Top 24 interior design books.

Design books (or style/decor, architecture books) are the new magazines.  Since there are fewer magazines for me to hoard (although Europe and Australia are still killing it these days) I’ve been collecting, nay hoarding, pretty books for me to flip through, tag and style with.  

They can be expensive I know, which is why they are such good gifts to give.  But ultimately you are supporting the publishing industry, designers, art directors, and photographers and those people need support.  

Plus, they make you look very smart and interesting and that’s really what reading is all about.  

First, there are the books of more attainable lifestyles, with furniture and accessories that i can afford and done in beautiful ways that people can be inspired by.  You probably have these, but if you don’t, get them already.  



Flea Market Style, EtceteraDesign Sponge at Home, The Find   

The Find is the only one that I don’t personally own (and yes, I still purchase these books, I haven’t figured out how to get free ones yet…)

Then there is the ‘when I can’t travel but want to feel exported to somewhere foreign and exotic,’ I go for these books, books that are, yes, global.   


Survival Kit: DesignLiving Architecture, The Palais Bulles, Marrakesh by Design

Simply ScandanavianApartments de GarconsAfrican InteriorsThe Splendor of Cuba

Some of these aren’t even out yet, but i’m gonna go ahead and pre-order them because they look that good.  I have African Interiors (which I love so much for so many different reasons) and the Cuban book, but I’m dying to buy all these Japanese design books that look kinda amazing online, but i haven’t actually seen them in person.  


In case you want to see how the other half lives. And by ‘half’ i mean 1/2 of one percent of the population.  But it satisfies my inner fantasy needs…..what am I talking about, it makes me want to be super rich.  Filthy rich. Swimming in money a la Scrooge McDuck.  But until then, at least I have these books:


Domestic ArtMore is MoreThe Well-Lived LifeVogue Living

American Fashion Designers at HomeCreating a HomeHueLive, Love, & Decorate 

They are all over the top, totally unattainable and absolutely beautiful. 

Splatter paint hits fashion, furniture and interior design.

Jackson Pollack should be flattered because all these splatter paint prints, fabric, rugs and artwork were definitely inspired by him.  Its back in fashion, on the runways and its emerging into the home realm.  

But its new and therefore i couldn’t find very many good photos of it done well.  But here are a few.  

This one is tricky because it could be really cheezy, but the photo is good enough that it’s selling it. i’m wondering if in reality its weird and looks ‘forced’ or if it were applied directly on the walls it would be amazing.  

This rug is kinda exciting i will admit.  Naturally i want it to be navy and white instead of black and cream, but i like the concept.  If you are thinking ‘my third grade nephew could do that’ you might be right if he has a good concept of composition, balance and color, but in reality doing this abstract paintings that look effortless are indeed not so effortless.  

See. Its in pottery, too, although that has been around a bit longer.  If you are scared of the trend but want to start trying it, grab yourself some splatter paint accessories instead of committing to a huge wall, rug or piece of furniture.  


Kelly Wearstler did it in the new Elle Decor (above) except i think she turned it into wallpaper which is cool, but takes the hand painted effect out of it, obviously.  

I’m tempted to try it directly on walls in my bathroom but there is slightly more risk because if it doesn’t look good its going to have to be sanded off since it will be thicker than normal paint and have more texture.  I think the key to it looking good is picking a sophisticated and decidedly un-80’s color palette and having a ton of movement on it with big strokes as well as small.  I want to keep it as ‘painterly’ as possible and make sure that its balanced but not perfect.  

Where is my personality today you ask? It is busy prepping for a busy week so i’m all business right now.  But if you are at the Vegas Market come to my panel on Wednesday at 1pm disucssing the relationship between fashion and furniture with Cassandra and some other very lovely women who i’m excited to meet.  

