The 11 Best Coffee Table Books For Decorating, According To Interior Designers

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best coffee table books for decorating
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When you’re styling your home, small items like coffee table books are a great way to add personality and dimension. The best coffee table books for decorating should reflect your interests and work with the style of your home. You’ll want to aim for pretty spines or covers, but picking a book that you’ll actually enjoy flipping through is of the utmost importance, according to longtime interior designer Joe Cangelosi of Joe Cangelosi Design. “The best coffee table books are those that first and foremost reflect the person who lives there. They have to love it, otherwise... why have it?”

What to look for in a coffee table book

Cangelosi suggests starting with books in a subject area that interests you, whether that’s fashion, photography, or architecture. But another approach comes from Maddy Kozoyed, owner and interior designer at Whatsoever Things are Loverly, who tells Bustle, “My advice is to go for something aspirational and exciting. Yes there are a ton of beautiful coffee table books out there that will look stylish in your space. But the one that is meaningful to you will be the most impactful.” Meaningful books, she explains, can serve as inspiration or conversation starters, as well as “visible reminders of your priorities and aspirations in life.”

How to choose the best books for your space

However, while the content of your chosen books is important, Kozoyed cautions that their appearance matters, too. To pick the books that will look best in your space, opt for books that offer a pop of color or blend with your decor. There are a few different ways to go about this, so do what feels right to you. Kozoyed explains, “I love using books with bold color spines and fun title fonts. That way, they make a statement, but are super easy and sustainable to swap.” On the other hand, interior designer Kimberly Horton of KH Home Design points out that “typically, going with a neutral binding allows more flexibility in the other design elements,” which could make it a great choice if you aren’t settled in your style just yet, or just really like a clean, airy aesthetic.

How to style coffee table books

You’ll also want to think about where you plan to place your books before you pick one (or several) for your home. According to interior designer Marissa Pellegrini, who blogs at Barely Keeping It Together, “Coffee table books are great to stack on a coffee table (touche I know!), anchor a smaller decor item like a crystal or small decorative object, or use in styling a bookshelf.” They can also be placed on other surfaces around your home, like nightstands, console tables, and more.

Wherever you plan to place your books, there are many ways to style them. Kozoyed explains, “My favorite way to style coffee table books is to use them as trays or to create dimension on a flat surface. Stack multiple to add height, use them to corral remotes and candles, or let their covers be worn by cocktail glasses.” Interior designer Ginger Curtis, owner of Urbanology Designs, provides additional guidance. “Generally, you want to stack two or three coffee table books depending on their size. Next to the books you want to follow the ‘rule of three’ to create three different heights. For example, a small vase and a sculptural piece next to them to ‘ground’ the books, so they don’t look out of place.” For stacks of books, it generally looks best to put larger books on the bottom and smaller ones on top.

Ready to add coffee table books to your decor? Here are some top picks that professional interior designers and Amazon reviewers love.


This Epic Travel Book For Cyclists

With its beautiful retro-inspired cover, this Lonely Planet book would look great on any coffee table, shelf, or other surface. It’s also an invaluable resource for cyclists with a penchant for adventure, since it suggests 200 incredible bike rides all around the world. With rides for every level and interest, whether you want to explore a city, participate in a race, or have a rugged adventure, the book is chock full of practical planning tips and first-hand accounts of the different rides. And even if you never try a single recommended bike ride, it’s still a fun and engaging read. Kozoyed has this book on her coffee table at home and says that it “reminds me that there is more to life than the blocks of my neighborhood and reminds me to prioritize my curiosity.”

If you love the look and vibe of the book but aren’t into cycling, this Lonely Planet series also includes Epic Hikes of the World, Epic Drives of the World, and Epic Runs of the World, all with similarly eye-catching retro-style covers.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This is a gorgeous, beautifully written and illustrated book. Ideal for coffee tables, the bedside, or for sharing. It's a thick hardback, with quality paper pages. It would make an ideal gift for either a keen cyclist or a keen traveller. I'm inspired and awed by the ideas and suggestions included - it makes me realise that the world is awesome and my sedate daily commute is really rather mundane.”


