I’ve been known to bemoan the bitterness of winter as vociferously as you’d expect from a Southern girl whose roots have been replanted in the it-actually-gets-cold-here East Coast. But there is a part of me that secretly loves having an excuse to hibernate for a few months. It gets dark so early these days (by mid afternoon!), which kills my social life but leaves me with more hours every evening to dive deep into a sea of beautiful books. There are acres of inspiration to be found online, but still there’s nothing quite like revisiting the well-thumbed pages of a beloved art or photography tome. It’s right up there with travel as one of my favorite a ways to refill my creative tank. Give me a good book and scatter a few flower arrangements around the house to deceive me into memories of spring, and I’ll have found my own warmth during the long, dark cold… Just in time for the shivery season, a fresh platoon of artists’ portfolios has recently been released, with standouts from aesthetic idols of mine like Lori Goldstein and Wes Anderson, and a new-and-improved reprint by Peter Beard. I greedily buy them as soon as they’re released, needing the immediate visual fix but also knowing that I will love and refer back to them for decades to come. Books ~ both novels and nonfiction ~ not only feed my soul, but also teach me immensely, challenging my imagination and my sometimes-slippery sense of perspective. I constantly recall the words of another hero of mine, John Waters, who once famously insisted: “We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t f*ck ’em!” Indeed, it’s an appreciating investment. These days I split my time between an apartment in the city, and the home I share with Zach in Amagansett. Since returning from Asia, the two of us have thrown ourselves into redoing the latter house, really working to create a spiritual and artistic oasis for ourselves and our friends. Its vibe is intensely earthy, relaxed and bohemian. By contrast, my NYC pad (pictured here) has a much more formal energy, reflecting the professional obligations and more tightly scheduled lifestyle I experience there. I’ve learned that I thrive best when given equal time in both realms; be it ballgowns or bonfires, I need and adore each habitat differently. Of course, both places are designed and stocked to inspire! I’ve always relied heavily on eBay when decorating, and that fact is truer than ever as I attempt to affordably ornament one house from the couch of an apartment located hours away. My confidence in the feasibility of that task is bolstered as I look around this city pad, my eye fondly falling upon all the treasures eBay has brought to it ~ including many of the books and most of the art and objets caught in these images. That’s why, when I worked with that company last month to help launch their new Collections platform, I immediately built boards inspired by both my urban HQ and my rustic retreat (which should be ready to show you soon). Doing so actually hugely helped me in defining the opposing aesthetics of those two disparate dwellings. My emotional well-being is so tied to my sense of place, and creating inspiring spaces is my best way of staying sane amidst the intensity of work and city living. And as much as I crave adventure, sometimes my favorite way to travel is by settling into an epic book from the comfort of my own bed, content to let my imagination do all the wandering. What’s the one book that always stirs your soul and fills your eyes with inspiration?