Need a little inspiration when it comes to home decorating, or buying? Here are some books to help you get started.
Interior designer Victoria Hagan's "Dream Spaces" (Rizzoli New York, $55) is all about gorgeous getaway pads. Hagan features 10 recently completed homes -- none of which is the owner's primary residence. Each home's essence is encapsulated in a single headline -- "Calm" spotlights a Francis Fleetwood shingle-style home in the Hamptons, while "Family" documents another Hamptons home, with architecture by Peter Pennoyer Architects, "nestled between the ocean and a beautiful, unspoiled pond" with nearly 360-degree farm-field views. "Bold," a modern-style Hamptons home designed by architect Temple Simpson, is a family retreat punctuated by exuberant bursts of color. Design journalist David Colman pens a preface and lauds Hagan's design style as "subtly chic" and "tailored."
'From Classic to Contemporary – Decorating with Cullman & Kravis'
"From Classic to Contemporary: Decorating With Cullman & Kravis" (The Monacelli Press, $65) showcases the design firm's embrace of "the alchemy that happens when old meets new and when new meets old." Written by C&K founding partner Elissa Cullman and longtime senior designer Tracey Pruzan, the book features 13 homes, including a collaborative Sagaponack shingle-style beach house "refresh" completed with architect Tom Kligerman and landscape architect Edmund Hollander. (Check out the island lights in the kitchen, which came from a theater in Stockholm.) "We hope you'll see how we embrace a suave historicism with exciting new takes on tradition, referencing a wide range of cultures and contemporary design motifs," the authors, who previously collaborated on "Decorating Master Class" and "The Detailed Interior," say in the introduction.
'Renovate Innovate: Reclaimed and Upcycled Homes'
If you're the type who yearns for a Colorado bungalow built out of a container cabin, a Malibu manse that incorporates the wings of a 747 into its architecture or a contemporary home built within Scottish ruins, "Renovate Innovate: Reclaimed and Upcycled Homes" (Prestel Publishing, $60) is for you. Antonia Edwards, founder of the Upcyclist.co.uk design blog, highlights an international array of eye-popping feats of "upcycling" -- the innovative reuse of existing structures, materials and objects. Other choice examples include caviar refrigeration space that was converted into a 3,000-square-foot TriBeCa loft by Andrew Franz Architect, whose portfolio includes several Long Island residences. "Relics of the past don't have to be preserved in a time capsule, but can evolve with us," Edwards writes.
'Country Living Salvage Style: Decorate With Vintage Finds'
When it comes to turning "trash" into household treasures, prolific craft and decor author Leslie Linsley -- with more than 70 books to her credit -- knows how to sift out the gems. In "Country Living Salvage Style: Decorate With Vintage Finds" (Hearst Books, $24.95), she lets readers in on her passion and secrets. "All my life I have been attracted to junk. My heart does flip-flops whenever I pass a junkyard, and I scour my local newspaper every week for the yard sale," she writes. Using photos, homeowner testimonials and bullet-point how-to lists, the longtime Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror columnist and home-furnishing brand namesake offers tips for adding splashes of salvage chic to kitchens, living and dining rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms.
'MR Architecture + Decor'
The "signature, chic modernity" and client-driven approach of David Mann's New York City-based design firm fill the pages of "MR Architecture + Decor" (Abrams Books, $60). The book is named for Mann's architecture and interior design firm and compiled by Mann and Hearst Design Group features director Ingrid Abramovitch, who oversees Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Veranda. The illustrated tome includes vignettes charting the design inspiration behind 18 projects, including an expanded ranch in Sag Harbor, an updated 1950s Arts and Crafts-style home on Shelter Island and a futuristic 6,000-square-foot Cold Spring Harbor spread. More than 200 photos, a history of Mann's firm, essays from design journalists Mayer Rus and Pilar Viladas and a foreword by longtime client Susan Weber, founder and director of the Bard Graduate Center, are included.
'Modernique: Inspiring Interiors Mixing Vintage and Modern Style'
Want to take the plunge into modern design without abandoning your heirlooms? Julia Buckingham's "Modernique: Inspiring Interiors Mixing Vintage and Modern Style" (Abrams Books, $40) could be your road map. Buckingham's colorful signature style, known for blending "antique with modern, and high with low," was informed by an early love of antiquing with her mother and a background in fashion. The book offers guidance for mixing patterns, layering elements, utilizing graphics, color and -- of course -- antiques to create comfortable living spaces bursting with your personal style. "It's not about the mix just for the sake of the mix. It's about individuality," Buckingham writes in an introduction. Ken Downing, a senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus, contributes a foreword.