A Book For Anyone Who Loves Architecture Or Interior Design

A favorite of Pellegrini’s, this coffee table book is a compilation of work published in Architectural Digest prior to the magazine’s 100th anniversary. The photographs are culled from the magazine’s impressive archives and display spaces belonging to the likes of David Bowie, Michael Kors, Barrack and Michelle Obama, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Truman Capote. The book is big, heavy, and has an “extremely beautiful linen cover,” according to one reviewer, in a neutral shade that will work in just about any space.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Looks gorgeous on my coffee table. High-quality canvas-like cover and really substantial at 400+ pages. Especially love the archival photos from the 60s, 70s, 80s that you can't find anywhere else (unless you have every old issue of AD!) Great references for interior designers of the best projects of the past 100 years!”


A Colorful Coffee Table Book For Art Lovers

If you want to add a bright, fun pop of color to your space or reflect your artistic interests, look no further than this book featuring photos of artist Yayoi Kusama’s work. The book includes images of the artist’s The Obliteration Room exhibit in New York, plus some sculptures and large-format paintings. While the photos are the focus here, the book does include some text as well, including a poem by Kusama herself.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This is a great showcase of some of Yayoi's best works. You can finish it in a sitting but you'll definitely want to look at it again periodically. The photography of her installations does a good job at capturing Kusama's breaking the rules of space. I got a very surreal almost euphoric feeling getting lost staring at some of the pictures.”


A Coffee Table Book For Dog Lovers

If you’re a fan of dogs, you’re probably a fan of looking at dogs, too. Perhaps that’s why this collection of dog photos is so popular with Curtis’s design clients. The stunning black and white cover should look nice in most rooms, and the dogs that peer out from the interior pages are stunning and engaging enough to keep you flipping through the book again and again.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This book is hands-down the best coffee-table book I've ever owned, and a fantastic gift idea! The photo are gorgeous, with lots of interesting techniques and settings, and each photo is accompanied by a page of information on that breed. Incredible photos, interesting facts, and an elegant cover - what more could you ask from a book like this? Trust me, you'll want to show it off to all your guests, and you'll keep coming back to it yourself for a long time. Enjoy!”


A Book That Celebrates The Style & Wisdom of Chinatown Seniors

Chinatown Pretty isn’t just about style, though it showcases photos of seniors taken in six different North American Chinatowns. Fashionistas will love the stylish outfits on display, while just about anyone will appreciate the accompanying interviews, which are full of stories and wisdom. The stories and style will fill you with inspiration, while the cover will provide a fun pop of color to your home decor. As Kozoyed puts it, “Whether through a simple pop of color or a statement about your passions in life, don't forget to use coffee table books to add style, dimension, and inspiration to your space.”

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Fabulous!! Colorful in millions of ways! Made me smile and cry and laugh! A special respectful tribute to people’s creativity, independent spirit and joy for fashion and life.”


This Coffee Table Book About Slow Travel

According to Curtis, this book on slow travel is also popular with her clients. The book details places to go and how to experience them in meaningful ways, plus some ideas for traveling slowly and intentionally. Beautiful photographs accompany each destination, and the neutral palette of the cover and spine should perfectly accent any space.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “For those who loves slow living, slow travel.. This is a book for you. [...] Love the essays so much and each photo transport you to the dreamland location.”


