4 Creative Ways to Decorate Your Space With Books

February 15, 2022
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

I absolutely love books – love to read them -love to own them – love to see them all over my house. I named my daughter Charlotte for Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre, so I truly have a book problem (also have a shoe problem, but that’s a story for another day). So I readily admitting to a bias when it comes to books. But books, believe it or not, are a real decorating staple, and can add so much personality to your décor. They look great on traditional shelves – and I’ve got tips for you there – but I also have some other great ideas for decorating with books that you may want to try. So read on for some of my thoughts on books and décor…

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

Jhumpa Lahiri (South Kingstown, RI native and winner of The Pulitzer Prize) in The Namesake

Use Books And Curate a Beautiful Bookcase:

If you think of your bookcases as a visual timeline for your life -you will be half way there in your quest for a beautiful bookcase. Bookcases are a chance to show off your books but also the treasures from your travels and your art and photographs. Just follow these few simple rules:

  1. Vary your books – placing some vertically and some horizontally
  2. Add art and accessories in odd numbers
  3. Group like books or like-color books together and stack or pile in descending order
  4. Try to incorporate at least one unexpected focal point in each unit
  5. Add organic elements like plants, shells for greater visual appeal

To Cover Or Not To Cover – That Is The Question

With the preponderance of home decorating shows, it has become quite popular, when staging a bookcase, to cover all the books in neutral paper – and some even go so far as to turn the books around so pages are out and they are basically all a consistent color. Sorry Joanna Gaines, but I hate this look. The beauty of books are their words, but secondly the beauty of books are their covers – in all their beautiful colors and typefaces. I say place them spine out, as is, for all the world to see!

Photo by Karina Zhukovskaya from Pexels

Use Books To Pop Up Other Things:

Books, and stacks of books, act like little trays for your interesting objects. The books allow you to elevate these items – literally. And depending on the number of books, and their size, you can vary the height of accessories on your mantel, coffee table or dresser top, to make your display even more interesting.

Use Books In Non-Traditional Spaces:

My best friend, Mary, made her traditional dining room into a not-so-traditional dining room/library by installing floor-to-ceiling bookcases on one and a half walls. This can be done by a professional carpenter, or by using one of the IKEA Bookcase Hacks that are all over the internet. What my friend did not only looks fantastic, but it makes the room much more usable and versitile.

The bedroom is another unexpected place for bookcases. I have a strange little L shape to my master bedroom. I added a chair, a reading light and three, consignment-bought bookcases that I finished in the back with bead board to make them look more custom, and voila: my master bedroom reading nook is born.

Books, like trays (see my previous blog: Best Uses For Trays in Interior Design ), can also be used as wall art! Think creatively; books are little, beautiful pieces of magic.

old books mounted on wall

What Else Is Good About Decorating with Books?

Did you know that Americans throw away 320 million books or 640,000 tons of books, every year, according to The National Wildlife Federation? So for every book you use in décor instead of throwing away, you save an average of 4 pounds of waste in the landfill. What’s better than that? Your home looks beautiful and you’re doing your part for the planet!

And Now For A Little Music Before We Go…

“I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” 

Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice 



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