farmhouse window seat beside bookcase

5 Creative Tips for Decorating Your Home With Books

As a former bookseller, I have to admit I have a bit of a “thing” for books and own an almost ridiculous amount of them. When we moved into our smaller home, I purged almost half of my books (and I miss them dearly now – boxes and boxes and boxes of them went to various homes and charities). I still have a huge amount of them, most of my favorites adorn our bookshelves, but there are boxes and boxes and boxes of books stored in the garage.

That said, finding a space for the books I’ve kept has required a lot of creativity on my part. But books piled high, stored in beautiful bookshelves, and left as stacks on tables throughout the home add a coziness to the farmhouse. And I can help guide you to creative ways of adorning your home with books.

book shelf

What’s Your Story?

In her book, “Bibliostyle: How We Live at Home with Books,” author Nina Freudenberger admits that books “tell a story about who the homeowner is.” I own lots of different types of books: a huge assortment of fiction, writing books, but also a lot of home design literature, biographies, and gardening books (plus, don’t even get me started on my cookbook collection).

My best friend and her husband have a huge old bookshelf filled with books about anthropology and industrial design, not a bit of fiction to be found. Yet, their house is also decorated with a lot of animal skulls, pottery, and metal. It’s who they are – anthropologists/industrial designers – and the books they display tell that story.

Although a library wall of books looks fine, I find overly symmetrical bookshelves housing perfectly stiff unopened hardbacks that no one in the house ever reads a bit cold and uninviting. It’s better and cozier for books to be placed a little haphazardly on a bookshelf, with a few set on the coffee table, with still others stacked on a settee. This gives the appearance at least that one could conceivably pick one up and start reading.

How to Organize

There are umpteen and then some ways to organize books. I use a pretty rough system where biographies and memoirs go on a shelf, sometimes with history. Another few shelves are dedicated to my favorite fiction. Nothing is alphabetical, but I have weeded out so many books and only allow my very favorites on our actual organized shelves that I can usually find the one I’m looking for with a quick scan.

Nonetheless, you may prefer something a little more efficient. I have many bibliophile friends who favor hyper-organized bookshelves in which books are all organized by genre and author’s last name. While there is also a trend of placing books on shelves based on the color of their covers, I find this weird and confusing – but, if you like the color themed look, go for it!

Incorporate Other Stuff

Bookshelves don’t have to house just books. I used to pack books into my former wall of shelves and loved how they looked so complete and uniform and full of just books. In fact, before I was married with kids, I primarily styled my home with books – all over the house. But nowadays, I like the look of other little knickknacks on the bookshelves. I like to add a few special vintage pieces, maybe a vase of feathers, and framed photos. You can even put a plant or cute lamp in the bookshelf to break up the sometimes overly uniform look of the books.

Stack Them

I went through an obsession with the #bookstagram tag on Instagram. It seemed like every other bookstagrammer had a wall of books in which the pages and not the spines were turned out. They looked so clean and pretty. I did this myself for a while but quickly realized I couldn’t find the book I was looking for. It was maddening. So, I returned them to spines out.

Books also look cute stacked horizontally on bookshelves. It, again, breaks up the somewhat flatness of a whole row of books lined up vertically. A horizontal stack can also work well as a bookend! Sometimes a small pile of coffee table books or fun, quirky design books are just fine stacked on a side table or coffee table where one can pick up and flip through at will. Interestingly, one book just placed on a coffee table can look like a mistake, whereas a small stack looks intentional and stylish.

Do you have any other creative ways to decorate with books? Share your ideas in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “5 Creative Tips for Decorating Your Home With Books”

  1. I have a huge home and four rooms of books (mostly about art). Now that I’m elderly and handicapped, I need to move into a retirement facility, but I hate to get rid of my books. I would love to find more ways to incorporate books into my “soon-to-be” new one-bedroom apartment. Help!

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