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Authors encourage owners to design interiors that reflect personality

| Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
The Washington Post
Stylish coffee tables have a tall stack of fresh design books to display. From left, “The Things That Matter,” “The Collected Home” and “Rhapsody.”
The Washington Post
Fresh design books: the best of 2012. From left, “Young House Love,” “Home by Novogratz” and “Barbara Barry: Around Beauty.”

Stylish coffee tables have a tall stack of fresh design books to display this season. After a lean few years in the interiors book category, an army of experts is bringing us the best of design in 2012.

The list of authors includes West Coast rock-star decorators, style bloggers and TV design personalities. A message from these books is this: Your home should reflect who you are. So, we might add, should the books you display in your living room. Here are our picks.

“Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love,” by Sherry and John Petersik ($25.95, Artisan Books). Richmond, Va., bloggers Sherry and John Petersik use their fixer-upper houses as labs for DIY improvements. The husband-and-wife team, who are self-described “cheapos,” have a huge following on their friendly blog, Young House Love.

The book serves up no-attitude advice and step-by-step directions for lots of everyday projects, including dressing up an $8 flea-market mirror or painting ugly kitchen cabinets. Your goal in life might not be to re-cover a lampshade or weave a twine headboard, but that could change after reading the Petersiks' upbeat instructions.

“The Things That Matter,” by Nate Berkus ($35, Spiegel & Grau). Ever since Chicago designer Nate Berkus began appearing on Oprah in 2002, his name has been associated with room makeovers that reflect the lives of the people who live in them. In his second book, Berkus presents houses that tell the stories of their owners.

For him, this is more important than the color of the paint or the width of the crown molding. Berkus, in a very personal chapter, reveals how he is connected to the leather rhinoceros head and the chunk of malachite in his New York place. Then he invites us into the homes of 12 others. Through those stories, he hopes to inspire readers to celebrate and decorate with what is unique about themselves.

“Home by Novogratz,” by Robert and Cortney Novogratz ($35, Artisan Books). How do you decorate a surf shack? The Novogratzes would know. A hip, urban couple with seven children and a knack for interiors that combine the bold and the beautiful, their look has launched a brand.

Robert and Cortney Novogratz propelled their lifestyle and talents into an HGTV show, a home-furnishings collection for CB2 and, now, this book chronicling their vintage-meets-modern design style. Twenty projects that the couple transformed, from a cramped condo in Queens to a mod bedroom for triplets, highlight the Novogratzes' talents. Realistic budget-analysis estimates for each project show the cost of looking awesome.

“The Collected Home,” by Darryl Carter ($45, Clarkson Potter). In his second book, Washington designer Darryl Carter explains how he creates his refined yet rustic spaces. There are ideas for hinges, moldings and paint colors. Then, there is something deeper and more personal.

“In collecting your home, you are sharing the story of your life,” Carter says. His widely published homes are treasure houses of weathered and striking art, antiques and architectural salvage. Carter explains how he elicits clues from clients about what speaks to them, as he works with them to create their rooms. If you're ready to curate your place in a meaningful fashion, this book will guide you in the right direction.

“Barbara Barry: Around Beauty,” by Barbara Barry ($65, Rizzoli). Anyone who has met Los Angeles designer Barbara Barry knows she is someone who cares deeply about every little thing, from how to properly arrange a tea tray to how to display arugula in the fridge. The goal for Barry is always beauty.

In this, her first book, she uses stunning photography and carefully composed prose to explain how you can achieve her well-ordered and Zen lifestyle. If you let Barry be your life coach, you will learn to simplify and elevate what you have. The photos of flower-filled bedside tables, crisp linens and carefully composed firewood stacks make you feel calm just studying them.

“Rhapsody,” by Kelly Wearstler ($55, Rizzoli). If your life is lacking in glamour, flip through the latest book by Beverly Hills designer Kelly Wearstler. Her decoration of high-profile boutique hotels and a stint as a judge on Bravo's “Top Design” series brought national attention to Wearstler's bold personal style and her way with textures, colors and gilded Rococo mirrors.

The Wearstler inspirations offered in this book are more in the lavish photographs than the text. She illustrates how some of her large projects using mixed materials such as marble and crystal can be recomposed in a smaller environment. By the last page, you might be tempted to invest in purple leather chairs, mirrored doors and studded metallic walls.

Jura Koncius is a staff writer for The Washington Post.

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