One of the most exciting parts of buying a new home is decorating all those new rooms. And few areas are more fun to decorate than the living room, since it often serves as the central hub of the house. Coffee–table books are one sure way to add personality to your space — while also infusing the room with some culture and education.
From travel books that transport you to new horizons to art books that allow you to experience the richness of the world from the comfort of your couch, here are 10 informative and educational coffee–table books that should be on your list. Each book promises a much-needed dose of escapism — which means they’re sure to become treasured tomes in the years to come.
Art = Discovering Infinite Connections in Art History
Just in time for its 150th anniversary, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art released Art = Discovering Infinite Connections in Art History. This visually striking book highlights the most-viewed images in the museum’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, an online catalog of essays and images. Organized by keywords and themes instead of chronologically, the book offers a fresh look at famous paintings, photos, sculptures and more.
After documenting some of America’s most gorgeous green spaces on his BBC show American Gardens, beloved British horticulturist Monty Don teamed up with photographer Derry Moore to create a coffee–table book by the same name. From the slave garden at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate to New York City’s Central Park, American Gardens is a joy-filled exploration of America’s most notable gardens.
Accidentally Wes Anderson
First realized as an Instagram page, Accidentally Wes Anderson chronicles more than 200 otherworldly destinations that look like they would be plucked from a scene in, yes, a Wes Anderson movie. This whimsical coffee–table version even received a stamp of approval from Wes Anderson himself.
The Rainbow Atlas: A Guide to the World’s 500 Most Colorful Places
Add a dose of whimsy to your living room by investing in a copy of The Rainbow Atlas: A Guide to the World’s 500 Most Colorful Places. This beautiful book will take you on a virtual tour of the most colorful spots on earth, from the pink salt lakes of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to the iridescent peaks of China’s Rainbow Mountains.
30,000 Years of Art
Originally published in 2007, this classic art history book has been revamped in a new mini format. From 28,000 B.C. to today, this book offers a comprehensive look at human artwork throughout the ages. Periods and regions are arranged in chronological order, so readers can understand art in the appropriate context.
Characterized by breathtakingly blue water, whitewashed cave houses and historic landmarks, Greece is one of the most magical and romantic destinations on Earth. Transport yourself instantly to the cradle of Western civilization by flipping through Sophia Simone’s beautifully shot picture book, Ancient Greece.
Living in the Mountains
Living in the Mountains takes readers on an around-the-world tour of highly contemporary, remote mountain homes, from escapes in Japan to marvelous manses in New Zealand. Featuring houses designed by well-known architects such as Olson Kundig and Tatiana Bilbao (as well as lesser-known studios), this coffee–table book highlights the way good architecture can connect flawlessly with its environment.
Flower: Exploring the World in Bloom
If flowers are a family member’s love language, this beautifully bound coffee–table book is for them. Flower: Exploring the World in Bloom displays the various ways artists have imagined flowers throughout history, from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to Andy Warhol’s vibrantly colored silkscreen renditions.
The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design
As a podcast, 99% Invisible is hosted by Roman Mars and examines the hidden mechanisms that make cities function. In this coffee table book by the same name, Mars and coauthor Kurt Kohlstedt dive deeper into the most fascinating facets of cities, from fire escapes to street signs.
Based on his Instagram account, British photographer Samuel Ryde’s first photography book offers an entirely new look at hand dryers. Taken in bathrooms around the world, these photos showcase the many unique styles of hand dryers — and help us reimagine this everyday item.