How to use books for home decor and interior design

Books are back – and they’re not just for ‘credibility bookcase’ backgrounds

Books in a basket
(Image credit: PXHere )

One of the quirkiest digital trends to emerge since the start of the pandemic is to have a bookcase in the background for your online meetings and interviews. From news broadcasters to politicians, everyone’s been talking in front of their book collections.

The “credibility bookcase” became “quarantine’s hottest accessory” in 2021, said Amanda Hess in The New York Times. The bookcase offers both a “visually pleasing surface” and “a gesture at intellectual depth”.

Books “are back” and it’s “time to get lit”, said Sydney Gore in Architectural Digest’s predictions of 2022’s biggest interior design trends. People are not just reading books more but they’re also curating books for home decoration and using them for building stairs and tables. In short, books are the “new status symbol”.

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As the English writer Sydney Smith said, “no furniture is so charming as books, even if you never open them or read a single word”. We take a look at some of the ways you can use your books for home decor and interior design…

1. Design your own credibility bookcase

The Little-Bit-of-Everything Reader book shelves

The Little-Bit-of-Everything Reader book shelves
(Image credit: Penguin Random House)

If you’re looking to create a credibility bookcase, Penguin Random House has some digital examples that could inspire your real-life collection. Project professionalism from a new home office with options such as:

  • The Little-Bit-of-Everything Reader: “perfect for the user trying to convey a colourful reading list”
  • The Literary Heavyweight: ideal if you’re “looking to impress your coworkers with your literary prowess”
  • The Classics Collector: “you have a taste for the finer things in life, and an appreciation for the trailblazers that came before you”
  • The Trend Finder: this collection suggests you are “multi-media savvy, with a keen eye for trends”
  • The Adventure Seeker: a YA and dystopian-centric bookshelf which is “perfect for showing your coworkers your creative side”

2. Bookcases and shelving

Bookcases and shelving

(Image credit: PXHere)

You may not be seeking credibility from your bookcase or shelves, but they are a great place to start in order to revamp a room.

There’s something “so charming about an abundance of books”, said House & Garden. And a shelf full of books “adds instant appeal to any room”, whether in the form of “bespoke joinery or stand alone shelves”.

A collection of hardcovers is “full of design potential”, said Architectural Digest. Go bold with colour, make an architectural statement and or even incorporate art. “Whether it’s simple rows of shelves or beautiful built-ins, bookcases offer stylish storage for books, artwork, and other treasured collections.”

3. Not just a pile of old books…

Table made from books

Table made from books
(Image credit: residentreader/Instagram)

The simplest way to show off your books may be by displaying them on shelves. However, there are many other ways you can make your book collection into stylish home décor, said Anne Pilon on Homedit. If you’re going for “a more dramatic effect”, you could even use book pages as wallpaper to cover an entire wall.

Displaying books on tables is a nice option – or you could make a table out of books (as residentreader showed on Instagram, above). Piles of books can look great anywhere – in baskets or simply stacked high on the floor.

4. Elevate your stair game

Youliy/Amazon book staircase stickers

(Image credit: Youliy/Amazon)

Staircase design has become a big trend in home decor – whether that’s by incorporating storage areas, adding a reading nook or even designing the steps themselves.

Add an interesting touch to your interiors by giving your stairs a makeover, said The Owner Builder Network. One clever project is to paint each step with the spine designs of your favourite books.

If a paint job is not an option, then some 3-D book staircase stickers could be exactly what your boring steps are missing, said House Beautiful. They can really “elevate your stair game”.

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.