Jennifer Boles, native Atlantan and founder of pioneering online journal The Peak of Chic, is a welcome antidote to bloggers chasing the latest fads. Her insightful posts take inspiration from old movies, vintage magazines, and classic design books. In 2013 she made an especially strong case for timeless style with her own book, In with the Old. So when we decided to publish a list of must-reads, we knew Boles was the resident expert. Says Boles, “At a time when many readers have embraced e-books, design enthusiasts seem committed to the printed word, eagerly filling their bookshelves with designer monographs and vintage tomes.”
So here is her starter list for a well-rounded design library. Some of these titles are out of print, but are easily available online. And of course, we asked Boles to include a few with Georgia roots.
Colefax and Fowler: The Best in English Interior Decoration
by Chester Jones
Long before Downton Abbey, the work of legendary British decorating firm Colefax and Fowler had Anglophiles pining for an English country house. With photos of chintz, fireplace fenders, and ancestral portraits, this book captures traditional British design at its best.
Private Houses of France: Living with History
by Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery
Every design library needs a book or two on elegant French homes, if only to remind you that few people are as inherently chic as the French. De Nicolay-Mazery’s books on French interiors, including this, her most recent, are some of the best.
Billy Baldwin Decorates
by Billy Baldwin
Written by one of the 20th century’s most influential American designers, Billy Baldwin’s now-classic monograph was the culmination of a career spent decorating for the likes of Babe Paley and Jacqueline Onassis.
Decorating is Fun!
by Dorothy Draper
Dorothy Draper’s 1939 book is equal parts how-to guide and self-help manual. With its cheery prose on high-gloss paint, black-and-white checkerboard floors, and the power of positive thinking, this book does indeed make decorating fun.
by Barbara Westbrook
The Atlanta-based designer’s recently published volume features her well-edited and visually rich work, which has not only garnered her praise but has also landed her enviable design projects as far away as New Zealand.
One Man’s Folly: The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood
by Julia Reed
A glimpse into the enchanting world of Furlow Gatewood and his compound of historical houses in Americus, Georgia, One Man’s Folly has endeared the nonagenarian designer and antiques dealer to house lovers around the world.
by Suzanne Kasler
Kasler’s second book, Timeless Style, further explores the work of this Atlanta designer, whose lauded interiors are known for their elegance and, at times, fashion-inspired touches.
The Decoration of Houses
by Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman Jr.
Edith Wharton fans might be surprised to learn that the Pulitzer Prize–winning author’s first book was a treatise on interior decoration, one that touted good taste and simplicity. Still in print, this 1897 book dispenses sound advice that remains relevant.
Vogue’s Book of Houses, Gardens, People
by Valentine Lawford and Horst P. Horst
Peruse a well-stocked design library and you’ll likely find a copy of this cult-status tome devoted to 1960s beautiful people and their homes, including Cy Twombly, Emilio Pucci, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
An Affair with a House
by Bunny Williams
Before finding fame with her myriad product lines, designer Bunny Williams made a splash with this charming account of her 18th-century Connecticut house. A decade after it was published, her book remains wildly popular.
This article originally appeared in our Winter 2015 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.