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Upgrade Your Space By Decorating With Books

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Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

Before digging into all of the awesome ideas there are for decorating with books, be it on a single book case or across an entire house, note that readers who are aghast at books being used for purposes other than sitting on a shelf may wish to exit now. Books are for use, and for many of us, that means decorating with books is something done because we’re honoring the object itself. It doesn’t take away from what’s inside the book and it’s not destruction.

So you want ways to decorate with old books? Interested in decorating with books and plants? Curious about all of the possibilities for decorating with books on tables? Fellow book lovers, you’re in luck, and you don’t need to hire a designer to make your dream bookish spaces come to life.

Decorating with books breathes new life into books that either aren’t in perfect condition or that you’ve read and are finished with. It can be a way of honoring favorite titles or creating an aesthetic that matches your mood or decor more broadly.

Let’s take a look at some of the most creative, some of the easiest, and some of the most clever means of decorating with books. Note that the categories below can easily be blended and the ideas may fit multiple spaces at once. Links to DIY projects are but one of the numerous options available, so if it doesn’t serve, a Pinterest, Google, or YouTube search will likely help you find precisely the tutorial you’re seeking.

Decorating With Books

Decorating With Books and Plants

One of the easiest ways to incorporate books and plants into your decor is through using books as a planter. You can DIY a planter — and beyond the linked tutorial, there are dozens more across the internet to suit your style — or you can snap up a gorgeous book planter on Etsy. Here are a few:

For fans of classic mysteries, you can’t do better than an Agatha Christie planter.

This Shakespeare succulent planter is super fun.

Those giant Stephen King tomes make awesome planters, too.

Another spin on decorating with books and plants that allows you to keep your books as they are is to create your own planter bookends or pick up a set. These book ends serve multiple purposes, both decorative and practical, as you can keep your books tidy and become a plant parent.

A few options you can purchase:

Your books and your plants will be safe with heavy concrete planter bookends.

Pop a planter bookend like this against one end of your books on a shelf. If you incorporate a plant that’ll grow downward, it’ll look fabulous as it begins to cascade down your shelves. This planter bookend is made of concrete, so it’s not going to be moving anytime soon.

If the idea of watering plants too near your books makes you nervous, perhaps bookend potters for air plants are better suited for your decorating needs. You only need to spritz the plants periodically and it’s easy to do without worrying about leaks or drips.

Decoration ideas for books and plants don’t end there. You can stick to putting plants right on your bookshelves (mindful, of course, of the plant’s light needs!) in so many creative and inspiring ways.

Add small plants to your shelves to create a space that bursts with life.

Do you keep your TBR or library books in a stack separate from your bookshelves? You have prime opportunity to put your plants beside them and give them a special space all their own.

Alternate your books and plants on shelves and on the floor in front of your shelves. Just make sure those low-dwelling plants are pet- and child-friendly if you have either in your home.

Many of the above options would look great on a coffee table, on a kitchen counter with cookbooks, or in other small spaces like your office desk, along a set of stairs, and more.

Ways to Decorate With Old Books

You’ve got your hands on some old books and are game to use them to decorate. The good news is you have almost limitless options here — whatever you can dream of, chances are you can make happen either with a little time and energy or by spending a little money.

Need a new clock? You can use those old books to make your very own working book clock. If that’s too big a task or finding the parts too challenging, these are easy to find for purchase.

Don’t want decorating with old books to include specific book titles? You can find plenty of vintage hardcover clocks.

The idea of an A Wrinkle In Time book clock tickles me.

The look of this Sherlock Holmes clock is delightful.

Use your old books to create book letters that’ll pay homage to whatever words or names are near and dear to you. Perhaps you simply create a set of book letters spelling out “Reading” or “Books” and incorporate that onto a bookshelf or other space in your home. They’d also make for a fun and unique gift for fellow bookworms looking to add some book looks to their spaces.

Because creating book letters can take some less-than-readily-available tools, know there are so many options for purchase, too.

Poke around for letters and colors that suit your style.

Of course, you don’t need to stick to letters. You can find favorite shapes or symbols made of old books.

Maybe you wish to honor where you live.

Another idea for using old books for decorating is to create a bunting for your wall or to line the edge of a bookshelf. What’s great about book page buntings is how many shapes and styles you can create, and once you’re bored or finished with one, you can gift it or recycle it with ease. Naturally, those who don’t want to go the DIY route have options to pick from, too!

This lovely star bunting is reminiscent of flower walls but made with old books.

Gorgeous images of children’s books make up this book bunting.

This book page bunting offers not just the bunting idea but another idea for decorating with old books: use the pages to create art. Then attach that gorgeous book art anywhere in your space you need more book fetish.

Another creative way to utilize old books for decorating is through using them as book art. This book art can be done via page folding or carving, wherein the spine and book covers may remain attached or may be done via removing the pages from a book and creating something stand alone.

If the DIY route isn’t for you, there are so many great options you can buy, be it a completed book sculpture OR a guide for page folding.

Fold your own bookshelf with this pattern.

If your decoration requires a giraffe, this giraffe book folding pattern is perfect.

Talk about a rad book sculpture for your coffee table, your bookshelf, or anywhere else you need a burst of butterflies.

These book page apples would be cute along the tops of kitchen cabinets.

Talk about a breath-taking book bouquet!

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, your options are pretty limitless. Check out some more ideas for using old books below.

Create a focal point for an element of your room by framing it with old books.

Use those old books to create seasonally appropriate decor, like a book Christmas tree or snowman.

Like a book page bunting, book garland can add some spice to a drab space.

Decorate empty shelves, spaces, and corners throughout your home with color-coordinated bundles of old books. The above is some lovely fall inspiration, but use whatever you have to add some color to otherwise quieter spaces. Those books can be stacked, lined on up the floor, tossed in a basket, or even displayed on something like a cake platter.

Decorating With Books on Tables

So many of the ideas above translate nicely into table decor, but if you’re looking for even more inspiration — especially for those oversized coffee table books — here are more possibilities for decorating with books on tables (if it’s not just your resting place for the book in progress).

Stack a single color or pattern of books above or below a vase or other decorative item.

Multiple small piles of books are visually interesting, and when dishes, candles, and flowers are placed on top of those stacks, they’re practical, too.

Sometimes simple is really best: choose a single oversized book and place a meaningful or thematically-related item on top.

Purchase or DIY a small stack of books dedicated to your family or a message with meaning to you for regular display.

Skip the table all together and set up a stack of books beside your couch or chair, which will allow you to place a beverage on top (a coaster will keep your books safe, of course!).

Have a special space in your home, whether a table or shelf, you can create a vignette? This tea corner with cookbooks is genius and could be replicated in so many ways throughout a home with a wide range of themes.

Last, but certainly not least, have no shame in just stacking those books in piles on your table. It’s your home and if you’re apt to read while getting cozy in your living or family room, having options at hand is one of the best and most practical decorating ideas.

Want even more ways to use your books throughout your home? Dig into how to decorate a bookshelf, craft ideas to transform old books, awesome DIY comic book craft ideas, and easy DIY crafts with old books.