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Decorating Ideas using Vintage Books

Books are very useful in home decor. Today I’m sharing Decorating Ideas using Vintage Books, a collection of ways that I use vintage books in my decor.

Ideas for Decorating with Vintage Books

A Lifestyle of Love

I am thrilled to be joining a group of blogging friends who share my love of vintage and antiques for a themed series where we share ideas for decorating with vintage.

A Lifestyle of Love Graphic

This series is an every other month event organized by my blogging friend, Cindy of County Road 407.

The series started in March where the group shared ideas for decorating with vintage crocks. I wasn’t a member of the group at the time but I thought I’d be a good fit for the group since I love vintage and Cindy kindly invited me to join.

This month the theme is how we use vintage books in our decor.

The decorating ideas using vintage books that we are sharing today will hopefully give you ideas of how you can use books in your decor.

Decorating Ideas with Vintage Books

Thanks to coming from a family who saved e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g, I have a nice collection of vintage books to use for decorating.

Use Books to Match a Theme

When I’m decorating with a theme in mind, I always shop my books for ones to use that match the theme.

Bird Theme

Last summer I decorated our living room with a bird theme.

A chest that I inherited from my grandmother has two antique bird prints hanging over it, a perfect space for bird decor.

Bird themed vintage vignette

I shopped my basement to find bird themed accessories and then shopped my bookshelves for bird themed books.

Antique chest decorated with a bird theme

On the left I used a vase that belonged to my friend’s mom, a birdhouse that my dad built and my grandmother painted, and my grandmother’s 1949 Golden Nature Guide.

Handmade painted birdhouse, vintage bird field guide, vintage pink vase with ferns

To the right of the platter, I used a small bird metal plate, a carved bird, and a bird vase elevated by two books:  a 1897 Spanish reader and a 1908 Bergan’s Botany Key and Flora.

The books both match the theme and the colors coordinate with this vignette.

Vintage bird tray, vintage bird vase, hand carved bird

See more of my summer decorations, all using vintage, here.

Baseball Theme

Another place that I used books to match a theme is in my father-in-law’s room at the lake. My father-in-law is both a veteran and a baseball fan, so his room is decorated with both a patriotic and baseball theme.

Bookends made with baseballs holding a collection of Zane Grey books

In his room, my dad’s childhood marbles are displayed along with one of his baseball books from childhood.

Vintage marbles in an antique blue Mason jar.

Use Books to Match a Color Scheme

Many times I use a book for decor based on its color.

Patriotic Theme

Last May I decorated our enclosed porch with a patriotic theme.

A porch is decorated patriotically with red, white, and blue and with vintage for July 4 and Memorial Day.

When decorating this space, I wanted to elevate the flower picture made using cut up Pepsi cans.

I shopped my bookshelf for a vintage book with either a red or blue cover. A book on collecting coins with a red cover worked perfectly.

American flag pillow, American flags displayed in a milk glass, vase, adn a Coke crate

Shortly after these photos were taken, we did extensive work on our porch that converted it to a sunroom.

Pastels for Spring

When I decorated our formal living room this spring with a pink and green theme, I found a book with a mint green cover to use to coordinate with Easter postcard, Fenton rabbit, and nest.

Spring Vignette with a cloche with nest, fenton rabbit and postcard, pink vase with faux ferns

Use Books to Elevate and Highlight a Collectible Item

Last fall I decorated my husband’s office desk with vintage.

A roll top oak desk is decorated with vintage with a masculine and cabin theme.

Hanging over his desk is a mounted deer. To go with the deer, I decorated his desk with rustic items in brown including pottery, a bottle, and books.

A vintage Avon aftershave bottle found in a Vermont antique store goes perfectly with the deer theme.

Avon Ten-Point buck Wild Country After Shave Bottle, a 1964 Virginia History Textbook, and yearbooks from Roanoke College in the late 1920's.

Elevating the cologne bottle with books makes it stand out when viewing the display.