'Yellow Owl Workshop’s Make It Yours: Patterns and Inspiration to Stamp, Stencil and Customize Your Stuff'
Yellow Owl Workshop founder Christine Schmidt, whose works are carried by more than 500 merchants (including Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), outlines a variety of printing techniques, motifs and media in "Yellow Owl Workshop's Make It Yours: Patterns and Inspiration to Stamp, Stencil and Customize Your Stuff" (Clarkson Potter, $22). Using a mantra of "original, informed, practical, inspiring" as her North Star, the San Francisco-based designer divvied up dozens of step-by-step projects into six chapters focusing on abstract and geometric patterns; everyday patterns; custom motifs; occasions and celebrations; flora and fauna; and travel-inspired patterns. Techniques are rated on a four-point difficulty scale and run the gamut from laundry bags to an Art Deco dresser.
'White Work With Colour'
In "White Work With Colour" (Sally Milner, $34.95), renowned embroiderer and needle artist Trish Burr puts a bright spin on a classic craft by infusing traditional French white work embroidery with splashes of color. "This style does not follow any particular, conventional style of embroidery but is more like mixed media -- a fancy term for making it up as I go along!" she writes in a foreword. The book contains 17 projects, and with zebras, owls, teacups, hummingbirds, a vintage VW "Doodle Bug" and more to choose from, there's something for any skill level. Introductory chapters outlining the basics about fabrics, threads, equipment, stitches and other best practices are chock-full of timely tips from the author, along with fast facts about the world of embroidery.
'Clearing Spaces: Inspirational Techniques to Heal Your Home'
"Out with the bad energy, in with the good" is the guiding mantra behind "Clearing Spaces: Inspirational Techniques to Heal Your Home" (Sterling Ethos, $14.95). Author Khi Armand, a Brooklyn-based space-clearing specialist with expertise in rootwork and shamanism, shares his personal experiences and advice diagnosing and correcting bad energy in people's homes and steps toward forming "a relationship with your space as a spiritual entity." Recipes for holistic cleansing solutions, bullet-point breakdowns of ingredients and "questions for shamanic journeying" are found in each chapter. Armand's exploration of space cleaning began in college, when he began smudging his room with burning sage and sprinkling saltwater around the perimeter.
'Build It Yourself: Weekend Projects for the Garden'
If you want to build your own garden fence this spring but don't know your way around the business end of a saw, "Build It Yourself: Weekend Projects for the Garden" (Princeton Architectural Press, $24.95) is a way to get started on the right foot. Author Frank Perrone, director of facilities and capital projects at Wave Hill, the public garden and cultural center in the Bronx, guides first-time woodworkers through every step of 12 projects that can be built with basic tools. Projects include harvest baskets, bird feeders, compost bins, garden furniture and more. There are detailed materials lists for each project and introductions to wood, finishes, tools and woodworking safety. The title is drawn from what a classmate told Perrone during his first woodworking class during summer break at PS 83.
'Mom Crafts: DIY Crafts for the Expectant Mom'
Filled with inspiration from contributors as far away as Canada, England and Australia, "Mom Crafts: DIY Crafts for the Expectant Mom" (Lark Crafts, $19.95) features 20 handmade projects for the mother-to-be. There are whimsical concepts for the home, such as a whale pillow and photo prop. "Moms want to ensure they have the best items for their baby -- they must be useful, practical, well made and suited to their specific needs," a foreword reads. Curated with the beginner in mind, the book includes pointers on crafting basics, a stitch gallery, templates, personalization ideas and step-by-step instructions. Quick tips and definitions are sprinkled throughout.
'Tie & Dye: Colourful Clothing, Gifts and Accessories'
Filled with far-out eruptions of color and an easygoing, fun-loving attitude, "Tie & Dye: Colourful Clothing, Gifts and Accessories" (Pavilion, $16.95) features 15 projects from the mind of London-based "tie-dye addict" Lizzie King. The "vibrant kaleidoscope of gifts, garments, housewares and accessories" includes tea towels and woven plant hangers. Pages are filled with step-by-step instructions, bonus projects and 15 tips for success in the art form that dates back more than a millennium. "The wonderful thing about tie-dye is you can't really get it wrong," the author declares in a foreword. Each project also includes an illustrated "cheat sheet" delineating necessary supplies. King, a prop maker, jewelry designer and knitter known for her "Get Rich or Tie-Dyeing" workshops, worked with designer Anna Lomax before branching out on her own.
