In honour of World Book Day, our thoughts have turned to our paper friends but books might not be the first things that spring to mind when thinking about interior inspirations. To some, the word might inspire thoughts of dusty paperbacks and stories you’ve never actually read. But those are books at probably their very worst.
At their best they can be just as stylish and telling of your personality as a fabulous vintage clock or piece of metal wall art. Of course, library style is a tried and tested winner but the potential for books in interiors is almost limitless. For one, so many living room decorating ideas revolve around a well-styled coffee table stacked high with tomes. They can create colour palettes, set tones and act as subtle reminders of special memories in a room – all the while offering a brilliantly cultured vibe. And, just to set the record straight, when it comes to using books as decor, we thoroughly advocate judging one by its cover.
Image Credit: Celerie Kemble (© Zach Desart)
1. Library style
Curating an at-home library is one of life’s most satisfying achievements. It speaks of your interests, life stages and sentimental purchases (like the copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame which I bought from Paris’ Shakespeare and Company bookstore, directly across from the eponymous cathedral). Whether you create a whole room dedicated to your collection or make a statement by displaying it for all to see (like this one from interior designer Celerie Kemble’s book To Your Taste) make sure your bookcases are appropriately dressed. The clever use of picture lights resolves the issue of insufficient lighting – an important consideration for any reading spaces – whilst each row is enhanced by a simple shiny bookend.
“Books aren’t trendy, they are classic,” says interior designer Tobi Fairley, “Decorating with them never goes out of style though the way they are styled changes with the years.” Here Tobi chose to opt for Maxmialism when styling her own living room with no less than 31 books (and that’s only the ones on show!). Stacking needn’t be perfect either says interior stylist Erika Brechtel: “You don’t need to layer books perfectly like a pyramid on top of each other largest to smallest, bottom to top. Try mixing it up a little to give the appearance of a more casually stacked arrangement that would naturally occur in a working library.”
Image Credit: Tobi Fairley
Image Credit: Erika Brechtel
3. Coffee table decor
The coffee table book has really secured its place as a decor mainstay of late. Interior designers have been using the look for years and luckily it’s so easy to recreate at home with the help of some trinket boxes, interesting objet and flowers. When asked why she regularly uses books to create the perfect coffee table look, Erika says, “Probably due to the fact that I design brands, I like to surround myself with inspiration from the best in the business.” The LA-based stylist goes on to say, “I tend to switch them out often from my design library of fashion, decor and art books according to what’s exciting me at the moment.” Create an evolving inspiration board by choosing books which both relate to your interests and set a tone for the room.
Framing a book such as a family heirloom or a songbook which contains special lyrics is a lovely way of keeping memories visible rather than hidden away and forgotten about. Shadowbox frames are the best option as they will allow for the thickness of the book and give it a memento-like feel. Choose to display the book open at a particular page if that’s the most important part for you or, if it’s a particularly beautiful cover, you might choose to frame it closed. The simplicity of this antique manuscript – framed by a plain gold border which pops against the dark navy background – creates a classy focal point in this bedroom chest of drawers vignette by Mr Call Designs.
Image Credit: Mr Call Designs
Image Credit: Oliver Burns
5. On display
Don’t assume that books need to be tidied away and stacked neatly all the time though. An open book can be a great conversation starter and a beautiful image is too good not to be shown off. Choose a beautiful double page spread from a photography or design book (Assouline, Taschen and Rizzoli are our favourites) to inspire your decor. Thankfully, this styling technique is versatile too and allows for easy change. A pop of red acts as an unexpected contrast in this living room by Oliver Burns but another page might create a more serene colour palette when a calming mood is desired.
– Mix your book sizes for a less polished, natural look.
– Make sure to rotate your books – dusty books are no friends to a stylish space.