In their first book, "The Inspired Home: Nests of Creatives" (Rizzoli, $55) Los Angeles interior designer Todd Nickey and New York interior stylist and former Domino editor Kim Ficaro follow the sage advice espoused on "Portlandia" and really "put a bird on it."
Staying true to the nesting motif of the book's title, the co-authors use ornithological archetypes -- from beach-dwelling sandpipers to dark-loving night owls -- to illustrate how 17 designers, writers, artists, fashion folk and musicians like Moby decorate their personal spaces.
"Once we had our bird personalities we knew more or less what type of homes we were looking for," Ficaro said. "This book was about finding interesting places where a strong sense of style and personality shined through." Their approach was the opposite of a typical interiors book, she added. "We sought out the people first, then saw how they lived."
The book is also part of a trend toward a more naturalistic depiction of interior design that includes the recently published "Behind Closed Doors: The Private Homes of 25 of the World's Most Creative People." The duo commissioned the Danish-born interiors photographer Ditte Isager to document the homes, but they resisted the urge to fluff up the spaces.
The results reveal a catalog of contrasting contemporary decorating styles. Fashion designer Rogan Gregory goes for beige beach minimalism in his Montauk, N.Y., retreat, while fashion stylist Bill Mullen's Manhattan lair is gothic black with lamps from the Los Angeles store Blackman Cruz and charcoal drawings of ravens by Palm Springs artist Eric Nash. Douglas Bensadoun, the creative director of Aldo shoes, mixes midcentury classics and industrial elements in a former Montreal, Canada, shoe factory.
Custom touches abound, but they are often created with simple materials, such as rope used as both a structural element for hanging a mirror and a decorative window covering in the Amagansett, N.Y., bathroom of Athena and Victor Calderone. In a Danish houseboat kitchen, whitewashed open shelving "keeps the overall space from feeling chopped up," co-author Nickey said.
Some subjects occupy graciously proportioned spaces; others live in more cramped quarters such as photographer Isager's 450-square-foot garage-style residence in Denmark.
"On the other side of the kitchen is the bedroom and bath, and that's it," Ficaro said. "The glass you see on the ceiling is actually a garage door. When it is up, the entire kitchen is completely open to the outdoors. We love the way the cloths, the pots, the cutting boards are hung from huge hooks, and everything is accessible. This is a lifestyle I think we can all learn from. It's about family, gatherings, cooking, living with the things you love and collect."