'Simple Decorating: 50 Ways to Inspire Your Home'
Melissa Michaels, the scribe behind The Inspired Room blog, bundles 50 tips for sprucing up your home into the pages of "Simple Decorating: 50 Ways to Inspire Your Home" (Harvest House Publishers, $14.99). Seven chapters offer suggestions designed "for real life -- including the chaos of change." She should know, because the book was written while moving. "What really matters in our home is how it feels to be there. A home is a place to dwell. It's a sanctuary that can invite us to be ourselves," she adds. In crisp prose, she details how to create your signature style, evoke moods through decor choices, simplify spaces, and create and beautify purpose-driven rooms. There are also pointers for using textures and accessories.
'Paper Home: Beautifully Unique Origami Projects'
Origami newcomers can get their start in Japanese paper-folding with Esther Thorpe's "Paper Home: Beautifully Unique Origami Projects" (Pavilion, $19.95). Fifteen featured projects include party diamonds, origami flowers and a vase and mountable pyramid fairy lights. Thorpe, who sells her creations online, says her passion for paper crafts dates back to preschool. "I find origami truly addictive and I hope my book will inspire you too," she writes. Thorpe calls upon her background in graphic design and teaching children for the text, which includes a folding tutorial and suggestions about project papers and where to stock up.
'The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story'
Lifestyle and cleaning guru Marie Kondo weaves her signature tidying techniques into a graphic novel in "The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story" (Ten Speed Press, $14.99). The tale starring Chiaki, a 29-year-old beverage company sales rep with a cluttered mess of an apartment, gets rolling after her handsome neighbor complains about the smelly junk on her balcony. Before long, Chiaki retains Kondo, who walks her -- and readers -- through her signature KonMari method. Kondo shows Chiaki how to toss items that don't spark joy; tidy by category rather than by room; vanquish piles of paper and more. (Keep an eye out for handy folding tips, designed to maximize storage while staving off wrinkles.) Each chapter of the whimsical guide, which features drawings by award-winning manga artist Yuko Uramoto, concludes with a tidying synopsis.
'The Confident House Hunter: A Home Inspector’s Tips for Finding Your Perfect Home'
If you're looking to buy a house, "The Confident House Hunter: A Home Inspector's Tips for Finding Your Perfect Home" (Plain Sight Publishing, $16.99) is packed with plain-English advice for spotting problems before you sign on the dotted line. American Society of Home Inspectors-certified inspector Dylan Chalk shows readers how to get the most out of inspections, outlines his guiding principles for making informed real estate decisions and shares strategies for sorting homes by age, ownership history, type and architectural style. He dedicates several chapters to walking through the "nuts and bolts" of a multitude of home systems and highlights the calling cards of destructive household pests in another. Chalk sprinkles personal stories from the field throughout the book, which includes a handy, book-ending cheat sheet with his top 20 nuggets of wisdom.
'Sunnylands: America's Midcentury Masterpiece'
Take a step back in time in "Sunnylands: America's Midcentury Masterpiece" (The Vendome Press, $60). Written by Janice Lyle, director of Sunnylands Center & Gardens, a public interpretive center set on nine landscaped acres in Rancho Mirage, California, the book offers something for golf fanatics, history buffs and design enthusiasts alike. Triangle Publications mogul Walter Annenberg built the "English country estate re-imagined for the American desert" in the heart of his private golf course in 1966. The A. Quincy Jones-designed estate counts eight U.S. presidents among its guests (Ronald Reagan spent every New Year's Eve as president here). Blueprints, a room-by-room tour and a photo spread of golf balls (Richard Nixon's included) are featured. Today, Sunnylands is a historic site that features the only publicly accessible preserved interior by Hollywood decorator William Haines, and it has become a destination for world leaders and high-level summits. Interior designer Michael S. Smith, who led a 2010 makeover of the Oval Office, contributes a foreword.
