Home design inspiration for everyone

Home design inspiration for everyone

Free resources galore from the Santa Barbara and Montecito libraries

By Leslie Dinaberg | May 19, 2022

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Looking for inspiration for your next home improvement project? For when Pinterest doesn’t quite cut it, our librarians Lisa Neubert (Santa Barbara) and Kimberly Crail (Montecito) curated this list of books to check out.

Small spaces

Small space style: because you don’t have to live big to live beautifully by Whitney Leigh Morris: Interior design specialist Morris shares her ideas and practices for making any small space efficient and stylish, whether it’s a rustic A-frame in the woods or a chic micro apartment in the city.

150 Best Tiny Interior Ideas by Francesc Zamora Mola: A smaller living space doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing sophistication or comfort. Here are a host of ideas for maximizing space while creating warm and inviting homes.

Interior design

Designing a healthy home: 100 ways to transform your space for physical and mental well-being by Oliver Heath: Simple, practical advice on how to design your home for health and happiness by changing lighting, air quality, acoustics, temperature, color, and more.

Design the home you love: practical styling tips to make the most of your space by Lee Mayer: A fresh and accessible guide to the complicated world of interior design.

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Designed to live: interiors collected for all kinds of styles by Amber Lewis: Tricks of the trade from a fashion-forward designer known for creating effortless layered looks and modern eclectic styles.

Home Stories: Design ideas to make a house a home by Kim Leggett: Everyone has a story worth telling, and every piece can be part of that story. Learn how to create rooms filled with warmth, meaning, and your own unique home story.

Feels like home: relaxed interiors for a meaningful life by Lauren Liess: Explore the emotional connection between home décor and everyday life through the lens of a popular social media and TV star.

From house to house: designing your space according to your way of life by Devi Dutta-Choudhury: A modern guide to home improvement that will help you create a vibrant and comfortable space that supports your life and the way you want to live.

Hygge & West Home: Design for comfortable living by Christiana Coop and Aimee Lagos: These notable tastemakers have curated a preview of 20 coveted homes designed to promote feelings of comfort, companionship, and coziness.

Bring in the outside

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Home Sweet Houseplant: A Room-by-Room Guide to Plant Decorating by Baylor Chapman: Indoor plants have the ability to instantly enhance the look of your home and add your own special flourishes. This book shows you where and how to start.

Wild interiors: beautiful plants in beautiful spaces by Hilton Carter: A journey into greenery led by the best-selling author’s unique eye and love of plants to show you how to create lavish interiors that not only look amazing, but are also good for your well-being.

Decorating with plants: what to choose, how to style them and how to make them thrive by Baylor Chapman: Nothing can add energy, style and that essential “vitality” to spaces in the home better than a little greenery. Chapman shows us where to start.

Houseplants for Everyone: How to Fill Any Home with Happy Plants by Danae Horst: A helpful guide to selecting and growing plants for your home, including a plant profile quiz.

Handpicked: simple, sustainable and seasonal flower arrangements by Ingrid Carozzi: Organized by season, Carozzi’s book reveals her secrets for creating flower arrangements in a modern, original and organic style.

Mindfulness and Minimalism

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleansing: How to Free You and Your Family from a Life of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson: In Sweden there is a kind of decluttering called döstädning (To do = “dead” and stadning = “cleaning”). Magnusson gives instructions for this surprising and invigorating process of disposing of unnecessary belongings as soon as possible.

Minimalista: Your step-by-step guide to a better home, wardrobe and life by Shira Gill: Help find your own style with this fresh and accessible guide to the world of interior design.

The new conscious home: and how to make it yours by Joanna Thornhill: Our spaces can play a big role in our emotional well-being. This book explains how to harness the power of mindfulness to help your home embrace a more mindful lifestyle.

The Home Edit Life: The Guilt-Free Guide to Owning What You Want and Organizing It All by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin: the New York Times bestselling authors of The House Edit show you how to contain the chaos and organize every aspect of your life.

