Book Review: How They Decorated


{The cover of How They Decorated features Cecil Beaton’s 1937 Painting of Mona and Harrison at Home in their Palm Beach Living Room Designed by Syrie Maugham}

Every spring and fall, I eagerly await the new design and lifestyle books that are set to be released. This time around, one of the books I have most eagerly anticipated is How They Decorated: Inspiration from Great Women of the Twentieth Century by P.Gaye Tapp, an interior designer and author of the blog, Little Augury. This clever book delves into the enchanting homes of sixteen fascinating, style-setting women including Bunny Mellon, Babe Paley, Lady Diana Cooper, Pauline de Rothschild, Elsa Schiaparelli, Fleur Cowles, and Dominique de Menil, among others. As someone who spends my days in interior design, this book speaks to my innate curiosity for a glimpse into the homes of these iconic women and for insight into how they came to be designed in the way that they were.

Divided into four sections: Legacy Style, In the Grand Manner, Fashionably Chic, and Unconventional Eye, How They Decorated explores the tastes and design decisions of this remarkable group of women. Some of the women elected to work with legendary designers including Billy Baldwin, Jean-Michel Frank, and Syrie Maugham. Others took on the task themselves. Both groups succeeded in designing homes that have endured the test of time and continue to inspire and delight to this very day. The book is filled with beautiful images as well as stunning illustrations by the likes of Cecil Beaton, Jeremiah Goodman, and Jimmie Henslee. How They Decorated is a lovely and interesting book that anyone with an interest or passion for interior design should read from cover to cover.

HTD Bunny Mellon CMoss IMG_5974

{Bunny Mellon}


{Babe Paley’s New York Apartment as Sketched by Jimmie Henslee}

HTD Henslee GRAND MANNER de Rothschild Mouton bedroom

{A Stunning Illustration of Pauline de Rothschild’s Bedroom by Jimmie Henslee}

HTD Elsa Schiaparelli Paris Apartment Goodman

{Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli’s Parisian Apartment as Depicted in a Brilliant Illustration by Jeremiah Goodman}

HTD Diana Cooper 3998

{Lady Diana Cooper Photographed by Cecil Beaton}

How They Decorated will be released on April 11th, but you can pre-order your copy here.

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Tell Me What You Think! leave a comment...

  1. As a designer what I really appreciate are the renderings! We simply don’t have the time, or in my case the artistic drawing skill, to do these any more. We have mastered the black and white photos of our projects tho. Looking at something in b/w allows us to see things we miss in color shots. Thanks for sharing the book!-Laurel Bledsoe

    1. That is so true, Laurel! By the way, thanks for sharing the tip about examining one’s work in black and white. I had never thought to do that, but it makes so much sense. I’m sure it can be a very fruitful exercise.

      Happy Friday!

  2. As someone who works outside the field of interior design and is relatively new to the subject of interior design itself, I appreciated being able to read a book review that raised my interest in the topic further. Thank you for the review.