Home Decor

How to Decorate with Books – Tips and Tricks

Books are items we see pretty much every day, items we often take for granted. Cookbooks, baking books, DIY books, textbooks, novels, photobooks, poem books, bibles, devotionals, etc. The list goes on and on! We see books everywhere too! Just about every store sells some sort of book! Some home decor stores even sell fake books! Fake books that can conceal little notes and treasures!

I love reading and I enjoy going to the library. The library is such a nice place to visit, so quiet, calming, educational, inspirational, and even beautiful. Why does the library look so beautiful? Because the shelves are lined with colorful books! The books make the library! The library doesn’t make the books! Believe it or not weddings are even held in libraries because of their beauty. Think Beauty and the Beast, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Harry Potter! All feature stunning libraries!

Libraries are sophisticated and alluring, but even books by themselves are very lovely and can enhance your decor! Sticking with what I said above, books are awesome items to decorate with! Not only are books charming and great filler objects, but they are also very affordable.

If you are looking to create a sophisticated look in your home, but at the same time you want to be budget friendly, decorating with books is a great option for you!

Books are awesome objects to decorate with!

Below are some tips and tricks to decorating with books:

*Use Secondhand Books: Look for used books at garage sales, estate sales, thrift shops, flea markets, church rummage sales, library sales, etc. Ask friends and family if they are looking to get rid of old books. Check your grandma’s attic or your great grandpa’s study. Teachers are great people to ask too! If you look and ask around, you will see there are a lot of opportunities to find books to decorate with.

When my husband and I bought our first home, we had to buy a lot of furniture. This because we virtually had nothing coming from a small apartment. For our home office we bought a beautiful Ethan Allen cabinet/bookcase from a consignment shop. Being new homeowners, we didn’t have a lot of items to fill it up with and at the time our budget was quite small. My in-laws knew a college professor who was retiring and because of that he had decades worth of old books to get rid of. Boom! Instant library! We loaded the professor’s old books on the shelves and styled them with some decorative accents. It looked beautiful and super sophisticated! The cabinet was full, and it barely cost us anything!

*Remove the Covers: If you are going for the educated and refined look, but some of the books do not look the part, try removing the covers. Some books have glossy, shiny or bold/loud colored covers, but once removed a beautiful sophisticated book may appear. With the retired professor’s books and some of the books we had laying around, we simply removed the covers. Look around your house, you may already have stack of books to use, just remove the covers. Voila! Now your books are looking like the ones in Harry Potter’s library!

*Wrap or Paint Books: Some books are not aesthetically pleasing or do not tie in with the theme you want to convey. It would be quite expensive if you went out and bought stacks of books in a color scheme you wanted. Like I mentioned above, you can remove the cover to change the look of the book. But sometimes that does not do the trick. The book underneath the cover may not strike your fancy. Or you may already have stacks of books without covers to remove. Like textbooks, paperbacks or hardcovers in colors you are not crazy about.

To use the books you already have, but make them work for you, you can just wrap or cover them! Back in the day we used to cover our textbooks with pretty book covers, or we’d cover them with wrapping paper or even brown paper bags. We did this to protect the books from damage, but mostly to make them look a lot nicer. Use this same concept in your home! Cover or wrap books in your current collection or the ones you pick up second hand. You can use paper, fabric, wrapping paper, newspaper, butcher paper, brown paper bags, gift bags, wallpaper scraps, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Book fabric covers – https://amzn.to/3J8gFxl

If you are looking for a more permanent look, you can paint old books! I see this look all the time in cozy spaces plastered on Pinterest and Instagram! Have fun with it, figure out your color scheme, buy some paint and create your own unique library. I have never painted books before, but if you plan to do this use matte acrylic paint. You can even use chalk paints for that shabby chic look!

*Tie Books Together: Another cute idea is tying books! You can use string, ribbon, twine, lace, yarn or even a beaded necklace. It makes the books look so fancy and decorative! The cute little stacks tied together can be a perfect accessory for your coffee table, mantle, desk or bookcase! They look so charming and can really make your space look high end! I’ve even seen people add decorative charms, keys, tags, and faux flowers to the string or ribbon to enhance the look.

For my son’s nursery, I tied a stack of Beatrix Potter books together with a blue ribbon to add some elegance to the space. I also added Scottie dog book ends to make the vignette more masculine and sophisticated. Check out: How to Decorate a Timeless Nursey – Tips for Success

*Use Books to Elevate Objects Where Needed: There are instances where you need items you are decorating with to have more height. For example, you need an item on a table to be higher. Like a lamp for example. Simply use a book as a riser by placing it underneath the lamp. If still too low, find a thicker book. If too high, find something somewhat thinner. Sometimes you may use multiple books. Play around with it until the lamp or other item is the height you need. The awesome thing about doing this is that the book(s) now becomes part of the decor, making for a more interesting and unique look.

Below are some examples in my home where I used books as risers. On my coffee table vignette (left), I placed books under the bird and the large ginger jar to make the items the height I wanted. Same with the bowl under the oil painting (right). I needed the bowl to be higher. The third photo (bottom), you will see I added multiple books to elevate the floral arrangement. Not only are the items the height I need, but the books add character to the decor.

*Use Books as Decorating Acessories: Think about books as not just items that are used for reading, but actual accessories for decorating! Using books as objects creates a sophisticated and personalized look to your home! Beautiful stacks of books can be placed on your coffee table, nightstand, foyer table, on your desk, on a bench, chair or ottoman! Decorating with books is limitless! If you are a lover of books, why not show off and display your collection. Books being used as decorative items can really make things look full and will save on your budget!

You can even decorate books themselves! This could mean placing an old pair of glasses on the book, vintage binoculars, a clock, vase of flowers, picture frame, a sculpture, etc. Have fun with it! Put your favorite picture frame on a book! Or a little sculpture or clock. Suddenly things are looking more interesting and fuller! The books become a part of it all!

*Use Books to Portray a Theme/Mood: Because you can use books as decorative accessories that means you can also use them to portray a theme or mood.

Some examples: If you want an old-world look, you could use old looking books in brown, red, green and gold shades. Books that are worn and look worldly. This can also portray a masculine look. This is the look I mainly use throughout my home to stick with my old-world style.

If you want a girly or feminine look, you can use books in pastel shades or pops of pinks, teals and purples. For a fun look, you can use rainbow-colored books. For a cozy or calm look, you can use a monochromatic color scheme with your books.

When I decorated my son’s nursery, I used vintage children’s books to make the space childlike, but at the same time sophisticated. Using books to display a mood or a theme can be great on a budget because you can easily change books out, remove covers, cover them in something else, paint them, trade them for other books, etc. All things you can do easily and affordably when you decide to change things up. See post: How to Decorate a Timeless Nursey – Tips for Success

There you have it, some tips and tricks to decorating with books! May this post inspire you to look around your house to see what you already have in your collection! Or motivate you to ask friends and family if they have unwanted books! Or go on a treasure hunt by checking out garage sales, secondhand stores, estate sales, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace to find books that need a new home! Once you have your stacks of books, incorporate some of these tips and tricks to enhance your decor! You are the librarian and the designer here!

Happy reading/decorating!

(4) Comments

  1. This is such a unique idea that I want to try since I have so many books.

    1. That’s awesome! You already have a great start!

  2. I love decorating with books! I’m pretty sure there are books in every room in my home! Great post! 😊

    1. Awesome!!! I am sure it looks fantastic!

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