Thursday, June 20, 2013

Decorating with Books –In or Out of the question?


Article by Jennifer Adams

In this age of e-readers and online newspapers, does anyone read real books anymore? Yes! Of course they do! But attitudes have changed quite a bit recently about having walls and walls of books everywhere in the house. Decorating trends are heading toward a more minimal look for all styles, even traditional ones.

Rarely do we see books in every room in the house lately. The days of decorators ordering “80 feet of red books” from used bookstores are pretty much over. In-home libraries have generally dwindled to token but meaningful stacks of beautiful books and favorites. Too many books, especially inexpensive ones or worn paperbacks add clutter, not beauty, to a room.

A home completely without books feels sterile, however. Books work well as accessories, adding a lived-in feel in a few well-chosen titles artfully arranged. CDs and DVDs replaced books in the family room for a while, now even those are going away.

Here are my favorite ways to include books in today’s home.

Don’t be afraid of getting rid of books. If the book is ratty, the cover’s not pretty, you’re not interested in the topic any more, or haven’t looked at the book for years, time to toss it. Used books still find homes at charitable organizations like Goodwill and lending libraries for the homeless, and many paperbacks are recyclable! Or trade with friends for a constant stream of new titles. Same goes for magazines! See the Moneycrashers website, here, for some great charitable organizations accepting books.

Favorites and well-worn hand-me-down cookbooks in the kitchen are a comforting sight. Food stains, handwritten notes and dog-eared pages indicate a rich food history. Store the ones you use often in your kitchen, the rest can go someplace else handy enough for you to use as reference.

Place two or three classics on the nightstand, including one you’re reading. More than that is clutter.

Store reference books in the home office. Software manuals, keeper magazines, dictionaries, extra cookbooks, are all useful. Additional books that you like but aren't as attractive can be stored here, too.

Children’s rooms are great places for kids’ books. Keep a low bookcase and replace favorite titles as they wear out.


Books make great accessories in the living room and family room. Stacks of several beautiful books on topics that interest you look wonderful on the coffee table, low shelves on carts or tables, and even on the floor. Mix with artful artifacts and sculptures, but don’t stack too many vases or heavy objects on top of the books in case someone actually wants to look at one of the books.

If you really love the feel of a classic library, go for it! A full wall of shelves in a dining room like this shown in a Crate and Barrel photo at the top, or a dedicated library room with books mixed with wine storage or art can still work beautifully. Mix in artifacts with the books for an airy, modern feel. Take notes from bookstores, and treat your favorites like a work of art, like in this photo at right.

What is your favorite way to store books in your home? Let me know!

For more tips, see the article “Decorating with Books” article on the Better Homes and Gardens’ website. Photos courtesy of BHG and Crate and Barrel.

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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:01 PM 

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