'Design: The Whole Story'
More than 300 years of design history and 1,000 pictures are packed into the 576 pages of "Design: The Whole Story" (Prestel, $34.95), edited by London-based design and interior writer Elizabeth Wilhide. Designed as a one-stop resource for nearly any design query, topics range widely, touching on the emergence of design from 1700 to 1905; the introduction of machines from 1905-1945; identity and conformity during part of the Baby Boom years leading up to 1960; brand loyalty and the counterculture in the '60s and '70s; "contradiction and complexity" from 1980 to 1995; and the digital age that followed. Generously illustrated vignettes throughout are dedicated to important inventions, emerging philosophies, innovations in home goods and key players in the design world. A running timeline includes bullet-point synopses of key events.
'Crafting for Cat Ladies: 35 Purr-fect Feline Projects'
If you dream of decking out your home with objects paying homage to your feline friends, "Crafting for Cat Ladies: 35 Purr-fect Feline Projects" (Lark Crafts, $16.95) is the cat's meow. Author Kat Roberts provides step-by-step instructions for making objects running the gamut from subtle to audacious, including coasters, a felt storage bin, "Kitty-Cat" wreath, "Cat's Nap Throw Pillow" and more. If you'd prefer to wear your devotion, there are numerous projects for clothing and accessories. Technique guides and material checklists throughout are designed to make your next project as easy as napping in a sunbeam. "Some of the projects are a bit tongue-in-cheek (and there are more than a few cat puns), but this book is super serious about delivering clear, high-quality tutorials," Roberts writes.
'Better Than New: Lessons I’ve Learned From Saving Old Homes
(And How They Saved Me)'
"Hi -- I'm Nicole Curtis, and I'm addicted to rehab. (Well, home rehab.)" That's how the star of HGTV's "Rehab Addict" introduces "Better Than New: Lessons I've Learned From Saving Old Homes (And How They Saved Me)" (Artisan, $27.95), in which she chronicles the rehabilitation of 10 homes and the life lessons she gleaned from each experience. The self-taught home rehabber opens up about her personal life as she describes her ascent from ambitious single mom to accomplished preservationist, renovator and TV personality. "I'm here as proof: You can do a lot worse than listen to the lessons an old house can teach you," she says. Part self-help book, part inspirational memoir, "Better Than New" has more than 75 color photos.
'Prefabulous Small Houses'
Prefabricated-home guru Sheri Koones' latest ode to the modular home, "Prefabulous Small Houses" (The Taunton Press, $32) showcases 32 prefab homes ranging in size from 350 square feet to more than 2,000 square feet. "Building better is preferable to building bigger," Koones says. In each entry, she emphasizes green features and energy-efficient construction, cutting-edge creature comforts and state-of-the-art materials and building techniques. Examples include the 480-square-foot Cocoon Studio in Southampton. There are more than 250 color photos, 32 floor plans and a foreword by film legend Robert Redford, who stresses the importance of small homes in environmental sustainability.
'Around That Time: Horst at Home in Vogue'
Nearly 50 years ago, "Vogue's Book of Houses, Gardens, People," a product of then editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland's charge to fashion photographer Horst P. Horst to document the homes of the era's fashion pioneers and tastemakers, reached bookstores. " Around That Time: Horst at Home in Vogue" (Abrams, $75) revisits the source material and incorporates never-before-seen photographs from the original shoots. A collection of 350 images includes railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan at home in Southampton shortly before her death, socialite Babe Paley in the sunken garden of her estate overlooking the Long Island Sound, and Horst's Oyster Bay residence, which was once part of the Louis Comfort Tiffany estate. The book was edited by Vogue international editor-at-large Hamish Bowles and produced by Condé Nast corporate photography director Ivan Shaw.
'David Monn: The Art of Celebrating'
David Monn's New York City event-planning business has conceived an Obama state dinner for then-Mexican President Felipe Calderón, a decade's worth of New York Public Library galas and countless weddings, bar mitzvahs and more. "David Monn: The Art of Celebrating" (The Vendome Press, $75) illustrates in more than 245 exquisite images the party-planning prowess that earned Monn the "Architect of Style" moniker from The New York Times. The book takes readers behind the velvet rope of 36 events and provides insight into how Monn uses all of his senses to develop and execute his unforgettable soirees. Long Island is well represented: The "Love Actually" section focuses on a wedding ceremony at the Island's oldest synagogue and a reception overlooking Mecox Bay. "Old Glory," a Norman Rockwell-inspired Fourth of July party, features a mouthwatering buffet of pies from Riverhead's Briermere Farms. And "Somewhere Under Heaven" details a summer beachside dinner dance in Southampton. Monn's Manhattan loft is also featured.
