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How to Use Books as Decorative Accessories

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Books can be categorized in many ways.  As I ponder my book collection, I have come to think of them as fitting into three categories: books that are necessary—school books, cook books, history books; books that can never be replaced—photo albums, school yearbooks, scrapbooks; and books that can be decorative accessories.  You most likely could add your own thoughts about types of books that are necessary and those that can never be replaced.

Books that are necessary aren’t always that exciting to talk about, but please humor me while I reminisce about a few “books that can never be replaced.”  I feel very fortunate to still have the “Baby Book” which my mother filled with info about my family tree and lots of baby photos.  Soon after I was born, she candidly wrote “I’m glad it’s a girl.  Maybe she will sleep more than her brother did when he was small.”

Baby books definitely belong on the irreplaceable list along with yearbooks.  And I still love to page through my dad’s college yearbook, complete with inscriptions from classmates and group photos of him in the debate club and on the basketball team.  In a moment of silly vanity, I threw away my own high school yearbook—and have never been able to replace it!

Books are very high on my list of decorative accessories!  I’m sure that a Kindle has its own purpose, but I just can’t imagine it as part of my décor.  It will never have the versatility and charm of a book.

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So let’s move on to the “books that can be decorative accessories” category—the so-called “coffee table” category.  You know, the ones that have beautiful photos on the dust cover.  Sometimes the book cover itself has a nice photo, and no dust cover.  As one would expect, flower and decorating books have beautiful photo covers because it’s a given that we aspire to arrange flowers and decorate our homes in ways that we consider beautiful.

I have two favorite ways to use books as decorative accessories.  One way involves stacking two or three books on top of each other, sometimes setting a decorative item on the stack of books.  The books can all be the same size, but stacking smaller books on top of a larger one allows you to see parts of the cover of the largest book.  I think the most interesting grouping is achieved when a decorative item, such as a ceramic piece is set on top of the books.  It can help to create a true focal point.  As usual, the colors of the book covers should echo the character and color of the decorative piece, and any artwork that might be in the background of the grouping.

The second way to use a book as décor is to display it on an easel.  If the easel and its book will be part of a grouping, then as usual, color is the driver.  Easels can be ornate or simple and are available in a variety of materials, such as wood, brass, silver—and even ceramic.  They also come in many sizes and some are adjustable so that you can control the display angle to find what works best for you.  It’s a much more flexible way to display “art” than hanging pictures, especially if you aren’t fond of putting holes in your walls.  If you have lots of books with interesting covers, you may really enjoy being able to change your “art” frequently!

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I hope you enjoy the above pictures of books as decorative accessories and that you will try your own beautiful books as accessories.  One of my favorites is the grouping of the kepi (cap) next to the The French Foreign Legion book.

by Evelyn Kinville, Behnke’s Garden Blogger

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