Google+ House Revivals: Interior Design Secrets -- What Designers Really Read

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Interior Design Secrets -- What Designers Really Read

Well, folks, this isn't glamorous, but so many of you are interested in interior design that I thought I would share a few more design secrets.   These are some of  the REAL SECRETS of interior design, that you can use as you design and tackle your own DIY projects.

Here is a list of books that is an essential part of an interior designer's arsenal. It is not an exhaustive list, but these are volumes that are referenced over and over again.  Most of these books can be found at your local public library, so you don't have to lay out a lot of cash to have access to great reference material when you're making your plans.

See that giant catalog binder on the corner of this bed?  Designers schlep dozens of those things around just to find furnishings and accessories, but that's just a tiny part of what an interior designer does.  Designers definitely read tons of catalogs -- those catalogs change with the wind -- and they're not secret.  The real secret arsenal rarely (or never) changes (although the contents of some of these books are periodically updated to represent latest codes and research).  Some secret weapons are listed below:

  • Human Dimension and Interior Space is full of charts and illustrations like the ones on the cover.  Although most designers will automatically know commonly used dimensions, this book lists thousands of anthropometric dimensions that are easily referenced when planning a space.   And because nothing is ever simple, you have to know that most of the data used in this book was collected a couple of generations ago -- and we're taller now.  Maybe.  It is really important, however, to understand how the body uses a space.  We don't want to create an environment that leads to repetitive stress injuries, or worse.  We want to create functional spaces that are safe and enhance quality of life.

Human Dimension and Interior Space: A Source book of Design Reference Standards 

Panero and Zelnick

  • For anyone interested in furniture design and space planning, Time-Saver Standards is an indispenable reference manual.  And you know that repetitive stress injury I mentioned earlier?  Well, let's just say this book is about four inches thick, and after schlepping it around all day you may need to see your chiropractor -- or your orthopedic surgeon.

Time-Saver Standards for Interior Design and Space Planning
Joseph DeChiara, Panero, and Zelnik

  • In The Hidden Dimension, Edward T. Hall examines spacial boundaries from a social and cultural perspective.  An eye opening book, it will effect how you look at and plan spaces.

The Hidden Dimension  by Edward T. Hall

  • No reference list would be complete without the codes books, and they are real page turners -- not!  They are a necessary evil, however.  You could never possibly memorize all the building codes that are relevant to your practice or project (and you don't want to, as they change too frequently), but you need to A) have an idea about when there may be a codes issue, and B) be able to lay your hands on the building code adopted by the jurisdiction where your work is being performed.  That's not always enough, however, as most jurisdictions add their own revisions to their adopted code. 

International Building Code
  • Also, the building codes are subject to the interpretation of local inspectors -- and their opinions vary broadly.  So, we also really lean on our contractors to know what will and will not fly, as they usually know how the local inspectors interpret codes.  Confusing?  Yep.

International Residential Code

  • A kitchen and bath designer may have at least a few volumes from the NKBA Professional Resource Library.

  • If you can't get your hands on the Professional Resource Library, you can probably at least find this handy little book at your library, or find it online for around twelve bucks.

So, there they are.  A few indispensable interior design books.  Designers will have references for textiles and other finishes that they refer to, as well.  This is not an exhaustive list.

And yes, designers love to look at pretty coffee table books!  We keep those out where our clients can look through them for inspiration, but we draw inspiration from them, too.  We all have our favorites -- I'm currently digging anything beachy or artsy modern.

These are some of the REAL secrets of interior design, I hope you are not too disappointed by the unglamorousness (I just made that word up) of the profession?  Tell me what you think.  What books would you add to the list?

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  1. Great post. Very interesting. Thank you!!

  2. I second that, this is a very interesting post ... i will keep some of those books on my must read list!

  3. I like a little book called Use What You Have Decorating by Lauri Ward...lots of good design principles.

  4. Great tips! I think it is so great that you make this all seem so much more accessible to the rest of us! :-) Thanks for linking up these great references to the party!

  5. What a neat post! It's very interesting to see the other side of design talked about--the science behind it, if you will. I think a lot of people think designers just wander around with paint swatches and just do whatever strikes their fancy. ;) Thanks so much for linking this to my party. Have fun finding some new reads. Hope you'll stop by Serenity Now again soon! :)

  6. This is exactly why I have a deep, deep respect for those in the profession of interior design and know yall earn every penny you get...I will stick to Fine Art and Design and making things "pretty", where I can break the rules and not get slapped on the wrist by the county *grin*

    If I was to recommend any book to add to your list if it is not already there, how about "ArtForms - An introduction to the visual arts" for some light reading(hehe) gives you a little background in the basics of art history, art movements and the elements of design and the impact of art on everyday life...

    Blessings Kelsie

    ps: Glad you enjoyed seeing the village bridge :)

  7. Kelsie, that's a great book! I have an earlier version (mine is in storage until the remodel is done) that I really enjoyed.

  8. I always like to know about the nuts and bolts, so those books appeal to me....although I can never resist a glossy design magazine!

  9. I can't wait to see if I can find them in the library.

  10. Wow and here I thought it was all just about being pretty! I was amazed to see the other "not so fun"part of interior design!
    Thanks for the great tutorial! Would love to find the kitchen design book at the library, that's our next project:0)

  11. That is a very cool list os secret reads. Thank you for sharing.

  12. A great resource! Thanks for sharing. I'll have to get a library card :)

  13. Hi! I’m new follower of your blog and would like to invite you to join me at my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop:

    I hope you can make it!


    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick


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