Books as interior design

Throughout history, books in the home have been about so much more than just reading. They have always been proudly, publicly displayed, on walls, shelves and piled up (in the home of any true bookworm!) in stacks, providing a unique combination of knowledge and decoration.

Using books in interior design is a quick, affordable and interesting way to bring colour and individuality to any room. Home libraries and books as decoration are a great way of reflecting the personalities of the people that live there. They also serve as a great conversation-starter – guests will love flicking through your displayed titles, or asking you about your antique page-turners.

Display: Don’t be afraid to mix things up

If you’ve got a collection of books, don’t be afraid to show them off. If they’re not necessarily ‘Ideal Home Exhibition’ when stacked on a shelf, consider mixing them up with some vintage decor books. Try colour coding, or mixing your books with various ornaments to test out new looks.

If your display isn’t yet delightful, consider the thousands of shelving options that are available. Try mixing it up by having your books fitted into all sorts of nooks and crannies, at all sorts of angles, and even appearing to float up walls without any visible means of support.

Display: Don’t limit yourself to one room

When it comes to displaying your decor books, don’t ever limit yourself to one or two rooms in the house. You can display different books in virtually every room: the hall, the living room, the bedroom and even cookery books in the kitchen. We say virtually as it’s not recommended you display books in the bathroom – steam from baths and showers could be detrimental to the condition of antique books.

Display: Ditch the shelves!

So, you’ve decided that you’re brave enough to try the ‘book look’, but you’ve run out of shelf space. If you’re happy to display your books without using them for any actual reading (that includes flicking through!) why not use your books as building blocks for all kinds of furniture?

Our clients have used piles of books in place of lamp stands, permanent legs for glass-topped tables, and open books as wall decorations. We’ve even designed ‘walls’ made of books that have been evenly grouped together, or created headboards on beds… Completely made out of books!

Why not try creating your own…

  • Mirror stands
  • Photo frames
  • Coffee table legs
  • TV-stand tops

You can even use books as storage units, by grouping them into stacks or piles – use a collection of book spines to hide a larger box of, say magazines and newspapers. We’ve even seen designers  hollow out the pages of an individual hardback book, so it can be used as a secret jewellery or trinket box.

Try a quick scan of Pinterest for inspiration and you’ll find books hung from pegs as decoration, book covers framed as art and even books arranged around containers to fashion contemporary planters for inside the home.

Remember, antique books don’t have to feature in an antique home. Combining vintage and modern is a great way to breathe new life into an old space, or add a hint of distinguished history into a contemporary room.

Just like a real story, the sky’s the limit when it comes to using books as decoration in the home. Let your imagination run wild and see what you can come up with… And don’t forget to share with us your photos when you’re finished!

Published on in Interior Design.