21 Best Decorating Books, Apps & Guides


The world of interior design can be a daunting place. If the mere thought of renovating your living room or sprucing up the kitchen is enough to send you into a tizzy, then you’re in need of some inspiration and advice – and thankfully, the lovely experts of the decorating world are here to help.

Here, we’ve listed some of our favourite books, apps and online guides that offer sterling advice and truly inspiring ideas. Whether you’re a complete newbie, or a seasoned decorator looking for fresh ideas, you’ll find what you need here.



reading in bedImage Credit: Viviana Calderón

The World Wide Web is a great place to find useful information on interiors, but there’s something much more comforting about leafing through a book. Filled with gorgeous shots, and packed with tips, tricks and ideas, a good decorating book (or five) will come in very handy indeed – and look beautiful on your coffee table.

1. Love Your Home - A Beginner's Guide to Interior Design

If you’ve never decorated before, and are feeling unsure on how to get started, this book is ideal. The book is written by Lucy Smith, who used to work at Real Homes Magazine, and it’s filled with useful, practical advice that will allow you to decorate your home from scratch.

Lucy will take you through the steps of creating moodboards, decorating in poorly lit spaces, and working with small areas, as well as much more. The book aims to help you to figure out what sort of design you want in your home – to get the ideas out of your head and into reality – which makes it fantastic for beginners.

2. Domino: The Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy

The format makes this book easy to browse – simply head to the section that refers to the room you’re currently decorating for hints and tips on making the most of the space. Alongside the indispensable advice is a collection of stunning imagery to inspire; and what’s more, each image is annotated so that you can see exactly how the room was put together.

3. Making a House Your Home

With over 300 luscious photographs, this beautiful book could work wonderfully as simply a coffee table ornament. However, alongside the inspiring imagery there is plenty of useful advice that pertains to the real world.

Writer Clare Nolan tackles a range of topics with chapters dedicated to ‘Chaos to Calm’, ‘Be a More Considered Shopper’, and ‘Making the Most of What You’ve Got’; as well as sections covering each room in the house, and a variety of step-by-step projects that you can complete at home.

4. Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love

Sherry and John, the creators of popular blog Young House Love, filled a book with a range of ideas, tutorials and projects that may well give you the DIY bug. The range of projects is varied, and includes small, quick ideas alongside the more time consuming efforts, so you can dip in when you like and choose a project that suits your energy levels and time constraints.

5. Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design

If you prefer a more authentic approach to interior design, then this book will be sure to inspire. The vast majority of spaces that have been photographed for the book were decorated by the homeowners themselves, rather than by designers, so you can get a sense of how other regular people have used their space to reflect their personalities.

In this book, the individual is championed, and the rulebook is thrown out of the window. If you’re looking to create something unique, then it’s a great way to get inspired.

6. Home for Now: Making Your Rented Space or First House Beautiful

More and more of us are renting nowadays, so tips on how to make the most of temporary accommodation are becoming increasingly sought after. This book offers practical advice and simple step-by-step tutorials for DIY projects that won’t get you into trouble with your landlord, or break the bank if you’ve just shelled out a deposit for your first home.

7. Torie Jayne's Stylish Home Sewing: Over 35 Sewing Projects to Make Your Home Beautiful

Successful blogger Torie Jayne shares tutorials that teach you how to make a range of home accessories yourself, from bread baskets to utensil holders, and from bench cushions to bunting. Each item is as useful as it is pretty, and by making it yourself you’re able to add your own creative flourishes and choose your own material to really make the items your own.

8. 100 Interiors Around the World

From Europe to Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas, this book is a stunning display of inventive, inspiring and impressive interiors from across the globe. The gorgeous photographs make this an excellent choice for your coffee table, too.

9. Upholstery Bible: Complete Step-by-Step Techniques for Professional Results

Whether you’ve never even considered upholstery or you’re a seasoned crafter, this book is sure to be useful. It offers step-by-step instructions on a range of practical skills such as estimating how much material you’ll need and choosing the appropriate fabric, as well as sharing tips on knowing what can and can’t be fixed.

10. Style Me Vintage: A Practical and Inspirational Guide to Retro Interior Design

Perhaps it’s down to a desire to recycle and reuse items instead of throwing them away; perhaps it’s because the world of yesteryear holds a certain charm that we want to invite into our homes; but whatever the reason, vintage style seems to be a trend that is here to stay.

This book is incredibly useful for vintage enthusiasts, and particularly for people who love vintage pieces but aren’t sure how to style them authentically. There are chapters on how to dress your room according to your favourite decade; how to use vintage pieces in modern spaces; and plenty of display ideas.

11. Colour: How to Banish Beige and Bold Up Your Home

Interiors expert, blogger and designer Abigail Ahern shares some of her wisdom in this comprehensive guide to using colour effectively. She explains how to use paint, accessories, fabric, patterns and more to make rooms feel brighter and bigger.



phone appImage Credit: Epicantus

Nowadays, our phones are used for much more than just calling people. The incredibly useful and fascinating apps available to us help to streamline our lives and complete all sorts of tasks more quickly and efficiently – including decorating our homes.

From practical solutions to sources of creative ideas, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite apps to use when decorating.

12. Design Sponge

The ever-popular blog from Brooklyn-based Grace Bonney is now available in app form. The app features a fantastic range of tutorials, features, makeovers and guides, alongside a healthy dose of utterly beautiful photography that is sure to provide plenty of inspiration for your own home.

