Noted Author: Diane Dorrans Saeks


Do you have a favorite design book?   I know, I know, there are so many design books available that it is hard to pick a favorite.  But, it didn't used to be that way.   In the past there were much, much fewer design books published.   Today, the market for these beautiful books has exploded and it seems every well known interior designer has his own book.  My collection of design books was once manageable.  Now I have literally run out of space to store all my books - there are stacks of them in  my garage waiting for some miracle like a gorgeous two-story library to suddenly appear in my house.   What are my favorites?    The list would be long.



An early design book that I absolutely loved was California Cottages, written in 1996.  



image This small book is filled with pictures of charming California houses.  



image I remember I particularly loved these chairs!!! 




The year 1997 brought this book – I devoured it – cover to cover and then over again.  This book was a favorite for years and years.  



And of course, a more recent book – Elements of Style – is now in its 8th printing which is a huge feat in design books.   All these books I have mentioned have one thing in common – they were written by San Francisco author Diane Dorrans Saeks. 



imageimage Above are Diane’s books.   How many do you own?   I was surprised how many I actually had myself!  Besides writing books, Diane writes for many publications.   She is currently working on two new book titles.  And Diane still has time to write a wonderful blog, The Style Saloniste HERE 



image The author, Diane Dorrans Saeks.   Our honored guest this week on The Skirted Roundtable.   She is an intelligent and fascinating woman.  Be sure to listen HERE.


As always, your support and comments are very, very much appreciated.


  1. Joni,

    When the cabinetmakers are done building the library at your place, can you send them out here to California? Stacks everywhere--I really could use them!! I suppose it's better to have an overflow of books than a lot of other things. (A number of them are by Ms. Saeks, BTW)


  2. Hey! I am catching up, as you know I am the one man ("woman") show out here but I had to say your post on Trouvais was admirable...She inspires many including me..And the post she did on you was delightful..AND Diane Dorrans Saeks has proved to be a force in design blogging! My great Kudos to all of you!!!!Maryanne xo

  3. Joni, HELP!!!
    I've become addicted to The Skirted Roundtable!
    I keep wanted to add something to the seems so much like you all are right here in the room with me! I just love it!

  4. Dear Joni,

    Diane is a wonderful, brilliant woman whose work in books, in person, and now as a blogger I admire and laud. She is an inspiration to many of us designers in the SF Bay Area and always has her finger on the pulse of the design community and the lates trends and trendmakers in tasteful and memorable design.

    She is a delight to know personally, and I look forward to hearing the interview!

    a la prochiane!


  5. What an elegant and lovely lady and author too!

  6. You really have me curious about the rest of the California Cottages book - the photo of a den/family room is terrific - even 14 years later! Thanks!

  7. Ms. Saeks is to be greatly admired and respected. She has a tremendous command of the written word and I look forward to hearing her interview! ~Terri

  8. * J-girl, I took a quick count, of my collection of books I know by SIGHT, from your pics... Wow! I HAD 7... (that I KNOW of/remember, anyway~ heaven only KNOWS how many are stashed away, waiting to be read/viewed!)......

    Am afraid my collection is like yours~ in dire need of a "general gathering/meeting place"!!! No doubt GREET could suggest something just "toooo fabulously divine" for us, hmmm?????

    "Happy Wednesday", Sweetie!!!
    Linda in AZ *

  9. Joni,

    I love that Michael Smith book, and now that I see the others, I want them, too! Especially the one on California cottages. Look at that cover! Swoon.

    And from reading this and seeing the photos, it appears that Ms. Saeks is not only talented, but beautiful as well. I'm going to Amazon now and try to locate a copy. I'd like to have several of the ones there.

    Thanks for the heads up and for the interview, too. My computer is still acting strange (stopping and starting on audios, so we shall see). XO

  10. * P.S. Amongst all these you showed, CALIFORNIA COUNTRY is, I think, MY fave... think I'll take it out tonight and read it again... soooo, "THANKS" for the reminder to enjoy it again!!!

    XO *

  11. I have been reading Diane's books for years and know most of them quite well! I enjoyed hearing her speak at one of my design school outings at San Francisco Design Center 15 ahem years ago. Thanks Joni for an interesting post. Shiree'

  12. I have California Wine Country--deliberately hide it from myself so that when I find it every few years, I can enjoy it as though it were new, all over again!

