Studio Brunstrum

Our Favorite Coffee Table Books

August 7, 2016

Coffee table books are more than just a "pretty face" in your living room or family room - they should be meaningful to you interesting enough to pick up and browse through from time to time.

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Coffee table books are more than just a "pretty face" in your living room or family room! They should be meaningful to you and interesting enough that you pick them up from time to time and browse through them. These attractive, over-sized volumes have always been on my must-have list. I buy them whenever I want to learn more about a subject, whether it’s an artist, a fashion designer, an interior designer or landscape architect. I often pick them up on vacation, particularly at museums.

During my trip to Amsterdam I bought “Face to Face with Vincent Van Gogh” by Joseph J. Rishel and Katherine Sachs from the Van Gogh Museum and in Paris I picked up a couple of books focusing just on Monet’s water lily series. During a trip to Houston I was so captivated by the Rothko Chapel that I bought a coffee table book about artist Mark Rothko who painted the fabulous interior murals.  Sometimes it’s difficult to absorb all the information you hear during a tour, but if I buy a book I can go back and learn at my convenience – maybe even during the plane ride home! I thought it would be fun to ask the Sweet Peas Design staff to name their favorite coffee table books, too, but I might regret it – now I want to go out and purchase some more! Here they are:


Senior Designer Angela LaVista


I love my autographed copy of Barbara Barry’s “Around Beauty.” She sent it to me when I was supposed to meet her in New York one time, then got sick and missed our get-together. It was incredibly thoughtful of her to mail it to me. I love the in-depth descriptions she gives of why living in beautiful surroundings really does enhance your life, and she describes her design process in a way I have never heard before.  Beautiful & smart!


Junior Designer Lauren Benditzky

My favorite is “Art of the 20th Century” by Ingo F. Walther. Not only do I love the visual aesthetic of this book, which I think is most important when selecting a coffee table book, but as an art lover I think the content is great too. It’s informative and beautiful! The cover is a Mark Rothko painting, who is one of my favorite artists. I love his simplicity and bold use of color!

Financial Manager Caitlin Ridgeway


I love “The Trench Book” by Nick Foulkes for so many reasons. A trench is literally the most transitional piece of outerwear that anyone can own. I love that anyone can own it too – it’s classic for menswear and dresses up a casual business look for women. Also, the history behind a trench is so much more forgotten than appreciated. Here’s a quote from the book: “Though it began as a military uniform, the trench coat has become a cornerstone of the twenty-first century wardrobe, a kind of chic yet classic envelope that perfectly balances form and function.” If you don’t own a trench in some way, shape or form, this book really inspires you to start searching for the perfect one. I love trench coats so much I just bought a sleeveless, trench-style full-length vest that I can wear to work over just about anything.


Studio Manager Lauren Brown


As an avid reader of design and lifestyle blogs I stumbled onto Erin Gates’ “Elements of Style” because it was recommended by several bloggers as a must-read. (Erin has a blog by the same name.)  I’m very visual and the photographs of perfectly styled yet livable spaces draws me in and allows my mind to wander. I also rely on my well-used copy of “InStyle Parties” from the editors of InStyle magazine. Every time I am having guests over for dinner or planning holiday events I reach for this book – it is a wealth of menu suggestions and party planning ideas and tips. I may not follow their plans to a T, but they are always a great guide.

Communications Manager, Laura Bianchi


My husband and I really treasure our copy of "Yellowstone Memories" from wildlife photographer Michael Francis. We were vacationing at Yellowstone in 2005 with our kids and stopped by a river to watch some otters playing in the water. Michael was photographing them, and as we chatted we discovered that he had published a book of his photos and just happened to have a few copies in his car - probably for tourists like us! So we bought one literally out of his back seat, and he autographed it for us. Sweet memories!

Susan Brunstrum
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