Sunday, July 17, 2011

Old Book Collections

Recently I got a new design book with the most beautiful bookcases, filled with old leather book collections. The books were old and worn, the colors were perfect. They were works of art, and they were awesome . I looked at my own bookcase in my family room and thought about creating a similar look for myself. But what does one do with their "real " books? I love my books and look at them often. I know the books in this photo were very much planned and placed . . . this did not just happen.

I love the look of the old worn leather books and I do use them . I placed two in my foyer to add a bit of height to my plate holder. But would I enjoy a whole bookcase of non-functional books . . . I wonder.

I put two antique books in my guest room. I think they add lots of soul to the space. But no one is going to look at them, not inside anyway.

Notice that I brought the color black from the old box down to the middle shelf with the two black books. But in the lowest shelf are books that I read and look at over and over, getting ideals for clients ect. So I am not sure I would want to make art out of my bookcase regradless of how lovely it looked.

When using books to add height and interest, I do think about color and size and most of the time I remove the covers as well. What are your thoughts on the old antique books? Would you enjoy a bookcase turned to art? Great to look at , but non-functional . . . I would love to know.


  1. Hi Vicki, I tried to leave a comment on your blog the other day and I couldn't. So glad I can today. I have books as lifts and I have books for reading, just like you. I take the covers off the books for lifts too!! Kathysue

  2. I love browsing peoples shelves. They say SO much about who they are as a person.

    I love how you incorporate in books.

    I make a habit of only purchasing hardbacks that way they look cool and old world on my shelves.

  3. I remove the jackets and intentionally-- put like colors together; when using them for a pedestal.
    when placing them on a shelf-- I'm too lazy to organize by color-- It is usually by topic, that's more practical anyway.
    I've seen the trend to turn the books around in order to see the pages and NOT spines; though pretty, again, not practical!

    I guess it's true-- I'm a practical kind of person. {smile}
    ...loved your examples, Pat

  4. Hi Vicky,
    I'm a book-a-holic! Love them, and love decorating with them. I like how you have accessorized with them in your home. I too remove the jackets from books because I like how all the different colors of the jackets look on the shelf. Also, I have my mother-in-law's old leather bound books which I love--all classics! A house without books is a house without personality and character. You can tell a lot about a person from their bookshelf! ~Delores

  5. I love using books to bring picture frames to different heights. Take the book jackets off the books. Also if you go to good will, or an antique store you might be able to pick up a couple more old books.


  6. I use books in the same ways that are mentioned above. One of my friends add just a touch of gold & bronze to the covers & edges of the pages, then she add a jewel on the spine. They are beautiful! I'm using 3 of those to elevate the lamp beside my favorite chair.

  7. Our city's library's "Friends of the Library" have an annual book sale. It is held in the Civic Center, downtown, and they purport to sell 100,000 used books every year. The books come from donations and from library culls. The sale lasts for 4 days, and hardbacks, except for collectible books, which are sold in a special section, are $1.50 each. It's a wonderful opportunity to buy things you want to read. The best part for designers, though, is that on Sunday afternoon, the last day of the sale, everything you can stuff into a paper grocery bag is $6/bag. I usually buy about 20 grocery bags of color coded books, depending on what my latest project is. Some years, it's all red books. This year I bought all turquoise books! For $120, I got a lot of decorating bang for my buck, it also helped a good cause, and I waited until the last minute, so that the rest were on their way to Goodwill. So do I decorate with books? Major big time, Yes!!!

  8. As the majority of books that I own are that of a reference nature they are stored in different ways and are located in different rooms; all in accordance to topic. (ie: Barrister BookcaseS in the Den plus Bookcase UnitS in the Family Room, Sewing/Craft room, a cupboard in the Kitchen etc.) I normally pass on the books classified as 'reading enjoyment' as otherwise I'd be overwhelmed with books, howevever I do have a substantial collection of leather-bound Classics which I have kept merely for the purpose of heirloom keepsakes. So with that said, IMHO when it comes to books in general and their purpose (whether they be old, worn or antique) and the points that you've discussed using them as an accessory, there is much more to them than meets the eye. -Brenda-

  9. Hi Vicky,
    If I had the room for a bookcase that I did not need to get to I would love to fill it with antique books. But that isn't going to happen any time soon. I have always used books in my decor, they add life and soul to a room, they tell people something about us, I think. But my books are all books that I have read many times over.

  10. Old stuffs are very best to remaining old days. It is best place to see in garage or stand-wall. But in your blog it arranged in perfect place.

  11. I have a nook. I love it. I download not just books but magazines and games and books for my grandson as well as drawing and art games for him as well. That said I have several hundred books. I have given many away. But have kept my favorite authors and all my decorating books. I use them in decorating and if I live long enough to remind my great grand children, yes we did read books on paper. LOL

  12. Love the look of old books. We use them at home and in the shop as both a design accent and as a pedestal for display. It is a great way to get things in the back area of a display or vignette to be visible. Miniature books are neat too, grouped together in a collage or under a glass dome. Thanks for the images. Bob

  13. I have just been thinking about this myself; I have a lot of paperbacks that look boring/awful from a design perspective. Dull but beautiful leather bound books are expensive.
    If I had unlimited funds, I'd do this: and then put the "to read" books on the inside. :)
    What I've done currently is chosen books that I love, or that are conversation starters, and put them on the shelves in my living room, while all the rest of my personal books are in rooms where visitors don't go.

  14. Oh yeah-- if you have hardcovers that you don't want to see the spines of, you could try this:

    and then place them page-side-out... or create a faux front to a box that then holds your actual books.