Classic Books on Interior Design?
August 4, 2017 7:00 AM   Subscribe

About a year ago, we bought a house. We're very slowly getting around to setting it up beyond just using all the furniture we already had, and I'm interested in looking at some books on interior design. What are the classics? The house is a 1931 Cape Cod, so I'm especially interested in books that talk about or capture that time period.
posted by thursdaystoo to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A little earlier than you're asking for, but when it comes to the classics - and one that was certainly still read in the 30's - you may like Edith Wharton's Decoration of Houses.
posted by Mchelly at 8:35 AM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Royal Barry Wills was the architect but if you search his name, you should find interiors of that period and style.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:36 AM on August 4, 2017

Dorothy Draper's Decorating Is Fun! from 1939, and Elsie de Wolfe's The House in Good Taste from 1914 (both available in facsimile editions) are worth looking through.
posted by mdrew at 8:43 AM on August 4, 2017

Jane Powell's books about that period focus on renovations but also discuss decorating, and they're incredibly thorough and helpful:
Bungalow Bathrooms
Bungalow Kitchens
posted by synchronia at 9:41 AM on August 4, 2017

This is not precisely a home decorating book, but do read Lillian Gilbreth's The Homemaker and Her Job. Gilbreth is famous for Cheaper by the Dozen but interesting because she was a single mother while being an industrial psychologist/designer. The assumptions in that book, about what people would like, are very very dated, but she is writing about how to arrange work and material to provide what people would like as easily as possible. Never a bad principle, and reading the early attempts helps design an old-fashioned house that is also suitable as a "machine for living".
posted by clew at 12:58 PM on August 4, 2017

I read Charles Eastlake's Hints on Household Taste a few years ago. My library has the 1986 edition from Penguin so it should be easy to find. I remember a rule that the floor should be the darkest surface in a room with the colors getting lighter towards the ceiling. It sounds rigidly prescriptive today but it did suggest why I find white carpets unpleasant (besides the fear of getting them dirty). It was published in 1874 but he was influential for a long time so you might recognize the style in later houses.
posted by Botanizer at 3:12 PM on August 4, 2017

If you're interested in the nuts 'n bolts of how an interior design project comes together (space planning, color schemes, sample boards, etc), A Handbook for Interior Designers provides a pretty good introduction.
posted by Bron at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2017

These are all great recommendations. Thanks!
posted by thursdaystoo at 6:20 AM on August 7, 2017

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