27 Easy Ways Use Old Vintage Books in Home Decor

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Old vintage books are my #1 “must-have” in home decor. Check out 27+ easy and simple ways to decorate with thrifted books in your home decorating this year.  Keep reading for more inspiration to used thrifted books to add character and texture to your home!

What’s with the old vintage books obsession, anyway?

So this obsession goes back a ways.

Actually, back a loooooong ways.

I know it’s hard to believe that I ever got in trouble as a child (haha!), but from time to time, it would happen.  And you know what got me in trouble more than anything else?

My nose in a book.  Who can relate?!  Where are my fellow book lovers?!

Now it wasn’t that my parents didn’t want me to read.  In fact, they both still love to read and it was a big part of our family.  But reading when I was supposed to be doing my chores…that got me in trouble once or twice…or more.  Who’s counting?

(And you know what’s funny?  This is our current parenting “problem” with one of our children now!  What goes around comes around!!!  I won’t mention any names, but one child currently has Hardy Boys, a devotional, and a Diary of the Wimpy Kids book all out and open on the desk as I type. ????)

Then the obsession took a turn as I started decorating our home…

Fast forward to about 4 or 5 years after Robb and I were married.  We had SO MANY BOOKS!  Everything from all the books our parents sent with us to college textbooks and beyond.  Most of our books were on two old bookshelves in our bedroom that I had picked up from a yard sale.  I distinctly remember when my patient hubby got home from work on this particularly creative day of mine…

“Robyn!  What in the world????”

I had turned every single book around so that the lovely, neutral-colored pages were showing, rather than the array of colors and styles of ALL THOSE BOOKS!  I don’t really know where I got the idea to hide the spine of the book because it wasn’t a trending thing in decorating like it is now.  But I was just so tired of all those crazy colors and mis-matched spines.

Did I say he’s patient?  For the most part, yes, and he agreed to give it a try.  Especially since those neutral color pages were making me so happy!

Fast forward about 13 years later…and yep!  I’m still facing the book spine inward!

(Except the kids books…I’m not that crazy about my neutral color!!!  Ha!  Besides, their books are on the bookshelves in their room, so it’s totally fine.)

If you follow me on Instagram, you are used to seeing me decorate with books all the time!  In fact, they are a staple in almost every room and definitely for every season.

So, why old vintage books for decor?

Well, to me, antique books add so much interest and character to a space.  They help tell the story of a space that is well-loved and well-lived in.  Leather-bound books and even thrifted paperback books bring a sense of a room being curated over time, rather than picked up at a big box furniture store.

There are so many ways to use old, used, and thrifted books in your home’s beautiful decor.  Today, we are going to chat about five of my favorite ways to decorate with old books and see how many of these styling ideas you already use plus 27 other ways you can use antique books to decorate your own home!

Where can I buy old vintage books to use in home decorating?

Before we launch into styling, let’s talk about where all these books came from!

Every time I go to any thrift store, I always hit up the book section for different types of books.

Since I am using these books for décor, I am less concerned with the book content as I am the actual color, style, and patina of the book.  If I work on a particular color palette for a space, like the light blue I did in the girls room, I browse the shelves for color.  I love when the titles are color coordinated for quick selection results.  However, usually, you have to be willing to dig a little!

Pro Tip: If there is a book you like but the paper cover isn’t attractive, make sure to check what kind of hard cover is underneath the dust jacket!

Sometimes, I look for books that have a particular size for layering or stacking on a vintage piece.  Other times, I pay attention to the title.  For example, I have vintage books that I like to pull out with my summer décor, each title referring to the sea or ocean.

Here is a list of things I keep in mind when hunting for used books to decorate my home with:

  • Color
  • Interesting titles
  • ​Pages with a beautiful image that could be framed for wall art
  • Seasonal elements (like a seasonal color or title)
  • Extra texture of especially old pages
  • Size (I look for both large, small, and everything in between!  Different sizes are perfect for different home decor uses!)


Almost all of my décor books have come from thrift stores!  I do have some special ones that I’ve picked up at antique stores or vintage shops, and I have several amazing leather ones from my friend Jamie from @booksbycolor_jaysworld.

I’ll link some amazing vintage options for you at the end of this post!  It is very rare that I pay very much at all for an old décor book.   However, investing in some of the larger ones, like a thick dictionary or French books can be well worth the extra!

