Decorating with Books

I decorate a lot of houses. This is not a surprise, since I have been decorating since I was 12 years old. (I helped my sister build her second house in 1984). So, I have always done what I call a “buff and fluff,” which is restyling tired table top accessories, bookshelves and lamps. This is a service I provide to long-time clients. One thing I always notice is that most people don’t have enough books to decorate with. I have blogged about books in decorating before, but want to revisit it again, because I don’t think people have the right perspective on it.


Favorite Library with great collection of books

Why books for decoration?


Complement the Wallpaper, Florals, and skirted console

Well, first, they are cheap, compared to most decorative accessories. I mean, nowadays, a cheap lamp is $250, so a book, that’s $65 is a bargain!

Books and collectibles

Books accent collectibles

Second, books give your eye a chance to rest and refocus on another collection of decorative items on a shelf or table top. So many times, I see homes where the lady or man of the house has just lined up all their collectibles in a row and then start the next collection of items. This is visually noisy. A book perfectly placed UNDER a collection, or a small volume NEXT TO a collection will give the decorative items context and make them look even more special.


Emphasize COLOR scheme

Third, books are a great way to tie in your color scheme you’ve set from fabrics in the room. For example, if I’m doing a blue room, I love to buy a lot of purple books. (Design secret: Blue and purple are beautiful together and create a soothing contrast in a monochromatic blue color scheme.) The touch of purple creates a more dynamic visual without being jarring. If I’m doing a chocolate and green room, I’d buy a lot of dark books and green books. As with the purble books in a blue room, look to see if there is a color you can introduce just in books to create a more dynamic look.


Where to buy these books? Well, ideally you collect them as you travel and visit interesting places, or have an ongoing “wish list” on Amazon where family and friends can purchase you a gift on a subject that you are interested in. That said, however, I am not beyond going to the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble and buying just the color and size I need. (Uh, word of warning…make sure you read the title before buying…I may have bought a few provocative titles doing this.) This trick really stretches a decorating budget as books are great space fillers.

Books in a chair

Size matters with books! I always buy in three size catagories: small, medium and large (and by large I mean coffee table) books. And, don’t be stingy, you need at least 100 (yes, I said 100) books to adequately fill a pair of bookcases flanking a fireplace. And, by fill, I just mean fill in between the decorative accessories. I can promise you, you don’t have enough!

So, take a look around your home and see where you could use books to help fill in and enhance your decorative colletions.

or for more inspirational photos…visit my Pinterest Board.

We’ll talk later…