Home design books for holiday gifting

As an architect, I have read hundreds of books on home design and remodeling. If you’re shopping for the home enthusiast this holiday season, here are my top picks:

FOR PRACTICAL ADVICE

Get Your House Right is full of practical advice with visual aides that explain how to make the architectural features of your home look “right.”

How to Work With an Architect is the best book out there on the process of working with your architect from start to finish. If you have questions like, “How do architects charge? How much do they charge? Why do I need one?” this book will answer them honestly.

Trying to determine what style your house is… was… or wants to become? Looking for clues about what makes for good curb appeal? A Field Guide to American Houses was recently updated to include some current trends in home design.

DECORATING INSPIRATION

A can’t-go-wrong for that person on your list who watches HGTV for hours. Pair Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Wan to Leave with a gift card to Target that can be used to purchased some of Joanna Gaines’ decor items.

This book is a field guide to the secret sauce that is Lauren Leiss’s signature style. Look for her new series on HGTV: Best House on the Block.

Written by one of the best-known design bloggers, Holly Becker, Decorate Workshop: Design and Style Your Space in 8 Creative Steps is full of inspiration and practical advice.

SMALL HOUSE INSPIRATION

One of my go-to references for inspiration photos, 500 Cottages is a perfect little book for a stocking stuffer — full of vintage home eye candy.

Another book in the same series as 500 Cottages, 500 Bungalows is a great collection of historic bungalows. It’s as is someone went around every city and took photos of all the special little houses in this genre.

The latest in the popular series of books by Sara Susanka, Not So Big Remodeling is full of practical advice and photos to inspire you to accomplish more with a “not so big” approach.

STORIES ABOUT CREATING YOUR DREAM SPACE

The Most Beautiful House in the World will capture your heart as you follow the author through the emotional investment in building his own home.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home is required reading for anyone considering building their own home, or remodeling one. Read it, then watch the movie starring Carey Grant. My favorite part is when the wife describes the colors she wants to the painter.

Think is must be easier if only you lived in France? L’Appart will reveal the differences.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate if you click through and make a purchase.  All opinions are my own.

North Slope: Before & After

 BEFORE (left) & AFTER (right)

BEFORE (left) & AFTER (right)

Remodeled years ago, complete with an acoustical ceiling tile grid with fluorescent lights, this Craftsman Bungalow kitchen was long overdue for an overhaul. There was very little original charm left, other than the leaded glass doors in the breakfast nook.  Our goal was to restore vintage character while creating a highly functional kitchen that will eventually appeal to buyers.

The leaded glass doors were reused in the design of the custom china armoire, seen in the 'AFTER' image (above, right).

A new, widened opening from the kitchen to the dining room features a bar-height mahogany peninsula to make visiting while cooking effortless and to double as a serving counter. The opening was curved to match the existing openings exactly.

 The antique telephone and mixer both work and are used frequently.

The antique telephone and mixer both work and are used frequently.

The retro-style fridge, vintage telephone, farmhouse apron sink, linoleum floors, and mix of reproduction and vintage light fixtures bring the charm to the foreground of what is now a functionally modern kitchen.

To see more photos, visit Houzz.

HOW IT STARTED

I was contacted by this homeowner after he attended my "Kitchen Remodeling for Vintage Homes" lecture at Historic Seattle.  The project had been on his mind for years, and he had already completed several other restoration/remodel projects in the house.  But, the kitchen posed a lot of design challenges and he knew he wanted to get it "right"... and by "right" I mean have it feel special and historic when he was done, not screaming remodeled now and outdated 10 years from now.

GETTING VINTAGE CHARM RIGHT

To come up with the big vision and translate it into construction drawings and specifications so that it could become reality, I started with several design concepts that met his criteria.  After he selected one of those concepts, I drew a detailed set of drawings. To make sure that the details that would make the semi-custom cabinets look both fully-custom and vintage were implemented, the homeowner and I met with the cabinetmaker to fine-tune the design to optimize the results while utilizing components available from the chosen product line.

Project Completion: Woodinville

Remember the 3D sketch and the in-progress picture of the indoor therapy pool at the Woodinville project?  (Click here to jump to the original post.)  Here is a photo of the pool, finished and ready for fun!

Woodinville-26.jpg

We designed a curved aluminum plate suspended by rods to support the Surehands track that carries the clients' daughter in a sling from her bed, to the bathroom, and into the pool. The plate was powder-coated white to match the Surehands track and kept minimal in scale to maintain the open feeling of the room. Our project foreman took a preview ride to torture-test it and gave it two thumbs-up for sturdiness.

 This bathroom was designed to be utilized by the daughter and her caretakers as well as those enjoying the adjacent pool.

This bathroom was designed to be utilized by the daughter and her caretakers as well as those enjoying the adjacent pool.

The bathroom is adjacent to the pool room, and the entire floor is designed to be both slip-resistant and to drain when wet. The changing table, sink, and tub are all height-adjustable. Storage was carefully planned to be within the caretaker's reach at each station. Here, you can see the overhead tracks above the toilet and the changing table - which continues through the door and over to the pool as seen in the first photo.

 The bathroom features an adjustable-height tub and open shower area washed in natural light.

The bathroom features an adjustable-height tub and open shower area washed in natural light.

Our design philosophy throughout the house was that everyone should be able to go everywhere in the house, which means that the master bathroom is sized for wheelchair maneuverability even though the primary users of this room do not use wheelchairs.  

 The curbless shower and digital thermostatic controls in the master bathroom are added safety features.

The curbless shower and digital thermostatic controls in the master bathroom are added safety features.

The theme of bright, airy spaces is continued throughout the house, including the master shower where the glass was partially etched for privacy while maintaining clear glass at the top and bottom for openness.

 The master shower's controls are positioned so that the temperature can be adjusted without being under the spray (to avoid cold or hot water hitting the body until the desired temperature is reached.)

The master shower's controls are positioned so that the temperature can be adjusted without being under the spray (to avoid cold or hot water hitting the body until the desired temperature is reached.)

Line of sight from the kitchen to the playroom allows the family to be together while involved in separate activities. Knee-space and maneuverability for wheelchair-users was incorporated into the design.  

 The naturally-lit playroom interiors, designed Lucy Johnson Interior Design, received a National Kitchen and Bath Association Design Award for design excellence.

The naturally-lit playroom interiors, designed Lucy Johnson Interior Design, received a National Kitchen and Bath Association Design Award for design excellence.

Project Team: