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What No One tells you about Selecting Coffee Table Books

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

The internet is full of ideas about coffee table books and I tend to see the same trendy neutral books suggested all the time. Although I too am a sucker for a beautiful neutral spine book, there is something much more important when selecting your books that no one talks about. That is, your interests and personality!


Coffee Table books should be a reflection of you!


When it comes to selecting coffee table books, most people simply choose based on aesthetics. While there's nothing wrong with displaying beautiful books, I believe that this is a missed opportunity to personalize your space, create conversation, and showcase your uniqueness. In this article, I want to share what no one tells you about selecting coffee table books and offer a formula to help you assess your interests and pick books that truly reflect who you are.

As an interior designer, I have always found that the coffee table books you choose to display in your home can say a lot about your personality and interests. Whether you are a book lover or just love to have some colorful and artistic pieces to decorate your space, the right coffee table books can add a unique touch to your home decor. So the best coffee table books are not just about aesthetics but should also reflect your personality, your interests, and your lifestyle.


First, let's dive into my top picks and interests when it comes to coffee table books. Fashion, art, food and wine, travel, interiors and architecture, and personalized books are all categories that I gravitate towards when choosing books for my coffee table.


Jump Ahead to a Category:

Food and Drinks



The Formula for Personalizing your books


To pick the perfect coffee table books that reflect your interests and personality, you can follow this simple formula and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Determine your interests: Make a list of your hobbies, passions, and interests. This can include topics like travel, food, art, music, fashion, photography, design, and more.

  2. Assess your experiences: Think about the places you've traveled to, the restaurants you've eaten at, the concerts you've attended, and any other experiences that have impacted you.

  3. Consider your lifestyle: Take into account your lifestyle and the things that you enjoy doing in your free time. This can include outdoor activities, sports, reading, or spending time with family and friends.

  4. Look for inspiration: Browse through your favorite magazines, Pinterest boards, and Instagram accounts to find inspiration for coffee table books that match your interests and style.

  5. Mix and match: Don't be afraid to mix and match different genres and topics. You can combine art books with cookbooks, travel guides with fashion photography, or family photo albums with music biographies.

  6. Personalize it: Add personal touches to your coffee table display by incorporating family photos, heirlooms, or souvenirs from your travels.

By following this formula and asking yourself these questions, you can create a coffee table display that reflects your unique interests and personality. Remember, the most important thing is to choose books that you love and that inspire you. Here's a peek into my interests and some of my top picks!

Art and Music Lovers


If you are an art enthusiast, you might want to display books that showcase the works of your favorite artists, art movements, or styles. Books like "The Story of Art" by E. H. Gombrich, "1000 Record Covers" by Michael Ochs, or "The Art of Color" by Johannes Itten can add a unique touch to your living room and reflect your passion for art.



The Story of Art

 

This edition is not available yet but you can pre-order for May. What I love about it is the pop of yellow! I'm a fan of rotating books around your home so this is a great one to pick up some color in a room. Previous versions are available but I would go ahead and get this new edition.


This is a great one for the true art history lover. It's also a smaller book so this would be a great one to top off a stack or on a nightstand.




 



1000 Record Covers

 

I love this book as a conversation piece. Your guests will love to look through this book and remember album covers they had over the years.


This edition has a selection of the best rock album covers of the 60s to 90s from music archivist, disc jockey, journalist, and former record-publicity executive Michael Ochs’s enormous private collection.



 

A few other art lovers coffee table books that could be good choices. Have you visited the MoMA? Do you have a favorite artist or style of art? Look for things that have a personal connection for you.






Fashion


Many of you may know that I actually started my career in Fashion Design and Merchandising and spent nearly two decades in the Fashion Industry and so I can't leave this category off my list. For those who share my interest in fashion, I suggest books that showcase the history of fashion or iconic fashion photographers, such as "Fashion: The Whole Story" by Marnie Fogg or "Avedon Fashion 1944-2000" by Carol Squiers. There are also many beautiful fashion books showcasing specific designers that may be good choices depending on your interests.




Fashion: The Whole Story

 

This book takes you through every era of fashion from ancient Greece all the way to modern day.


Another bonus for this book, in my opinion, is that it has a striking bold vintage cover and gives you a pop of color while still being mostly neutral.


It's kind of like a "cool" text book with a lot of pretty images!



 

Avedon Fashion: 1944-2000


Another great book, especially if you want some color and a vintage vibe is Avedon Fashion which covers the work of the Fashion Photographer, Richard Avedon.


This is a pricey one for sure but a collector's edition type that would be great as a gift for someone who loves fashion.







 

Gucci: The Making of

 

For a bold and modern luxury coffee table book, try this Gucci book. The House of Gucci has been a major influence on design and culture over the past decade and for much of my fashion career.


This is more than just a picture book, although, it has plenty of pictures too. This book shares a behind the scenes look at the untold stories, photography and pays homage to the heritage of this brand.