Under the deer are these books:

  • 1964 Virginia History book – My mom gave me this.  Vivian Lea Pollard’s name is written in the book.
  • 1939 The Black Swan yearbook from William Byrd High School in Vinton, VA  – This belonged to my grandmother’s cousin, Freeman Funk.  I leafed through the book and saw that my grandfather, Paul E. Ahalt was an English teacher and Assistant Principal of William Byrd at the time.
  • 1928 and 1929 Rawenock yearbooks from Roanoke College – Both my grandfather’s.

In this early fall coffee table vignette, a stack of vintage books is used to elevate a Czechoslovakian vase that belonged to my grandmother.

Early Fall Coffee Table Vignette

Use Books as Decor

Vintage books are great to use for decoration. On my husband’s desk, the brown covers of these family books matches the brown of the pottery and vintage Fleecy White bleach bottle.

Fleecy White amber Clorox bottle, pottery jar from NC, 1929 The Classroom Teacher, 1918 Inorganic Chemistry book, and a late 1940's Holy Bible.

Here are the details about the books:

  • The Classroom Teacher – This 1929 edition belonged to my grandfather.
  • Modern Inorganic Chemistry – This 1918 edition belonged to my grandmother’s cousin.
  • Holy Bible – This was my dad’s. 

A bookshelf made from pipes corrals books on our coffee table.

This shelf is currently being used at Mr. SP’s work office. He says that it’s always a conversation starter when coworkers spot it on his shelf.

Bookshelf made with pipes.

Use Books to Decorate Furniture

My mother decorated my great-great-aunt’s secretary with vintage books and other family items.

Antique Secretary Styled with Vintage

The only thing used to decorate this secretary that isn’t a family item is the lamp. I found it at Goodwill and knew that Mama would like it, so I bought it for her.

These books all belonged to my paternal grandfather. The eyeglasses belonged to my great-great-aunt.

Vintage Books with Red Covers

These vintage books are held in place with bronze bookends made with my dad’s baby shoes.

Vintage Books with Vintage Bronzed Baby Shoe Bookends

This book on the work surface of the secretary is a photo album. It’s original to my mom’s 1912 house!

Vintage Photo Album

My grandmother had a similar album that we begged to look at when we were kids. The vintage pictures inside fascinated us.

If you like old houses, you can visit these posts to see the restoration of my mom’s 1912 home. The home has always been in our family and my mom restored it herself with help from a few family members.

Many thanks to Cindy for hosting this fun blog hop. And a special thanks to my mother for taking pictures of the vintage books in her secretary.

More Ideas for Using Vintage Books for Decorating

Click on the links below for more ideas for decorating with books.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

36 Comments

    1. Thank you, Laura! The pipe bookshelf is always a conversation starter when people go into my husband’s office at his work. (The bookshelf is probably pretty dusty by now since he’s been working from home for a good while now.) This blog hop has been so much fun!

      Paula

  1. You have gorgeous books and some great ideas. I think my favorite is the baseball theme book idea. Precious that you have all these wonderful keepsakes. Now I need to check out your mom’s house and the transformation.

    1. Thank you, Katie! People who visit our lake house like the baseball-themed things in my father-in-law’s room. There are also some signed baseballs on display, one of which has a Micky Mantle signature. I took the baseball to the Antique’s Roadshow last June in Delaware but it turns out it wasn’t a real signature. Bummer!

      Paula

    1. Thank you, Christy! One of these days you need to come visit me and we’ll go to my mom’s house. Just about everything in her home is a family piece.

      Paula

    1. Thank you, Laura! My dad was born in 1940. My mom says that back then this was commonly done with baby shoes. My grandmother always had these bookends in her living room. I’m glad that my mom inherited them and still enjoys using them.

      Paula

  2. This is a wonderful post full of great ideas. Unfortunately, I do not own many vintage books. But I do have a small set of red books that look just like that set holding your grandfather’s glasses. I wonder if they’re the same. I also love that old photo album. My sister has the album that belonged to our great-grandmother but it’s not quite as fancy as yours. I like how you used your books. I’ve noticed on HGTV designers staging books with white paper covers AND facing them backwards. What’s up with that?

