Read all about it: decorating with books

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• May 17, 2014

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero

Books tell us so much about ourselves. Where we've been and where we want to go. They tell volumes about our hopes and dreams. What we love and what inspires us. And a Kindle will never replace a book in your living room. It just won't.

Williams-Sonoma's Harrington mirrored dresser brings Art Deco style to a room and has enough space for a basket filled with books. Photo: Williams-Sonoma.

Williams-Sonoma's Harrington mirrored dresser brings Art Deco style to a room and has enough space for a basket filled with books. Photo: Williams-Sonoma.

Williams-Sonoma's Harrington mirrored dresser brings Art Deco style to a room and has enough space for a basket filled with books. Photo: Williams-Sonoma

And if you are like many of my southwest Florida decorating clients, your books may be sitting in a corner collecting dust or crowded onto overstuffed shelves and bookcases. But you just can't say good bye to them. They give us comfort and speak to our soul. And some days, a book offers a safe retreat from the day to day stress that life throws our way.

If your collection of books has exceeded your space, make them part of your decor.

The Samantha narrow bookcase by Pottery Barn is styled with lots of texture and books for a display that will fit into any space. Photo: Pottery Barn.

The Samantha narrow bookcase by Pottery Barn is styled with lots of texture and books for a display that will fit into any space. Photo: Pottery Barn.

Books have actually been written about decorating with books. And it's no wonder. The possibilities are endless. The following tips will have you tapping into your artistic side and designing interesting displays in no time and you can't beat the cost of using something that you already have!

The Connor side table from Pottery Barn performs double duty by also offering a nice space for stacks of favorite books. Photo: Pottery Barn.

The Connor side table from Pottery Barn performs double duty by also offering a nice space for stacks of favorite books. Photo: Pottery Barn.

When I style a room using the homeowner's books, I incorporate the following ideas that you can use as well:

On shelves or a bookcase: coordinate the colors and place them in groupings. Paint or wallpaper the back of the bookcase to give some dimension and a pop of color to the display. Place some books horizontally. Others vertically. Style the bookcase or shelf to include photos, pieces of art, mementos from a vacation or collectibles.

Vintage pieces, florals and collections make a pretty display with books on this West Elm pipe bookcase. Photo: West Elm

Vintage pieces, florals and collections make a pretty display with books on this West Elm pipe bookcase. Photo: West Elm

On a coffee table or entry table: use some of your favorite books to create a vignette. Use a pretty tray to tie the books together with a vase of flowers or a vintage element.

Practical use: Books form a great base to elevate a lamp or vase to just the right height. Perfect for an end table or bed night stand.

Toys and books: In a child's room, mix toys with books on a bookcase for a fun display that is also practical for storage.

Entertainment center: Since this can be a very plain (and boring) surface, give it some personality with books arranged horizontally with the (interesting) titles showing.

Start a collection: Check sales at bookstores and flea markets for books that interest you. Vintage or contemporary, blend them into a display that becomes a part of your decor.

Limited surface space? Fill an armoire with your favorite books and accent pieces. Keep the doors open when you want to display them and close them when you need the space in the room. The best of both worlds.

Photo: Brunschwig & Fils.                                                                                                                                     

Photo: Brunschwig & Fils.                                                                                                                                     

And if you just don't have room or for the perfectly designed bookshelf, no problem! The Bibliotheque wall covering from Brunschwig & Fils does the job just fine and totally surrounds you with books that you will never need to dust. My favorite location is on an accent wall in an entry or office or in a powder room. The result: spectacular!

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Her practical and affordable interior decorating helps clients transform a house into a beautiful home. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog