How to Decorate with Vintage Books

I love collecting vintage books. Not only do I enjoy flipping through them, I love using them as decor throughout my home. There’s something cozy about worn, well-loved books. Here, I’ve listed a few specific ways I like to use books in the home that I think anyone can incorporate!

Play up color

One of my favorite ways to use vintage books is to subtly play up the color palette in a room. I got it from my mama, who would pick up on accent colors in furniture upholstery and match them to the books on display. This doesn’t mean you can only have books in a room that match the color scheme, but if there’s an area you want to look particularly stylized, vintage books are an easy and inexpensive way to pull color and make the room look cohesive. I also love playing with different color palettes using stacks of vintage books. I get inspiration from color more than any other design element, and so many times I can see a color palette in my head but not really put it into action. Playing around with different color combinations and being able to see them up against each other helps me hone in on what I love. Once I have a color palette I can build a room around it.

Add height

If you have a specific area you’re trying to style, like a coffee table, console, or, of course, a bookshelf, stacking vintage books is a simple way to add height, dimension, character, and visual interest. Top the stack with a candle, vase, framed photo, or trinket to add your personal style. Vintage books have great color and patina you just can’t fake.

Mix neutrals

If you’re looking to do a neutral palette but you’re not a fan of the “turn your books backward” trend, use books in neutral colors as decorative accents. Similarly, if you like to mix multiple neutrals in a single space, use neutral books to emphasize that the mixture is an intentional design element.

Nod to your interests

Don’t overlook the titles of vintage books. Vintage textbooks in your field, books about your state or region, and titles related to your hobbies and interests all make for great conversation starters. For example, I took French as my foreign language in school. In college I desperately wanted to live in France after graduation. Any time I see a vintage French book, I add it to my collection. You can also nod to your family history. Some of my most treasured vintage books are my aunt’s 1970’s copy of Black Beauty she gave me in second grade. It was one of the first chapter books I read and has a beautiful cerulean blue spine. I also have a hymnal from the church my mom grew up in, which is where my parents were married. Maybe most special is my grandpa’s old Georgia agriculture textbook from the 1950’s with his notes in the margins. He worked in state agriculture his whole career and was descended from generations of Georgia & Alabama farmers. Part of the fun of using vintage items in your decor is the story they have to tell. When it comes to vintage books, that notion can be taken literally.

Do you use vintage books in your decor? Do you have any favorites? Ask your grandparents and other relatives if they have any they could part with, and use it as an opportunity to learn more about them & your shared history. Any suggestions for how to use them besides what I’ve listed here? Let me know in the comments!

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