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How to Decorate With Books

Carolyn Leiter How to's

Decorating with books is one of the most common methods of styling open shelves and cabinets that you see in magazines and on design shows. It's often the easiest way to quickly introduce some life into a plain room. It is fun, adds texture and dimension to shelving, coffee tables and more. It also is a great way to experiment and show your own unique style!

Green BooksI use books around the store to give customers ideas on how to decorate their mantles, bookshelves, side tables and more. I've displayed them in groups by binding color and also faced them with the page side out to create a simple muted look. But my favorite way to use books to decorate with is to cover them with different kinds of paper to get the look I am trying to achieve. It's easy, inexpensive, and enables you to create the color palette you are looking for with little time and effort.

Book Cover OptionsI have three main sources of paper for book covers that I like to go to. Scrapbooking paper, vintage wallpaper, and brown kraft paper from paper bags. Each brings a unique look and feel to the books.

Remember when you were crazy about scrapbooking years ago and collected lots of pretty pads of paper? I do and did! I still have quite a lot sitting in storage. So when there is a certain color I am looking for, scrapbooking paper is my first go to. With all of the color choices and patterns available to choose from, there is no limit to your creativity.

In this Valentine vignette, these three books are covered with scrapbook paper. The white on white paper creates a pretty texture, and the addition of pink creates a splash of color. I used ink stamps to add Valentine messages to the bindings. This idea can be done seasonally and the messages on the binding can be inspirational as well.

In this vignette, I was going for a more masculine look, so I used scrapbook paper with an old world map design to cover the books and left the leather bound books as is to add texture. Paired with the metal pulley and rustic windmill clock, it creates the feel I wanted to achieve, a perfect look for a den or office.



Vintage wallpaper is a great resource for covering books like the ones pictured here. I used three different prints but all in the same color palette to go with this REVIVED gray table. It gives a more traditional look with the addition of the brass candlesticks and floral arrangement.

For a more muted look, I went old fashioned and used paper bags, just like I did when I was in school. Tying the books together with jute string and adding some succulents to this metal and wood house shelf creates a modern farmhouse look, which is one of today's most popular trends.

Other potential paper sources are old sheet music, newspaper, contact paper, wrapping paper, even fabric, old tea towels, or pretty much anything that helps you create the ambiance you want within your room. Whatever the look you are trying to create, just think outside the box to put your own stamp on this popular decorating idea!


How do you use books in your decorating? Tell us in the comments, or post some pictures and tag us on Facebook! We love hearing from you and seeing what you create.

Carolyn Leiter

Carolyn is a Derry, NH native who is passionate about making houses into homes. Outside of Revived, her favorite thing to do is spend time with her children and granddaughter.



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