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Decorating With Books

Decorating With Books

stack of books
Written and photographed by Victoria Van Vlear

We all know that feeling of elation when you find the perfect vintage item to add to your collection. Whether it’s a vintage globe, floral painting or a piece of furniture to upcycle, we all have those particular finds that will never cease to bring a smile. For me, that item is books. I love reading, collecting, and of course, decorating with books.

I’m the editor of Flea Market Decor’s sister magazine, American Farmhouse Style, but when I go home for the day, I’m still the bookworm I’ve been my whole life, eager to read. Here are some of the ways I’m constantly collecting and decorating with books.

Besides collecting and decorating with books, I take pictures of them to enjoy with the book community on Instagram.

Collecting Books By Design

Collecting books by design is different than simply buying them to read. Collections of books are like collections of any vintage item—they’re pretty to look at, testify to your knowledge about the item, and you can be proud of them because you’ve spent time building up that collection over the years.

My bookshelves make the perfect place to show off art, such as these fun self portraits.

My book collection is a mix of vintage and new books. While I love vintage collectibles and display them around our house, I don’t feel the need to keep my book collection strictly vintage. There are many beautiful new editions of classic books that come out regularly, and the new books I collect will become the modern heirlooms I pass down to my children. (Hopefully they’ll appreciate them!)

Some of my favorite modern collections include:

The books in this photo include some from the Penguin Clothbound collection (Pride and Prejudice, Don Quixote and Middlemarch), Puffin Classics collection (The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables), and Puffin in Bloom collection (A Little Princess).

Adding to My Book Collection

I was an English Writing major in college, so classic literature is close to my heart. I often acquire books that are part of special editions collections, which I can then use in decorating with books around my home.

While I do try not to collect too many copies of the same book, it does happen on occasion. I have several versions of Jane Eyre, and both a new and vintage copy of Cranford.

I not only collect special edition books because I love the cover designs, but also for their bright spine colors!

Decorating With Books

When I get the books home, what do I do with them? One of the main features guests see when they walk into my home is the wall of bookshelves my husband and I built in our living/dining room. We put up Ikea bookshelves, then added trim to make them look built-in. We put doors on the bottom half to add storage, and finished it off with our very own sliding library ladder (my favorite part!).

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Vintage garland made out of plastic beads shaped like peppermints, candy canes and fruit loop cereal pieces.

We made the ladder ourselves, and hung it from the ceiling with hardware for a sliding barn door.

The bookshelves are large enough that they’re a main feature of my decor. To make them eye-catching, I’ve categorized my books by color. Arranging them was a lengthy process that I still tweak on occasion, and it took me several months to be able to find the books based on the color of their spines. But the overall results were well worth the effort.

In addition to the bookshelves, I use books around my home in other ways. Much of my home decor is inspired by books and literature, such as the handmade clock that sits atop a vintage book on our piano, and reminds me of fairytales like Beauty and the Beast.

My happy clock man was a find from Etsy.

However you decide to approach books—whether you collect vintage editions, colorful new editions or simply get your favorite books to read—books can be another treasured collection you display and enjoy in your home.


Are you a bookworm too? Check out these fun picks for book lovers! And of course, don’t forget to follow our FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest for some fresh flea market inspiration!

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