Must-Have Books for the DIY Home Decorator

Whether you’re reupholstering a chair or redecorating your entire home, these books will provide invaluable DIY tips, tricks, and inspiration.

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Photo: Undecorate, by Christiane Lemieux

Blame it on bloggers, Pinterest, or HGTV, but it seems like the world has recently gone do-it-yourself crazy. And it’s a trend we’re totally loving, because DIY allows for a ton of flexibility when it comes to home decor.

For one, it’s custom. If you can’t find an accent mirror in the perfect shade of turquoise, you can paint one yourself. (Or gild one using gold leaf, like we did, here.) Plus, it allows for more economic freedom: You can splurge on items you really love, and use a little elbow grease to turn inexpensive, thrifted or salvaged finds into the perfect accompaniments (did we mention DIY is also eco-friendly?).

If you’re as into do-it-yourself decor as we are, these nine books are must-haves. Each takes the DIY approach one step further, serving as either an in-depth project guide, a style education, or a combination of both, to help you create your dream home from scratch.

1_circleFurniture Makeovers: Simple Techniques for Transforming Furniture with Paint, Stains, Paper, Stencils, and More, by Barb Blair. Blair, who owns a painted-furniture studio in Greenville, SC, will show you exactly what it takes to turn your outdated furniture into something you love. Her step-by-step guide (with pictures!) covers everything from making repairs, to distressing, repainting, refinishing and reupholstering.

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Photo: The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman ; Illustration by Virginia Johnson

2_circleThe Nest Home Design Handbook: Simple ways to decorate, organize, and personalize your place, by Carley Roney. This book of tips, from the popular website The Nest, focuses on decorating for first-time home owners. It gives advice geared towards finding your style, and combining tastes and ideas with a spouse or live-in significant other.

3_circleYoung House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love, by Sherry and John Petersik. In this first book from the Petersiks, co-founders of the well-read blog Young House Love  and masters of the high-style, low-budget DIY, the pair shares the attainable and affordable secrets behind some of their top room transformations. It’s a great book for those looking to start small, because it offers projects for a variety of skill levels, time frames and prices.

4_circleThe Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well, by Deborah Needleman. Illustrated by Virginia Johnson. Needleman is the editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and was the founding editor of Conde Nast’s Domino before it shuttered. Her book focuses on practicality and livability room-by-room, and uses beautiful illustrations in lieu of photographs, which allow for more interpretation.

5_circleDesign*Sponge at Home, by Grace Bonney. Another one from a popular blogger. Bonney’s book is all about embracing and refining your personal style, and her eclectic approach to design is will prompt you to think outside the box when it comes to your own home.

6_circle100 Ways to Happy Chic Your Life, by Jonathan Adler. The king of bright color, bold pattern, and irreverent whimsy, Adler shows you how to work his signature aesthetic into your home. There’s also a handy glossary of design terms in the back.

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Photo: Decorate Workshop

7_circleCreative Walls, by Geraldine James. This is a great book for the gallery-wall enthusiast. In it, James takes a curatorial approach to display, which will encourage you to think about wall art beyond the typical paintings and photos.

8_circleUndecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior, by Christiane Lemieux. Lemieux, founder of popular lifestyle brand Dwell Studio, puts together a book of interiors that are sure to inspire. The homes featured in this book have a je ne sais quoi– for the most part, they’ve been decorated by the homeowner, not an interior designer, so they each have something that’s distinctly personal and special.

9_circleDecorate Workshop: Design and Style Your Space in 8 Creative Steps, by Holly Becker. This is the second book from Becker, the voice behind the blog Decor8, which gets more than 1 million pageviews per month. It focuses more on design process rather than inspiration, but this step-by-step guide will be invaluable if you struggle to take decor from the “idea” stage, to the “reality” one.

-Kaitlin Madden