Each year at Custom Home and residential architect, we receive many more books than we have time to review. There are always a few that I hang onto, hoping I'll some day have the chance to write about them. The Swedish Country House, by Susanna Scherman, is one of those. It came out way back in October of 2010, but it's still just as gorgeous and relevant as the day it was published. And during these gray winter days, a hefty dose of light-maximizing Swedish design can provide quite a pick-me-up.

The hardcover, 222-page book features 20 country houses throughout Sweden, built between the 15th and 19th centuries. Weaving Ake E:son Lindman’s lovely photos into her own well-informed text, Scherman illustrates the connections between Swedish political and military history and its domestic architecture and interiors. Homes as varied as the grand Torpa Castle and the much more modest Lanna Parsonage demonstrate the work of skilled craftsmen equally well. Sturdy buildings of stone and wood are juxtaposed with delicately patterned wallpaper and tile, and bright reds, oranges, and yellows contrast with dreamy, whitewashed spaces. Published by The Monacelli Press, The Swedish Country House provides inspiration and escape, along with an interesting historical perspective.—M.D.