Best House and Garden Books of 2011

“A comfortable home is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.” Sydney Smith

If one of your resolutions is to spruce up your humble abode, this column will lead you to the pick of the litter of  titles to inspire you.

In a round-up of the notable interior design titles of 2011, a distinct trend emerges. “Undecoration” using thrift store, found and salvaged items is a response to mass-produced objects as espoused by IKEA and other big box furniture stores which cater to owners of McMansions. The relaxed design trend highlights the display of personal collections, art and found objets and is a homemade, do-it-yourself, budget friendly aesthetic which is accessible to all. In this “more is more” doctrine, however, the need to curate these items appropriately is crucial and dusting could be daunting.

No one could say he wasn't interested in listening.

It seems to be a backlash to the forbidding, minimalist, uncluttered interiors spoofed at Unhappy Hipsters which juxtaposes images from magazines like Dwell  with captions that mock design snobs.  The book  It’s Lonely in the Modern World ,  subtitled “an essential guide to form, function and ennui,”  is a manual on the “discipline, vision and willingness to live without upper kitchen cabinets” and takes modernists down a peg or two. This inclination for decluttering and an adherence to the “less is more” ethos exist alongside a perverse fascination with TV shows like Hoarders. In the January/February 2012 issue of Elle Decor magazine, antiques dealer Richard Shapiro suffers from “Modernism malaise,” a decorating trend that has run its course.  Although beautifully recreated in the HBO series Mad Men, Shapiro  condemns the “monotony of one midcentury room after another, all with predictable, gratuitous, gimmicky accessories.” He espouses collecting pieces from different periods and styles that  personalize a space.

Here is a sampling of some of the standout design books featured in 2011 in the Library’s Book News House and Garden Newsletter (see the end of this post for more info). The titles reflect this trend towards the celebration of  the “perfectly imperfect.”

Design*Sponge at Home      

   Live, Love, & Decorate


The Perfectly Imperfect Home



A Perfectly Kept House is a Sign of a Misspent Life 


Shabby Chic Inspirations and Beautiful Spaces



Hand Made Home: Living with Art and Craft


On the 15th of every month, newsletters featuring a selection of top book picks of the month—as chosen by Winnipeg Public Library staff—are sent out to all of our subscribers. The lists feature book jackets, summaries, and direct links to our Library catalogue so that you can request these hand-picked new titles. If you’d like to get a monthly batch of the highlights of the latest design books added to our collection, go to BookNews, check off  “Home and Garden” and enter your email address.  Everything for the home is included in this newsletter, from home decorating and remodeling to landscaping and crafting.

See you at the next church jumble sale!


3 responses to “Best House and Garden Books of 2011

  1. Jane, have you read “The Meghan Method”? That’s another fun new design book!

  2. Pingback: Best Home and Garden Books: Part Two | Readers' Salon

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