 

Vivienne Westwood: Catwalk

 

What can I even say about this book? Look at it! It is just gorgeous!


For fashion lovers, Vivienne Westwood's designs are a must-see. Her bold and fearless approach to fashion has inspired generations of designers and fashion enthusiasts, and her impact on the industry cannot be overstated. Whether you're interested in punk rock, British fashion, or social activism, there's something in Westwood's designs that will speak to you.





 

There are so many options out there when it comes to fashion books so I suggest that if this is an area of interest for you that you decide what designers, photographers, decades, or styles mean something to you are that you love and inspire you. If you like a curated lifestyle book, you can't go wrong with Ralph Lauren: A way of Living. The book Wonderland by photographer Annie Leibovitz is also a great choice and has beautiful red pages from the side, and lastly for a striking modern and masculine book Tom Ford is a favorite!




Travel

Travel books are another great way to showcase your interests and inspire conversation with guests.

If you love travel and adventure, coffee table books like "National Geographic Destinations of a Lifetime" or "Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel" can be great conversation starters. Because I have done so much international travel in my career and have a lot of happy moments in those times, I like to incorporate books from places I have personally been. Something you may not know about me is that I have been to India more times than I can count! I love the food, the people, the culture and it represents a time in my career, friendships and relationships that have lasted for many years and a time that is crucial to who I am today. I have also traveled to Japan, Hong Kong, China, Bangladesh, Tawain, The Phillipeans, France, England, Mexico, Honduras and several other countries but those are some of the standouts for me. Travel has played a major role on shaping my views and how I approach design and see the world.



 



Food and Drinks

If you are a foodie and love to cook, you might want to consider coffee table books that showcase recipes, culinary history, and gastronomy. Books like "The Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, or "The Silver Spoon" by Phaidon Press are great options to add to your collection. I highly recommend the "New Classics" by Donna Hay" for those who love cooking and want to display a visually stunning cookbook on their coffee table. For me personally, I also love to have cookbooks from some of my favorite restaurants and you can always ask the chef to autograph them to add an extra special touch. I have a couple that I love. Several of mine are books from restaurants in L.A. that I have loved for years. Not only are the recipes great but they are personal and have meaning to me. My two favorite currently are Bestia which is in downtown L.A. and Gracias Madre on Melrose in West Hollywood. Another book that hits both the aesthetic list and is just all around fabulous is "Eat, Drink, Nap" which is a collection from all of the Soho houses around the world. The only Soho house I have been to is one in London but what an experience!


Donna Hay: The New Classics

 

This gorgeous cookbook from Australian cookbook author Donna Hay, is just what it says, classic. In addition it has beautiful full page editorial photos and this book means business! It is almost 2" thick with a pretty

blue ribbon bookmark.



 

Bestia

 

This vibey restaurant located in Downtown LA is a personal favorite of mine. Located in a mixed space that is equally rustic and industrial, it has so much character!


Although this is a cookbook, the interior is so inspirational too! Every detail is so intentional from the hand crafted copper bar to the craft cocktail menu. The food is incredible rustic Italian and if you're planning a trip to LA, make your reservations far in advance! They book up weeks out!



 

Eat, Drink, Nap: Bring the House Home

 

The Soho House is known for it's chic cozy and exclusive style. They have perfected the art of entertaining, stylish rooms that are welcoming, the perfect cocktail, expertly curated art, and especially how to throw a party.

This book shares Soho House style and all of its glamour. Plus it has recipes and design tips so it is every foodie, designer, fashionista, extroverts dream!


 

The Gracias Madre Cookbook

 

Ok, I know your thinking "how can a plant based Mexican restaurant be delicious?" but trust me, it is amazing! You will not miss meat one bit! Plus, they are so creative with flavors and textures and they make the best margaritas and have a beautiful patio.


Make sure and keep a look out for celebrity sightings while your at it! I also love the location on Melrose across from the BAPE store, Acme, and Byredo and in the heart of some very high end interior showrooms.



 

Interiors and Architecture

Whether you're a professional designer or just looking to update your own home, there are endless resources available to help you achieve your design goals and inspire you. A couple of mine are "The Finer Things: Timeless Furniture, Texture and Details" by Christiane Lemieux and "Kelly Wearstler". Now, I actually have many more but I have them listed in my 'Aesthetic Books section'


The Finer Things by Christiane Lemieux

 

I love books like this that are more than just a single topic. The book provides a comprehensive guide to decorating and creating a home that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. With stunning photography and practical advice, the book covers everything from furniture and lighting to textiles and art. The author also provides tips on entertaining, cooking, and travel, making it a perfect resource for those who appreciate the finer things in life.


