Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Decorating With Books

On my most recent trip to New York I popped into Rizzoli bookstore to see what was new in architecture and design books (and to thank them for stocking my books, which they always do). I thought I'd quietly ask them which titles were selling well that month and their answer was astounding. The most popular books at Rizzoli were not interior design books or books by celebrity authors but books about books. Book lovers, it seems, want to buy books that show them how to display books, how to decorate with books, how to design rooms with libraries in them, even how to take books and carve them into other artistic and literary-inspired things.

Books are a big design trend at the moment. Even hoteliers such as Ian Schrager are now creating hotels with "libraries" in them, so that guests can entertain themselves with books rather than, er, whatever else they used to entertain themselves in their suites with. As The New York Times put it recently "hotels around the world are betting that books are the social lubricant of the future..." (NB I'm not quite sure what the NYT meant by this odd statement, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the idea hoteliers have that books will bring people together. As in, when you're in a hotel library and you see another guest reading The History of Sex, you can probably assume they'd be up for a night of swapping Cliff Notes. So to speak.)

Books are even being seen as a quirky decorating item. There are books that are being used as 'Welcome' signs (although choose your title carefully: you don't want a book that says the wrong thing), books that are being framed as art, paintings that look like bookshelves, or Penguin book covers (as in Courtney Cox's Malibu house), and – perhaps the loveliest idea of all – book-themed parties.

Here are some of my favourite bookish images, and some of our own decorating-with-books attempts:

The beautiful paintings of Queensland-based artist Victoria Reichelt, which have been getting a lot of media. These were from her 2009 portfolio. They're enormous canvases so the books almost look real. {Via}

Literary-inspired art work in Courtney Cox' new bachelorette pad in Malibu. {Painting by Harland Miller. Photo by Simon Upton Via Elle Decor.}
Hand-made decorations created from book pages for a book-themed party to celebrate the launch of – what else? – a book! Created by the extraordinary blogger behind {Via}

And here's one more (above). (NB There are lots more images on The Nester's website)

Olafur Eliasson's stunningly original hand-bound 'Dream House' book created with 454 laser cut leaves. Read the book and imagine your dream house. I love this. {Via}

Pure fantasy. A book that comes alive. I adore this too. I don't think it's a 'real' book but imagine if it were? 

The studio of the famous Australian book artist Nicholas Jones. This inspiring space is available for public viewing by appointment. See for more details. {Via}
And our attempts at decorating with books in our house... 
We even have book ends that say 'BOOK' – a thoughtful gift from my sister-in-law.
The 'Coats Here' sign was made from an old Phaidon book I found in a secondhand store. It tickled me to do this because Phaidon was our competitor when I was an editor at Images Publishing.
This year I've used postcards of book covers as gift tags for our Christmas presents. (As in the image at top left.) They're particularly fitting for people who love books, such as my sister-in-law and her husband. 
The books wrapped in the chocolate Herm├ęs ribbon were old books that I was going to throw out. I know some purists hate this look and I'm not a fab of tearing books to bits, but this looked so cute I couldn't resist.
The framed prints hung beside the magaazines are pages from The Great Gatsby, my favourite book, used from a lovely old copy found in a secondhand store. The image of the gift-wrapped present features another postcard of a book cover used being as a gift tag.

In case you're wondering, there is a reason we have so many books in our house. Next year we are hoping to turn this place into a weekender, called The Old Library House, which will be available to rent. It will be tailored towards creatives who want to get away and find some space and inspiration (and yes,  books!) in the calm and beauty of the countryside. More details early next year.


  1. A forward first booking for The Library from Millie & MOTH please!
    M xx

  2. Oh, some guests already! Well, you shall have a substantial discount then. Last week before your Christmas break Millie... Hope you have a lovely few days off work. Jxx

  3. Second booking is coming in!!! Perhaps I could start my book whilst staying here!!!!!!!


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