Besides interiors and photography, my passion is helping you to be creative and create rooms that are uniquely you and spaces that you love. Take a look at the blog to get some inspiration or order Room Service to collaborate with me...

5 Interior Design Books you should read!

5 Interior Design Books you should read!

I love reading and adore coffee table books so it comes as no surprise that I love interiors books! I feel that they are always designed to be part of the decor as much as they are to be read and love seeing them on my shelf or on my side table. I have quite a lot of large hardback books including quite a few photography and travel books but I would say my interior design ones are the most read and have made the biggest impact on my life. I guess as a photographer, the images are as important as the text for me and all the books I'm reviewing in this post are aesthetically beautiful as well as brilliantly written.

I wouldn't say I've got a lot of time to read these days but when I do I do enjoy mostly non-fiction. These texts help me to learn new things about life and the world we live in (learning is a natural human thirst that can't be quenched!) and so these interiors books have all taught me something important and have impacted me in my design journey. Since having kids I definitely haven't read as many books as I'd like to and usually only get time to read in the bath but actually I realised that I read more online content via blogs. In spite of this I really do believe that print isn't dead (read more about my thoughts on this on my previous post here)!  Although I used to be part of a book group I've never been a fan of fiction and much prefer a good auto-biography or self development book that will impact my perspective on life straight away. So without further ado, here are some of my favourite interiors books that might also help you on your

1. How to Decorate by Farrow and Ball

Donna Ford Interior Design Books-How to decorate Farrow and Ball

My husband bought this book for me quite a while ago and I ashamedly have to say that it sat on the shelf for ages (maybe a year or two!) until recently when I discovered the little decorating gems that these pages contain. It's no secret that I am a huge Farrow and Ball fan and this book makes me an even bigger one. The images are so diverse and inspiring and include every colour on the spectrum. There are also copious ideas for each room in your home and one of my favourite sections is how to choose the perfect white to compliment each of Farrow and Ball's paint colours. There are amazing tips on lighting depending on which way your room faces and I also discovered that you can still get your hands on archived colours that are taken off the colour card to make way for the new hues each year. A really great place to go for looking at colours for rooms and really top notch advice and inspiration on what colours to paint architrave and woodwork. It's a bit of a decorating bible for me and it's thoughtful, intelligent and artistic content makes me respect this brand even more.

How to decorate by Farrow and ball - choosing whites
Donna Ford Interior Design Books-Farrow and Ball yellows

2. The secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair

Donna Ford Interior Design Books-thesecretlivesofcolour
 Look at the page ends!

Look at the page ends!

Ok so technically this isn't an interior design book BUT it's worth a mention because of the exquisite design of the pages and the depth of information surrounding different colours used throughout history. Kassia St Clair however has also written specifically about rooms recently in Elle Decoration but before I get into the content I need to mention the pages. The edges of the book correspond to the 75 colours discussed in the book and create a rainbow ombre effect as you fan the pages. It's a delight to hold in your hands! I think this is a must read for artists or designers as the historical context of certain hues are discussed in an interesting and often humorous way. One thing that stood out to me is that a lot of our associations with colour are linked to historical and cultural meaning and the importance of the ways they have been perceived through time. This is an important element with my work with clients in trying to help them discover their own unique interior style which is the key I believe to create rooms that you never tire of being in. I adore colour psychology (and have read many books on that too) but sometimes it's a very simplistic view that green makes us feel calm and blue reminds us of the sea etc. etc. Our minds and emotions are a lot more complex than that and I believe that specific memories and experiences actually dictate what our colour preferences are.

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no colour in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”
— John Calvin

It might sound all a bit deep for an interiors and DIY blog but Individualism is becoming a hugely popular buzz word in the interior design industry and I've seen a shift in the way top designers like Sophie Robinson (see below for more about her) doing a lot of work on colour psychology. It's much harder work to search within us and find out who we truly are artistically but as with all things, most worthwhile endeavours are worth the extra effort. Here endeth the lesson!

3. Modern Rustic by Emily Henson

Donna Ford Interior Design Books-Modern Rustic Emily Henson
Modern rustic by emily henson

This was another lovely present from Mr Skirting (I'm a lucky lady!) and it's kinda cool that my husband is aware of my decorating style. Rustic would definitely be a word that could be used to describe elements of our home together (we have 50 year old Jarrah wood railway sleepers from Australia as shelves in our living room which John lovingly cleaned, sanded and restored). I think 'Modern Rustic' needs a little explanation. It doesn't simply mean old and traditional or wooden or less than perfect, rather it's almost a mindset which celebrates the architecture of buildings, uses raw and organic materials from the natural world inside and curates important artefacts and objects to give a relaxed, personal feel. Sounds a little bit like someone I know... As I've already mentioned this idea of being unique and authentic in our decorating is a crucial element of design for me but another aspect of this book is the Artisanal influences which is apparently set to be a very popular interior trend this year.