Also i’ll be at Blogher in New York at the Leggett and Platt booth on Friday and Saturday – who are they? Oh, you’ll be hearing about them, so stay tuned, but meanwhile if you are going to be at Blog-her and want some one on one time then you can book 15 minute design consultation sessions on how to style/design/and spruce up your bedroom with me on Friday and Saturday from 1-5 each day.  Email Rachel at  Rlader – at – for appointments and PLEASE come say hi even if you don’t want a one on one.  

And if you want some fast style tips right now, read my ‘Design Secrets to help your bedroom feel like a retreat’ over on the Leggett and Platt web-site.   Lots of original styling posts and videos about making your bedroom feel like a retreat coming very soon thanks to them.  

If you just want to ask me about Design Star or Bearcat thats cool too, you don’t have to need design consultation, we can just hang out with some cabana boys.  Because yes, there will be cabana boys.  

How to mix patterns, styling 101

Mixing patterns is trending, folks, in fashion and home style. But there are tricks and tips to styling them right so you don’t look like a crazy person and instead look like a super interesting, well traveled, uber chic person. Because THAT is what you want.

Thank you so much for all the mantel styling support.  Honestly the feedback and the love keeps the train moving and the content gets produced so much faster, so thank you.  In case you missed the first video, ‘How to style your mantel’ check it out.

Here you go, Video #2 for your viewing pleasure.

mixing patterns from modshift


And we are thinking ‘shelf styling’, ‘mixing masculine and feminine’ and ‘coffee styling’ is next unless you guys are dying for something else.  Speak up and leave in the comments and now that the Emily team has more help and is taking on less clients, stuff is actually happening around here.

How to find the perfect leather sofa

A good leather sofa is like:


A bad leather sofa is like:

I so don’t mean to pick on New Jersey especially after i spent last weekend in Atlantic City having a blast, but The Situation just has a brand that transcends most description.   

So yes, leather sofas can go either way – either really good or really bad. So here are some tips to help you pick out the best leather sofas out there.  

1. Pick leather with out a TON of shine.

 Obviously a vintage leather sofa is going to solve this problem way faster than a new one, but vintage isn’t always an option so go for leather that is soft and more matte, less shiny.  Less ‘patenty’. Less ‘Snookie’.

This one is shiny, and while the shape is awesome and the sofa itself is great, the shine adds a element of cheese to it. It’s like leather shoes – patent leather work sometimes for sure, but it can lead men into thinking you are hooking.  

Instead go for leather like this:

Its more matte, more understated, softer, less in your face and therefore just looks more luxurious and more expensive.  Keep it soft and supple, not slick and shiny.  

2. Pick an interesting shape.  

Either go for a super straight modern shape or a really low round soft shape.   Confusing i know, but when they get to be oversized and round, but new and shiny they look so 80’s and cheesy.

Look for modern and minimalist, with straight lines and sleek legs:



Buy this one HERE. $4980 Arne Vodder for Fritz Hansen. I’m obsessed with it. Somebody best snatch er up.  (they do free shipping if that’s interesting to you). And they are located in Portland if you want to see it in person.  

But for those of you who can’t afford that bad boy (like me) and live where these vintage finds are hard to, well, find, then this is a good  new option.  HERE. 


Look for low, soft, 1970’s and totally amazing:

Percival Lafer Sofa

This sofa is on sale at Amsterdam Modern HERE for over $6000 but it is truly begging to be lounged on. The 70’s really knew how to relax and i appreciate that.  

Chelsea Leather Sofas

And Restoration sells a pretty good one HERE. 

3. When in doubt, buy a chesterfield. I know what you are thinking:  ‘Uh, yeah you moron, if i could find a beautifully worn leather chesterfield that i could afford i would ‘if i was in doubt’ buy it’, which is a fair thing to say. But if you are looking to save and splurge on any leather sofa, i’m just saying that my recommendation is to go for a chesterfield. They are so classic and timeless that you simply can’t go wrong.  Men love them. Women love them. Cats love them.  And even baby cats love them.  

