Bookish Wallpaper: Awesome or Atrocious?

As I think I’ve made clear in posts about stairs and lamps, I’m a fan of literary takes on interior design. But wallpaper might just be a bridge too far. Indeed, scouring the internet has left me with one—ONE!—bookish wallpaper design that even sort of works for me.

My skepticism isn’t helped by the versions that aim (but fail) to capture the mood of an old-fashioned library. No. I just can’t. Here’s a wallpaper border along these lines:

If you love it, and think I'm an idiot, you can find the border here.

If you love it, and think I’m an idiot, you can find the border here.

Or this one, which seems to have some perspective problems (rather awkward in trompe l’oeil):

By Decorpassion. Available from Lancashire Wallpaper & Paint.

By Decorpassion. Available from Lancashire Wallpaper & Paint.

Or this one, which is much better yet still leaves me cold. The price ($220 for two rolls) doesn’t help my mood, either:

From Kathy Kuo Home

A card catalog but no actual books? From Kathy Kuo Home.

It’s all so Gatsby: the appearance of books used to indicate not a love of books but a sense that one should be seen to love books, but without even the realism that the owl-eyed party-goer so praised in Gatsby’s library. It’s just a great big box of meh, wrapped up with a bow of uneasiness.

Other versions are cartoon-y and/or seem poorly reproduced. This one manages both:

Of the books-on-the-wall wallpapers, I found, this is the only one that really speaks to me, aesthetically. I think it’s a combination of the colors, the clear reproduction and the way the lines work. It seems to work as an accent, as in the third image, but even—to my enormously surprised eye, at least—as a full-wall covering, as in the fourth image. (The vertical stacking, varying colors, and thin spines seem to create an acceptably abstract pattern.)

Stacked Paperback Wallpaper, by Tracy Kendall. Available from Anthropologie. (At enormous cost, alas.)

Stacked Paperback Wallpaper by Tracy Kendall. Available from Anthropologie. (At enormous cost, alas.)

Stacked Paperback Wallpaper Closeup

Public Service Announcement: I endorse pretty much nothing else in this photo.

I endorse pretty much nothing else in this photo, btw.

From TracyKendall.com

From TracyKendall.com.

One thing I appreciate about this design is that it seems to celebrate books being read, not just displayed. Spines are cracked, covers chipped. The books are bright, cheap, used paperbacks, not dusty leather volumes with (probably) uncut pages.

Still, though: you know what makes the best bookish wallpaper? Books. Buy some wood, slap it up on the wall (in fairness, all of these examples were very expertly slapped up), and you’ve got readerly wallpaper that you can actually, well, read:

Photo from FancyHouseRoad

Photo from FancyHouseRoad.

Photo from FancyHouseRoad

Photo from FancyHouseRoad.

Shelving by Studiomama. Photo from Apartment Therapy.

Shelving by Studiomama. Photo from Apartment Therapy.

So what do you think: is bookish wallpaper awesome, atrocious, or something else entirely?

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