How to Style... vintage books

Today we have our very first guest blogger sharing some wonderful styling tips for incorporating beautiful old books into your decor. Lucy Heath, photographer and blogger at Capture by Lucy shows us how....

There’s something about an old book that makes me want to rub the delicate pages between my fingertips, lift the open book to my nose and smell all the years of history. That dusty, but romantic scent that makes your mind instantly wander to the shelves it might have sat on, the people who might have read it.

I love collecting books from charity shops and vintage emporiums, finding handwritten messages in the sleeves, in beautiful penmanship and ink. Stacks of books are so easy to style to add some intrigue to your home decor and you can change them around week to week, or month to month, highlighting new finds and favourites.

Here are a few ways I use my collection to add some colour and history to my home.

Writing desk

One of my favourite pieces of furniture is my old wooden bureau. It’s an ideal size for working with a laptop and at the end of a day I can lift up the lid and hide all my papers and put my work to bed for the day. The little pigeon holes are perfect for displaying a small collection of similar titles or from a shared colour palette. 

I love the sumptuous dark wood against the green spines, a real feeling of winter with a hint of spring to come. I pop all my paperwork in the drawers underneath so when the bureau is open you can admire your curious collection.

Colour collections

Sorting and stacking your books into colour families is a simple but eye catching styling idea. I tie mine with layers of ribbon, floral ribbon for a feeling of romance, soft lace during the summer and adding a length of striking velvet gives an extra emphasis on texture. I always want to stroke them as I walk past!

If you use a little plastic vial from a florist for a single stem, you can lay a floral bloom on the top without them wilting.

Vintage books by colour with ribbon 4.jpg

Bell Jars

My obsession with books is as passionate as my love affair with bell jars and old cloches. They are perfect for seasonal displays, you can pop a handful of feathers in them, dried petals, or how about a mini collection of small books propped against a hearty succulent.

Coffee table collection

 It’s so easy to get carried away styling your stacks of books and forget to actually read them. So leave a few favourites out in a tray or wire basket on the coffee table for when you get five minutes on the sofa with a cup of tea.

Title love

It’s not just the colour and texture of a heap of old books that makes them wonderful for unique home accessories, you can mix and match complementary colours and titles that conjure a mood or sentiment. I love the peach tones in this collection which suit the fairytale title and you can’t help but smile at the 1001 Wonderful Things cover. So when you are scouting for your own collection, choose some titles that inspire you with their names. 

Sandwich display

 Perfect for a shelf or mantlepiece, try interspersing your books with vintage bottles and seasonal blooms.

I love matching the colours of the florals to the spines for a more co-ordinated look, which I can change with the seasons. Grape hyacinth picked from the garden looks beautiful and will last for over a week with refreshed water. 

Happy book hunting!


Thank you Lucy! What fabulous pictures and lovely ideas. See more of Lucy's work on her website or follow her beautiful Instagram feed

For more styling with books images, pop over to issue 5 of 91 Magazine where stylist Joanna Thornhill shares more great ideas.