Restoration Hardware kinda corners the market on vintage leather sofas. That’s ‘Vintage Leather’ not vintage  sofas, the construction is new but because the leather is old and worn they are just beautiful.  I always prefer to buy vintage over big box, but i can’t deny that they all look good.  (This is so not a sponsored post, but i’m trying to give options to people who aren’t shopaholics like me and have a million vintage resources and honestly Restoration has the best mass market options).  


Kensington Leather Sofas


Good luck shopping. Every time i find one that i love i usually can’t afford it and now i have these two amazing leather chairs so my leather quota is full:

More random tips:

 – Be more cautious with burgandy leather – it can be styled right, but it can also look 90’s southern den, so just make sure you have the right vision for it.  Ask yourself – would i buy shoes this color and tone and level of shininess? And if the answer is ‘nope’ then don’t go for it, hold out for the right one.  

 – You can dye a lighter leather to look darker but you can’t realy change the tone of a medium or dark leather very  much. I once bought an awesome vintage sofa that was slightly more purple than i wanted it to be but the price was insane ($600 with such a good shape) so I risked it. My leather guy (what? doesn’t everyone have one?) said he could change it to a deep caramel and while the tone changed slightly it was certainly not worth the $900.  

 – Most big box stores have pretty good worn or vintage style leather options.  I know that Room and Board, Crate and Barrel as well as ‘The Sofa Company’ have decent colors and finishes that i was impressed by so if going vintage isn’t an option for you then there is still hope. 

– They last forever, so while it it way more of an investment, leather is so durable that you kinda can’t go wrong.  UNLESS you have a cat that scratches it up because there is nothing you can really do about that.  

 – I prefer brown leather over black leather most of the time, but i also wear only brown leather an generally prefer it. This could be because i hav so many blues and greys in my house that i need the warmth of the brown, but with black there is a slight bigger risk of being cheezy and going ‘bachelor’ pad.  Not the show, the generic space that men in their 20’s live.  Stay tuned for my ’10 pieces that every bachelor needs in order to get laid’ post.  Coming soon to Buzzfeed.  



Ok. Maybe not totally a secret. But online i go to:

The Good Mod. 

Amsterdam Modern

1st dibs – who am i kidding, i never shop on 1st dibs, but maybe you do because you are rich.  

Retrospective Interiors

Galerie Sommerlath

Empiric , sometimes has good vintage guys. 

Sunbeam Vintage  has an awesome black chesterfield for $950 (i can’t tell in the pic if its leather or vinyl)

Anthropologie has a pretty great one. Like these:


One Kings Lane ‘Tastemaker Sales’ definitely have some sometimes.  In fact, my sale in September with them boasts 1 beautiful dark leather loveseat, perfect patina, beautiful old nailheads, english style, 1930’s……stay tuned for photos.  It’s a hard one to get sell, i want to hoard it forever. 

 To tease you a bit here are a bunch of beautiful leather sofas in beautifully shot spaces.  

cognac leather vintage sofa

Beautiful leather sofa. Yes, it looks A LOT like my leather chairs.... love.

beautiful leather sofa

Vintage leather sofa


A gorgeous olive green vintage leather tufted sofa!

I'm kinda anti-leather, but this sofa looks comfy. Bonus points for vintage suitcases as side tables.

white-ottoman-poof-kilim-rug-leather-chesterfield-sofa-tufted-flea-market-style-decorating-apartment-living-lifestyle-vintage-eclectic-home-.jpg image by makeupandhair_lucygibson - Photobucket


vintage chesterfield leather sofa

Dig the old world black leather, vintage sofa, and gilded mirror


the vintage leather sofa, the chairs, the windows...I'm drooling.


More beach house inspiration: a beat-up leather sofa, a pop of blue, vintage textiles, and those windows...


love the mix of the lamp, the paneled & painted walls, the vintage leather chesterfield sofa & the modern striped wingback chair. love.

worn brown leather


worn leather couch



My top 10 favorite wallpapers of all time

Bold statement, i know.  

