During these past months, we have all spent more time at home than likely ever before. As a result, we’ve come to look at our rooms with a new perspective. While we each have our own design and décor ideas, it’s good, too, to learn from. and be inspired by, experts in the field. Here are several new books we’ve come across that can make us all see anew how we live and how we might wish to occupy our own homes going forward.
—The editors of MILIEU
Cy Twombly: Making Past Present, Edited with text by Christine Kondoleon, Kate Nesin. Text by Anne Carson, Jennifer R. Gross, Brooke Holmes, Mary Jacobus
(MFA Publications, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; $65)
In preparation for an exhibition at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, this volume recounts the artist’s lifelong passion for classical antiquity—references to which appear regularly in his paintings, drawings, and sculpture. The exhibition and book also feature items of classical sculpture that come from the late artist’s personal collection.
S is for Style: The Schumacher Book of Decoration, by Dara Caponigro
The venerable maker of textiles has decided in this volume to highlight its most contemporary patterns—stripes, florals, animal prints—as a way to further emphasize the versatility of its designs, as well as the firm’s admirable ability to keep adapting. The company’s creative director, Dara Caponigro, has organized the book into unconventional themes—Sensual & Spare, Ladylike, Preppy, Exuberant, and Opulent. Read on—you’ll discover your style.
Décors Barbares: The Enchanting Interiors of Nathalie Farman-Farma, by Nathalie Farman-Farma, Photography by Miguel Flores-Vianna, Foreword by David Netto (Vendome, $60)
In devising the opulent fabrics and textiles for her company, Decors Barbares, Nathalie Farman-Farma often looks to fairytales for inspiration, as well as particular regions of the world, such as Persia, Central Asia, and Russia. She employs traditional printmaking techniques, the results of which are expertly captured by Miguel Flores-Vianna, a longtime contributing photographer for MILIEU. Her interiors are real-life fairytales.
Arriving Home: A Gracious Southern Welcome, by James T. Farmer III, Foreword by Deborah Roberts (Gibbs Smith, $45)
James T. Farmer III proves that what seems contradictory in interior design becomes complementary. He reveals interiors that position antiques against new upholstery, artworks that are displayed against vigorous patterns and textures, and the muted tones of sisal, jute, and wood flooring set against bold wall colors. His Southern welcome is a welcome to all. Or, I guess we should say, y’all.
The Beauty of Home: Redefining Traditional Interiors, by Marie Flanigan (Gibbs Smith, $45)
The designer Marie Flanigan always observes nine elements when she is creating room interiors for herself or her clients—architecture, composition, character, palette, illumination, detail, simplicity, depth, and, best of all, surprise. That latter element is most evident when reviewing the some twenty projects included in this book. Be prepared to be surprised by her versatility and by how much you will learn and wish to adapt for your own home.
Féau & Cie: The Art of Wood Paneling: Boiseries from the 17th Century to Today, Photographed by Robert Polidori, Text by Olivier Gabet (Rizzoli, $65)
Since its founding in 1875, the great—and unparalleled—French woodwork purveyor, Féau & Cie, has supplied architects, designers, and museums with period paneling. The firm has some 25,000 pieces in its archives, many from the eighteenth century to the Art Deco. The projects recounted reveal the importance of period wood detailing in defining notable interiors—those of the past and of now.
Living Well: Rela-vations & Recipes by Rela Gleason (available through Amazon; $50)
There are many ingredients that go into the making of a home. Interior designer Rela Gleason certainly understands the role that furnishings play in creating liveable, memorable rooms, but as a self-described cooking aficionado, she knows, too, the true flavorful ingredients that help define our lives. In this self-published volume, she shares her recipes for designing rooms and cooking up meals for family and friends. MILIEU contributing photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna, who wrote the book’s foreword, emphasizes that “Rela makes life seem effortless whether she is designing rooms or making delicious meals.” Come join her in the kitchen or in the living room.
de Gournay: Hand-Painted Interiors, by Claud Cecil Gurney (Rizzoli, $75)
While every good interior tells a story, de Gournay wallpapers and textiles actually tell stories. The venerable French firm has long been celebrated for its patterns that include chinoiserie, sumptuous flora and birdlife, as well as its historical patterns, notably nineteenth-century pastoral scenes and exuberant Brazilian landscapes, as well as abstracts. The story of these stories is well recounted here.
An Entertaining Story, by India Hicks, Foreword by Brooke Shields (Rizzoli, $50)
For India Hicks, the most important meal of the day is cocktail hour. In this, her third book, the noted author, entrepreneur, model, daughter of the late David Hicks, and goddaughter to the Prince of Wales, reveals more of her and her family’s life through the meals they take. While recounting family anecdotes and the ways she entertains, Hicks offers useful advice on place settings, flower arrangements, and table design. She also includes recipes from her longtime cook, Claire Williams (a.k.a. Top Banana). Her friend Brooke Shields shares fond sentiments of times she spends with Hicks.
Expressive Interiors: Designing an Inviting Home, by Sandra Lucas and Sarah Eilers and Lucas/Eilers Design Associates (Rizzoli, $45)
As Houston-based designers, Sandra Lucas and Sarah Ellers proudly refer to themselves as members of America’s “Third Coast,” a region that combines Western and Southern aesthetics. It’s like no other place in the country. Every one of their interiors begins with a “classic backbone”, but which responds to today’s way of living. Readers are invited in to look and learn and apply.
