Henry Ward Beecher, famous abolitionist preacher and father of Harriet Beecher Stowe, said this with regard to books, “Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.” As in the photo above, of a library decorated by the revered Albert Hadley, nothing could be more true. However, a person does not have to have a library in order to use books for decor. I like to use big cocktail table books and stack them throughout my apartment with decorative objet on top. In my apartment in New York I had a coffee table with three large stacks of books and the books essentially became part of the table. Stacked on side tables, chairs, under tables and chairs, or even used as tables–books add a certain colorful classy expression to any space.
One day I will have a real library, but in the meantime, I will continue to use books for decoration. And will most likely continue to do so even after I have the library of my dreams. Since everyone knows that books are so important to me, they are always a big winner as Christmas gifts. Below are some of the books that I gave and received this year which I highly recommend.
If any of you are fans of Elle Decor (which we all know I am!), you should rush out and buy this book. It is a compilation of the best of the best of the magazine from over the years. The book is organized into sections such as kitchens, bathrooms and so on, and it is so cool to see the amazing range of interiors that the magazine has featured during its tenure as one of the top decorating magazines. Side note: in the January/February 2010 issue of Elle Decor, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Margaret Russell, writes her editors letter about design blogs!
David Hicks is a must have. Aside from the beautiful pictures, this text of this book is fascinating, and describes Hick’s changing aesthetic over the years. So amazingly British. The book is also huge, and would provide a great anchor for a tall stack of books!
Speaking of huge books, this one is a behemoth–but is full of the most fabulous pictures of the world’s chicest people. It covers some beautiful society weddings, Truman Capote’s black and white party, and the Costume Institute galas. What a treat!
The cover of this book should read: a book for italiophiles and romantics. This book is a compilation of stunning photos from beautiful homes in Italy which were lovingly restored by their owners. The perfect gift for any preservationist–we love before and afters.
Finally, Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire. A compilation of all the questionnaires from over the years coupled with their signature cartoon. Vanity Fair is my favorite magazine, and Proust Questionnaire, on the inside back cover, is always the first thing I read every issue. This book is great for just picking up and reading–and would do well on a coffee table where friends can open it and take a look.
I don’t have a library yet, but for now, my single shelf filled with books and back issues of Domino, Elle Decor, and House Beautiful will have to do!