So Let’s Get to Styling!

What can I do with old books for decorating?

  1. Use a beautiful book as a riser for a favorite candle.
  2. Use decorative books to give varied height to decor, like brass candlesticks with battery taper candles on a timer (adds such a cozy glow to a table or mantel!)
  3. Use old pages as placemats
  4. Hole punch old pages to make a garland.
  5. Use old sheet music pages as paper placemats.
  6. Frame favorite old pages or covers for a unique gallery wall (get gallery wall tips HERE).
  7. Select titles with seasonal references for fun seasonal home decor.
  8. Display books with colored covers to add touches of your chosen color scheme for home decor.
  9. Deconstruct thrifted books for a worn, vintage look.
  10. Put books under a glass cloche.
  11. Tie books together into vintage book bundles for a cute vignette.
  12. Use old pages to make a DIY wreath.
  13. Use a stack of books to hold a small seasonal home decor items like a pinecone, little tree, pumpkin, seashell, or little bunny for Easter.
  14. Stand one book and lay one book, then set a plant to create a simple vignette.
  15. Line up hard cover books on a fireplace mantel and flank with pretty old architectural salvage corbels.
  16. Stack book sets on a vintage scale.

What can I do with old vintage books?  Here are MORE ideas!

  1. Roll up old pages, tie with pretty ribbon, and display under a glass cloche.
  2. Turn spines around so the pages are facing out; line books up for great neutral texture.
  3. Use command strips to attach old book pages to a wall and create a unique wallpaper idea…or even on a ceiling!
  4. Paint thrifted book covers to match your decor for a pop of color.
  5. Use favorite books to create a unique dining table centerpiece.  Stack at different heights and add votive candles.
  6. Decoupage old pages to a thrifted tray.
  7. Google DIY crafts with old books…the sky is the limit if you’ve got time for some crafting fun!
  8. Use an extra large, old hardcover book as a tray (I do this all the time and build my vignettes on top of a book, just like I would a tray or basket!)
  9. Display an old cookbook in the kitchen.
  10. Add an interesting old book to each place setting for conversation starters.
  11. Camouflage an undesired view.
  12. Fill a desired space easily with a collection of books.

5 More Easy Ways Use Thrifted Vintage Books in Home Decor

How to Decorate with Old, Deconstructed Books

How do you make a book look worn out?

There may be a few book lovers that would object to this.  But hear me out…I have taken many a book that would have ended up in the landfill and repurposed it to be fabulous décor!  I have also salvaged discarded paperback books and turned them into works of art that I’ve been decorating with for years by turning them into vintage book bundles.  Vintage home books are a great addition to home decor!

How do you make an old book look vintage?

To deconstruct a book for a farmhouse look, you will simply work the spine completely off, pulling the covers with it.  Even a newer book has a great look when deconstructed, as you get some of the glue residue remaining, and leaving a texture and patina that makes it look really old…and really loved.  Fun trick, huh?

Sometimes I tie my deconstructed books together with twine to make a cute book bundle.  Some, I leave as individuals.  It is a versatile, nearly fail-proof DIY that literally costs you the price of a cheap paperback at the thrift store!  And it’s also a great way to recycle an old book that is maybe too tattered to read or one that you may end up tossing!

Warning:  It’s Addictive!!!

Use Old Vintage Books to Tell a Story in Your Décor

I did this with my vintage coastal books last year. ( And yes, I even have seasonal books for décor!). With only about 5 or 6 well-chosen old books, I helped set the tone for a casual, vintage coastal look in our family room.

In this case, I left the neutral and light blue book spines facing out so that the book titles could be easily seen.  Then, they help tell the story of a little seaside cottage.  Now we aren’t in an actual cottage and the beach is a couple miles away, but these decorative books helped create that look and a focal point to tell that story.

I also use old music books to decorate in this way.  At Christmas, for example, I put a couple of vintage copies of Handel’s Messiah on the top of the stack.  Subtle, but, specific title and I loved that it helped create that look of a vintage Christmas.  You can do the same thing with vintage holiday books or a specific title of a classic, like “A Christmas Carol.”  These small spots in home decor are details that create beautiful and intentional style in a home!

I am currently on the hunt for some vintage, neutral-ish books for spring, like a great set of Beatrix Potter books!  We have the children’s ones, but they are more new looking.  (Hint: If anyone comes across a great vintage set, message me!!!)