'Roomscapes: The Decorative Architecture of Renzo Mongiardin'
Don't be deceived -- "Roomscapes: The Decorative Architecture of Renzo Mongiardino" (Officina Libraria, $60) is not a coffee-table book, says Mongiardino's granddaughter and editor Francesca Simone. Described in the intro by pianist and composer Giovanni Agosti as a simply written, accessible "treatise on interior design," "Roomscapes" -- originally written in 1993 by the Milan-based interior guru -- has been updated on the occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday and continues to share his philosophy for getting the most out of rooms in any shape or size. Part one, "The Genesis of a Room," offers inspiration for decor, how to capture the appeal of exotic elements and techniques for matching function with appearance. A second portion, "Illusion: the Eye Deceived," focuses on simulating materials and on using perspective to your advantage. Sketches and interior photos are plentiful and are arranged to maximize learning potential.
'Signature Spaces: The Well-Traveled Interiors of Paolo Moschino & Philip Vergeylen'
London-based designers Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen, the pair behind the Architectural Digest 100-ranked firm Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam Ltd., showcase more than 250 color images of their handiwork from around the world in "Signature Spaces: The Well-Traveled Interiors of Paolo Moschino & Philip Vergeylen" (The Vendome Press, $60). Sticklers for proper proportion in interior architecture, Moschino and Vergeylen are equally passionate about drawing the client's personality to the forefront by mixing and matching styles and eras. "Our list of clients looks like the United Nations, and we find it endlessly fascinating to work with people of different backgrounds," the designers say. Sumptuous spreads of snapshots from their travels are featured throughout the tome, as are quotations and zingers ranging from Picasso to Benjamin Franklin and Freud to Elizabeth Taylor.
'Miller’s Art Deco: Living With the Art Deco Style'
Antiques expert, researcher, lecturer and author Judith Miller's "Miller's Art Deco: Living With the Art Deco Style" (Miller's/Mitchell Beazley, $39.99) is a colorful guide for anyone looking to delve into the genre defined by "innovation, glamour and modernity." Steeped in the optimistic post-World War I culture of jazz music, burlesque and Josephine Baker juxtaposed with the historic glories of Egypt, Asia and Africa, Art Deco, the "first truly international modern style," rocketed onto the scene at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Seven sections document an array of period furniture and a multimedia array of home wares from the evocative period, ranging in price from under $150 to over $300,000. Selections are largely organized by designer and accompanied by biographical sketches; throughout, vignettes describe various stages of the Art Deco evolution. There are also multidesigner "gallery" showcases that spotlight particular regions and styles.
'domino: The Book of Decorating'
Create a home that you love with helpful hints from domino magazine editors Jessica Romm Perez and Shani Silver in "domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home" (Simon & Schuster, $35). The follow-up to 2008's "domino: The Book of Decorating" offers contemporary guidance for identifying your personal style, improving every space in your home and shopping for quality items that will stand the test of time. The book is broken up by element, making it easy to home in on your specific project. Each section features how-to guides, snapshots of different "style statements" and additional pointers from design experts. For inspiration, there are hundreds of photos and instructions on how to use art, seating, lighting, textiles and more to create a magazine-ready look that is uniquely yours. Montauk-based hotelier Sean MacPherson, co-owner of The Crow's Nest Inn & Restaurant, is a contributor.
'Made to Measure: Meyer Davis, Architecture and Interiors'
Modern architecture meets Southern gentility in the work of Tennessee-born designers Will Meyer and Gray Davis. "Made to Measure: Meyer Davis, Architecture and Interiors" (The Vendome Press, $60) highlights the work of the duo that launched their Manhattan-based design firm in 1999 and have completed more than 200 projects around the world since then. Private residential projects, including Meyer and Davis' respective homes, apartments and brownstones, are featured as well as public spaces such as bars, boutiques, restaurants and boutique hotels, including the Capri Hotel in Southampton. Interior designer and writer David Netto reflects on the Meyer-Davis-led renovation of his Amagansett home in a foreword. Soon after that renovation was complete, Meyer bought the circa-1971 Hugh Newell Jacbosen-built Accabonac House in East Hampton. Both homes receive generous, lush spreads here: Meyer's East Hampton beach house living room is the cover image, and furnishings from Sag Harbor's Monc XIII, Southampton's Homenature and East Hampton's West Out East are featured throughout.
