Designer Secrets: Decorating with Books

With a little design savvy, great reads can double as polished decor, adding depth and character to any space.   I routinely use books to create a polished, finished look in my interiors and in my own home.  For those coveting this look, I’ve outlined some of my favorite techniques for styling with books:

1. Color blocking on bookshelves

interior accessorizing tips

I love to group art books on shelves by color and in graduated horizontal piles. Add picture frames or other items intermittently to style bookshelves that are not completely filled with books. In the above example, the interior of the shelves were painted chocolate brown, which visually fills out the shelves.

interior design tips

Simply organize hardcover books by color to transform a bookshelf into a statement itself.  Here, each shelf has a different color scheme, adding a modern element to this otherwise traditional office.

accessorizing interiors with books

Create contrast with colors and lines. In the example above, books were placed in both vertical and horizontal directions. Alternate shelves were decorated with white pottery, creating a unified white and blue palette.

2. Stacking decorative books

tips from interior designers

tips from interior designers

tips from interior designers

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To fill expansive table surfaces, I like to stack decorative books in graduated low piles either in the center or around the perimeter. The trick is to pay attention to height relationships. Create dynamic interest by establishing one tall focus or adding accessories on top of books.  Above are variations on this technique – a sculpture, vase of flowers, urn or hurricane lamp balance the low stack to look ordered and curated.

3.  Grounding flowers and objects with books 

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tips on how to decorate with stacked books

decorating tips

interior design new york

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Books can serve as a transition between two objects; they can create a foundation and sense of order, similar to a tray; or, they can change the height of a displayed object to give it a more pronounced showcase. Use flowers or plants in conjunction with books to add height to a group of accessories.


Images from S. B. Long Interiors

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by design and the subtle impact of our surroundings. Some of my earliest influences still resonate – I think of the dark woods and textured lodens of my father’s shooting club, the smell of fresh paint on a new canvas, and the bold symmetry of the Philip Johnson Glass house just down the street. For me, it was a natural path to become an Interior Designer. I love what I do. I’ve created this Journal to share my thoughts, finds and design inspirations. I hope you enjoy it!

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