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Fireplace full of books

10 Innovative Ways to Decorate with Books

Paint, wallpaper and furnishings might be the traditional ways to create your dream aesthetic. However, decorating with books is becoming a firm favourite with interior designers and home renovators alike.

You might love the heady aroma of the pages. You might be a fan of the artwork on their covers. You might adore their scuffed corners and well-thumbed pages. And who knows? You might actually love reading them. While the pages of a book can take you around the world, plunge you into a dystopian future, or place you at the centre of a vampire-laden romance, it’s not just the prose that makes them so special.

Apparently, you should never judge a book by its cover. But, paperback covers and vintage dust jackets can bring colour, life, and vibrancy to a home. Cicero, the Roman philosopher, who had quite the penchant for books, once said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul,” and who are we to disagree?

Bookcase full of books
Image credit: Brooke Copp-Barton, Home Interior Design | Megan Taylor

How to decorate your home with books

If you’re soon-to-be renovating your home, why not put away the emulsion and damask for a little while and concentrate on decorating with books? We’ve put together a list of 10 creative ways you can use books as decoration in your home.

1. Get colour coordinated as you decorate with books

Using colour coordination to organise your book collection can be a great way to bring life to your shelving. If you’re feeling bold, a rainbow sea of your favourite authors can bring a playful look to your living space. For a visual effect that’s a little more subtle, you could group book covers of warm, rich, or moody tones together to merge effortlessly with your already established colour scheme. Elevating your book organisation using colour can add decorative flair to your home.

2. Curate a book cover gallery wall

Do you have an empty wall that you just don’t know what to do with? Why not unleash your inner gallerist and choose some of your favourite hardback covers to showcase in box frames gracing your wall? From movie-poster-style graphics to striking patterns of colour, book covers can bring you as much joy as your favourite paintings or pieces of art.

Stacking books for decoration
Image credit: Designer: Sarah Moss | Photographer: Nick Smith

3. Stack books for decoration

Your largest volumes might not sit comfortably on a bookcase. Instead, stack them from the floor up to create a pedestal. Adorn your hardback homage to a Romanesque plinth with a decorative vase full of freshly cut flowers for a daring focal point.

4. Go minimalist with your book decor

If you’re a neutrals enthusiast and anything other than white, cream, or beige would upset your tranquil hues, it can be challenging to create a book display. To harness the essence of a minimalist style, rotate your books so that the spine is hidden and the closed pages can be seen. This creates an instant textured look of off-white hues and warm oatmeal tones and can make even antique books feel achingly modern in a minimalist display.

5. Enjoy creating a library wall

If veering away from convention fills you with dread, opt for a more traditional way of decorating with books for your reading nook, study, or living room. For book lovers, a library wall is the stuff of dreams. A floor-to-ceiling facade of Shakespeare sonnets and Tolstoy tomes can create a distinguished aesthetic that is both beautiful and functional.

6. Decorate with books and plants

Flourishes of greenery delicately positioned between books can soften harsh lines. For those less green-fingered, succulents and spider plants need very little care but will bring an architectural quality to your bookcase. And for a more bohemian aesthetic, a string of pearls plant with its undulating vines can soothe rigid angles while helping you reconnect with nature.

Fireplace full of books
Image credit: Designer: Sarah Moss | Photographer: Nick Smith

7. Fill a fireplace with books

From Victorian cast iron fireplaces with beautiful tile surrounds to empty fireplace alcoves that give a hint of what once was, books can be a wonderful addition to add a dash of literary interest. A fireplace insert that’s no longer in use can look sparse. Filled with novellas and paperbacks – old and new – the space becomes a practical storage solution while having a bespoke edge.

8. Mix and match books with sculptures and ornaments 

Your book collection doesn’t have to remain in one static position. Instead, split your collection around your home and use sculpture to elevate your titles. Mixing and matching relevant books with personal mementos can add a quirky edge to your decor. There’s no better place for that little ornament you picked up on your backpacking jaunt around India than when it’s sat on your ‘History of the Raj’ book on your side table.

9. Exude authenticity with vintage books

If your home is full of mid-century modern furniture, a sprinkling of G Plan or an art deco piece or two, source some books to match your interior decades of choice. This can create a cohesive period look while welcoming a sense of social history. Worn leather spines and gold-foil cursive lettering can evoke a feeling of nostalgia and tradition. Alongside your 1960s teak-fuelled sideboard, Victorian bookcase, or space-age dining chairs, an authentic period aesthetic can emerge.

And last but not least…

10. Everything looks better with a book on it

The humble book can be a piece of decor in its own right. From antique leather-bound first editions to modern classics, books can be used to elevate and enhance any living space. Need a good read within arm’s reach at all times? Coffee tables, bedside cabinets, and bookcases make wonderful natural homes. 

Why not dust off your tomes and novellas and have a go at decorating with books to bring personality and uniqueness to your home? Have you had success decorating your home with books? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your inspirational ideas.

Decorate your home with books

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