Pandemic precautions changed our lives in so many ways, none more universal than the need to seek joy and comfort in our living spaces. Designers and architects, who also were largely confined at home, responded with an impressive roster of book releases in 2021. The year’s hottest themes are healthy spaces, botanical enrichment, do-it-yourself, and escapes to far-off places.
These 10 titles are sure to delight and inspire the design aficionados on your gift-giving list this holiday season. While you’re at it, be sure to treat yourself.
Botanical Buildings: When Plants Meet Architecture by Judith Baehner
Driven by her mission to enrich the built environment with nature, plant guru Judith Baehner presents a collection of the world’s greenest and most innovative spaces in her latest book. She showcases a range of building types, from small houses to large office buildings, and reveals how plant life and architecture come together in interior design and construction. Throughout the pages are breathtaking photographs and practical solutions for creating verdant courtyards, botanical walls, serene tablescapes and indoor gardens. Design professionals and enthusiasts alike are sure to be inspired to expand their connections with nature.
BuildHer: Empowering Women to Build and Renovate Their Dream Home by Kribashini Hannon and Rebeka Morgan
Whether you are contemplating a home renovation or flipping your third property, this book caters to whatever level of experience you have in building and construction—even no experience. Written for women by women, BuildHer guides you through the entire building and renovation process, inspires you with fabulous case studies, and empowers you to take charge of your own projects. The authors are seasoned construction pros who founded the BuildHer Collective, an online educational program and international community that helps women achieve their building goals and have fun doing it.
Design A Healthy Home: 100 Ways to Transform Your Space for Physical and Mental Wellbeing by Oliver Heath
You’re spending more time than ever inside your home, according to research, so why not make it as healthy as it can be? In this cheerfully illustrated book, sustainability architect Oliver Heath delivers dozens of stylish, fun and affordable suggestions to create a restorative, nurturing environment. His approach is based on biophilic design principles, an ethos that builds on the powerful connection between humans and nature. You’ll learn how to achieve color harmony, turn your bathroom into a retreat and (finally) get a good night’s sleep. Whatever your budget and whether you rent or own, these small changes can turn your home into a sanctuary.
Green Interior Design: The Guide to Sustainable High Style by Lori Dennis and Courtney Porter
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We know we need to live more sustainably, but too often we just don’t know how or what the healthiest decisions are. The second edition of Green Interior Design is an updated, comprehensive guide to planet-friendly building, designing and decorating, regardless of your budget. It covers all the details with checklists, nifty DIY how-tos and buying resources. One of the many outstanding homes profiled is an artist’s Venice Beach abode was “greened” via solar panels, LED lighting and dimmers, rainwater collection tanks and an edible garden.
Flowers by Charlotte Moss
In her testament to flowers as an essential part of daily life, interior designer Charlotte Moss offers inspiration for using them as glorious additions to home decorating, entertaining and quiet relaxation. She encourages readers to bring the garden indoors with ideas for arranging flowers, selecting containers and placing blossoms around the house. Spoiler alert: Your entryway, bedside and favorite reading chair are prime locations. Moss’s fondest flower-laden memories and tributes to past tastemakers such as Gloria Vanderbilt and Lee Radziwill are accompanied by exquisite photography that could surely be termed “petal porn.” Flowers is sure to brighten your darkest wintry day.
Jungalow: Decorate Wild by Justina Blakeney
What started as a fun name for a small bungalow lavished with plant life and botanical motifs grew into a popular blog and lifestyle brand for Justina Blakeney. Her latest book is bold and colorful as she illustrates her signature style in which Mother Nature is the ultimate inspiration. In Blakeney’s world, more is better when it comes to mixing patterns and prints. She shares personal stories, practical advice and encouragement of self-expression through interiors.
The New Mindful Home: And How to Make it Yours by Joanna Thornhill
We often think of mindfulness in relation to meditation, but our homes and interior design can play a big part in our emotional wellbeing. Interior stylist Joanna Thornhill presents a beautifully illustrated guide to creating thoughtful spaces that not only look good but also make you feel good. With practical attention to problem-solving, she explores how to use interiors to live with intention, by creating supportive room layouts, choosing mood-enhancing color schemes, and embracing plants and other natural elements. Follow her thoughtful advice, and you’ll create the authentic environment you will always want to come home to. Or perhaps you’ll never leave.
Provence Style: Decorating with French Country Flair by Shauna Varvel and Alexandra Black
The sylvan countryside and sun-drenched skies of southern France have long enchanted home decorators, artists and tastemakers. Among them is Shawna Varvel, who undertook a three-year renovation of a 200-year-old farmhouse outside Avignon on the Rhone River. Using her luxurious home and magnificent grounds as a starting point, she takes you on a captivating tour of a refreshed Provencal aesthetic. The book journeys through public and private spaces, and the kitchens and courtyards of some of the most distinctive homes in the picturesque region. Along the way, Varvel generously shares her shopping resources and contractors, along with her quest to find the perfect shade of blue for dozens of window shutters.
Victoria Hagan: Live Now by Victoria Hagan
When 2020 arrived, Victoria Hagan, one of the most sought-after designers in the country, found herself at home like everyone else, and she saw her life and space with fresh eyes. The result is this awe-inspiring book—it offers multiple break-taking gatefolds—that takes a life-affirming look at the nature of home and how it connects, comforts and nourishes us. Featured are 12 exquisite new residential projects, built between the 18th century and the present, each one speaking to both timelessness and the way we live now. Among them is an iconic waterfront Hamptons home redesigned for a modern family with comfortable, versatile spaces, all strategically arranged to frame the magnificent ocean view.
Workstead: Interiors of Beauty and Necessity by Workstead and David Sokol
The design studio Workstead has earned wide acclaim for interiors with a restrained aesthetic of sophisticated, updated Americana. This book takes you on a visual tour of the firm’s finest renovations and innovations, from a Victorian mansion to a Tribeca loft to a countryside cottage. You’ll see how vintage details are celebrated, then subtly teamed with sleek cabinetry and furniture meticulously crafted by local artisans. The interiors are chic and understated, yet also comfortable and practical. Be sure to make note of the light fixtures—they are Workstead’s own designs.
This article originally appeared on spacesmag.com.
How to Help:
If you’re interested in helping more people have access to design services, you can support the nonprofit Designs for Dignity, which transforms nonprofit environments through pro bono design services and in-kind donations.
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Pamela Dittmer McKuen is an award-winning Chicago-based freelance features journalist who specializes in home, design and travel. She has dual passions for dark chocolate and cats. She’s an ardent supporter of Bridge Communities, a nonprofit that helps homeless families transition to self-sufficiency, and Feral Fixers, a trap-neuter-release and cat adoption agency.