'The Shopkeeper’s Home: The World’s Best Independent Retailers and Their Stylish Homes'
Fashion-forward retailers throw open the doors to their houses and stores in "The Shopkeeper's Home: The World's Best Independent Retailers and Their Stylish Homes" (Jacqui Small LLP, $35). Interior design journalist Caroline Rowland, the founder of the digital 91 Magazine and the Patchwork Harmony blog, goes in-depth with more than 30 shop owners and homes in on the unique designs found within their stores and residences. The book contains bullet-point lists of decorating ideas you can implement in your own home, and there are also more targeted suggestions for floors and walls, furniture, lighting, textiles, colors and collections.
'Pierre Paulin: Life and Work'
French designer and architect Pierre Paulin turned stodgy postwar French style on its ear with eye-popping airport lounges, consumer goods and shape-shifting furnishings like the "Orange Slice" chair on the cover and the "Tongue" chaise featured on the inside back cover. Journalist and curator Nadine Descendre, director of l'Agence Interculturelle Européenne in Paris, spotlights his revolutionary design philosophy in "Pierre Paulin: Life and Work" (The Vendome Press/Scriptum Editions, $65). With photography by Benjamin Chelly, the appropriately architectural square, blue-and-white tome highlights Paulin's story with the use of more than 300 images, including drawings, models and photographs from previously unpublished archives.
'Winter Living: An Inspirational Guide to Styling and Decorating Your Home for Winter'
Winter is when a person typically spends the most time hunkered down indoors, so it's an ideal time to bundle up your home with style. Selina Lake's "Winter Living: An Inspirational Guide to Styling and Decorating Your Home for Winter" (Ryland Peters & Small, $29.95) shows you how. "There's something truly magical about winter," the freelance interior stylist and author writes; she taps into that magic to create "homespun," "faded grandeur," "rustic" and "winter whites" style themes. A love for all things English, vintage and retro carries through the book, which includes a chapter dedicated to stylish Christmas and New Year's Eve decor. Crafty projects and style tips are sprinkled throughout, and guides to seasonal scents and a top-10 list of winter activities are also included.
'Simply Styling: Fresh and Easy Ways to Personalize Your Home'
Simply Grove blogger Kirsten Grove shares her design know-how in "Simply Styling: Fresh and Easy Ways to Personalize Your Home" (Sterling Publishing, $24.95). The self-taught Grove goes from room to room -- and then, object to object -- with step-by-step suggestions for adding personal style to every nook and cranny of your home without breaking the bank. Specializing in a clean, "modern, yet casual" aesthetic on display in these pages, Grove offers guidance for styling "with what you have," as well as styling "with what you find on your journey."
'Simple Household Wisdom: 425 Easy Ways to Clean & Organize Your Home'
Paul Simon proposed 50 ways to leave your lover; Good Housekeeping has 425 ways to leave your clutter in "Simple Household Wisdom: 425 Easy Ways to Clean & Organize Your Home" (Hearst Books, $19.95)." Edited by Sara Lyle Bow, the colorful guide has eight sections filled with crisply constructed tips on cleaning, decluttering, clothing, kitchens, decorating, outdoors, entertaining and do-it-yourself projects. Check out the 16-minute guide to a clean house, three steps to reclaiming your junk drawer and recommended products for a variety of household needs; Joy Mangano's Huggable Hangers are among the "Seal All-Stars." If you're on the fence on whether to hire someone or do it yourself, there's guidance within these pages designed to help you successfully navigate an array of conundrums.
'Furniture Makes the Room: Create Special Pieces to Style a Home You Love'
Spotting classics and making them over into "modern showstoppers" is the name of the game in Barb Blair's "Furniture Makes the Room: Create Special Pieces to Style a Home You Love" (Chronicle Books, $27.95). Blair, the founder of the Greenville, South Carolina-based Knack Studio, shows how 15 refinished pieces can be styled and placed in three different rooms each. While styles range from rustic to ultramodern, versatility and utility are a unifying thread. If a particular piece catches your eye, the back of the book has step-by-step guides for doing it yourself. The book is a follow-up to "Furniture Makeovers," which the author says was more "Furniture 101" for basic techniques.