Use Old Books to Give Dimension to Your Vignette

What can I do with old vintage books?

Lean them, stack them, open them, close them, stand them up, lay them down!  There are so many creative ways to use antique books in your own home!

You get the idea!!!

Anytime I create a vignette, I look for a variety of height and texture.  A pair of matching lanterns, sitting next to one another, doesn’t really work.  They are the same height, same color, same everything.

However, add a few vintage books with great character and patina underneath the lanterns?  All of a sudden, you have an instant vignette that looks like you spent a ton of time on it!

I also like to lean a few books against a pot or cloche to add a little extra texture.  Like we talked about in the cloche styling post, you can even rest a glass cloche on top of a larger book as a base!

Do your candlesticks look too short next to your artwork?  Add a book stack underneath!

Have a console table that is lacking character?  Add some large, vintage books and a set of corbels.  Incredible character and I promise you’ll use them forever!

Does your plant/planter not fill the space adequately?  Lean some books to the side to fill the horizontal space!  You can do the same on a fireplace mantel to add texture and character.

Use Vintage Books in Your Tablescapes

How can I use old books for decor?

Who said books are only for shelves and coffee tables?

I styled this entire tablescape around a book theme!  I used books to add height and texture to my simple centerpieces.  And I used old pages to create a special look for each place setting.

It was a simple craft to do with an old book, but made a nice statement!

Another time, I used some old music book pages as my placemats.  I think I paid $2 at the flea market for that old music book, and I’ll have placemats for years to come out of that book!

Try collecting vintage home books or design books to stack as interesting coffee table books.  Similarly, vintage travel books, old periodicals, or historical books can be the best conversation starter!

In a home office, take a trick from interior designers and used book sets or a collection of books to fill large bookshelves.  You’ll look like one of the most intelligent book lovers out there!

For $2, I was pretty happy for these disposable placemats and a fun table theme!

Use Thrifted Books to Camouflage An Undesired View or Fill a Desired Space

How do you place books for decorating?

Say what?

Well, supposed you have a TV cord or entertainment center wires that are hanging down.  A well-positioned stack of books could be the perfect trick to hide those cords!

We have our entertainment cords hidden in the wall in our current home; that was a huge must-do when we were renovating.  But at our old house, I had book stacks everywhere to hid those cords!

Decorating with books is also a great way to fill a desired spot in your home.  A favorite basket, dough bowl, or tray could be on display but need a little filler to create cozy vibes.

Old vintage books are a perfect way to visually fill your piece without taking away from its charm or “stealing the spotlight”, so to speak!

Basically, you can see that I use books…old, new, tired, tattered, vintage, and antique…everywhere!  While you can spend thousands on a rare antique book, you don’t need to spend more than a dollar at the thrift store to get you started on adding books to your décor.

Or take a look around your home…you might be surprised what books you have around that you could actually use, rather than collecting dust on a top shelf!

Are you ready to start decorating?

Admittedly, I’m a little crazy about using old books in my vintage-style decor.  However, I know all the times when I’ve been trying to figure out how to decorate a space and just adding a few vintage books has been the key to getting the look I want.

You can shop my Amazon storefront HERE for cozy accents and accessories, as well as vintage-style favorites, for home decorating!

You can add so much character, texture, color, pattern, and interest to your home decor with vintage books.  At the same time, using old vintage books can be a really budget-friendly option for decorating as well!

Keep your eyes open at thrift stores, yard sales, antique malls, flea markets, estate sales, and anywhere else that you may come across old books.  You might even be surprised with what you have stashed in the back corner of a bookshelf somewhere that can become valuable decor for you.

(Then again…it may be time to declutter some of those spots and drop off a bag of books to a thrift store yourself, if they aren’t meeting your functional or aesthetic needs!)

Regardless, I hope you’re inspired to think a little differently about your decor and try experimenting with old vintage books during this coming season!  Most of all, I hope you have FUN with your decor!



I hope this inspires you to try something different in your décor this week.  The exciting thing is that there is no right or wrong.  You aren’t going to waste money or resources to play around with these décor ideas!

Let me know what you decide to do with old books in your décor!


I’d love for you to follow me on social media!  You can find my home decor inspiration on Instagram, Pinterestand Facebook!  











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