Modern Rustic embraces various eras of style too including vintage or retro mid-century and I love the way it brings 'rustic' it up to date and marries the old and natrual with the new, giving a really fresh and unique look. What a great design ethos and one that I am definitely on board with. The beauty with this book is that Emily Henson's beautiful styling illustrates way better what my words are struggling to convey here! Every page is a delight with details and ideas to inspire and most of all I love that each space has a 'lived in' feel - you can almost imagine the individual who lives and breathes in the spaces. I was thankfully reacquainted with this book when I met Emily's sister at a local playgroup and we made the connection after a few conversations. The interiors world really is a small one!

4. Mad about the house by Kate Watson-Smyth

Donna Ford Interior Design Books-Mad about the house

If you have not heard of Kate Watson-Smyth and her award-winning blog Mad About the House where have you been?! This lady has written for many newspapers and had her home featured in many interiors magazines and this is her second book. I got a copy at her recent book launch in London and it can only be partly described as an anthology of ideas for each room around your home as well as some more general ideas about tools which can help or hinder our personal design process. She emphatically believes that our wardrobes hold the key to our personal decorating style (if we feel comfortable in particular colours and patterns we will enjoy being surrounded in the same) and she also discusses the peril of Pinterest! All of this is done with great humour and insight and is so impactful. The cover is a delight and interestingly there are minimal photographs as Kate felt that she didn't want the book to date over time. Instead there are plentiful hand drawn illustrations to illustrate her advice. Kate is authentic in her own journey and she generously imparts her wisdom and achievable advice to us the reader. It's also very practical with checklists and this is a great read if you've never decorated before or if you've been doing it for years.

 Thanks Kate!

Thanks Kate!

Donna Ford Interior Design Books-mad about the house
Donna Ford Interior Design Books-Mad about the house

5. Great Interior Design Challenge Sourcebook

 Maverick the cat getting in on the action here

Maverick the cat getting in on the action here

Now if you're an interiors enthusiast I'm sure you'll remember the Great Interior Design Challenge that was aired on the BBC over the past few years (sadly it's over for good now). The last series replaced Sophie Robinson (who was sadly missed!) with Kelly Hoppen joining Daniel Hogwood and I love following the inspiring work that these designers are creating at the moment. Looking back I'm sure in some part watching these amateurs carve a new path into interior design on our TV screens has fuelled my own career change long before it would actually happen. I loved watching how the designers come up with some really interesting and original ideas and how they had to learn the craft and skill of translating someones else hopes and visions for their home into reality. This book builds on the theme of some of the previous books of touring around each room with photographs from the series to show the completely different outcomes depending on the desires and dreams from each home-owner and embraces every piece of architecture you could imagine including a beach hut! Besides the great design ideas, I love the way this book reminds me of how interior design used to be a hobby and how lucky I am to have found myself on this creative and fulfilling path.

*BONUS* The Architecture of Happiness

 My husband's bedside table with his new Anglepoise Lamp

My husband's bedside table with his new Anglepoise Lamp

Although this is a little soft back book not a coffee table ornament, I had to mention it here as it grabbed my attention instantly with it's intriguing title. I'm not going to go into too much depth here but The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton is a must-read for those serious about architecture and design. I read this just as I was starting up my blog over a year ago and it really laid a foundation for my thinking and intent for my business. It's pretty deep and philopshical (hmmm I wonder why I love it?) and discusses aesthetics and how and why we perceive things as beautiful. He also considers architecture and furniture from a historical perspective as well as exteriors and interiors from across the world. It's a really engaging and thought-provoking book and has a clever way of making you reflect on your own life.

Further Reading

Sorry for sounding like a teacher but I have a long list of books that I am dying to read and wanted to share a couple that I discovered recently on the 91 Magazine blog. I cannot wait to read This is Home: the art of simple living by Natalie Walton and discover more about how identity and authenticity is expressed through how we create home. This is very much something that I am enjoying figuring out myself. I'd also love a flick through New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable Intentional Living by Cary Telander Fortin & Kyle Louise Quilici as although I would never call myself a minimalist I am on a journey of discovering how to get rid of things I don't need (thanks Marie Kondo!) and have always had the view that to re-use and re-purpose items is not only a great attitude for our homes but also life. I love that interiors books are starting to have an increasing focus on wellbeing, simplicity and authenticity through carefully selecting and deselecting (or decluttering) items from our home. Putting this into action is easier said than done and probably deserves another blog post soon...

Pile of coffee table interiors books

I'm dying to know what you think of the list and whether you have read any of the books or are inspired to out and buy some? Also please comment below with any great books you reading about interiors and homes that I can add to my list. It's been an exciting week at home with the new kitchen cupboards being fitted so pop over to Instagram and keep updated with our progress on Stories!

Yours in colour and creativity,

Donna Ford Skirting Boards and Chandeliers

PS All photography by me and this isn't a sponsored post. Just sharing what I think will help you on your decorating journey!


Industville: Illuminating every room

Industville: Illuminating every room