Living Simply: A Teen’s Guide to Minimalism by Sally McGraw: A discussion of minimalism as a way of life for teens, this book provides a number of suggestions and resources for young people who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

Color and creativity

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A colorful life: Gere Kavanaugh, designer by Louise Sandhaus and Kat Catmur: Designer Gere Kavanaugh is an unstoppable force of nature who embodied the artisanal, folksy vibe of the California design scene of the 60s and 70s and remains a larger-than-life personality today.

My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Spark Ideas and Drive Innovation by Donald M. Rattner: Written by a renowned architect, My Creative Space transforms the rich treasure of psychological research on workplace productivity and innovation into practical techniques for shaping a home.

Jungalow: decorate wild by Justina Blakeney: A guide to designing creative, personal interiors with bold color and pattern choices, cues from nature, and inspiration from personal heritage and travel.

Wonder Walls: how to transform your space with colorful geometries, graphic letters and other fabulous painting techniques by Phoebe Cornog and Roxy Prima: Learn DIY wall painting techniques to help you discover the possibilities of painting and see walls as a canvas. This book covers wall preparation and paint selection, as well as step-by-step instructions.

Living in color: color in contemporary interior design by Stella Paul and India Mahdavi: An inspiring visual journey along the color spectrum, brought to life by the very best in contemporary residential interior design.

A sense of place

At Home in Joshua Tree: A Field Guide to Desert Life by Sara Combs and Rich Combs: This beautifully illustrated lifestyle guide from the creators of The Joshua Tree House shows you how to infuse your life with desert vibes, from entertaining home designs and plans to wellness rituals.

Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home by Danielle Postel-Vinay: A lively, sophisticated and practical illustrated lifestyle guide that shows how to live French everyday, transforming your home into one defined by beauty, family and accessible elegance.

The Californian Casa by Douglas Woods: A sumptuous and comprehensive look at Spanish Colonial Revival design, presenting a lavish portrait of the style through over 300 color photographs.

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Living in Mexico by Barbara & René Stoeltie: A breathtaking look at some of Mexico’s most remarkable mansions. Authors have traveled everywhere from Costa Careyes to the Yucatán Peninsula, seeking homes to surprise, delight and inspire.

Red Tile Style: America’s Spanish Revival Architecture by Arrol Gellner: A comprehensive survey of one of the most widespread and popular forms of American architecture. From bungalows and mansions to gas stations and government buildings, Gellner explores this diverse category of design.

Santa Barbara Style by Kathryn Masson: Explore the work of architectural luminaries such as Addison Mizner, Bertram Goodhue, Reginald D. Johnson, and George Washington Smith, among others.

The life of Santa Barbara by Diane Dorrans Saeks: A beautifully photographed book that takes readers inside the mansions and estates of contemporary Santa Barbara.

Historical influences

Make Mid-Century Modern by Christopher Kennedy: This book features 100 tips for bringing the principles of mid-century modern style to any home, from the famed interior designer.

American bungalow style by Robert Winter: Showcasing two dozen American homes that capture the bungalow spirit that attracted thousands of buyers during the heyday of the form from 1880 to 1930.

Spanish Colonial Style: Santa Barbara and the Architecture of James Osborne Craig and Mary McLaughlin Craig by Pamela Skewes-Cox and Robert Sweeney: An ode to these influential architects, whose designs included the historic Casa de la Guerra and the Plaza Rubio complex across from the Mission Rose Garden.

live outside

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Private Gardens of Santa Barbara: The Art of Outdoor Living by Margie Grace: A look at 21 distinctive private gardens: grand estates, modest homes and surf retreats that range from sublime and naturalistic to bold and urban.

Organization tips and tricks

Martha Stewart’s Organizing: The Handbook for Getting Your Life, Home, and Routines in Order by Martha Stewart: Advice, plans and ideas on how to organize everything from America’s most trusted lifestyle authority.

In addition to a large selection of books, the Santa Barbara Public Library Databases and Resources page has information on how people can sign up for free LinkedIn Learning, which offers a number of courses on interior design and related skills. It also contains information on accessing Skillshare (provided courtesy of California State Library’s Career Pathways initiative), which also has an excellent offering of interior design courses.

Find the rest of our annual home and garden special here.

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