pop of pink to your coffee table, sideboard, or even your nightstand than with the aesthetics of this book.
The inside is just as fun to look at as the outside. It is filled with pretty pictures, lots of pink and smears of lotions, potions, and creams.
From exfoliating to lasers, Botox, and K-Beauty— Bosstick doesn’t leave a skincare trend, routine, or topic uncovered. With more than 100 contributors, the book is also a who’s-who skincare gurus. This includes dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross (who wrote the forward), aesthetician Shani Darden, influencers such as Aimee Song and Amber Fillerup Clark, celebrities like The Fat Jewish and the Hamlin sisters as well as fellow Dear Media podcasters Jackie Schimmel, Annabelle Desisto, and Arielle Lorre.
The Essential Collection By Gray Malin
Famed photographer Gray Malin’s newest book will not disappoint. With a striking cover, it is a celebration of his fine-art photography featuring images that have never been seen published before. These photographs were taken in a variety of locales everywhere from Manhattan to Antarctica.
There’s everything from the photographer’s famed overhead beach shots to whimsical animals and gorgeous landscapes. It is an essential book for anyone who appreciates modern home styles or is simply in awe of Malin’s talent.
Public/Private By Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership
With a unique double-sided format, this book has not one, but two covers. Public/Private showcases the more than 40 years of projects from renowned architecture firm Skolnick.
In addition to the photos, the book tells the stories behind the projects with text from Lee Skolnick and a foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic Paul Goldberger.
The public side of the book includes photos of buildings such as a science center built in an old turbine hall, a synagogue, two public libraries, as well as a children’s museum inspired by Leonardo da Vinci. The private side shows off a different side of Skolnick’s talents with images of a six-story townhouse, a beach house, and luxurious twin villas in Anguilla among other homes.
Pacific Natural At Home By Jenni Kayne
Those who appreciate minimalism and a California lifestyle will love the forthcoming second book by fashion designer Jenni Kayne. Published by Rizzoli, with a foreword by famed interior designer Vincent Van Duysen, it features stunning imagery of homes located in Canyon, Ocean, Valley, and City landscapes.
Although the homes featured are grand, this book achieves something that few interior design coffee table books do— a perfect balance of inspiration and aspiration. There are also plenty of design tips. So, anyone who is currently decorating or renovating a minimalist home may not only want to keep this book on their coffee table, they should also buy a package of Post-Its to mark up the pages most relevant to their project without ruining the book.
Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table By André Leon Talley
Published by Assouline, Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table By André Leon Talley sold by Kathy Kuo Home, is a classic coffee table book. With 240 pages, it has so many incredible images to behold. Shot by Italian photographer Oberto Gil, each page transports the reader as if they are on a grand adventure with the famed couturier.
In addition to the jaw-dropping imagery of tablescapes, this book also has recipes for delightful treats such as Lime-Basil Cream Puffs with Raspberries. You’ll feel inspired to open your China cabinet and throw a dinner party.