The best coffee table books not only transform a room, but your sense of your own style, bringing inspiration, advice, and new ways of seeing your space.
However, there's been a huge increase in the number of these books in the past decade and not all of them are worth your money. That's especially crucial with the holidays approaching. Coffee table books make for some of the best home gifts out there, but the most expensive can be wallet-busting: I've seen several books on the market for more than a thousand dollars. It pays to know which books are worth buying, and which aren't worth your time.
That's why I spoke to a wide range of interior designers and stylists for their personal recommendations. These are the books that they not only use to design their clients' spaces, but that they personally own and read for inspiration.
They come from world-renowned publishers like Assouline, Taschen, and Phaidon, and cover a wide range of interests and styles. When it comes to coffee table decor, these are the staples.
Best coffee table books 2024
Erin Gates' book was the favorite of several of the designers I spoke to. It has everything you need from a coffee table book. Not only will it up your shelf game and look incredible on a coffee table, but it's packed with relatable, funny advice on the best ways to style an interior. It will elevate your home without a hint of elitism or snobbery.
Another book recommended by most designers, this book is a must-have. Not only does the golden cover look incredible, but it's packed with advice on how to identify high-quality home goods and how to get them for a fair price. If you've ever needed the specifics of the history of wallpaper and how to find the perfect pattern, this book is the essential guide.
Birds of America is a coffee-table classic for a reason. Interior designer Chelsea Potthast told me that it's one of her staples when using art books in a space. A collection of John James Audubon's iconic illustrations of American birds, this is the so-called 'baby Elephant' folio; a smaller reproduction of the original life-sized illustrations.
Chelsea began her design career in Los Angeles working with a wide variety of clients in both hospitality and residential design. Chelsea returned to her hometown, St. Petersburg, in 2016, and opened her boutique interior design firm, Potthast Design.
Several designers commented that Assouline's travel books are an obvious but essential choice. They make a bold color statement even before you've opened them, and inside is a treasure trove of photography based of the world's most beautiful places. Mykonos Muse is perfect for bringing a bolt of blue into a room, but there's plenty of other color options, like Ibiza Bohemia for a bright pink, or Capri Dolce Vita for a sturdy orange.
Another book that kept coming up, The Kinfolk Home is packed with advice for making calm, cozy spaces. Better than that, it's a great piece of style in its own right. It looks excellent on a coffee table, and is packed with inspiration from relaxed but sophisticated homes from around the world.
Designer Keely Smith described this as one of her 'favorites', adding 'class to any space'. A collection of paintings by great women artists, it runs the gamut from Carrington to Kahlo to O'Keefe and back again. For a brighter front cover and a wider range of media, try Great Women Artists, which includes sculptors and video artists like Marina Abramović.
Keely is the lead designer at JD Elite Interiors, with 15 years' experience in art, design, and interiors.
This book looks astonishing on a coffee table and it's filled with 300 images of the flowers in Roehm's iconic garden. The book is accounts of Roehm's life as a gardener and interior designer Grey Joyner described is a 'must have', where 'every page is full of some of the most beautiful gardens and flowers around'.
This look at James Turrell's light installations is fascinating in its own right, but let's be honest, the most striking thing about this book is its burst of neon color. Interior designer Caroline Kopp says that this book's 'amazing pink and purple dust jacket' simply has to be put on display.
Deborah Needleman's books were also firm favorites, so I thought I'd include a bundle of two. Her Book of Decorating is particularly recommended. It will take you through the house inch by inch to help you design a space that feels lived in and loved. One designer described it as a 'must-have'.
Before founding her own interior firm, Caroline Kopp majored in Art History at UC Berkeley and then on to New York to study interior design at Parsons School of Design. Later in her career, she continued her education with at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. Kopp’s design philosophy calls for a fresh approach to each project, drawing on the best examples of classic and modern styles, mixing texture, color, and compelling silhouettes.
Grey Joyner is an interior designer based in North Carolina who embraces maximalism, color and pattern as her signature look in client projects. Whether it's a classic home for a family or a beach house along the coast, Grey loves to create rooms that have multiple layers and stories to tell. She's only been in business for a few years, but is making her mark all around North Carolina.
Botanicum is incredibly informative, and combines beautiful illustration of our planet's plant life with fascinating cross-sections of how it works. Interior designer Jessica Dorling described this as a 'botanical museum translated onto paper'.
Miles Redd's style always goes big, and this book is a testament to that. It's not an instruction manual, nor even a collection of his designs, but a collection of images that inspire him; a peek inside his thought process. While the simple, clean front cover looks great against dark wood coffee tables, you can leave it open on a page for a burst of color.
Coffee table books often come in slightly strange dimensions like this that are perfect for breaking up the monotony of a shelf or coffee table. But that's before you get to the quality of this book in its own right. Written by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, one of Wright's apprentices, this is the essential monograph on one of America's most important architects and designers.
Northwest native and ASID-affiliated designer Jessica Dorling has a passion for expressing clients’ intentions through thoughtful home design and construction. Sustainability, re-imagination, and integration of form and function are top goals.
Coffee table book FAQs
What are the best dimensions for coffee table books?
There's no hard-and-fast rule, but they should be proportionate to your table, roughly a quarter of the size. Too big and they look a little comical, and too small and the effect is ruined. Roughly A3 is the perfect dimensions.
How many coffee table books should I stack?
One of the designers I spoke to said that the best number of coffee table books to stack is three. One or two just looks like you've left some books out; more than three becomes clutter. Three books, staggered by height, is the perfect accompaniment to a bare coffee table.
Coffee table books are among the best home gifts out there, but they're far from your only options. It's well worth taking a look at our expert guides to the best glassware and best vases if you're buying for someone who loves design.
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As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.
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