{books to give to design lovers and DIYers}

Depending on your mindset, this time of year is either fun or stressful. Fun if you like the challenge of finding the perfect gift for each person on your list – stressful if you just never know what to buy.

If there’s someone on your list who loves design or is a big DIY-er – we have some ideas for you. House Beautiful has some great gift ideas including the book “Apartment Therapy Presents.” The book is full of solutions for small spaces that won’t cost a fortune. There are even floor plans and resources listed by the photos inside the book.

We also asked members of the Hirshfield’s family for their favorite design or DIY books. We hope these ideas help – happy shopping!

Kathy from the Design Resource Center lists these as her favorite design books:

  • Barry Dixon Interiors Barry Dixon’s philosophy is that the element of surprise is crucial to good design. That belief comes through in his passion for mixing styles – even putting antiques in a modern design space.
  • Billy Baldwin Decorates This book was published in the 1970s but is considered by many to be one of the most authoritative books on interior design. Billy Baldwin explains taste, how to work with a decorator and the basic elements of a room.
  • The Home Within Us (Bobby McAlpine) This book is from an architect and designer who combines modern living with historical and romantic design. McAlpine showcases more than twenty homes to back up his philosophy of using unexpected materials and spaces.
  • New Classic Interiors (Alessandra Branca) Go inside a designer’s creative process in this book on creating beautiful spaces. Branca walks the reader through the steps of creating a room through it’s form and function, lighting, furniture and decorative elements.

Julia from the Design Resource Center had this suggestion:

  • Downtown Chic: Designing Your Dream Home: From Wreck to Ravishing This book is from a couple in New York City – who happen to be designers. They’ve been renovating and designing unique spaces for families for more than a decade. Think of this book as a practical guide that offers amazing inspiration. It also comes with a healthy dose of humor that you really need if you’re doing a renovation. The authors also just had a show on Bravo called “Nine by Design.”

Both Julia & Kathy love Kelly Wearstler’s books. Kelly is an American interior designer who you might know from being a judge on the reality show “Top Design.”

She has several books that would make great gifts – “Hue” is all about color and “Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style” takes you inside Kelly’s home in Beverly Hills and some projects she’s worked on for celebrities.

What are your favorite design books? What are you hoping to get under the Christmas tree to spark your creativity?

{great gift ideas!}

The holidays are here, and for many of us, presents are wrapped, beribboned, and ready to go.  But if you’re stuck on what to give your sister-in-law Alice or your uncle Bruce, here are a few gift ideas.

Homey Gifts

I love it when people buy me gifts that I’m too frugal to buy for myself, or gifts that I “want” but don’t “need.”  For example, I could use another serving bowl—but it’s not a crucial thing for me to have, so I haven’t bought one.  It’s great to buy people those little luxuries for the home that they may not splurge on themselves:  cashmere throws (keeping in mind the color palette of the home), a special table linen, a serving set, monogrammed towels, etc.

If you’re seeking a gift for someone who likes to decorate, has recently moved into a new home, or is starting a household, a magazine subscription in a category of decorating, home improvement, cooking, or the like may be welcome.  Think about the individual’s personal style to determine what magazine would best suit their interests.

Personalized gifts are great, too.  My husband and I have been married for nearly 10 years, and every year as we decorate for Christmas, I think fondly about my friend’s parents who got us our personalized Christmas stockings as a wedding gift.  Holiday gifts such as an advent candle, a menorah, holiday-themed platters or serving utensils, etc., are unique and may be used for decades to come.  Just make sure the recipient doesn’t have a dozen already!

Consumable Gifts

I love giving people gifts that will be consumed and don’t add clutter to a home.  For example, my husband’s out-of-state grandma loves a local upscale grocery store, so one year we picked out her favorite items for Christmas and sent them off.  The gift was a huge hit!  Think about specialty foods that people might not normally get for themselves, or foods grown or made locally that your far-off loved ones may not be able to get.  For example, for chocolate lovers, buy your favorite truffles or toffee from a neighborhood store; for a wine lover, wine from a local vineyard; for your gourmet cook, unique sauces, marinades, herbs, or spices.


This is another gift category that I love.  Think about experiences your gift recipient would like—tickets to a concert, sporting event, museum, arboretum, theatre, or zoo.  Or a day pass to go downhill skiing; cooking lessons; a membership to a family play area—the sky’s the limit.  What fits their personality and life stage?

Hopefully the ideas above will get you brainstorming about those final gifts to buy.  Maybe Alice wants gardening tools and Bruce tickets to an NHL game.  Whatever you decide, have a wonderful holiday season and great New Year!

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