Book of home interiors?
November 18, 2011 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Gift for mother-in-law who loves to look in your windows.

My mother-in-law loves to look in people's windows at their homes when we walk around. I thought for the winter holidays, I would like to give her a book that offers a similar experience. We usually walk around through neighborhoods in NYC and DC so that's the style of home she likes but she loves to travel so a book that had pictures of home interiors from a variety of places would work well too. Thoughts?
posted by kat518 to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like she would love some of the thousands of design blogs that are out there. Not a book, but you may consider introducing her to a blogroll of a bunch of the most popular ones, such as apartment therapy.
posted by Think_Long at 8:11 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

A subscription to an interior design magazine?
posted by bq at 8:27 AM on November 18, 2011

Think_Long, the blogs are a good idea but I see her more as someone who will sit down on the couch and page through a book than look at things on a laptop. She uses the computer in the office mostly for email and occasionally things like looking up directions or movie times.

Magazines aren't a bad idea, bq. She already gets art magazines. The problem there is she's my go-to person for cheap magazine subscriptions because she gets discounts as a teacher. Do you recommend any specific ones?
posted by kat518 at 8:35 AM on November 18, 2011

I drool over Architectural Digest.
posted by spec80 at 8:38 AM on November 18, 2011

Sorry, I forgot to specify that I get the magazine version.
posted by spec80 at 8:39 AM on November 18, 2011

Oh my goodness. My first thought was "binoculars."
posted by mdiskin at 8:42 AM on November 18, 2011 [32 favorites]

Is it the architecture/design aspect that she appreciates? Or is it the voyeurism/how do other people live aspect (Gladys Kravitz-like)? If it's the latter, maybe Todd Hido's House Hunting Monograph (you might have to do some searching for a copy). Or any of the books of Bill Owen's work?
posted by amelioration at 8:45 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]
Todd Selby's work might be interesting to her. He also has a book which you might want to get for her.
posted by dm_nyc at 9:07 AM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

If she has a sense of humor, she might enjoy The City Out My Window: 63 Views on New York — a series of little stories from people, famous and not-so-famous, talking about what they see out their NYC windows, illustrated with drawings of their views. I found it fun to read (ok, at a bookstore) as a person who enjoyed living in NYC for a couple months and peeking at my zillion neighbors living and working in the high-rises across the street. (Sure, Midtown is terrible in lots of ways, but what a view! [gratuitous self-link])

There's also The Transparent City by the photographer Michael Wolf, who took high-resolution photos of Chicago skyscrapers at dusk or night and enlarged them so you can see snippets of the people living and working inside. There's a NY Times article about his work with some examples. His photos toe the line between fascinating and creepy in a great way.
posted by dreamyshade at 9:18 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

mdiskin: I see your binoculars and raise you one pair of night-vision goggles.
posted by shortyJBot at 9:24 AM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Material World may be a little, er, moralizing, for your purposes, but I thought it was really neat to see photos of families from around the world, with all their stuff.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2011

I would get her tickets to house tours! I am an inveterate window-peeker myself (what art do they have? where do they keep their books? what colors have they painted the walls?) and I love love love house tours. Many historic neighborhoods have them around Christmastime, or in spring (for example, the neighborhood I grew up in has one each year). "Tour of homes" seems to be the appropriate search term.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:48 AM on November 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Buy her a ticket to The Netherlands.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:52 AM on November 18, 2011 [8 favorites]

binoculars, defintely. that way she can snoop without being overly obvious.
buying tips:
1)you will see numbers on them. usually of the format 8x30, 10x28, 7x15, etc... the first number is the magnification and the second is the lens diameter. don't go over 7x or 8x (i prefer 7, myself) sure, greater magnification sounds great, but it actually makes it harder to see, because the image is moving too much (because of hand-holding). over 10x are absolutely useless without a tripod, and then...what's the point? the second number, lens diameter, determines how much light they can bring in, and how bright the image will be...and also how big and heavy they are. you will probably want to go bigger, around 30mm min as she is mainly looking at dark subjects from a brighter area (whereas tiny opera glasses are for the reverse, see?) you can generally find a good pair of 8x30s for around $50...though they might be a bit big for carrying around...8x21 compacts seem to be running around $15-30 on amazon...that might be the way to go...

2) lenses should ABSOLUTELY NOT be red, or green, or blue, or mirrored in any way...this is a bullshit technique to make them look 'flashier' in the store and will only give inacurately colored and dimmer images. lenses should be clear, with a faint purpley sheen (like a camera lens)...this is 'multicoating' and uses quantuum mechanics to make a(n up to 16%) brighter image...multicoating!
posted by sexyrobot at 10:01 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are often show houses, garden tours, and even home tours. Watch for them. get tickets.
posted by theora55 at 10:05 AM on November 18, 2011

as far as books go, anything on Tony Duquette is like an interior decorator's wet dream...(his most famous quote is 'More is More') and there's a few new ones out...they are kinda pricey (50-75-100) but out-of-print ones start around $200, so 'get em while they're hot'
posted by sexyrobot at 10:08 AM on November 18, 2011

The Selby Is In Your Place is the book form of Todd Selby's website, and it's GORGEOUS. Here's Amazon's description:

The Selby Is in Your Place was conceived when fashion and interiors photographer Todd Selby began taking portraits of dynamic and creative people—authors, musicians, artists, and designers—in their home environments and posting them on his web site. Nosy by nature, he wanted to see how personal style was reflected in private spaces. Lucky for us, he found his answer in the color-rich and eclectic quarters of a diverse group of subjects, including Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler, Faris Rotter, Andre Walker, and Olivier Zahm, in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, and London. Each profile is accompanied by Selby’s watercolor portraits of the subjects and objects from their homes, and illustrated questionnaires, which Selby asks each sitter to fill out. This book consists of over thirty profiles, many of which have never-before-seen, selected exclusively for the book. The result is a collection of unique spaces bursting with energy and personality that together create a colorful hodgepodge of inspirational interiors.

I could spend (er, have spent) hours on his website. His interior photography is lovely and intimate, and the subjects talk about their homes/spaces and what they mean to them.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 10:31 AM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Tokyo: A Certain Style (but it's annoyingly small).
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:32 AM on November 18, 2011

Whoops, forgot to link to Todd Selby's lovely website.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 10:33 AM on November 18, 2011

What about a book on the Thorne miniature rooms? They are gorgeous, incredibly detailed interiors, and the book is gorgeous.
posted by quadrilaterals at 1:48 PM on November 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's the Unhappy Hipsters book. If she's okay with restricting it to food & 1 living space per family, she can look around the world with Peter Menzel's family groceries photos.
posted by knile at 1:46 AM on November 19, 2011

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