inspiration library: scottish country

I love to read. In middle school, I obsessively entered all the reading competitions in my school, winning such prizes as a ski map of Mammoth Mountain and a copy of Where the Red Fern Grows. As a teenager, I still loved to read but became more than a little self-conscious about the number of books I owned, so I hid them all in the top of my closet before any friends came over. Luckily, we don’t stay teenagers forever, and I’ve come to embrace my bookishness. While reading has never been a chore for me, figuring out my next book can be difficult. I spend countless hours on sites like Brain Pickings and reading New York Times book reviews, but some of my favorite books are the oldies that turn up in a flea market search or are spotted on a friend’s shelf. I’ve already chosen my picks for the 10 best decorative arts history books. But 10 books just barely scratches the surface of a great library. This column is actually just an excuse for me to buy more books, so if you have suggestions for books that should be in the ultimate inspiration library, let me know.

I’m one of those obsessive travel dreamers, always planning the next trip. And while I enjoy traveling, sometimes there’s nothing better than a little armchair travel. Lately, my armchair traveling has been to Scotland. In my hunt for more books about Scotland, I came across Scottish Country written by Charles MacLean and Christopher Simon Sykes in 1992. The photographs feel a bit dated, but there’s something really charming about how the homes are presented. There are armchairs with worn armrests, stacks of newspapers and magazines — no one cleaned for this shoot, and as much as I enjoy a magazine-perfect home, this just feels right. It’s as though you really stepped into the Scottish countryside. — Amy Azzarito

Photo by Maxwell Tielman

See more photos from Scottish Country after the jump . . .

There are in-depth profiles on diverse homes and the families that live in them — from the fanciest Highlands laird’s estate to a crofter’s stone cottage. But my favorite part is the little historic snippets about Scottish country life. I particularly loved the sections on tartan and tweed, but there are also sections on gardens, romantic paintings and Scottish pottery. If you have an affinity for Scottish design, this would be a great place to start.

  1. JM says:

    Also a fellow book worm since childhood. Loved the little girl in moonrise kingdom recently. Beauty in the Beast was my favorite Disney movie because the part when the beast gifts her the library.

  2. Kelsey says:

    Amy! I love this idea. One of my very favorite inspiration books is Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage. The book has a tiny online presence but I posted about it here:

    REALLY inspiring, and though not directly connected to decorated interiors… DEFINITELY worth owning.

    1. Amy Azzarito says:

      Hi Kelsey –
      Grace and I actually went to go see that exhibition when it was at the MET We loved it so much that we bought the book! :) It is really great. Thanks! Amy

  3. Teri says:

    One year ago I was traveling from Dornoch to the Loch Ness area. Those photos could have been taken on that day! In a way, Scotland stands still in time. From the land itself to the manners of its people. It is wonderful.

  4. Kelsey says:

    Oh cool!!!! Yes, I got to see it in Chicago and it was suuuuch a cool exhibit. So weird.

  5. nm says:

    It’s so refreshing to see interiors with a bit of lived-in character. I’m heading up to the Highlands later this month to stay in a big old (1765) estate house. I’m hoping to find interiors where worn grandeur meets domestic practicality.

  6. I love looking through old books, too- especially coffee table or decor books, and old magazines. It’s like design anthropology. We stayed in a beach house for a week that came with an early 1980s “French Style” decor book that I found so thoroughly entertaining that I almost lifted it ;)

    Thanks for sharing this find.

  7. Leigh says:

    My husband and I bought a steading in Scotland a few years ago and converted it into a residence. We got our design influence from the estate house my husband spent his summers as a youth (just a 1/2 mile away). We were also influenced by American open-concept. The end result is perfect for our needs. We spend several weeks a year there and we love it!

  8. Leslie says:

    Home sweet home, the coats and boots remind me of autumn days running around in the fields and woods. Muddy boots and damp coats hanging! I really love when people highlight my home, makes me realise how special it is.

  9. ann says:

    thanks this


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