You can use the app to find the latest posts on the blog – which is useful, seeing as it’s updated up to five times per day. It features wonderfully fresh and exciting ideas that are particularly aimed at a modern, young audience. So if you’re a millennial (or you are in spirit) this app is perfect for offering ideas and tips.

13. Pinterest

When speaking of sources of inspiration, no list of apps is complete without Pinterest. The website is a haven for interior designers, decorating gurus, and wannabe stylists alike, but the app is where the source really comes into its own, as you can browse the hundreds of thousands of images whilst on the go.

Pretty much every serious interiors blogger worth their salt uses Pinterest, and you should too. It’s a fantastic way to gather inspiration and ideas together into handy boards, which are easy to browse and can be set up in an instant. You can neatly categorise your boards according to room type, colour, texture, theme… or however you like.

And what’s more, is that Pinterest is no longer just a bunch of pretty imagery. The vast majority of images now click through to a useful article that will guide you through a tutorial, or direct you to the shop where the product of your dreams can be found.

14. Photo Measures

Nowadays, many of us are on the go for much of the day, and the commute can be a killer. That’s one of the reasons that apps are so popular, as they allow us to get things done on the go; and Photo Measures works on the same principle.

Ever spotted a stunning antique, but been unable to purchase because you haven’t known the measurements of your living room – and the next time you visit the shop, it’s gone? This app can prevent that from happening ever again.

It’s easy to use, too – simply take a photo of your room, and note down the dimensions directly on the photo. That way, you can see the exact layout of your room, and the dimensions of everything in it, which can be incredibly useful when you’re planning your dream space whilst out and about.

15. iHandy Level

With home decoration, a spirit level is a rather essential piece of equipment if you want the finish to look professional, especially when hanging picture frames or other decorative pieces on the wall. But if you don’t have one, there’s no need to panic – there’s an app for that!

The iHandy Level works just like a normal spirit level, and is wonderfully accurate. If you want to go the whole hog, the iHandy Carpenter app pack features five tools – the spirit level, plus a plumb bob, a bubble level, a protractor and a ruler.

16. Sun Seeker

This is particularly useful if you plan to move home. The app uses your phone’s GPS system to map out the natural sunlight that your chosen location will receive over the course of a day, as well as the winter and solstice paths of the sun in that location.

Of course, this can help you to determine how much sunlight a potential new home may get, but it can also be useful when deciding which shade to paint your walls, as you can assess how much light you’ll be likely to get during each season and make a better informed decision. It’s a great app for gardeners, too.

17. Peppermint

If you’ve found a colour that you adore, but you’re not sure what other colours to team with it, then Peppermint is here to help. This app allows you to extract colours from photos and build swatches of complimentary colours, and also adjust your chosen colour whilst maintaining its relationship with the other hues on your palette. You can then save your ideas for colour schemes to refer to later on.



online guideImage Credit: Serge Kij

With the World Wide Web awash with information, finding the truly useful guides can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Luckily for you, we’ve searched through the haystack already and gathered together some of our favourite decorating guides that offer buckets of inspiration and handy tips.

18. Help with DIY

With helpful, clear, step-by-step guides that include diagrams and explain which calculations you’ll need to work out, this website is a fantastic resource for the practical elements of decorating. There’s advice on decorating, painting, plumbing and tiling, including useful topics like how to hang wallpaper properly, and how to decorate a ceiling.

The guides also offer a comprehensive list of tools and equipment that you’ll need to gather before getting started, and explain how to work out how much paint or wallpaper you’ll need, so you won’t need to worry about having to stop the job halfway through to dash out to the shops.

19. Better Home and Gardens – decorating lessons

Though Better Homes and Gardens Magazine is based across the pond, this online collection of guides is useful for decorators the world over. With a wide range of features on topics like finding the right colour palette, furniture arrangement, and upholstery, the guides are just as applicable here in Britain as they are in the States.

20. Ideal Home Magazine – moodboards

Ideal Home Magazine is much venerated in the world of interior design, and for good reason – it’s packed full of useful tips and stylish interiors. Its online presence, HousetoHome, is just as valuable, but the moodboard section is where it really shines.

Here, you can search by room, by brand, or by both, to find tons of inspiration. There are hundreds of moodboards to browse through, so you’re bound to find plenty that are to your taste.

Instead of searching through the moodboards, you can also head to the ‘Rooms’ tab on the homepage, where you’ll find videos, guides and imagery relevant to the room you’re focusing on. There’s a huge amount of content and lots of advice, so it’s a useful website to refer to if you’re ever feeling in need of tips or stimulation.

21. Buzzfeed – everything you need to decorate your home

From hardwood colours to tile patterns, and from headboard shapes to standard sofa dimensions, this handy guide features a multitude of useful facts and figures. The information is presented in diagram and picture form, so it’s easy to digest and simple to browse through.

It’s particularly useful if you’re decorating your first home, but there’s such a lot of information in there that you’re bound to learn something new even if you’re a seasoned decorator. This is one to add to a Pinterest board!



There are many, many books, apps and guides available out there, but we think that these are the cream of the crop. However, we’re always on the lookout for our new favourite! Which books, apps and guides would you add to this list? Please let us know in the comments!

Posted in DIY, Homemaking, Interior Design, Lifestyle on 14th Oct 2015


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