I’he most important style books oj the season celebrate 15 top designers and offer a wealth of glorious rooms sure to delight

Brian J. McCarthy’s timeless interiors draw from his deep knowledge of the history of decorative arts-as well as his own eclectic sensibility, LUMINOUS INTERIORS (Stewart. T a b o r i & Chang. S60; November), the first monograph of his three-decade career, looks at nine projects completed over the past six years, including an opulent Atlanta home with an 18th-century spirit; the designer’s bright, quirky upstate New York retreat; and a lush, art-filled Manhattan apartment, below, that held special meaning for McCarthy- it had previously been decorated by his mentor Albeit H a d l e y.

Stephen Sills has landed in the upper echelons of American decorators, and with good reason: His refined interiors are inspired by the past but feel fresh and timeless. STEPHEN SILLS: DECORATION (Rizzoli. $65). is his first book since splitting from his former business partner, James H u n i f o r d. Photographer Francois Halard’s crisp images of Sills work-such as an estate on the North Shore of Long Island that deftly mixes traditional antiques and contemporary art, above, and a fittingly majestic house for a rock star in Aspen. Colorado, with furnishings that reflect a variety of countries and cultures-reveal a designer at the top of his game.

London-based decorator Alidad lived in his native Iran until he was a teenager. As ALIDAD: THE TIMELESS HOME (Rizzoli, $60) makes clear, the designer’s sumptuous interiors-found in such far-flung places as Paris, Lebanon, and the English town of Oxford-are largely inspired by Persia’s rich legacy of the decorative arts and architecture. The book provides a rare glimpse into Alidad’s jewel- tone world, where every surface is touched by bespoke finishes and antique textiles, and where, through the magic of concealment. there isn’t a modern appliance in sight.

In TOM SHEARER DECORATES (Vendome, $55). the projects are divided into “City,” «Country,» and «Tropics,» but there is something undeniably sunny about all the designer’s work. That’s partly due to his love of bold colors. Indian prints, bent wood furniture, stripes, and lattice patterns. But Scheerer’s exuberance is always cut with a hearty dose of Yankee restraint and practicality. It adds up to inspiring rooms that are comfortable, modern, and unpretentious. «I like things to be pretty,” writes S u z a n n e K a s l e r. Her simple but chic interiors, featured in S U Z A N N E K A S L E R: TIMELESS STYLE (Rizzoli. S55). are composed of soothing neutrals, rich textures, bursts of color, and such thoughtful details as an inventive arrangement of antique miniatures at her Georgia home, above. That doesn’t mean K a s l e r can not do stately: Witness a grand Southern mansion that she updated with muted hues.

For half a century. Mario B u a t t a has reigned as the Prince of Chintz-one of America’s best-known and most beloved decorators, his rooms as fanciful as they are immediately recognizable. But until now. he hasn’t had his own book to take its place of honor on our cocktail tables. Packed with images of the homes he has designed for such clients as Mariah Carey and Barbara Walters, as well as touches of his signature wit. MARIO B U A T T A: FIFTY YEARS OF AMERICAN INTERIOR DECORATION (Rizzoli. $75) is a fitting guide to the masterful career of the designer who never met a floral he didn’t love.

In the introduction to his new book, Thomas Pheasant acknowledges his debt to the classical principles of order and harmony. Ten years in the making, THOMAS PHEASANT: SIMPLY SERENE (Rizzoli, S60) puts the designer’s signature passion for symmetrical arrangements. Greek sculpture, and spacious, light-filled interiors on full display. It also reveals his more forward-thinking side, as seen in a home executed not in his traditional neutrals but in rich, distinctive colors, from a lush blue living room to a family room in red and orange.

“Light is law,» writes Axel V e r v o o r d t. In AXEL V E R V O O R D T: LIVING WITH LIGHT (F l a m m a r i o n, S75). the influential Belgian antiques dealer and designer shows how the most ephemeral tool in the architectural paint box can be the most essential. The book showcases 20 of his interiors, from a subtle renovation of an 18th-century Belgian chateau to a home in a former Italian monastery. Each project is an object lesson in restraint and tactile pleasure.

From Gianni Versace to Lee R a d z i will, the Rothschilds to royalty, the Genoa-born Renzo M o n g i a r d i n o (1916-1998) was the 20th-century decorator of choice for an elite clientele.

RENZO MONGIARDINO: RENAIS¬SANCE MASTER OF STYLE (ASSOU-line, $95; November) is a beautifully illustrated guide to the architect’s career, from the Academy Award-nominated film sets he created for Franco Zeffirelli to the opulent homes he designed and decorated based on his love of classicism. The aptly titled book reveals the lengths to which this modern-day Renaissance man went to create atmosphere in his richly layered, antiques- filled interiors.

A designer memoir is not uncommon; what Thomas O’Brien has written in AERO: BEGINNING TO NOW (Abrams, $50) is the story of the store he founded in Soho in the early 1990s after working in retail design at Polo Ralph Lauren. Ever since. Aero has served as a laboratory, studio, and cabinet of curiosities. As O’Brien chronicles the shop’s history, he explicates the evolution of his own low-key masculine style, evident in everything from the antiques he sells to the furnishings and rooms he designs.

San Francisco designer S u z a n n e Tucker purveys a decidedly West Coast kind of glamour. Her rooms, as featured in S U Z A N N E TUCKER: INTERIORS (M o n a c e l l i. S65). showcase deep colors and exotic accents, set against such natural materials as Montana stone and Douglas fir. (Those views of the surrounding Northern California landscape don’t hurt.) The book’s showstopper is a stunning estate in the hills of Montecito. left, modeled on an Italian villa and filled with Asian antiques.

In A L E X A HAMPTON: DECORATING IN DETAIL (Potter Style, S50; November), the designer shows that small decisions have outsize impact. Via seven diverse projects, from a traditional blue-and- white seaside house, left, to a sleek urban study in gray, she demonstrates the importance of every choice, and how a cohesive plan and palette are crucial to success. She also gives practical advice on hanging curtains and placing artwork, chair rails, and sconces, and a glossary of essential sofa and chair forms.

Jeff rey Alan Marks’s interiors are known for their warmth and liability and the occasional grand gesture, from an enormous anchor outside the door of a Malibu beach home to the hot-pink grass cloth that covers the walls of a Los Angeles sitting room, above. JEFFREY ALAN MARKS: THE MEANING OF HOME (Rizzoli, $45) surveys 15 of his projects, including actress Gillian Anderson’s vividly colored London home and a collection of Laguna Beach cottages done up in English antiques and linens.

With her penchant for bright colors. gleaming metal, and highly polished woods. Jan Showers is not the designer to turn to for a surfers shack or woodsman’s lodge. Indeed, the 12 projects in GLAMOROUS RETREATS (Abrams, S50) showcase her signature elan while acknowledging their distinctive, spectacular surroundings. An art-filled Toronto home. left, looks nothing like a lodge in Colorado, yet both could be the work of no one else but Showers.

Boston is a tough town to bowl over, but that’s exactly what William H o d g i n s did when he opened his firm there in 1969. His signature mix of luminous white backgrounds, pale colors, and formal antiques juxtaposed against casual furnishings won him clients around the world. WILLIAM HODGINS: INTERIORS (W.W. Norton. $75; December) surveys his career with a range of homes that define modern classicism, including a Palm Beach apartment, left. Many look as fresh as the day they were created.

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