A Perfectly Aesthetic Book On Inspiring Interiors

Pellegrini lists this interior design book as one of her favorites because it’s beautiful, a great size for stacking, and has a neutral-colored spine that’ll look great in just about any space. Curtis says it’s a favorite of many of her clients, too. Written by Athena Calderone, the celebrated founder of EyeSwoon, the book features a series of gorgeous interiors by creatives and tastemakers, complete with lots of photographs and information about how each space was designed. Calderone also provides tips as to how to incorporate elements of these designs into your own home, so it’s as informative as it is inspiring.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I can't say more positive things about this book! From front to back, each page is full of thoughtful and stunning design inspiration. The book is filled with so many wonderful things and the cover and spine of the book make it a perfect addition to any coffee table.”


This Coffee Table Book For Fashion Enthusiasts

Fashion enthusiasts who speak of Vogue in reverent tones will love this coffee table book that highlights the contributions of legendary editor Grace Coddington. The book features iconic fashion photography from Coddington’s 30 years at British and American Vogue, complete with commentary in her own words, plus forwards by Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld.

Cangelosi suggests that books about icons like Coddington are ideal for fashion lovers, and reviewers seem to agree, with one fan writing, “Well worth the money if you love fashion photography, and especially if you love Grace -- which I do!” and another adding, “If you are a fan of Vogue, and a fan of the editorial side of fashion, this book is a must-buy.”

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I really love this book. It’s on my coffee table and when I need inspiration (towards anything really) I flip through these pages. Coddington is a queen of her craft, creating gorgeous imagery and storytelling through fashion, locations and posing. She is one of a kind. Having the ability to own a compilation of her work is invaluable. Highly recommend this purchase if u need the creative fuel around your home.”


A Colorful Book About Painting Murals At Home

If you’re someone who likes to think creatively about home design or DIY projects, or if you simply love color, this cheery book about the power of paint could be a great choice for your home. Kozoyed says she has this book featured on her own coffee table at home, where it serves as an inspiration. “Wonder Walls serves as a great reminder of how a simple material like paint can massively transform an interior space. Phoebe and Roxy are also badass business owners, and it reminds me to show up creatively in my own business.”

The book, which is written by the graphic designers behind mural painting company Pandr Design Co., is unmistakably beautiful to look at, but it’s also incredibly informative, walking you through the process of covering your walls in playful painted designs. Choose from 26 designs provided by the book, or use what you learn to create something truly original — or simply soak in the inspiration from the comfort of your couch and leave your walls as they are.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Not only does this book look beautiful on my coffee table but it is filled with SO much information! I can’t wait to get painting!”


This Book For Architecture Buffs

“If the person loves architecture, choose books on Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, Frank Lloyd Wright, or Gaudi,” advises Cangelosi. For example, this book on Zaha Hadid covers the trailblazing architect’s work over the course of her career, with photographs, drawings, and sketches, as well as written descriptions. The cover of the book is eye-catching without being colorful or busy, so it should be a match for many different interiors.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “It’s a massive, well made book. Great for a coffee table. The cover and pictures are stunning, the information is thorough and I love that it has multiple languages in the same book. I bought this for my cousin who is in school for architecture, as Zaha Hadid is one of her favorites, and she loved the book.”


An Interior Design Book With White & Neutral Decor

The White Company has long been known for its impeccable homewares in various shades of (you guessed it!) white, so it’s no wonder that this book by the company’s founder Chrissie Rucker is focused on white and neutral home decor. It includes tons of photographs of white-centric interiors, along with information about the featured decor. If you like decorating and are drawn to a less colorful aesthetic, let this book serve as an inspiration. The coffee table book is a favorite of Pellegrini’s, who loves it for its neutral-colored spine, stackable size, and general beauty.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: “What a beautiful book! It’s written and visually beautiful and looks amazing with my decor. I love am a lover of white decor and this book is a keeper!”


Joe Cangelosi, interior designer and owner of Joe Cangelosi Design

Maddy Kozoyed, interior designer and owner of Whatsoever Things are Loverly

Kimberly Horton, interior designer and owner of KH Home Design

Marissa Pellegrini, interior designer and blogger at Barely Keeping It Together

Ginger Curtis, interior designer and owner at Urbanology Designs and author of Beauty by Design