'My Life in Design'
Sir Terence Conran says he was born with the design bug. "I have always enjoyed making things and, from an early age, had the curious mind of a designer," writes one of Britain's most prolific creative luminaries in "My Life in Design" (Conran Octopus, $40), a look back at his 65-year career, which boasts distinguished turns in design, retail and restaurants. Conran launched his first design studio in 1956; his British home furnishing shop, Habitat, followed in 1964. Later, in 1989, he launched the Design Museum, the world's first dedicated to design. Now in his 80s, Conran is still hard at work and sharing his keen insights in this latest, autobiographical work, which highlights achievements in the design of furniture, home goods, public spaces, interiors, architecture and more.
'How to Decorate'
Farrow & Ball celebrates its 70th anniversary of timeless style by sharing its secrets to getting the most from paint and paper in any home decor. In "How to Decorate" (Octopus Books, $39.99), "color guru" Joa Studholme and Farrow & Ball's creativity chief Charlotte Cosby show you how to get started -- compiling an "inspirations book," for instance -- and then delve into the nitty-gritty of getting it done just to your liking. Scratching your head on how much paint to buy for a project? There's an approximate coverage guide for each variety of Farrow & Ball paint. Read further for suggestions on using color to enhance the flow of your home and getting the most out of floors, walls and hallways. History buffs will enjoy the history of paint and the Farrow & Ball story, as well as paint guides for what to use if you're trying to capture a throwback look. There's also an insider's look at how Farrow & Ball paints and wallpapers are made.
'Learning From LongHouse'
At East Hampton's LongHouse Reserve, the mission is to inspire creativity by incorporating art into living spaces. In "Learning From LongHouse" (Pointed Leaf Press, $32), founder Jack Lenor Larsen takes readers behind the scenes of the "laboratory of unconventional aspirations" for outdoor multimedia arts he launched 25 years ago. Larsen, who opened his eponymous design firm in 1952 and became known as "the textile designer who was dedicated to architecture," walks readers through commentaries and an array of double-page photographs that frame the story of his globe-trotting six-decade career and lifetime of planting, building and making. He also showcases iconic works at LongHouse by the likes of Yoko Ono, and he highlights the iconic Round House compound he built in East Hampton in 1964, which was inspired by the Bantu culture of West Africa.
'The Useful Book'
Billed as an anthology of "201 Life Skills They Used to Teach in Home Ec and Shop," this is the "The Useful Book" (Workman Publishing, $19.95) by Sharon and David Bowersall shows you how to "roll up your sleeves and cook it, build it, sew it, clean it or repair it yourself." A large portion of the New York City-based couple's book is devoted to cooking, blending the basics (boiling an egg, chopping an onion) with more sophisticated tasks (cooking lamb chops, making sushi). There are guides for chores such as mending clothing, doing laundry and cleaning, along with household tasks involving plaster, painting, plumbing, basic electrical, mechanical, and wood- and metalworking. Jam-packed with recipes, easy-to-follow instructions, household tool glossaries and illustrations by Sophia Nicolay, it's a book worth considering as an early going-away gift for any soon-to-be college freshman.
'How to Build a House'
Teach your children the basics of construction, engineering and architecture with "How to Build a House: A Colossal Adventure of Construction, Teamwork and Friendship" (Walter Foster Jr./Quarto Publishing, $14.95). In the latest installation of the "Technical Tales" series, three mice -- Eli, Phoebe and Hank -- get creative and learn how to design and build their own house "from the foundation to the rafters." The adorable anthropomorphic woodland creatures are vehicles for vivid, detailed introductions to blueprints, design principles, architectural elements, utilities, materials and tools. Written by Saskia Lacey, the STEM-focused book has with 100 illustrations by Martin Sodomka and is geared to readers ages 6 and older.