This is less of a roundup and more of a ‘personal favorite list’. I love a lot of wallpaper but as far as what is my style and what i would personally be most likely to use in my house?

Well these are them. 

1. Zoffany



From Zoffany.  I saw this in last months Elle Decor or Living Etc, i forget and literally gasped.  I caught my breath and kinda did a strange trembling thing.  It’s just so beautiful.  I couldn’t find the price, but i’m assuming that its a total fortune. But when i’m rich this is going in my guest bedroom.

2. Suzy Hoodless for Osborne and Little, Davidia HERE. 


I’ve loved this wallpaper for 3 years, at least.  Its just so fluid and has such intense energy. The scale is massive and the colors are perfect  – bright green and silver metallic.  This is less expensive (but still expensive, don’t get me wrong) and i will probably own it one day.  

3. Fornasetti HERE. 

This picture does NOTHING for the beauty of this Fornasetti wallpaper.  Its black, white and gold and totally over the top and crazy.  

The only place i can seem to find it installed is on this screen:

But  I’ve seen it in person and trust me its really amazing.  I almost used it in Ian’s house where i put the black and white toile, but we priced it out and the cost of the paper alone was around $5000 for one wall, so its a bit to rich for my blood right now.  

4. Florence Broadhurst. HERE. 

If any of you guys don’t know her, get on board. She was an Australian designer in the ’50s and ’60s and created so many patterns that are still incredibly modern and fresh looking. Total genius.  

It comes in a bunch of color ways but i love these blue and silver combos.  They feel so happy and feminine and glamorous, but modern.  Peruse them HERE. 

5. Oh Joy, gold floral.  

It’s no secret that i love this gold and white ‘Petal Pusher’ from Hygge and West, designed by my friend Joy.  And yes, she is my friend now, but wasn’t when i first fell in love with it and used it.  

What’s so great about this paper is how the gold and ivory becomes a neutral when put up on the wall. It’s reflective and strangely quiet for a wallpaper.  


It’s $125 a roll which makes it not cheap, but not expensive. That’s kinda the normal ’boutique’ wallpaper price.  I recently used the dark grey and gold combo in a bookshelf niche that turned out amazing as well.  

6. Osbourne and Little,Summer Palace’

This one below i’ve had my eye on for a long time. 

Summer Palace   

It also comes in this colorway:

I know that a lot of these are going kinda regency, but i live in LA and regency is always ‘in’ here.  It just fits. 

7. Abigail Borg, HERE. 

Her patterns are insanely beautiful. They are around $200 a roll, which isn’t crazy for how detailed they are.  Every single one of them is so beautiful.  


8.  Madison and Grow Elizabeth in peacock.  


This one does the same for me that Joy’s does. It is blue and pearlized ivory and is quiet and yet graphic.  You can do a whole room in this and it isn’t too busy and it just feels really light and fresh and airy.  West Elm used it in their catalog a couple years ago and i’ve wanted it ever since.  Maybe i love it becasue i know that all of my furniture and accessories would look awesome with it.  

 I also love this color combo but its a bit more of a risk:

9. Kremelife. HERE. 

This company is awesome and i’ve used their wallpaper 5 times. That’s a lot of times, friends. Besides them being local and friendly and fast, i also love that i can customize the colors.  You just give them a pantone chip or a paint color and they will print you a sample, get approval and then print whatever colors you want.  


They have a ton of patterns and are always coming out with new ones.  It’s a husband and wife team, and they have a new baby so i couldn’t be more supportive of them.  

I’m sure i’m forgetting some, but these are the ones that have made me happy for years so i don’t think i’m going to get over them, which means they are officially my favorite.  

10. Julie Rothman for Hygge and West.  HERE. 



Sometimes you have to use a wallpaper to truly fall in love with it.  I knew i liked this paper, but once it was installed in the lake house in the bathroom i was totally in love.  


It’s just so happy and fresh.  

So what are your favorites and who am i missing?