"Design Ideas for Home Decorating" by Heidi Tyline King Creative Homeowner, $24.95 There is nothing outwardly special about this book &...

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“Design Ideas for Home Decorating”

by Heidi Tyline King

Creative Homeowner, $24.95

There is nothing outwardly special about this book — it’s not written by a famous designer; it’s not targeted toward a specific decorating trend; and it’s not tied to any product, magazine or TV show.

Which makes it especially special from our buried-under-just-those-kinds-of-books perspective.

This is just one basic, well-rounded, nicely grounded book of design advice. How basic? It starts with the question, “What is design?”

After addressing other standbys (space, color, pattern, texture, style and furnishings), it delves a little more deeply into decorating advice for specific rooms — how to work with color; how to arrange your stuff; how to select your window, wall and floor materials. But not too deeply — this is an all-encompassing, almost-textbook-y book, touching on all sorts of styles, budgets, concepts and options. With loads and loads of very attractive photos.

It’d be a great way to dip into the world of design, or to shop around for a style — there’s even a lengthy list of resources.

“House Beautiful Storage Workshop”

by Tessa Evelegh

“House Beautiful Color Workshop: Decorating Stylish Rooms”

by Sarah Childs-Carlile

Hearst, $24.95 each

You expect pretty things from a magazine called House Beautiful, and these latest “Workshop” entries do not disappoint.

But they do kind of surprise.

Since our idea of storage, for example, is a pile of Target bags filled with action figures, we were amazed by the luscious solutions served up here. Whether you want to hide away ugly heirlooms or show off pricey plates, this book helps you select the right storage option.

We also were surprised by “Color Workshop” — mainly by the fact that they could put together an entire book on color. But there really is a lot to learn here, from how color works to creating a color scheme and putting together your own personal palette.

Both books are straightforward but lush, educational and inspirational.

“Country Living/Your House, Your Home: Creating the Home You Love to Live In”

by Randy Florke with Nancy J. Becker

Hearst Books, $14.95

Yee-ha! Finally! An author from Iowa! Who bought the rundown farmhouse of his childhood dreams for a mere $16,000! What a refreshing breath of farm-fresh air. You just don’t see too many design gurus these days with down-home rural roots and Midwestern sensibilities.

Oh, cow hockey. Wait just a minute.

By Page 18, Mr. Green Jeans has changed into something a little more chic. That farmhouse? Now a homestead. Which Florke visits, from his permanent home in New York City, where the former model is now a real-estate broker. When he’s not at one of his other six or so houses.

Sigh. OK, so maybe you can take the country out of the guy — but you can’t take it out of his homesteads.

Florke uses three “muses” — comfort, economy and color — to create his cozy, clever, distinctly country spaces. And, thanks to that “economy” element, he also uses a lot of found items, spruced up with a coat of paint or two.

His book visits his homes room by room, offering lots of pretty pictures (Roosters! Gingham!) — but not exactly groundbreaking information (“Experiment with paint chips held side by side … “). His writing is personal, if not probing, and his advice is sound, if not scintillating.

He definitely has found and perfected his style — pure country, through the eyes of a big-city author.

Compiled by Sandy Dunham, Seattle Times desk editor