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Books: Home Decorating

The most daunting aspect of home decorating is where to begin. Do you rethink a room from top to bottom, or just repaint? Should you stick with your color scheme? Buy new furniture? This season’s decorating books give you a creative boost to make the first move and underscore the fact that the simplest touches can make your home more appealing. Here’s our Top 10 list:

If you’re a detail-oriented person, making a mental note of what to buy at the wallpaper store just won’t do. The Decorator’s Fact File by Anoop Parikh (Soma, $25) is a compact, hands-on decorator’s journal-with plenty of pages to log in room dimensions, paint colon, and to-do tasks. You’ll bring your renovation in on budget and on time with this useful guide.

One of the busiest rooms in your house need not fall short on style. Consult The Bathroom Idea Book by Andrew Wormer (Taunton Press, $29.95, out in October) for smart tips catering to a wide variety of tastes and budgets. Useful pointers on layout, materials, and costs are accompanied by inspiring photos.

Want to bring a little spunk to your drab kitchen? In Kitchen Junk (Viking Studio, $29.95, out in September), Mary Randolph Carter gives advice on transforming your home with flea-market finds. This imaginative stylist-known/ as the Queen of Junk-shows how treasures such as graniteware pitchers and Day-Glo Tupperware sets can bring charm to any kitchen. Savvy vintage-shopping tips and some 400 color photos make the transformation simple.

Along the same lines, Cath Kidston–a London-based shop owner and decorator–captures the charm of redoing your home with old-fashioned touches in Vintage Style (Bulfinch Press, $29.95, out in October). Her philosophy: Mix and match what you have with what you pick up secondhand-soft, floralprinted linens, well-loved antiques, and faded photographs.

Crave a little color in your life? Shelter Now by Natalia Marshall (Universe Publishing, $25, out in October) emboldens the reader to use strong lines, dramatic hues, and funky fabrics in the home. Get creative–learn to make your own fauxfur throw, spice up the kitchen with fire-engine-red appliances, or mix kitsch with classic for a unique and fun decor.

A room should have an emotional connection to your life, says interior decorator Judith Wilson in Inspiration, Decoration (Simon & Schuster, $35). Her suggestion: Focus on what inspires you; it might be a piece of aqua sea glass from your last beach vacation that prompts you to paint your foyer in shimmering blues. Bright, detailed photographs of rooms–from formal to kid-friendly–illustrate how objects from nature or memorable colors can move you in imaginative ways.

Not for the faint of heart, Mexicolor (Chronicle Books, $24.95) captures the bold spirit of South-of-the-border design. Photographer Melba Levick, artist Masako Takahashi, and writer Tony Cohan dare you to splash brilliant fuchsia on conservative white walls and adorn a kitchen with handpainted pottery and turquoise tiles. From weavings to murals, doorways to patios, Mexicolor shows how the daring decorator can turn a plain home into a work of art.

Debbie Travis’ Decorating Solutions (Clarkson Potter Publishers, $29.95, out in September) proves there’s more to a painted wall than a flat or semigloss finish. The author and host of the television series Debbie Travis’ Painted House gives expert advice on decorating walls, ceilings, doors, floors, and staircases with more than 65 clever treatments.

Attention bookworms? Put down that novel, and check out Living with Books by Alan Powers (Soma, $35); it’s full of wonderful examples of how to display your Prousts and paperbacks. A chapter called “Practicalities” outlines the basics of building do-it-yourself bookcases, from wood to metal racks.

Tired of how-to books, but still yearning for inspiration? Terence Conran’s Easy Living (Soma, $35) offers up a clean-cut approach to maintaining simplicity in your surroundings. Chapters include “Sleep,” which features a sumptuous bed, draped with mosquito netting, in a white room–dreamy design at its purest.


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