  13. Diane Saeks work is wonderful.
    I could use your cabnet men, need another bookcase.

  14. JONI-

    Wow! I just came home from an evening at the San Francisco Opera--'Faust', very sad and tragic and black and heavy (beautifully sung and produced but very sad)...and I received an email from the lovely Grant Gibson to say 'Did you see Cote de Texas' today?'
    Oh, my. My spirits are lifted. How very truly wonderful of you to show all of my books. I hope they are still findable on Amazon.
    It is very gratifying to read all the comments.
    In writing the books, and selecting houses and interiors for all my books, I always look for timelessness. I always select the best quality design, nothing every trendy. I avoid publishing any decor that looks 'of the moment'. Classicism ad timelessness in all their variety, is the goal.
    And here are these books, still in demand. It is incredibly pleasing for an author, I must tell you.
    I so appreciate your kindness, and your fabulous enthusiasm and generosity, Joni.
    This is just a thrill, it really is. It means so much to me to see these books--from a lifetime ago--so appreciated.
    I hope readers will also check on more recent books, like Santa Barbara Living, and Hollywood Style (not all glitz, also very classic design, with more Michael Smith interiors), as well as the new Orlando Diaz Azcuy volume, which has gone into a second printing.
    Joni--and friends--a million thanks. This is so wonderful. I am honored and thrilled to bits.
    cheers, DIANE

  15. Yikes...didn't want to post right after Ms. Saeks, but... I have had California Cottages for years and its one of those books that I still pull out. I have most of her books and they are always the ones I keep when I go through and think I need to get rid of a few of my design books. They really are timeless and it was wonderful to hear her on the skirted round table. It was interesting to hear her views and I loved how she politely but forcefully made her points. It was my favorite roundtable yet. Thank you so much.

  16. Design books... I have so many I started a "library of design" in the (fabric room) back room of our office at work, complete with a recliner to sit on...(found a discontinued model no one will miss) lol... We used to have a table to put your coffee on but it keeps getting used for clients... that reminds me I have to find us a new table...hehehe
    Favorite book, I have two, Urban Country Style by Elizabeth Betts Hickman & Nancy Gent and Dwellings, Living with great style by Stephan Sills & James Huniford.
    If you do not have them yet, I say check them out, for sure...
    Regards, Carol Ann

  17. I was going to post that her pictures looked as good today as they did in 1996. And then I read what Diane said, so I know that was a goal of hers. Lovely books and a lovely lady. She has a face book page and is very generous to friend people. I love hearing from her often.

  18. She is lovely and thanks for all the fab books.

  19. Shame on me - I only have 3. But they are amongst my favorites. And now I have many more to pick up! Thanks for the compilation, Joni!

  20. Love new introductions to a good read. I'll add to my stack that is sitting next to my "reading" chair.

  21. Joni I love Diane's books. I have the same isuue with art & design books, magazines etc. where to put it all!

    Art by Karena

  22. Oh no I don't have any of her books. I must add some to my ever growing collection. The older pictures still look so current - I love that. Truely timeless. I have a plenthora of design books but the vast majorty are of the English country & cottages genre. My favorite new one (new to me I should say) is The Perfect English Cottage from Ros Byam Shaw. Oddly enough I still return to my Laura Ashley Home catalogues from the 1990s. I was still in highschool when I first saw them and I do believe they sparked my love of pretty interiors and homes. Those rooms still look so timeless too. (I posted pics on my blog of a few of my favorites a few weeks ago and The catalogues today are no longer the same since she passed away. Great post as always. I'm heading off the now...

  23. haha, I love how you said you were waiting for a library to just appear! I'm obsessed with art and design books and magazines as well! I'm working on a little built-in reading nook in my house. I'll send pics when it's done :-)

  24. The first book I ever bought that Ms. Saeks had written was California Cottages. The cover picture (and the rest of the pictures of that cottage) inspired my decorating style more than just about any other picture I've seen since. That room is me!

    Ms. Saeks is such a gracious and intelligent person. I can hardly wait for her new books!

  25. Ooooo Her Santa Barbara book is one on my favorites of all time.
    Gee, Joni, with all the California on your mind books, I think you need to move out here! We'd love to have you :)

  26. Joni, I own Elements of Style and Seaside Style and love both of these books. Looks like I need to get the Paris Style next. My design books are scattered all through the house. I do have a bookcase but it won't hold all of my books.
    xo, Sherry

  27. Intelligent and fascinating indeed, I am a loyal reader from the begining of her blog and of course I cherish some of her books I bought. Lucky me, I also won her give-away a few days ago, a gorgeous book on French Patisserie. A special treat to hear her voice and learn so much.
    Thanks again Joni.

  28. I love the floral fabric on the pillows in the living room - I know I've seen it before but can't remember where - do you know?