Rattan: A World of Elegance and Charm, by Lulu Lytle, Foreword by Mitchell Owens (Rizzoli, $65)
From a lounge on the Titanic to the Parisian home of Madeleine Castaing to a New York beauty salon designed by Billy Baldwin, rattan has long been a favorite material for furniture. Designer Lulu Lytle has always been fascinated by the sustainable, durable material—and here she celebrates it through archival and present-day photographs. The noted design writer and personality, Mitchell Owens, provides a lively foreword to the book. Find your favorite piece of rattan furniture and settle in for a great read.
Golden Light: The Interior Design of Nickey Kehoe, by Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe (Rizzoli, $55)
To look at an interior designed by the Los Angeles team of Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe is, at first, to see a highly personal reflection of those who live in the space. And while that is true, the interiors are, decidedly, the result of Nickey and Kehoe’s uncanny ability to make rooms personal, both to their clients but also to their aesthetics as designers. There is a kind of golden glow about each of their creations. Here is the opportunity to bask in them.
Katie Ridder: More Rooms, by Katie Ridder with Jorge Arango, Photography by Eric Piasecki (Vendome, $70)
There is no mistaking a room by Katie Ridder, the prolific New York–based interior designer. A look through this volume reveals her well-defined aesthetic, which involves bold combinations of primary and secondary colors, crafted trims, embroidery, and imaginative room surface treatments, including silver leaf and custom stenciling. The reader will welcome this look into “more rooms” of Ridder’s, since every space is one we might wish to occupy.
Markham Roberts: Notes on Decorating, by Markham Roberts (Vendome, $70)
Every good designer knows something fundamental: What the client wants is the top—and only—priority. Markham Roberts has long understood this dynamic. In really listening to his clients, Roberts helps them edit and focus, and, in so doing, he helps them establish a sense of place at home. Spoiler alert: The book concludes with a single project that encompasses all of the design elements most important to Roberts. Take notes.
The New Southern Style: The Interiors of a Lifestyle and Design Movement, by Alyssa Rosenheck (Abrams, $40)
The American South does have its own identity—complicated, rich, inspiring, ever-evolving. Rosenheck, a Nashville-based photographer and stylist, examines thirty notable homes throughout the region to assess how Southern culture both endures while reinventing itself. Here is a chance for the reader to be immersed in a culture all its own.
Designing Hollywood Homes: Movie Houses, by Stephen Shadley and Patrick Pacheco, Foreword by Diane Keaton (Rizzoli, $65)
Stephen Shadley has long had a starring role in the lives of Hollywood stars. Shadley began his career as a scenic artist for 20th Century Fox and over the years he has helped create the moive-worthy homes for the likes of Diane Keaton, Robert Altman, and Jennifer Aniston. If there was an Academy Award for interior design, Shadley’s mantle would be lined with figurines.
Glamorous Living, by Jan Showers, Foreword by India Hicks (Abrams, $65)
Dallas-based designer Jan Showers found twenty never-before-photographed residences to feature in her new volume. She leads the reader through these luxurious properties, room by room, to reveal her talents as a designer and as an observer of design. The featured properties include a Belgravia townhouse, a new house in Paradise Valley, and a home on Buffalo Bayou in Houston. Here is a formula for living a glamorous life in your own home.
More Beautiful: All-American Decoration, by Mark D. Sikes (Rizzoli, $45)
It makes sense that following Mark Sikes’s brilliant and inspiring book, Beautiful, he would follow up with this volume. Here, the talented designer celebrates and analyzes the ingredients of five distinct styles: Traditional, Country, Coastal, Mediterranean, and what he considers Beautiful. One of the more tantalizing features of this book is the tour readers get of Sikes’s own home in the Hollywood Hills. Some might likely call it beautiful.
Designing History: The Extraordinary Art & Style of the Obama White House, by Michael S. Smith and Margaret Russell, Foreword by Michelle Obama (Rizzoli, $60) While in residence, the Obamas commissioned interior designer Michael Smith to update the nation’s most symbolic residence. Reflective of the Obamas’ generous and enlightened spirit, the interiors of the White House were transformed. Despite changing administrations, the legacy of the Obamas will live on forever in the White House. And for that, and for the work of Smith, American should be proud.
Soul of the Home: Designing with Antiques by Tara Shaw (Abrams; $50)
While many of us, including seasoned decorators, know the kinds of antiques we want to live with, we don’t always know where to find them. Tara Shaw has made a living doing so. For decades, the New Orleans–based designer and antiques dealers has led people, including such namebrand designers as Bobby McAlpine, Mary McDonald, and Bunny Williams, to the right sources for French and other European antiques. Here, in her first book, she shares many of those sources, while also offering advice on how to best place antiques in your rooms for full effect. These old things will make any space feel new.
The Iconic American House: American Masterworks Since 1900 (Thames & Hudson; $65) by Dominic Bradbury and Richard Power
Some of America’s most influential architects are, literally, household words: Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra, Peter Eisenman, and Thomas Gluck. Noted architectural writer Dominic Bradbury teamed up with photographer Richard Powers to document the individual houses throughout America that they think forever changed the way we all live. The text and photos reveal the materials, the siting, and the very form of these residences. Although we don’t live in these houses, how we live in our own houses is influenced, in significant ways, by these structures.