Friday, September 23, 2016

Fall Design Books, Part One

It's that time of year again: Fall Book Season.  Over the coming months, I'll be reviewing my picks for the season.  First up are these five stand-out titles:

I've long been an ardent fan of writer James Reginato's articles for such publications as Vanity Fair and W.  A sometimes chronicler of the homes of the great and the good, Reginato has in recent years profiled the aristocratic domiciles of the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the Duke of Marlborough, and the Marquess of Cholmondeley.  In this book, Great Houses, Modern Aristocrats, Reginato has compiled these profiles in one volume, focusing on the splendid homes of the English and Irish aristocracy.  And what a volume it is, with featured homes that include Blenheim, Haddon Hall, Lismore Castle, and Goodwood House.  With photography by the esteemed Jonathan Becker, Great Houses, Modern Aristocrats will likely join the league of those coveted books about high-society by Horst and Slim Aarons.

Great Houses, Modern Aristocrats by James Reginato, Rizzoli New York 2016. Images © Jonathan Becker)

There have been a number of "the making of a house" books published over the last few years, but one that has thoroughly impressed me is A House in the Country by the husband-and-wife duo, designer Katie Ridder and architect Peter Pennoyer.  Devoted to the conception, execution, and decoration of the couple's Millbrook, New York house, A House in the Country is an engaging book that chronicles both the practical and creative sides to creating a dream home from the ground up.  What struck me was how personal their house is.  This might sound like a lame statement, because in theory, a house should reflect the personalities of its owners.  But how many times do we see impersonal homes?  Not here.  Ridder's love of color, pattern, and exotic flourishes shines through, as does Pennoyer's attention to the sometimes-quirky-but-always-delightful details, both of which make this house, and this book, something truly special.

A House in the Country by Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder, Vendome 2016. Images © Eric Piasecki)

If you've spent any time on Instagram lately, you're likely well aware of designer Mark D. Sikes' debut book, Beautiful, an apt title for a book filled with dreamy interior photos.  Organized by color, each chapter examines Sikes' passion for certain colors (blue and white, brown, green, and red) and demonstrates how the designer uses these colors to imbue a home's interiors with personality and style.  Alongside images of Sikes' work, there are photos of vignettes and mood boards, all of which provide the reader with ample design inspiration.

Beautiful by Mark D. Sikes, Rizzoli New York 2016. Images © Amy Neunsinger)

I've long been a fan of designer Michelle Nussbaumer's lush and visually-stimulating interiors, so I had been anxiously awaiting the publication of her new monograph, Wanderlust: Interiors that Bring the World Home.  And after diving into the book, I can say that it's a real treat to peruse.  Nussbaumer's passion is for the exotic: Turkish textiles, Moroccan rugs, Indian paintings, and Venetian furniture, all of which lend her clients' homes a worldly flair.  But even if exoticism isn't your thing, I think you'll still appreciate this book.  Nussbaumer's interiors are the kind that invite more than a passing glance, instead revealing their splendor upon thoughtful observation- and that's just what makes this book so captivating.

Wanderlust: Interiors that Bring the World Home by Michelle Nussbaumer, Rizzoli New York 2016. )

And last but certainly not least, The Perfect Bath, Waterworks co-founder Barbara Sallick's paean to the perfect bath. And what constitutes the perfect bath?  To Sallick, "these three words immediately conjure up an irresistible, even timeless vision of relaxation, reflection, and restoration."  This book features sybaritic baths, Spartan-but-luxurious baths, and classic baths that are reminiscent of the Twenties and Thirties. If you are a designer seeking inspiration for clients' baths or someone like me who dreams of one day having the perfect bath, this book is for you.

The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick, Rizzoli New York 2016. )


  1. My favorite photo of these is the one of the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire in her Dower House sitting room. I adore the chintz on the sofa. I used it 30 years ago for curtains in my now grown daughter's bedroom - they're still gorgeous and make me happy whenever I go in her old room. It was one of Warner's great chintzes, sold in the US by Lee Jofa. Sadly, I think it is now discontinued.

    That room is the epitome of English comfort decorating. A room where even a Duchess feels comfortable putting her feet up on the sofa to read with a pillow at her back. Notice the arm covers - no US shelter magazine would allow such in a photo shoot! But they make great sense. Books, a good lamp, cushions, and comfortable furniture and pretty "things" - these are what makes an English room always inviting.

  2. I love your list. I've known Michelle for many years--her rooms are always rich and unique and fun. Are we truly seeing a return to true decorating with a perfect mix of period with mid-century? I hope so. Thank you. Mary

  3. A great post from one who knows!

  4. Thank you, the first items to add to my Christmas list...

  5. Oh my -- how I love that industrial space with the classic touches. At first I thought that "industrial pillar" was something from an old stone barn in Europe. Then, the bedroom with the industrial AC ducts gave it away. That could be in any "old" American city with repurposed industrial to loft spaces.

  6. So many gorgeous books coming out right now and A House in the Country is a favorite - love the unexpected interior! Happy Monday, Jennifer!

    1. Yes, so many good books from which to choose!