How to mix books into your home décor

How to mix books into your home décor

“A room without books is like a body without a soul,” Marcus Cicero, the Greek philosopher, once said. Ardent bibliophiles would probably agree, knowing how difficult it is to let go of a book once it’s been acquired. But even the casual reader likely keeps numerous volumes on hand, running the gamut from the practical to the sentimental. We talked with three local experts about how they keep books front and center in their own homes and client projects. Here’s what they had to say. 

Showcase books alongside favorite objects

Laurie LeBoeuf, an interior designer at Castle Design, helps clients curate displays that feature their collections alongside objects that are meaningful to them. In her own living room bookcase, pictured above, she’s gathered books plus a menagerie of items discovered on her travels to Italy, Hawaii, and Chicago; a framed painting of the Muny—one of her favorite local spots; and a butterfly in memory of her grandmother. LeBoeuf recommends styling shelves with books and objects that have meaning, versus decorating with accessories that are just fillers.

Arrange by color

For clients who are starting out or have yet to amass a collection, Jessie Miller, of Jessie D. Miller Interior Design, will sometimes purchase books by the foot or the yard to fill in shelves as needed. “Purchasing groupings by color is so much better than using faux books,” she says. An added bonus? Arranging books by their hue tends to work well in most design schemes.

Remove the dust jackets 

For rooms that brim with furniture and objects, LeBoeuf and Miller suggest removing dust jackets to help simplify the look since “the spines tend to be more monochromatic,” says Miller. LeBoeuf decorates in this way in rooms with lots of architectural detail, or that are painted a bold color. In cases such as these,  accessories should be understated. 

Mix heights and textures

When creating an arrangement of books and objects on a shelf, LeBoeuf considers scale, color, materials, and textures. “I like to have a layered look with larger things behind smaller objects,” she says. To achieve this, try stacking a few books horizontally and then putting an object like a bowl or statue on top of the stack. You might also prop up a small piece of framed artwork on a shelf and place smaller objects around it. Styling shelves is an opportunity to have fun and to be creative, so go ahead and stack books vertically, horizontally, and even in both directions on a single shelf. 

Use books to create surfaces

Miller likes to stack books throughout the house, not just on a bookshelf. She might use a stack of coffee table books alongside a chair to create a little side table, or she’ll pile a few volumes onto an ottoman or antique chair that doesn’t get a lot of use. “I love using books. I find that it’s a subtle way to incorporate my client’s hobbies, travels, and passions without being literal,” she says.

Consider book covers

For books that need to be accessible but that may not be that attractive, Resito Pecson, owner of Twigs & MOSS, reaches for his line of inspirational book covers. Each set of five includes three covers inscribed with an inspirational message, along with two blank covers that serve as bookends. Quotes are available in different categories, including holiday, life and wisdom, literature, and more. “We’re not telling you to cover your first edition novel, but here’s an idea for an algebra book or a condensed Reader’s Digest,” says Pecson. “It would be nice to have on an end table or on your desk to inspire you when you’re working.” 

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