Decorating with Vintage Books – 5 Tips


If you have been around here for any period of time, there are a few things about me and my decorating style that are pretty apparent.

One, I love anything with a story.

Two, I love something that is unique and different than what you find everyday.

For me, the way to fulfill that equation is with vintage items.  My home is filled with them.  I love the mix of old and new, I love the history, and if you ask me, I am sure to tell all about the story of where and how I found it.  No really, ask me!  I love to tell the stories!

Story + Unique = Vintage

And one of the most beautiful things about decorating with vintage items is that it doesn’t need to be expensive.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty expensive items out there, but that is not necessary

Have you ever walked into a vintage shop, yard sale or estate sale and there is SO much to look at, you just don’t even know where to start?  Sometimes, certain things will jump right out at you, but most of the time I find my eyes glazing over and I see nothing.

It helps to have a wish list, either in writing or in your head.  So then, when you see something you can think, “oh, wait, I would love to find a….”

Yard sale, garage sale and estate sale season is officially in full swing, so I thought today I would start a new series.

My Favorite Vintage Decorating Ideas


And the first thing I am starting with today is… decorating with vintage books.

Recognizing that books, in their physical sense are being read less and less and being replaced with a host of digital counterparts, I think filling a room with hard covered, beautiful books brings so much character to a space.  Whether it be mid-century cocktail table books, beautifully illustrated jackets or even some great craft ideas from vintage books, you can always add character to a room with books.

So lets start with the expected – in a book case.

I recently took a whole new approach to styling a bookcase and I super happy with the results.


I think one of the elements that worked really well is the mixture of some of them laying down, some of them upright and all of them mixed in with other accessories.  I also learned some important lessons on what books to keep and what is just cluttering your space.  You can read all about that here.

Tip #1 – Use Books to Prop Accessories at Different Heights



If you ever tried to pull together a coffee table, console table or side table and it just wasn’t working out, books may be just the solution you are looking for.  Layering a small books, or a small stack of books is great way to display accessories at different heights.   And this table below is an example of my next tip…

Tip #2 – Mix in vintage books with new ones.


Mixing vintage and new books can be easy on your budget as new decorative books can be very expensive.  It also makes for a more interesting display when they are mixed.


Of course, I am guessing that using books to create height in a display is not a “rocket science” idea for  you.  Books are pretty commonly used in this way.

But when you are shopping for vintage books how do you sort through and decide what to buy?

Tip #3 – Look for Interesting Titles


I like to have a mild sense of humor in my decorating style.  The titles below are some of my favorites.  But my all time favorite, which seems to be missing at the moment, was to given to me by my good friend right after my first daughter was born.  The title of the book was “Rx for Slimming”.   Luckily, I did actually think it was funny and didn’t throw the book at her.


You however, may not find that entertaining.  Regardless, I encourage you to look for titles that are intriguing and catch your eye.  Who know, maybe you will even be interested enough to read it!  The Companion to Know Thyself is also a favorite, I just find that title entertaining.   Even though it is pretty beat up, it still stays in circulation.

Tip #4 – Go for Color!


I tend to judge a book by its cover when decorating.  It is not okay in most situations, but when decorating with books, it is.  I love to have an assortment of colors to work with.  This orange one on my Sharpie art coffee table is one of my favorites – amazing color and fun title.


With the orange book, it gave me the perfect pop on the black and white table, but with my spring mantel, the blue and green books gave me the opportunity to layer in more details in the same color family.  Finding books in an assortment of colors with options within different color palettes allows for quick decorating updates by season and holidays.


Tip #5 – If it is bad shape, be a maker!


If you come across a vintage book and only the binding is still good, or the cover, or the pages – don’t necessarily pass over it.  If there is something about it you like or are drawn to, make something with it.

I have started a Pinterest board with a bunch of crafting and decorating ideas with vintage books.

Look for the next part of the series coming soon!  If you want to make sure not to miss it, or any posts for that matter, go ahead and subscribe by email!  You can also sign up for my new monthly newsletter with ideas and inspiration only found in the newsletter!

Wishing you a day filled with grace,


About Finding Home

Welcome to Finding Home Farms where we share our favorite DIY and decorating ideas and inspiration. We believe your home should be a reflection of you and your family. Our blog is the story of our journey - and what we find along the way. Thanks for joining us!

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11 thoughts on “Decorating with Vintage Books – 5 Tips”


  1. Great ideas here and I’ll be following your Pinterest board! Good tip to always have a list of items to look for. Mine is a mental list, but it keeps me from wandering and keeps me on track!

  2. As a confirmed book-a-holic, I never have enough bookcases for all my books, I sure can’t put accessories on them! I literally have thousands of books, unfortunately, most are out in boxes in the shed at the moment. But those are just the ones I’ve read, I keep buying more! Yes, most are paperbacks that I get at Goodwill, but I’m reading them, not decorating with them! Fact is, the cats pretty much have the idea that if the decoration doesn’t include them, it needs to be rearranged…

  3. I’ve admired your beautifully decorated bookshelves before and after the makeover and noticed the books as well as the artwork. Great tips for books. Thanks for sharing them. Pam

  4. I love books –I’m one of those sad people who struggle with getting rid of hardback books. They become like friends and then I have to decide who to drop or who to keep. My bookcase is filled to the brim with books even though I do have a few nice things lost amongst them. (Does anybody still use amongst?) I think I need to purge. I love your titles and the colorful orange book is great. Thanks for the tips.

  5. I love, love, love books. I have a mix of old and new. I love how you pick your vintage books by the title. I usually just look for the classics because “one day” I hope to get around to actually reading them. One thing I like to do with some of the old ones that are pretty beat up is to cover them in kraft paper for a more uniform look. I’m going to check out your pinterest board for more ideas and the post on weeding books out. Love your bookshelves!

  6. I’ve always decorated with books, simply because we have so MANY! And, of course, I am a librarian. LOL! When we moved into our 1916 Craftsman, guess what we found in the attic, in the outbuilding, in the basement – BOOKS! VERY, VERY old books! In fact, we got excited when we found some letters written in German. We just knew we’d found a nest of Nazi spies . . . but then we found the German textbook! Ha! One of my favorite oldies is one by Balzak. Can’t remember the title right off hand, but I always think of “The Music Man,” and the horror of the “ladies” in town when they found that there were books in the library by BALZAK! LOLOL!

    Library humor . .. can’t beat it! 😉

  7. Great post! I have such a huge pile of old books, I feel guilty passing them up at sales, they have too much “story” left in them. Keep up the ideas, I’d LOVE to see even more

  8. Great post Laura! I’ve just started using old books to decorate and I love it. When we were in TN last week I found a few old, hardcover Bibles that were my husband’s grandfathers. I took them to use for decoration in our home. <3

    Anna 🙂

  9. I just love using old and vintage books in my décor. When my father in law cleaned out the storage above his garage he gave us several boxes of old books. When I went through one of the boxes I found the classic “Treasure Island”. One of dearest books is my original first grade reader “Fun with Dick and Jane”. Guess I am telling my age now!