It’s the perfect time of year to grab a throw and a good book. Check out what our editors have to say about their latest favorite interior design, architecture and craft book reads. Here’s what we’ve been reading this month.
Traditional Now: Interiors by David Kleinberg • In a visually stunning tour of the homes of the well-heeled, David Kleinberg shares his best work as an interior decorator in Traditional Now (The Monacelli Press). This is how the Other Half lives. Kleinberg explains what traditional design means as, “a mix of materials and periods.” I’d add comfortable to that definition. While most of the rooms displayed in this book are lavish, rich and uncluttered, they still manage to exude a comfort that lets the reader think they wouldn’t feel awkward walking around in their socks. Of all the homes on display – from the urban slickness of a Manhattan loft to the country chic of a Hamptons retreat– my hands-down favorite is the island villa on Mustique that Kleinberg designed. Those images alone are the stuff of tropical dreams. —LILI ZARGHAMI, Managing Editor
Romantic English Homes • Anglophiles will enjoy this rare glimpse into 13 of England’s historic country homes, manors and rural farm houses – many never before photographed. Author Robert O’Byrne and photographer Simon Brown beautifully showcase interiors and sweeping gardens that exemplify a genteel-yet-relaxed and quintessentially English lifestyle. The British penchant for collecting antiques and displaying their timeworn treasures in a sometimes haphazard “more is more” fashion is the focus of Romantic English Homes (Ryland, Peters & Small), as is a brief history of each home’s inhabitants and the architectural or design changes they made throughout the centuries. The homes today are a balance of modern conveniences and faithfully restored original elements, each filled with a wide range of treasures gathered from all corners of the world. —CAMILLE SMITH, Editor
Bernard Maybeck – Architect of Elegance • World-renowned architect Bernard Maybeck is known for his 20th century structural creations along the West Coast. From clubhouses and redwood homes to churches and northern California landmarks, he turned architecture into a distinguished art form and has greatly influenced American architects to this day. In Bernard Maybeck – Architect of Elegance (Gibbs Smith), Maybeck’s buildings and designs are shared in great detail and accompanied by stunning photography and never-before-seen archival photographs, drawings, color photographs and even letters from Maybeck’s granddaughter Cherry. Although each Maybeck design features a timeless, grandeur element, nothing seems more magnificent than his most famous project – the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. This phenomenal structure was originally created to house a large collection of paintings and sculptures at San Francisco’s 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This ornate pavilion features a gorgeous rotunda and majestic colonnades bordered by a romantic landscaped lagoon. The ornate details of the structure itself combine Greek, Roman and Neoclassic details that Maybeck acquired an interest in while studying in Europe as a teenager. His primary goal, however, was to create a form of architecture that truly reflected the tone of the artwork being displayed within the structure. Almost a century later, it continues to stand alone in the middle of the old fairgrounds with a bustling San Francisco in the background. Pick up Architect of Elegance for an awe-inspiring journey into this amazing architect’s life and grand works. —KAYLA KITTS, Assistant Editor
A Life In Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter • The marvelous thing about reading a book written by a craft blogger is Google-ability. Endlessly curious about the epic Alice Starmore Cromarty sweater it took Rachael Herron 8 months to make in her knitting memoir A Life In Stitches: Knitting My Way Through Love, Loss, and Laughter (Chronicle Books); a quick search presented me with detailed shots of said sweater, on the author herself. As a former bartender who used to knit on slow Sunday afternoons, doling out the occasional beer to my quiet football watching regulars, I relate to the emotion Herron weaves into her work. Knitting is a contemplative hobby, one readily enjoyed alone or with similarly crafty friends. That said, I am a dabbler–I knit hats and scarves but I can’t follow a pattern and consider cable knit to be headachingly out of reach. And yet, Herron’s tales of spinning wool and knitting outrageously complex garments didn’t alienate me. Instead I read with rapt fascination, taking in the tales of her personal slings and arrows along with the slip knots and needles. A Life In Stitches even made me get out my dictionary, looking up the word qiviut: a very expensive, rare Arctic Musk Ox yarn softer and lighter than cashmere (and a great scrabble word). This book was a quick, delightful, inspiring read that has me ready to pick up the knitting needles again. —MARIANNE CANADA, HGTV Home Studio
Modern Tract Homes of Los Angeles • Tract homes have gotten a bum rap for being ugly, boxy and cookie-cutter. (Like in the early 1960s hit song “Little Boxes” that plays over the clever opening sequence of the TV show Weeds.) But Modern Tract Homes of Los Angeles by John Eng and Adriene Biondo (Schiffer Books) is taking back the term and showing that modern tract homes shouldn’t be synonymous with “ticky-tacky” or “identical.” As the floor plans and gorgeous photos prove, there’s actually a lot of variation and customization, even between homes that are next door to each other. Taking a look at five different LA tracts, the book is a great overview of not only the specific neighborhoods but also of modern design, mass-produced houses, developers and builders (like the famous Joseph Eichler), and California living in general. I’m a sucker for Palm Springs Modern, so the Morritt Residence really jumped out at me, but if you’re as big a fan of open plans, glass walls and clean lines as I am, you’ll fall in love with this whole book. —BRIANA MOWREY, Senior Editor
Handmade Home – Living With Art and Craft • Oscar Wilde had it right when he said life imitates art far more than art imitates life. I grew up in an artists’ home filled with handmade furniture and one-of-a-kind items that just oozes my parents’ personalities. Now that I’m decorating my own space, I long for that same curated, art-gallery feel. Handmade Home: Living With Art and Craft (Ryland, Peters & Small) is the book that will inspire you to create a delightfully imperfect look, too. With a “made not manufactured” mantra, the authors offer both a super-helpful primer on the elements of creating your own art-filled home and 12 inspirational “case studies” — peeks inside British artists’ homes to see how their professional style impacts their personal space. The book also challenges the idea of what “counts” as art. Why not display a delightfully weathered mustard-yellow jacket as wall art or incorporate a wall’s imperfections into the paint job? When you eliminate preconceived notions (as artists are so skilled at), it’s amazing how you can achieve beauty in new ways. The wheels in my head are already turning. —LIZ GRAY, Senior Editor