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3 Books That Changed How I think about Interiors

As an interior designer and stylist, I read a lot of content on design. I mean A LOT. It's part of my job to read blogs, newspaper articles, books and anything in between to make sure I stay in touch with what's happening in the industry, and basically anything to do with the home. 

 

Because I do read so much, it's not often I find something that truly inspires me, and catches my attention. The 3 books listed below have all inspired me in some way, and really have changed the way I think about interiors. They've also informed my work, both for hospitality and residential clients. So, here they are:

 

1. 'Colour' by Abigail Ahern 

I was given this book a few years ago, and hadn't actually heard of Abigail Ahern at the time. (And in case you haven't either -- Abigail Ahern is  a British designer and retailer, known for her off-beat, quirky style. In my opinion, she's really led the trend of using dark paint colours that we've seen in the last few years.) 

 

I was immediately drawn to this book by the tagline on the cover which reads "Banish beige. Boost colour. Transform your home." Throughout the book, in a very real and funny voice, Abigail encourages the reader to be bold in their colour choices, embrace "the dark side" and to "stop procrastinating about colour". There is advice on colour combinations that work, and examples of how to use bold colour and decor items in various spaces of a home. 

 

Using colour is probably my favourite part of designing, and this book changed the way I thought about it. Although most of the images in the book are very Northern Hemisphere (and probably not so suited to Sydney's 37 degree days in March!), the way she talks about how transformative colour is, has inspired me to consider colour as an absolute priority, in almost every project.  

 

2. 'The Little Book of HYGGE' by Meik Wiking

You may or may not have heard of hygge. It's a word that's been very popular in the interiors and lifestyle media in the last year or so, and I think, for good reason! As Wiking describes in the book, hygge is a Danish word which sort of translates to cosy but is also "... about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down. You may be having an endless conversation about the small or big things in life -- or just be comfortable in each other's silent company -- or simply just be by yourself enjoying a cup of tea." Beautiful!! 

 

Although not an interiors book per say, having visited Denmark a number of times now, this focus on the atmosphere and experience of everyday moments really resonates with me. What it drove home for me is that a beautiful space, decorated to suit you, your memories and your lifestyle, helps to foster the sort of experiences that you'll remember for a long time.  

 

3. 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' by Marie Kondo

This is another one that's not a book on interiors, and has also been in the media a lot lately.  I think the reason why both this, and the hygge book, have become so popular is that they give an alternative philosophy, and some relief from, the super-connected, always-on, screen-focused lives a lot of people are living. While the name of this book might sound a little intimidating or even a bit of a hyperbole, I actually do believe that tidying up and organising yourself is life-changing. 

 

In my line of work, I have a lot of clients wanting a calmer, more peaceful space to come home to, but they're drowning in STUFF. Doing a huge 'purge' can be pretty anxiety-inducing, which is why I resonate with Marie Kondo's philosophy. Her approach is that rather than thinking about what you can get rid of, focus on editing your possessions by thinking about what you want to keep. To figure this out, Kondo recommends focusing on one item at a time and keeping it only if it 'sparks joy'. The idea is to curate your home with things that you cherish. I absolutely love this, because it means that everything has a purpose, and your home will be uncluttered yet full of things that mean something to you. Kondo's philosophy is that a tidy home leads to a clear mind and a happy life, leaving you capable of achieving the lifestyle you want.   

Alex Gourlay