'Past Present: Living With Heirlooms and Antiques'
Learn how to make blast-from-the-past furniture and home accents fit seamlessly into modern decor in Susan Sully's "Past Present: Living With Heirlooms and Antiques" (The Monacelli Press, $45). Creative displays, tabletop compositions and ideas for matching objects from varied styles, periods and levels of formality are conveyed through 200 color photographs and vignettes from featured homeowners, designers and collectors. "Every dented baby cup, mended tablecloth, perfectly or imperfectly preserved piece of glass or porcelain tells a story that began long ago and hasn't ended yet," Sully writes. Gilded Age architect Stanford White's North Shore Box Hill summer getaway, now owned by his great-grandson, Daniel White, is featured, as are the circa-1898 East Hampton cedar shake cottage of fashion executives Charles Keller and Glenn Purcell and the Sag Harbor Greek Revival farmhouse of Joy Lewis and her late husband, Robert.
'Lovable Livable Home'
Three years after their first bestseller, the authors of "Young House Love" are back with "Lovable Livable Home" (Artisan, $27.50). Husband and wife authors Sherry and John Petersik's second book features 350 color photos, step-by-step projects and practical advice designed to help you hit the sweetest sweet spot of lovable and livable -- a blend of form, function and meaning for any living situation. It's served up with quirky humor and insights that parents and pet lovers are sure to appreciate (one particularly tantalizing tip shows how to re-imagine furniture to increase toy and book storage). In addition to their own experiences of designing for a growing family, the Petersiks feature dozens of families and how they make their home style work for them.
Trusting your instincts and embracing vibrant color is the gospel of Abigail Ahern's "Color." (Quadrille/Chronicle, $29.95). Ahern, a Londoner named one of the world's most exciting decorators by W magazine, recalls growing up surrounded by color in her childhood home, and she shows you how to break through color paralysis and enhance every room in the house, combine colors and build a space through color. She advises on how to build confidence and develop a unique sense of color, her seven steps for the perfect paint job and her 60-30-10 rule of color. There are more than 100 photos of colorful homes around the world.
'Mrs. Howard: Room by Room'
Bring the comfort, warmth and classic beauty of Southern style to your Long Island home with a hand from Mrs. Howard. Phoebe Howard's "Mrs. Howard: Room by Room" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $50) is the follow-up to "The Joy of Decorating" from the Atlanta interior designer. From the front porch to the family room, Howard aims to demystify the design process and breaks things down into small, easy-to-manage parts so readers can imbue their own homes with Mrs. Howard's celebrated Southern style and taste. Divvied up by rooms, the book features samples of the best and brightest examples from more than a dozen homes across the country, including several sterling samples from the Hamptons.
'Absolutely Beautiful Things'
C'mon, get happy! Aussie interior designer and blogger Anna Spiro's "Absolutely Beautiful Things" (Conran, $29.99) shows you how to create eclectic interiors and find beauty in unexpected places. I always endeavor to create happy, interesting, layered and uplifting spaces, she says. That means mixing everything: color and pattern, old and new, square and round, quirky and conservative. For Spiro, it's all about the mix not necessarily the match and in 190 color photos, she shows you how to work with pattern and color and offers guidance for every room. "As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as a decorating rule book and if there were, I'd be all for breaking the rules," she writes.
'Happy Home Outside: Everyday Magic for Outdoor Life'
Warm up this winter by planning your springtime outdoor décor. "Happy Home Outside: Everyday Magic for Outdoor Life" by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau (Jacqui Small, $40) hits shelves Feb. 18 and presents a fun-loving collection of outdoor decorating and styling solutions. Areas of focus include tips for sprucing up outdoor spaces of all sizes, including garden rooms, cabins, greenhouses, canopies and dining areas, planting containers, well as movable spaces like vintage vans and tents. Designs featured in the book are funky, colorful and fun, and do-it-yourself projects for flowerpots and flower boxes, dish towel cushions, a pallet swing and even playful spoon curtains are sprinkled throughout (as well as a few recipes). Gueniau is the founder of RICE, a Danish home-ware design company launched in 1998.
Long Island loves pink. That's evident in House Beautiful's "Pink" (Hearst, $24.95), which features the designs of homes from Locust Valley to the Hamptons. House Beautiful regular writer/interviewer Lisa Cregan shows you how to seamlessly integrate the color into your décor. Organized into three sections depending on how much pink you're looking to use, the book offers advice from some of America's top designers. "It's a passionate color," says House Beautiful editor-in-chief Newell Turner in a foreword. "It can radiate glamour, emit sparks, be traditional or even controversial. And I believe there's a pink for every person men included."