Best home decor books of 2017 cover a wide range

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News
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Cozy but minimalist. Chic but industrial. Tiny spaces to one of the most iconic homes on the planet: the White House.

My favorite home decor books this year cover a wide range of topics at both ends of the design spectrum. And whether your style is sleek or farmhouse comfortable, options abound for some good home decor reading.

The bulk of the books on this year’s list aren’t traditional, glossy home decor books, perfect for drooling over lush photos. Many have Pinterest-worthy photos, but even better, they have great tips.

Hygge — pronounced hue-guh — is the Danish art for coziness and has really became part of the American vernacular over the last year. “The Hygge Life: Embracing the Nordic Art of Coziness Through Recipes, Entertaining, Decorating, Simple Rituals, and Family Traditions” (Ten Speed Press, $22) aims to teach the rest of us the art of incorporating coziness into our lives. That means cooking soul-warming meals and also decorating in inviting ways.

Another favorite this year, “Remodelista: The Organized Home,” on the other hand, takes a more minimalist approach to our “stuff.” Written by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick, the editors of, it’s filled with ideas for not just thoughtfully organizing our things but paring them down.

Two of my favorites this year have Michigan ties.

French photographer Michel Arnaud’s “Detroit: The Dream Is Now” (Abrams, $40) looks at the city’s burgeoning revival through nature, restaurants, and yes, design. Several homes are featured throughout the 272-page book, including the home of furniture designers Abir Ali and Andre Sandifer who together run Ali Sandifer.

And for anyone has who has ever had questions about how to pick and nurture the right houseplants, Livonia native Lisa Eldred Steinkopf’s “Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing and Caring for Indoor Plants” (Cool Springs Press, $30) is an excellent go-to guide. She’s called the Houseplants Guru for a reason.

Nearly every book on this year’s list either tells an interesting story or offers practical, useful tips that you can use in your own home. Happy reading!

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Twitter: @mfeighan

“A White House Christmas”

Laura Dowling was the White House’s chief floral designer for six years during the Obama administration and one of her most significant jobs was planning the Christmas decor. And the decor was about so much more than ornaments and garland. Working with first lady Michelle Obama and a team of volunteers, Dowling, author of “A White Christmas” (Stichting Kunstboak, $45), writes that the White House’s Christmas decor is actually a way of highlighting the first lady’s key priorities, while showcasing American artisans and handcrafted designs. Dowling delves into the work that goes into holiday decorating every year — they decorate 50 White House trees each season, featuring 3,500 ornaments alone. She also includes some great tutorials for creating your own White House-inspired holiday decor, including garland and floral arrangements.

“Remodelista: An Organized Home”

In 2013, Julie Carlson, editor of, a go-to website for home design enthusiasts, remodelers and designers, published a book for fans that shared the same pared-down aesthetic. Four years later, Carlson is back, this time with another Remodelista editor, Margot Guralnick, to share organizing tips in “Remodelista: The Organized Home” (Artisan Books, $24.95). Together they tackle areas that are prone to clutter, including the entryway, kitchen, bathroom, workstation and laundry and utility closet. But the books never sacrifices order for style. Carlson and Guralnick also tap a unique set of experts who are used to dealing with their own kind of chaos — a kindergarten teacher and a kitchen designer, for example — their tips.

“City Farmhouse Style”

Farmhouse style is hot these days. Look no further than HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, who just introduced a collection with Target. But if you need help achieving this look in your own home, check out “City Farmhouse Style” (Abrams, $35). Author Kim Leggett is a designer and vintage dealer who with her husband, David, owns City Farmhouse. She offers tips on how to create farmhouse style whether you live in a real farmhouse or in a new build in the suburbs. She also profiles homes that embrace farmhouse style. She says the beauty of farmhouse style is that “it recognizes no boundaries.” “It embraces an eclectic mix of periods and aesthetics, combining the traditional farmhouse of decades ago with modern trends of today,” she writes.

“The Hygge Life”

You’ve likely heard of hygge but have two questions: how to pronounce it and what it is. Hygge, pronounced hue-guh, is the Danish art for coziness. Several books have been written this year about embracing hygge as a way to create warmth and comfort in your life, not just in the winter. The latest, “The Hygge Life” (Ten Speed Press, $22), written by Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy, includes dozens of recipes and other tips to incorporate hygge, which they describe as a “winter elixir.” “Hygge is about creating a sanctuary of warmth and coziness that acts as a refuge for you and everyone you love,” write Gislason and Eddy in their introduction. “Inviting comforting elements into your day-to-day life is the essence of hygge.” The book offers great tips on simple things like even how to make the perfect cup of coffee or tea at home (Scandanavians love coffee) and dozens of soul-warming recipes.

“The New Bohemians Handbook”

You either love designer Justina Blakeney’s bohemian style or it gives you a headache. I love it. It’s as vibrant, rule-breaking and out the box as she showed in her first book, “The New Bohemians,” which explored bohemian style across the globe and became a New York Times best-seller. Now, Blakeney has written “The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes” (Abrams, $27.50). Blakeney offers tips on how to make bohemian style your own, from rearranging what you have to painting. It’s part book, part yoga lesson as Blakeney walks readers through finding clarity, flow, growth and harmony in our homes. In the end, it’s about creating a space that reflects you, she writes. “The only design mistake you can make is to live in a space that doesn’t reflect your personality, your desires and your dreams — that is no way to live!” she writes.

“Detroit: The Dream Is Now”

In 2013, French photographer Michel Arnaud wrote a book about Brooklyn, exploring its rebirth. Now he’s written a similar book about Detroit’s burgeoning renaissance after falling in love with the city. “Detroit: The Dream Is Now” (Abrams, $40) is divided into five chapters and explores iconic Detroit businesses, the art scene, the design scene and, lastly, the food scene. I especially liked how Arnaud delves into individual homes and businesses. The book profiles the homes of several Detroiters with beautiful photos, including the loft of collector and artist Lisa Spindler; the Indian Village home of former Detroit News photographer Donna Terek and her husband Paul Ryder; and the home of Slows Bar BQ owner Phillip Cooley and his wife Katie Bordine.

“She Shed: A Room of Her Own”

Author Erika Kotite had me at “she shed.” She Sheds are the latest version of a potter’s shed — a small structure where women can go to do whatever they like, whether it’s gardening or reading. Kotite’s book, “She Sheds: A Room of Her Own” (Cool Springs Press, $25), profiles unique she sheds across the globe, from Australia to Washington. She offers useful information on how to build your own she shed, whether you’re using a kit, building your own or renovating another structure into one. You’ll have she shed envy by the end of the book.


Lisa Eldred Steinkopf carries many titles: author, blogger and houseplants guru among them (her blog is called Her book, “Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing and Caring for Indoor Plants,” is all about not just nurturing and caring for houseplants, but picking the right ones from the start. Steinkopf, who is from Livonia, offers tips on where to place plants, proper maintenance beyond watering and how to propagate them. The book also includes profiles of 125 of the most popular plants.

“How They Decorated”

What does your decorating style say about who you are? And what does the style of some of the 20th-century’s biggest tastemakers say about us as a culture? And what was their influence on the rest of us? “How They Decorated” (Rizzoli, $55) studies the style of 16 20th century tastemakers, including heiress Bunny Mellon; artist Georgia O’Keeffe; and Baroness Pauline de Rothschild. Author P. Gaye Tapp divides the book into four styles and examines the lasting impact of each of these women in that style. It’s a fascinating look at the intersection of interior design, personality and career.

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