Decorating With Books

WORDS:: Chyka Keebaugh

PHOTOS:: Lisa Atkinson

I love books, not only just for reading pleasure, but they are a great decorative item to have around the home.

I read recently about the growing statistics of people moving away from reading books on their Kindles and wanting to walk into a book shop and purchase a book.

I find the whole concept of reading on a computer bizarre because I am old school and like to have the story in my hands. But I get it, I get that it is easy to have a book on my iPad. I get the convenience of a downloadable purchase, but it’s not my thing. I love books. I am in love with books. I love holding them in my hands, I love their fabric covers and seeing piles of them on my nightstand waiting to be devoured. I love reading them and reading about them. I love sitting and thinking about them and then chatting about them with friends;  I love keeping my collections in piles about the house to remind me of wonderful times, sad tales and uplifting stories.

I have a varied taste in what I read and go through phases, just like fashion. One month it will be purely historical, the next is all true crime and the following only biographies. I want to know everything about everyone and books scratch that itch. I also love keeping my collections on display and pile them high all over the house, so I always have something to flick through. Because why can’t they be read then turned into something to decorate with? Don’t just put them on the shelf or hide them away, there are so many neat things to do.

Colour blocking your bookshelf::

This has been around for ages and looks fantastic if you have a lot of books. Separate your books into piles of colours, as in the spines must be all pink, or shades of blue, etc.. then re-stack your shelves in colour order. You can create an ombre effect starting off with white and slowly working your way to black or take the lead from the colours of the rainbow. This works well in a pure white space where the colours can shine.


Spine free zone::

I am a big fan of this style of book display as it works everywhere and is a cheap one to create if you are starting from scratch (and skipping the whole reading part!!) All you do is group your books in similar sizes and place the spines inwards. So once you have created formations on shelves, all you can see is the natural coloured pages. Too easy!

The not so random piles::

I will admit that while the piles of books in my home look random they most certainly are not! Each pile has matching spines, similar book content and is where it is for a reason. The coffee table books are mainly about styling and homewares because when I am on the couch, they are my favourite type of books to flick through. Next to couch is the pile of magazines to relax with while drinking some tea. The dining room books shelves are filled with styling and travel books as they are surrounded by my favourite family holiday pics. There is a method to my madness.


I love walking into homes where the owners book collections are proudly displayed. I love seeing what others are reading, and it is always a perfect conversation starter. Coffee table books are an indulgence of mine because there is so much beauty out there to be seen, looking on a computer screen is no way near as magical as flipping through a brand new book with a beautiful fabric spine. The smell and texture of pages and the crisp sound of the spine opening up, it’s an experience in itself, and I am so excited that people are moving back into book shops to get their hands on the real thing.

Do you decorate your space with your books? What style do you prefer?