    1. I *think* my grandmother had another album with a cover similar to the one Mama has. That album was filled with pictures. I’ll have to ask which of her sisters inherited it. People like the backward book look but I haven’t ever thought to do it and I probably will never.

      Paula

  3. Hi Paula,

    What a fun series! I love vintage-and vintage books in particular. I love family vintage even more. My family moved out West away from their Midwest home before I was born. We ‘happened’ to be out visiting when my uncle’s estate was being auctioned. I found a box with my grandma’s old Bible. It was left to her by her mother, and there is a note straight-pinned in the front that tells how when they were having family devotions one day, they found a hand-written note in Mark saying it was to go to my grandmother when my great-grandmother was “done with it.”–so they passed it on to her. I think that is my most valued treasure. Thanks for sharing your treasures with us.
    Oh and I went over and quickly looked at the post of your mom’s beautiful stairwell with the neat pictures and documents. I noticed that Creed Scanlon graduated from high school in June of 1917. I wonder–was he in World War I? Did he survive the Spanish Flu? i would never have thought to ask THAT question a couple of months ago! Thanks again!

    1. I am glad that you enjoyed today’s post on vintage books. I had a lot of fun writing it and it was fun to get my mom to help. What a great story you have about finding your grandma’s bible at your uncle’s estate auction. What a treasure! I have never heard that Creed Scanlon was in WW I, but I will ask my mom. I don’t know if Creed contracted Spanish Flu, but if he did, he definitely survived as he lived a long life.

      Paula

  4. I am always so impressed by your special family pieces, Paula, and books are no exception! You remind me I have a few old family books and I need to get them out and display them! Your books are wonderful accents in your decor!

  5. You seriously had me at vintage books and antique bird prints, Paula! They are amazing. Your family could seriously start a show with all the cool collections you guys have! How you incorporated family favorites with thirfted finds always inspires me. Sending you hugs for a wonder filled Mother’s Day weekend. May all your memories be happy ones, CoCo

  6. Your books are beautifully displayed and I always love seeing all your treasures!
    Shelley

  7. Hey Paula! I love your collection of gorgeous books! I always love seeing all your family heirlooms. I especially love how you color-coordinated the books with the rest of your decor. Simply stunning! So happy to be on this super-fun hop with you!

  8. I love that you love old things too. I’ll have to come back but I want to see the restoration of your moms home. I bet it’s fantastic! I also love that you enjoyed looking at old albums when you were younger. Today when my mom came over we did the same thing. My kids hadn’t see any photos of me when I was younger so they were fascinated. Thank you so much for joining in. Your vignettes are beautiful! Pinned

    1. Thank you, Michelle! Those bird prints were a lucky antique shop find years ago in Appomattox, VA.

      Paula

  9. I love the way you have such a finished touch with your vintage items. We do have vintage books in common, that’s for sure. I have a library of OOP books that probably is at about 500 now! 😉

    1. Please let me know what OOP books are. I Googled it but have not figured it out. 500 is a lot of books!

      Paula

    1. Thank you, Lauren! The marbles were by dad’s and I have fond memories of playing with them when I was a child. It’s nice to have them on display now.

      Paula

  10. I love using vintage books in my home and you have such a wonderful collection Paula. Great to see you using them in various ways.

  11. I hope you have an inventory or pix labeled with all the precious family treasures you have so that the next generation will know who they belonged to and when. I love your posts just to see those treasures! I am still using my books to mostly line my bookcases and will never turn them around backwards because then I couldn’t find them! I am still re-collecting the Ruth Fieldings that my mother gave away and I have some of the Hardy Boys old brown cover ones, too!

    1. I do need to label my family treasures! I also wouldn’t turn a book around backward. I like looking at the spines and knowing what is on a shelf.

      Paula

  12. Such a great post, Paula. I love your collection of vintage books and seeing how you display them in your decor.
    I love historic homes and am looking forward to reading the posts about your mom’s home. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Lynn! If you ever travel to Virginia, I’ll take you to visit my mom’s home. She did a great job restoring it.

      Paula

  13. I love to decorate with vintage books. You have some wonderful tips! I’ve featured this at the TFT link party today – congrats!

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