 

Kelly Wearstler

 

This book showcases the iconic interior designer's unique approach to design, with a focus on bold colors, unexpected textures, and daring patterns. Whether you're a fan of her edgy, avant-garde style or simply want to be inspired, this book has something for everyone. From her early days as a Hollywood set decorator to her current status as a design icon, Kelly Wearstler's journey is captured in stunning detail throughout the pages of this book. So grab a glass of wine, curl up on your favorite chair, and get ready to be transported into the world of high-end design!


 

Aesthetic Covers

For all of you aesthetic lovers of neutrals covers, this section has you covered. If you're looking for books that complement your minimalist decor, consider ones with neutral covers and textures. These books will not only look great on your coffee table but will also provide endless inspiration for your home decor.


Architectural Digest at 100: A Century of Style

 

This book is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the art of interior design. This stunning book celebrates 100 years of the iconic magazine Architectural Digest and showcases some of the most influential design trends and styles from the past century. With a focus on luxurious homes and inspiring interiors, the book features stunning photography and in-depth articles written by top design experts. From classic Hollywood glamour to minimalist Scandinavian design. Whether you're a design enthusiast or simply love beautiful photography, this book is sure to leave you inspired.



Down to Earth

 

"Down to Earth" by Monty Don is a book that inspires us to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the world around us. With stunning photography and practical advice, "Down to Earth" covers a wide range of topics, from creating a sustainable garden to understanding the natural world. The book encourages readers to slow down, take a deep breath, and appreciate the simple things in life. With its accessible writing style and down-to-earth approach, this book is a perfect guide for anyone who wants to connect with nature and live a more fulfilling life.



Made for Living: Amber Lewis

 

This book by Interior Designer Amber Lewis is a beautiful and practical guide to designing a home that is both stylish and functional. Amber has a wealth of knowledge and experience, and she shares her tips and tricks for creating a home that truly reflects your personal style. With stunning photography and real-life examples, it covers everything from choosing the right furniture to creating a cohesive color scheme. The book also emphasizes the importance of making a home feel lived in and comfortable, with practical advice on how to achieve this.



Home: Decor Accents

 

The author provides expert tips on how to incorporate texture, color, and pattern into your home decor, as well as how to mix and match different styles and elements to create a cohesive look. Whether you're a seasoned decorator or just starting out, "Home Decor Accents" is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to add a personal touch to their home. The book is filled with inspiration and ideas for creating a space that is both functional and beautiful, with tips on how to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere in every room of your home.



 

Beach Lovers

Beach houses are the perfect place to relax, unwind, and immerse yourself in a good book. If you're looking for beach books that are both beautiful and upscale, consider ones that showcase stunning photography and capture the essence of coastal living. These books not only look great in your beach house, but they also provide endless inspiration for your next coastal getaway.


Seaside Linen

 

This book celebrates the timeless beauty of linen in coastal decor. With stunning photography and practical advice, the book showcases how to incorporate linen into your home decor, from curtains and bedding to table linens and more. The author provides expert tips on how to mix and match different textures and colors to create a serene and inviting coastal vibe. Whether you live by the beach or simply want to bring a touch of the coast to your home, "Seaside Linen" is a valuable resource for anyone who loves coastal decor.



At Home on the Water

 

This book is by the Editors of Coastal Living and is a stunning tribute to the beauty and tranquility of life on the water. With gorgeous photography and inspiring stories, the book showcases some of the most beautiful homes located on the coast, rivers, and lakes. The book provides a glimpse into the lives of those who have chosen to make their home on the water. From houseboats to floating homes, the book showcases a wide range of architectural styles, demonstrating how creativity and ingenuity can transform any living space into a peaceful oasis.


Surf Shack: Laid-Back Living by the Water

 

This is a beautifully curated book that celebrates the unique charm and character of surf culture. With amazing photography and insightful interviews, the book takes readers on a journey to some of the most fascinating surf shacks around the world. These homes and cabins are often simple and unassuming, yet they exude a sense of warmth and personality that is unmistakable. The book showcases how surfers and beachgoers have transformed these humble dwellings into cozy and stylish retreats, filled with natural materials, vintage finds, and personal touches.




Personalized

While there are many great coffee table books available to purchase, if you want to add a personal touch, why not consider making your own? Websites like Mixbook offer easy-to-use design tools that allow you to create your own coffee table book using your own travel or family photos. The process is simple and fun, and the end result is a unique book that your family and guests will love flipping through. My own kids are always eager to look through our family photo book, and it's a great conversation starter when we have guests over. So, if you're looking for a way to personalize your coffee table, consider creating your own book with your favorite memories.


Here are few of our covers!




Coffee table books are an excellent addition to any home decor and can provide endless hours of entertainment and education. From stunning photography to insightful essays and thought-provoking art, there's a coffee table book out there for everyone. I hope that our recommendations have inspired you to explore your options and discover the perfect coffee table book for your interests and style. So go ahead, curl up with a cup of coffee and a beautiful book!


Until next time!


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