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Shelf, addressed: Noteworthy new books focus on home design

We’ve reached that point in the gift shopping season where the struggles really begin. Lingering names on the nice list are met with a tinge of anxiety and, maybe soon, a desperate late-night online buying binge. But before you resort to another impersonal scented candle or fluffy throw (all good things, all good things), consider what your recipient has been up to for the last several months. If beautifying their home has become a focus during extended work-from-home stints, one of this year’s crop of home interiors-themed coffee table books might just be the perfect present. And if said books just so happen to have an emphasis on homes in the South, all the better. Here are a few of the latest titles that might just inspire a fresh look at our homes in the new year.

Click on each book’s title for more details and purchasing information.

Soul of the Home

By Tara Shaw, Abrams Books

From her Magazine Street showroom in New Orleans, Tara Shaw has sourced antique furnishings for some of the design world’s most notable names, from Bunny Williams to Mary McDonald. Her first foray into the book world gives fans of fine antiques an inside look at her work and reveals how centuries-old pieces can be at home in even contemporary environments. She advises on how to start an antiques collection (with notes on historic styles), how to place them within a home, and even how to hunt for antiques in Europe. “Antiques bestow an incomparable sense of history—something that’s withstood the centuries is necessarily made extremely well,” Shaw writes. “Their flaws, scrapes, and bumps are hard-earned and make your interiors (and maybe even you) more forgiving. An antique can seduce you in a way that no assembly-line-produced good ever could.”

The New Southern Style

By Alyssa Rosenheck, Abrams Books

What does it mean to be a Southerner? And how does that reflect in your home? For centuries, having roots in our region has meant holding onto a strong sense of tradition in our interior design—but that notion may just be changing with the times, as Nashville photographer and stylist Alyssa Rosenheck reveals through a tome filled with evocative images and interviews with Southerners ranging from Reese Witherspoon to Gray Malin to south Louisiana native Ruthie Lindsey. “In a place of complicated social norms and dated perspectives, there is a powerful contemporary movement fueled by creative entrepreneurs who are following our passions and taking risks,” writes Rosenheck. “We are saying, out with the old formalities and in with the new in our hearts, our minds, our homes, and our businesses, by embracing creative prosperity and community.”

Arriving Home

By James T. Farmer III, Gibbs Smith

Southern style gets a refresh through the eyes of James T. Farmer III, a Georgia-based landscape and interior design guru who advocates “garden living”—incorporating the bounties of the garden into everyday life. Farmer’s vision for Southern style, as seen in the pages of his new book, is found not just within the geographic boundaries of this region of the country but also in unlikely locales as far north as Connecticut. “We Southerners are a ‘house proud’ people,” Farmer writes. “It is not a brash type of pride, but a wholesome duty to share and include our friends and family for life’s events in an intimate setting—a true reflection of our hospitality.”

The Beauty of Home

By Marie Flanigan, Gibbs Smith

“My work is about making meaningful connections,” writes Houston interior designer Marie Flanigan in her new book, “not only between architecture and interiors but also among the home and the people living in it and all the tangible and intangible ingredients that compose an eloquent environment.” Flanigan’s focus on storytelling through a home’s aesthetic style has made her homes as easy to live in as they are to look at. Here, she walks the reader through her design process, focusing on each element from palette to depth to detail, meanwhile showing off rooms in which she expertly accomplishes each task. “I believe that home is more of an experience than a place,” she writes. “It encompasses the rooms that shape and bear witness to our lives.”

A Home for All Seasons

By Danielle Rollins, Rizzoli

Dallas designer Danielle Rollins wraps up decorating and entertaining into one pretty volume, and why not? After all, for Southerners, home is as much for the loved ones we welcome in as it is for ourselves. Rollins’ colorful photos and step-by-step tips guide would-be hosts through the art of party planning and decorating for the holidays and beyond. “I’m here to tell you the secret to it all,” she confides. “It’s really not that complicated. If a house is just a backdrop for breaking bread and clinking glasses and fireside heart-to-hearts, then there are ways of designing and running it that will make welcoming people in feel joyful and relatively stress-free.” Sounds like just what we need this time of year!