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!

Simple Fall Decor

I was so excited for fall this year. I couldn’t wait to put out all my fall decor. Then I realized, I literally have two flat surfaces in my home that I can decorate. For one thing, we’re living in a rental that we had to move into very quickly. It’s an old farmhouse so it was built for utility, not luxury. The other reason? I have a one-year-old who is into EVERYTHING. Anywhere she can reach is off limits for breakable items. Or items that could not conceivably withstand being coated in peanut butter. Needless to say, I’ve had to adjust my expectations for decorating this year. At first I was a little bummed, but I shifted my perspective and I’m challenging you to do the same. Instead of feeling like you have to buy something new, flex your creativity and be inspired by what you have. This is a good practice no matter what season you’re in.

Decorate smarter

For holidays/seasonal decorating, I like to pick a few key areas to focus on, rather than feeling like I have to fill the whole house. Like I said, my spots to decorate were chosen for me by my circumstances. I have our porch, our entry table (which is actually a buffet), and the top of our bookshelf. Since I couldn’t go too crazy on either of the indoor surfaces, I decided to focus most of my creativity on the porch. It made perfect sense because Lyla can’t wreck something she’s never around, and our porch isn’t big enough for play. I bought pumpkins and a mum from a local pumpkin farm. I had so much fun picking them out! I bought one bag of small pumpkins and one bag of gourds from the Walmart produce section. Other than fall candles, that was all I spent on fall decor this year. Since my other decorating was so minimal, I knew it would be silly to spend money on it. I laid out what I already had and picked a few simple things.

Decorate smaller

I always love grouping collections of small items together. It’s a great way for your decor to look intentional, it’s interesting without being too busy, and it’s inexpensive. I made use of our letter board by putting up a fall quote by my favorite author, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Don’t overthink it

On our bookshelf, I swapped out a quote I keep up year round for this fall-themed piece. On top I simply placed a pumpkin and a fall candle. These items have to be kept out of Lyla’s reach. The other shelves are for Lyla’s books and large books that anchor the shelves in place so she can’t pull them out. (Yes, that happened.) I left the rest of the space empty because she pulls everything off. We always discipline Lyla when it comes to her safety, but for me personally, I don’t think decorations are worth the fight right now. Of course she’s going to pull things down that she can reach. She won’t be this little forever, and a home is for living, not looking perfect.

As much as I love going all out and getting festive, sometimes it’s nice to pare it down and really focus on the memories made in your home rather than the decorations you put up. I still had fun figuring out how to use what I have in this new-to-me space, and the small touches go a long way in a small house. How are you decorating for fall this year? Do you go all out or keep it simple? Share in the comments!