HOW TO USE OLD BOOKS CREATIVELY IN YOUR DECOR
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.
DECORATING WITH OLD BOOKS
When you are decorating your home, books are the most helpful tool. It doesn’t matter if your style is modern or farmhouse, beach house or traditional, there is always a set of books that will come in handy. Books as decor can both be the main focal point or they can function as supportive characters that make other elements take center stage.
If you are an avid reader and collector of books you have some wonderful design items at your disposal. If you don’t own a lot of books, I highly recommend getting some just for decorating purposes. They don’t need to be fancy or expensive, you can do a lot with old and ordinary paperbacks from the thrift store. I’ll show you later how to decorate books themselves so they become perfect to display in your next decor project.
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. Adding a stack of books underneath your flower vase, candle stick or decorative accessory is the easiest way to get the height you need for a balanced look.
Because books come in so many shapes, sizes and colors it is not difficult to use them to form the perfect pedestal for your focus point in your design.
Alternatively books can also blend into the background very easily and be that perfect little riser that is neutral and doesn’t draw attention to itself. Especially when you are creating a centerpiece in a crate or when you are using a tray or low basket for your decor than quietly slipping some books underneath your decor will give them the proper height to not disappear inside the tray, without drawing a lot of attention away from your pretty flowers or beautiful sculpture.
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.
A few colorful books or a nice stack of stamped books with a personal message can fill in some gaps in your decor. They can add volume and additional interest to your coffee table vignette or mantel shelf.
On the other hand when your books are neutral and without too much color or pattern they can be the perfect backdrop to pull your eyes into decor. It pays to decorate some old books in neutral colors so you have them on hand as additional accessories, more on that later.
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.
You can even go so far as to display your books color coordinated on your book shelves and create a rainbow bookshelf. I personally love that look, and have often used it.
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.
A collection of books is a beautiful way to decorate a coffee table or a shelf. Make small stacks of books with similar sizes on your table, or turn them into a beautiful farmhouse style stamped book stack or add a few embellishments to vintage books and let them shine all by themselves.
HOW TO DECORATE BOOKS
Now that I have hopefully convinced you that you need more books in your decorating life, let me show you some ways I have altered books to make them the perfect decorating accessories.
When books have a pretty cover in the perfect color you can use them as they are. But sometimes you need a neutral book to blend in with your decor. Or maybe the perfect book in size and height has an ugly cover in the absolute wrong color. What to do then?
You can easily decorate your books to make them perfect for your decorating needs. There are permanent and less permanent ways to change the look of a book.
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.
For anyone loving the vintage look in their decor this is the easiest and fastest way to decorate old books and use them in your decor.
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Painting the cover of books is another permanent way to alter books and make them fit your decor. I have painted both hard cover books, linen books and modern paperbacks, it all works.
Wondering how to paint books for decorating and what kind of paint to use on the books? Well it is easy. 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 Fusion Mineral Paint with excellent results. Two covers of the very light color Champlain was enough to cover a very bright green book. I have also heard good reviews of the coverage of this 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
A non permanent way to decorate your books is to wrap them in paper. Their 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. This way you can cover a book without tape. Especially when you are going to use the books with the backs exposed but the front and sides hidden, this is perfect. You can change the look of your book in seconds.
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.
To cover old books with paper you can let your imagination go free. Colorful wrapping paper might give you the exact right color and pattern. Simple brown wrapping paper or white craft paper can turn your book into the perfect neutral accessory. You can even use old letters, wallpaper, sheet music or newspapers. Anything goes.
Make a Fabric Cover for your Book
For the crafty ones among us there is always the possibility to sew a fabric custom sized cover for a book. The possibilities with fabric are as endless as they are with paper.
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. But if you don’t like to permanently alter the books wrapping the fabric around it might work too.
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!
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