Three design books to spruce up your interior.

November 12, 2019

For those itching to really switch things up, look no further than these knockout books: three of the best inspirational design books of the season in our (unscientific) opinion.


Start with Lisa Fines debut book with much-admired photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna who Lisa worked with when they were both editors at Elle Décor. The Missisipi-born textile designer takes us into her own homes in Dallas, New York and Paris as well as the places which inspire her. There’s an eighteenth century Roccoco manor house in Sweden, the whitewashed Greek retreat of designer John Stefanidis,and the idyllic retreat of English-based designer Penny Morrison in Wales.

The book shows a collection of houses and rooms that makes spaces feel unexpectedly human and livable; with rooms made to contain lives.

And that is just the point: the book, is like a work of art. Perfect beauty with a subversive context-less-ness – that shows the importance of creating feeling through layer upon layer. It’s about completely transforming rooms, however difficult the space – such as Lisa’s unremarkable 1960s New York institutional-style apartment that had no defining features or outlook – and making them livable, while at the same time shockingly beautiful.

All the interiors are reflections of the personalities who live in them. Most love to travel, to read, to collect,” Lisa says. “These are interiors that have evolved over time and are timeless. I fell in love with each one the minute I entered.” The beauty of Near & Far is that all the interiors feel genuine—even the most traditional spaces don’t feel stuffy.

None of them are perfectly styled, and yet they are perfect.

You’ll find many lessons in mixing antique and textiles, and collectibles from butterflies to baskets, fossils, Russian icons, tribal embroidery, taxidermy, tortoiseshells, Turkish velvets, Indian block prints, and Kashmir shawls. These are ultimately the elements that can make a house truly unique and inspiring.

The book is about valuing ambiance: faraway places and cultures, about depth of knowledge and a leap of imagination.

Expect profoundly beautiful photographs as though you have walked into each room during a warm summer night. This feeling comes largely from the way Miguel captures a sense of realness from every space. *Lead image also Near & Far Interiors I Love, Lisa Fine, Vendome Press, $68.90,


The season’s ultimate escape: a diary of exquisite houses and ancient sites by Miguel Flores-Vianna, one of the world’s greatest interior and lifestyle photographers, renowned for his work for Architectural Digest, looks set to be the ultimate gift of the year.

The size and subject is everything.

For Instagram, the globe trotter uses his iPhone, of which he shares more than 200 images, taken across 14 countries,  including a friend’s home in London to a palace in Turkey. From the ordinary to the extraordinary, the banal to the beautiful. Wandering Eye: Travels with My Phone Vendome Press, $43.75,


A vibrant, transportive coffee table book that takes us on a tour of notable houses that document the many shades of Tangier with its Bohemian influences from America and Europe.

We love how Tatler magazine sums it up: “the focus of this book is on Tangier in Northwestern Morocco. It’s a white-walled city where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, a blend of Africa and Europe. The Moroccan port of Tangier has long been a haven for literary and artistic black sheep from around the world, Henri Matisse to Barbara Hutton.” Inside Tangier is a look at the houses and gardens of this foreign land.

It reveals the colours, patterns and aesthetic of the place; an aesthetic of arched, shapely walls, balcony views out to sea, patterned tiles and sun-sheltered enclaves that abound with leaves or cacti.

Nicoló Castellini Baldiserra, the author, is the great-grandson of renowned Italian architect Piero Portaluppi and is a much-admired global interior designer is his own right. He has lived in Tangier for over a decade and explains that ‘the stories of these exceptional properties, and their unconventional inhabitants, provide a rare insight into the sometimes bohemian, sometimes extravagant, but always stylish, Tangerine lifestyle’.

related stories

Living By Design


Don’t miss the style set’s fave newsletter

Get Melissa's weekly rundown of where top interior designers source their things and find inspiration - that will instantly transform your pad.

Close and please don't show again