Decorating With Books

decorating with books

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If you love reading, there’s no doubt you find that you accumulate books, and as a home stager, you might find yourself decorating with books in your client’s homes.

Whether you are staging a bedroom, kitchen, dining room, kids room, or living room, you can use books to set the vibe of the room.

But how do you decorate using books? In this article, we’ll give you some guidance and ideas for decorating with books in any room of the house.

(But if you’re here looking for books to read, then check out our other article on the best home staging books to add to your collection)

Showcase a collection

Why hide beautiful books away on shelves when they can become a feature?

It’s a shame to have these hidden away, so proudly put them on display in your clients homes.

Vintage books add a touch of class

classic books for home staging

Nothing quite sets the scene for a room with a feeling of historic opulence as a display of antique books.

If your collection includes old leather-bound books, then these are the perfect addition to a study, formal lounge or dining room. 

Neatly lined up along a sideboard or set in a pile at jaunty angles on a side table, you’re creating an ambience of intellectual sophistication, with a nod to the past.

If you don’t have any antique books that look the part, you could consider having some of your favorite books rebound in gilded leather.

Books can create balance when staging

best books for home staging

Having books to hand is useful when you’re putting together a display during the home staging process. With a good collection of books, you can find the perfect size to complement other objects. Perhaps you’re displaying a tall candle alongside a small trinket box, and you feel that you need something mid-size to make the display work. 2-3 books can make the perfect triangle, a shape that is pleasant on the eye and works well in home décor design.

Match the books to the room

staging books in a kitchen

When it comes to selecting which books to use in your interior décor, why not match the titles to the room?

Cookery books of course are perfectly suited to the kitchen, while large glossy books on design, travel or architecture work well as a coffee table accessory.

A study can showcase entertainment books on film or music, while a conservatory, with a picturesque view of the garden, can be the perfect place for plant encyclopaedias, or books about nature and the great outdoors.

Cover books to match your color scheme

We’re always told not to judge a book by its cover, but when you’re using books for your home’s interior design, you really do need to. While a beautiful book from the 18th century will have a vintage style that’s worth showing off, many modern books are not things of particular beauty, with a multitude of colors on the cover and spine. If you want to show off a collection, then this is fine, but if you’re simply looking for a prop, to add to a surface display, the color or pattern of your books may jar with the color scheme and design of your room. There’s no need to scour the shops for books that match your décor though, instead, simply cover books to match the room. Perhaps you have some wallpaper left over from when you decorated the room? Or a fabric offcut from your soft furnishings? These are ideal for covering books to use in your design, a stylish feature that can create an expensive look very cheaply. Or by simply picking out the key colors from your room, you can turn a handful of cheap paperbacks into a stunning accent piece.

The perfect way to add height

Another fabulous use of books is as a riser, to lift an object so it becomes more impactful or even more useful. A small ornament, such as a dish, can look insignificant on a low table, but place it on top of a pile of books, and it’s elevated to new heights, literally. Or by carefully placing books under a reading lamp, you can ensure that the light is at the perfect height for you. There’s no need to replace a lamp just because it isn’t tall enough for the position you want it in!

Liven up a dull hallway

Hallways are often hard to stage well, especially if they’re not very big. If you have room for even a small console table or a wall-mounted shelf, you can create an interesting vignette with ornaments, curios and books. A little display that will cause your visitors to stop and take a look. Or how about displaying an open book? No one can resist taking a peek at that. Perhaps a book of poetry, open at your favorite poem? You’re adding interest into the most boring zone of the home, and if you’re staging your home for sale, you’re showing potential buyers that your hallway can be both beautiful and functional, impelling them to stop and take note of the space.

Change it up and keep it tidy

When you’re staging with books, you’re aiming for refined elegance, not cluttered dust collectors, so your display must be just so, not too much and not too little, and you must keep on top of the dusting while the house is for sale!

A display of books can look stunning until they become dusty, then it just looks like you’re not keen on cleaning and tidying away your reading material!

If you’re styling your own house, and displaying books for guests to peruse, perhaps on a coffee table, by the bedside in a guest room, or as a point of interest in a hallway, remember to change the books on display from time to time. Repeat visitors to your home will appreciate it, and it will keep your style looking fresh and new.

Note: The Interior Decorating Institute is focused on styling your own home, or the homes of others, whereas here at the Home Staging Institute we focus on staging homes for sale).

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