Decorating with books is a simple way to add an interesting, personal touch to your home. Learn how to decorate with books and inject an extra dose of style into your home.

Books are a big part of every home. In fact, you can probably find them in every room of your home! From coffee tables to bookshelves, books play an important role. But did you realize they can be decorative as well as functional?

Books are an often overlooked but invaluable tool for decorating.  After all, how many people think of books as “decor”?  The great thing is, even if you’re not a book lover, most of us probably have books lying around the house collecting dust when we could be putting them to good use.

french coffee table styled with antique dough bowl full of old books with two brass candlesticks in background

Why Decorate with Books

When you’re not reading a book, why not put it to work for you as part of your home’s decor? You can of course showcase your books on a bookshelf or coffee table. But books can do so much more!

Have you ever walked into a model home or retail showroom? One thing you’ll likely spot is that interior designers often use books as props! That’s because they are an inexpensive way to decorate a home and something that we all own.

I collect several things like ironstone, gadget canes, and magnifying glasses. But the one thing I can never get enough of is books! It doesn’t seem to matter how many I already own I just can’t resist buying another.

In my case, I have a love of old books, but of course I love decorating coffee-table books, too. Bonus points if the vintage book has a Deckle Edge.

black cabinet with grasscloth wallpaper on the back styled with antiques for Spring

What is a Deckle Edge Book?

Deckle Edge books are those that have unevenly cut pages.  Centuries ago, it used to be that paper sheets were made individually on a deckle.  When the papery slurry (wet paper pulp) was spread out, some would seep under the screen and create a rough edge to the paper.  Modern machines now create perfectly cut edges, but books with a Deckle Edge are now seen as higher quality and thus, have a higher price. 

Some modern books are now even machine-made to have the appearance of a Deckle Edge for aesthetic reasons.  The top book below is an example of a Deckle Edge.

5 Ways to Decorate with Books

Below are 5 easy ways to decorate with books around your home, using books as decorative objects on display.

1. Texture

Texture is a critical part of a room’s design. Books not only add texture, but specifically organic texture! The covers (or lack thereof!) and pages of a book can add a great, organic texture to a room, space, or vignette

Whether you have an eclectic look or a clean, contemporary space, books can add a bit of warmth and break up the space for added interest.

vignette of rustic vase next to antique book open on table with magnifying glass and single white rose
cherry blossom stems in an ironstone pitcher on coffee table with an antique book and sectional sofa in background with french pillows

2. Height

Get a little boost from books!  Sometimes in design, an object that you want to use might not be tall enough for the space.  In these cases, you can use pedestals as a base, or just use books as a riser.  A stack of books is a great way to add the necessary height!

You can place decorative objects on top of a book stack, like:

  • Picture frames
  • Vases
  • Plants
  • Decorative items
  • Lamp

An oversized book can also work like a tray to corral and give height other items at the center of a coffee table.

3. Color

Since I’m a neutral-lover at heart, I don’t have a lot of books with color {or if I do, they’ve been recovered – see below}, but hardcover books in particular often have gorgeous covers that are beautiful when displayed.  A carefully selected group of books can help tie a room’s color scheme together or can break up neutrals for an added pop of color!

spring styled coffee table with sofa and antique blue hutch in the background

4. Filler

Cabinets and bookcases in particular have a lot of space to be filled and unless you’re showcasing a collection, you’ll need some filler items to help make the other pieces of decor stand out.  Books make great filler because they take up space without detracting from other objects that are meant to be the focal points.

side table styled with wooden lantern old books brass candlesticks and wheat for fall
Black vintage cabinet decoratively styled with antique books dried hydrangea and ironstone

5. Book Collections

In general, collections look best when goruped together. I like my book collection to have a uniform color scheme, so when I don’t love the color of the book’s spine, I simply turn it backwards to show its beautiful deckle edge!

Grouping books together on shelves is one way to display your collection, but you can also tie small groups together with twine and display them on a coffee table, group them together on a tray, or even put them in a dough bowl. So don’t hide your cookbooks away but instead create an intentional display on your kitchen counter!

DIY Book Covers

Now let’s chat for a moment how to decorate with books even if they don’t have a look you like.  I buy a lot of vintage books specifically for use in decorating, so I look for Deckle Edge books or those that have covers to coordinate with my decorating style.  I do, of course, own a lot of books that I purchased for their content and I still use these in decorating by simply updating their cover!

1. DIY Fabric Covered

In my guest room, I have a selection of books for the guests to read and used fabric to recover them for a more cohesive look.  You can choose any color fabric or any print that suits your decorating style. I’m partial to linen or burlap. You can read how to cover them with fabric {HERE}.

black cabinet with grasscloth wallpaper on back panel styled with vintage trophies cameras and books

2. DIY Paper Covered

Another less expensive way to cover books is to just use brown kraft paper, paper bags, or even decorative paper for a fancier look.  Leave the covers blank or stamp them as I did below.  For a step-by-step tutorial on how to cover books with paper, you can visit my post {HERE}.

And lastly, books that get used often or that you don’t want to recover can still look like part of your decor if you simply corral, or group them! Baskets and trays are great ways to store a group of dissimilar books and make them feel like an intentional part of the decor.

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  1. Having books on display even for “show’ is better than having none. However, there’s nothing lovelier or more authentic than a well loved, well-thumbed, disparate collection all over the house.
    It makes me sad when people buy books for not their intended purpose and the difference is always obvious. It feels more of a set and less of a home..

  2. I love using books in my home. We have a great public library with a “friends of the library” store where you can buy all kinds of books that have been donated. The prices are fantastic and sometimes you find vintage books with great cloth covers. Great post. I never knew the history of deckle edged books.

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