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Decorating with vintage books

Last month when we were visiting family in Utah after our ski trip I decided to shop my mom’s house a bit for decor.  Do you ever do that?  Shop your mom’s house for items she’s dying to get rid of and just doesn’t know it yet?  And you’re graciously there to take those items off of her hands?  Well.  I’m a pro at it.  :)  Started in college when I used to shop her pantry for food and her bathroom cupboards for Paul Mitchell hair spray.  Good times.

(Love you mom.)

Anyway, I was peeking around in one of her storage closets and came across part of her vintage book collection.  My mom has collected old children’s books for years and seriously has enough to fill a bedroom.  She is an educator and lover of children’s books (we have a lot in common!) but she especially adores books from her childhood and her parents’ childhood.  Growing up I always thought her book collection was so strange.  What in the world would she ever DO with all of those books?  They were so tattered and OLD looking.  But I suddenly saw that old book collection with new eyes.  They are so tattered and OLD looking.  How incredibly cool!  And vintage!  And stylish!  Suddenly I knew exactly what she needed to do with all of those books.  Loan them to me!  :)

So I rounded some up and after telling my mom how cutting edge she was without even knowing it, I convinced her to let me take them home.  Back at my place I spread them out on my coffee table and knew they would be perfect to add to my media cabinet shelves.  (p.s. – in this picture you can see a peek of a rug I tried in this space, but it’s already returned and back to the store.  Rug update post coming soon!)

I grouped some of the books together but when I spread them out on my shelves I wasn’t loving the colors.  I tried to select covers with blues/greens in them (the look I’m going for), but the soft faded colors just made things look drab.  

So I turned them around.  And I love the look!  The tan, worn pages add the exact character and cohesiveness I was looking for.

So I placed a few here…

 and I placed a few there…

And while these shelves are still bare and nowhere near styled (just playing around for now with things I already have) I do think the vintage books add such a nice touch and are here to stay.

Moral of this story is to:

A)  Try turning books around to style bookshelves (it keeps things simple and cohesive and less cluttered).

B)  Shop your mom’s house for decor.  You never know what treasures are lurking in her closets.

C)  Decorate with things that mean something to you.  Now I feel like I have a piece of my mom in my family room with me all the time.


D)  All of the above.

The End.  
xoxo, Erin
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14 thoughts on “Decorating with vintage books

  1. Never thought of that. Those books are precious!! It looks really good. I have to say. I love that rug. I am sure with your decorating skills, you chose one that looks perfect though. :)

  2. I love this post! The books are beautiful and meaningful too. A win win in my book. ( did you get that? in my book….I know that was bad) Moving on, I’m a lover of children’s books too and I have a stack for my future grandchildren to prove it. Your house is coming along beautifully and it’s fun to watch you add your personal touch to it, Erin!

  3. I love old children’s books. I wish my grandmother’s and mom’s were still around. Glad they bring you a touch of your mom and home; your mom seems amazing.

    I think backwards books would drive me crazy, but they look great on your shelf.

  4. great idea! and I think they look great on the shelves! Thanks so posting, always gets my day off to a good start when I can read one of your posts. :) Question: have you made a “to organize/decorate” list for the new house? I’d love to see if you have! It would give me some motivation to reorganize my spaces that I’ve let go. thanks! :)

  5. Looks great! I love shopping at my parents house too. In fact, one of my son’s bedrooms is decorated with vintage books from my Dad’s childhood. I actually framed them and hung them over his crib. It looked so cute. Not to mention….inexpensive and easy!

    My boys now “shop” at my parents house for vintage toys. Who knew that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would make a comeback?? And who knew my mom had SAVED my brothers toys?? Crazy! But I love it.

    House is looking so good!! Can’t wait to see the rug :)

  6. Thanks everyone!

    Kristen – so sweet of you to say that. Thank you! Love the win win comment. You and I have the same sense of humor. :)

    JC – thank you! My mom is amazing. :)

    Hollie – you are so kind. :) Yes! I did make a to organize list. I didn’t share the whole list on my blog, but I shared a part of it and talked about making a list in this post here:

    Hope that helps!

    Sara – My mom saved my brother’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles too! I need to round them up for Kole. :) Your son’s bedroom sounds so cool!

  7. I love this idea! My 9yo daughter is currently loving my old Bobbsey Twins books and I have a heap more grabbed from my parents’ house before they down-sized…this post tells me I need to get them out of boxes and on display! You are so clever Erin, I would never have tried them spine-to-back. Thankyou! xx

  8. I am just like your Mom….I love these old books and own many of the ones you show here, it was such an age of innocence! Thank you for some ideas about what to do with them, I also am scanning the graphics….just too precious to lose….:)

  9. Great post! Ok I love the rug!! Where did you get it? Can’t wait to see what you have replaced it with :) This post makes me want to dig out all my old Nancy Drew books my grandfather gave me when I was little :) They were old fashioned way back in the 80’s lol wonder what my 12 and 10 year old would think of them now haha :) Really enjoy your blog!! :)

  10. Maybe I’m missing something here, but how will the kids choose a book to read if the spines are turned around backward?

  11. Thank you so much everyone! That aqua rug was from Z Gallerie! Really cute but not too comfy. I’ll share more about it in a post this week!

    Jessica – my girls have already read a lot of these books. They are just for display until my son is old enough to read them. And then I suppose we can turn them around. :)

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