July 2020 Favorite Books of the Week

by | Sep 8, 2020 | a slice of life, Favorite Things | 9 comments

Well, here we are in September talking about my favorite books in July!  Well, that’s just how it goes sometimes.  I’ve been running a little behind lately on things that can be delayed, so I can focus on things that are more pressing or important.  August was busy with projects, my parents visiting, and getting the boys ready to go back to school.  I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed the rhythm and structure (and quiet focused time) that comes with them being in school.  It’s been such a gift, but I know that it’s precarious and uncertain and I just need to take whatever each new day brings.

The September air is getting crisp and the leaves are already starting to turn and I’m ready for it.

Anyway, before we move into more fall-related things, here are my books of the weeks featured in July…

New Farmhouse Style

I think I love this book because of all of the ironstone and beautiful pieces of furniture that are featured throughout.  I loved Terry John Woods’ work even before I knew it was his.  I have so many pictures of his spaces pinned to my inspiration board and I was thrilled to find them in this book.

terry john woods | new farmhouse style | miss mustard seed

His pictures are buried in there somewhere!

gold leaf inspiration board | miss mustard seed

If you love antiques and a more traditional farmhouse style (as opposed to the more modern take on farmhouse style that is the current trend), then you’ll love pouring through this book.

new farmhouse style | miss mustard seed

Mastering Composition

If you’re into painting or drawing (or you want to learn), this book is fantastic!  And, as a bonus, it includes a DVD.

mastering composition | miss mustard seed

What I like about this book is the approach.  Good paintings and drawings start with shapes.  The composition is more important than all of the little details.  As someone who gets overwhelmed by too much detail, this easily became one of my favorite books in my art library.

mastering composition | miss mustard seed

It’s also approachable and not snooty.  It’s good for beginners or anyone who wants to improve their fundamentals.


Well, the title is accurate!  This book is so beautiful.  It’s full of gorgeous spaces and I’ve enjoyed studying the details, textures, and colors in all of the featured spaces.  When I see decisions that surprise me, but they work, I want to read more about the thinking behind those decisions.  This book is great for that kind of study.  My only knock is that all of these spaces are high-end and therefore less attainable for the average person.  There’s always inspiration to be found, though!

Beautiful | mark d sikes | miss mustard seed

As an aside, I’m asked about the rug in my dining room a lot and it was designed by Mark D Sikes (the author) as a part of his collection for Dash & Albert.

landscape mural | dining room decor | miss mustard seed


This is definitely one of my favorite books on upholstery.  It is so thorough and professional and I have learned so much by reading and referencing it over the years.  There are clear pictures, great explanations, and it’s even entertaining and conversational, which isn’t an easy task for a tutorial-heavy book.

spruce upholstery book | miss mustard seed

If you’re interested in learning upholstery (or sharpening your skills), this is a great book to read and keep on your shelf.  (You can find my upholstery tutorials HERE, if you’re interested in those, too!)

What are some of your favorite books on home/art/design?



  1. Teddee Grace

    Poring over books…one of my favorite pastimes…and I was unfamiliar with either Terry John Woods or Mark Sikes. I loved the neutral section of the Sikes book.

  2. Diane Christy

    I recently found “Legendary Decorators of the Twentieth Century” by a guy who is, himself, pretty legendary, Mark Hampton. It was unearthed in a flea market. Ironic, no? Hampton did watercolor illustrations of each designer’s cited rooms, which was a little disappointing. I really wanted photographs, so that I could see specific details. But of course the watercolors are divine. The book did a good job of putting these men and women in context and showing how each inspired the next in line. Conversational and full of information.

  3. Amy

    Sometimes when I just need to look at something charming and get lost, I enjoy Sara Midda. I see something new everytime I open one of her books!

  4. Bea

    I just ordered the farmhouse style book. I I love pouring over decorating books. I’ll look forward to receiving it.

  5. Susan

    Mark Sikes has a sequel to “Beautiful” — “More Beautiful” — that will be published next week. Amazon is taking pre-orders. I just read about it in last week’s Washington’ Post. He is one of my favorite designers!

  6. Karen

    Hi MMS, you’re inspiration board are the colors in my head. I love those blues, and greens. I think those are paint colors in your solid squares, and I wonder if you could list those paint colors sometime. I have downsized greatly, and am trying to find my way in color here. I have navy, Aqua/turquoise/
    french blue? accesssories and French blue/and cream bedding. I have painted my desk a sort of jadite green mixed with pale gray French Furniture. I am trying to decide on blue/greens for another room, and am wondering if I should paint a similar green wall color in my office? Decisions decisions decisions. But I love your paintings and have your sepia bunny, but it;s the landscape colors I am drawn to and will have to get one some day.

    I have followed you almost from your beginning and admire your beautiful design sense.

    • Marian Parsons

      Almost all of them are colors I developed for the Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint line. Visit their website to see the colors and names.

  7. Jeannie

    The only New Farmhouse I could find has a date of 2009. Is this the one you have? It also has a different cover. Thanks!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, it’s the same one! I often buy books that are used and have torn, beat-up dust jackets, so I just remove them.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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