How to Decorate With Old Books

4 Materials
45 Minutes


Do you know the one item every interior designer uses when they are styling a room?

A stack of books!

Yep, the one trick that can lift any little styling corner from drab to fab is adding books. Whether it are vintage books, colorful books, stylish coffee table books or decorated books. Adding some books to your decor always looks good AND it is also the decorating element that can help to bring other items into focus.

Let’s talk books today and what you can do with (old) books and how to decorate your home extra beautifully with books.

Use Books as Risers in your Decor

I am sure you have heard by now that when you create a pretty vignette or a fireplace mantel decoration that adding height is very important.

Books are the best tools to make sure the highs and lows in your decor are balanced.

Use Books to Focus Attention and Create or Fill Gaps

As I said using books as a riser helps draw the attention to the focus point of your decoration. But books can help in more ways to give your decor the proper attention and that is by the way that they add spacing.

Adding Color with Books

With or without dust cover books are often colorful and vibrant. Select a number of books with just the right color and use them for an accent color or to strengthen the main color in your decor. Pink and red books are perfect in a Valentine’s vignette, green and red books can be perfect for traditional Christmas decor and white, blue and green books can really enhance a beach decor look. Decorative stacked books can really bring some cheer and additional flair to your home.

Display Collections of Books

I have already discussed quite a few ways in which books can be used in your decor as supporting elements that direct and focus attention to the main stars.But of course books itself can be so beautiful that they can be the decoration themselves.

Vintage Decor with Books and Altered Mirror DIY

Alter old books to use them as decorating props.

Remove the Covers

I love this trick, especially when decorating with vintage books . Sometimes all you need to do is carefully remove the cover of a book to create a perfect neutral book for your decor.

Vintage hardcover books can be transformed in seconds in this way. You may even find a happy surprise because really old books sometimes have been bound with old papers that create a wonderful decoration in itself. You can tie a ribbon or some twine around a stack of coverless books to make them stand out more, or use them as they are.

Painting Books

If you have some old hard cover books laying around you can easily transform them into the perfect neutral decorating props by painting them.

Very old study books or encyclopedia's work great!

You can basically use any paint on the cover of a book. But I have some recommendations. Try to find a paint that has excellent coverage and dries fast. Most books have colorful covers and especially when you want to make white decorative books you don’t want to have to paint them a gazillion times. I have used Chalk-type Paint for covering books.

I like to use a somewhat stiff brush when I am painting books. The bristles of a stiff brush will cause lines on the smooth surface of the book. I use that to my advantage by painting the first layer lengthwise and the second layer of paint sideways. That way I almost get a fabric like texture on my painted book.

Make sure your painted books have had enough drying time before you use them in your decor or they might stick together when you stack them.

Wrap books in Paper or Fabric

A non permanent way to decorate your books is to wrap them in paper. There are two basic ways how to wrap books for decor. The easiest way to decorate a book is to create a new dust cover from paper. Simply cut your paper the exact height of the book and with enough extra to fold it around the cover and you are done.

The second way to wrap books for decor is creating a new cover from paper. Wrap the book on all sides and use glue or tape to create smart edges and corners. If your childhood was any like mine, you might have already covered hundreds of books this way in your school years.

Alternatively you can also wrap the book in fabric just as you do with paper. It might be better to actually glue the fabric to the book (I used ModPodge to glue my linen and burlap to my books) if you don’t want it to slip off.

DIY Designer Book Decor

I hope I have convinced you that you can let your internal interior designer go wild and free when you use their ‘best kept’ design secret: decorating with books. Whether you are decorating book shelves, your coffee table or adding interest to a side table or fireplace mantel, books are your best friends. Stack ‘m, arrange books by color, alter books and cover or paint them, use books as neutral backdrop or as colorful focal point. However and whenever you use old or new books in your decor, I will cheer you on!Let all the book and decor lovers unite!

If you have liked my little book post. You will also like these posts:

How to Decorate with Vintage Crates

Super Laid-Back Summer Decorating Tips

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Marianne Songbird
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2 of 8 comments
  • Deano Deano on Sep 09, 2021

    I have bought old books for the titles, and now am beginning to read them. They turned out to be great stories.

  • Happy Days Hometalker Happy Days Hometalker on Jul 22, 2022

    Have always used books in my staging but never thought about using holiday colors, I love the idea, simple to do for a great look !