Dearest Reader, bookmark this page. I will update it regularly as I learn of new coffee table books.
Remember when Kramer wanted to make a coffee table book about coffee table books and the book itself was a coffee table (it had fold out legs). I still think that’s genius.
The books currently on my coffee table are In the Company of Women, The Finer Things, The Shell, California Desert, and Mastering Hand Building.
I think if someone saw those books in my home they’d assume I A. Like successful women and celebrate them. Maybe I want to be one. B. I like interior design and nice things. C. I just might like the desert or geography. (I am obsessed with the desert).
Prosper Assouline, culture/lifestyle publisher says, “It’s the idea of building a collection – these are not just things that are big and expensive; they give an impression.“
Books are just like our clothes. They tell our guests something about us without us having to verbalize our interests. My clothes usually lead people to believe I’m “artsy” or “unique”. And I’m okay with that. For my coffee table books, I typically enjoy art and interior design books. They are full of beautiful inspirational pictures and look lovely sitting on the table/shelf. Anyone who comes to my home knows these are my interests.
When the Marie Kondo Netflix show aired, there was an article online about how she obviously didn’t understand this concept. Of how books tell people who we are and you don’t just throw them away! We collect books like we collect anything else we enjoy. You can read it here. It’s pretty much what I just said.
I originally started this entry with the idea of “why are coffee table books so expensive?” I suppose you have to ask yourself what the book is worth to you. Is it merely a dang book with paper pages that a tree had to die for or is it something you can derive pleasure from for many many years? Can you apprepriate the subject matter, the price it cost to produce the book, the type of paper used, etc?
Some books at Assouline are works of art themselves. A massive limited-edition version of Gaia, Guy Laliberté’s images from space, is available on watercolor paper featuring 25 gatefold images, 90 illustrations and layered topographic embossing, all hand-bound and housed in a linen clamshell case for $7,000.
Interior designer Michelle Lloyd Bermann equates owning a beautiful book with something you can’t afford: “You can’t buy the $1,200 handbag but you can buy the Manolo Blahnik book and sit down and drool over it.”
So true. I can’t own a Matisse but I love looking at the pictures in the books. And if you really wanted, you could snip out those pages and frame them. The $100 book may seem expensive (I am admitting to you I have sticker shock with books), but think of the years of enjoyment you’ll receive! And think of the story you’re telling about yourself as you collect and line your shelves and tabletops with beautiful bound works of art in and of themselves.
A hot tip according to me when decorating with coffee table books: I like to have covers and spines coordinate with the other things that are on the surface. It’s especially nice if there’s black type. Black is a unifying color.
Today’s Pretty Things are coffee table books that pertain to my interests. I’m sure you can easily figure out what they are! I’d love to know what large scale books you have lying around the house!
I may have barely passed geometry in high school (thanks Coach Sharpe for being a terrible math teacher. I hope you were better with the kids on the football field) but I’m all about shapes now as an adult. I have been admiring geometric shapes for a while now. I can’t really tell you what it is about them that is so alluring. I swear the simpler the better. Perhaps it’s because we find shapes repeated over and over again in nature. As designers, it’s always the simplest forms that are the most impactful. I love me a triangle or a semi-circle. I spent a long time agonizing over this website’s logo because I wanted to incorporate many things I love, shapes included. I never quite arrived at the logo of my dreams but I think it’s evident I’m a fan of circles and lines.
I’m fully loving the world’s continued journey pushing the boundaries of geometry and design, the harkening to the 80s, to softer tubular lines. Melding the shapes of the 50s/60s with forms of the 70s/80s is giving futuristic fresh takes to everything from chairs to home decor.
Here are some finds I’ve been eyeballing for my apartment. Some are true vintage and some are new takes on old classics – the line, the circle, etc.
About 6 years ago when I became interested in interior styling, I began to note all the mid-century flooding the market. I liked it. Growing up I always loved decorating my Barbie’s plastic a-frame and gluing together cardboard houses for the less stylish neighbors to sit in (because the boxes I had available were never big enough to build anything Barbie could stand in). I played with vintage toys like Betsy McCall and wished I had all the pretty vintage dresses for Barbies that kids in the 60s had. I was always fascinated with the craftsmanship and attention to detail of vintage toys – real metal zippers! This probably began my love of mid-century. I just didn’t know what it was. My mother has always loved antiques and bought me a Victorian-style dollhouse when I was in grade school. That aesthetic informed a lot of my own decorating choices up until I started paying attention to my apartment in 2013 and started my first design blog.
I grew up in a house full of floral paintings and terrible family photos on the wall. There was no attention to or celebration of art. As I began to study mcm on my own, I began to love the wonky portraits. You’ve probably seen them. Th single girl, the solo man. Sitting there, staring out. I don’t know what it is about the 60s style of painting that captures me so. I suppose it is the impressionist style. I enjoy the loose brush work and bright but never harsh color palettes. That’s the sort of art I’m drawn to most – fluid, hurried lines. Also, the use of a lot of blue. I like blue. Blue is calming and serene. I also like that the person is the sole subject of the painting, there is no fluff detail around them. These are simple works.
I’m working on my collection of nude mid-century paintings. I was inspired by Sally Breer‘s LA apartment some years ago. Sally is a designer who also chooses each piece with a lot of thought and intention. Here are some inspiring mid-century paintings for you to enjoy. Some of these have sat in my favorites folder for a long time and are no longer available for purchase but you can still appreciate their beauty. It’s fun to go to antique/vintage stores and look for mid-century paintings in real life. No one wants them because they’re of some random person. All for the more for you and me!
Lately, I have been enjoying all things ceramic. I even ordered 100 pounds of clay so I could venture into the world of pottery. I’m working my way to lamps. That’s right. Clay lamps. You heard it here first. Until I create my masterpiece, here are some pretty noodle vases. I’m kind of obsessed.
There is a large amount of interesting mid-century Japanese pottery on eBay. I would imagine it inspired a lot of these top designs. Do be sure to leave your favorite noodle in the comments below! I’d love to hear if you’re a fan of this trend. I wonder if I love it so much because I love actual noodles and my brain makes some sort of food connection. Hilarious. I also just enjoy the shape, the texture, and the pure beige of it all.