Interiors by Design
by Ros Byam Shaw (Ryland, Peters & Small)

Like most design books, this one's loaded with stunning photographs of perfect rooms. What makes these pics worth going back to again and again is the clean, architectural look of the spaces and the full-room illustrations that follow, complete with arrows and crystal-clear captions explaining why certain choices were made regarding furniture layout, flooring, and wall and window treatments. The book is also thoughtfully organized, from a "Getting Started" section that helps you determine exactly what you want out of your new space to a "Trade Secrets" chapter chock-full of hints that really seem as if they might get someone in trouble for spilling the goods.

Most surprising fact: Along with being a stylish alternative to carpet, seagrass matting has a sweet scent, "like fresh hay," that can last for years after it has been installed.
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