I’ve always been a book person. I love the way books feel when I hold them, how they look stacked neatly on a coffee table and the orderly beauty of rows and rows of books on a shelf.
I was thrilled when I recently read that home libraries are making a comeback, in spite of our urge to simplify our lives and reduce clutter. Perhaps it’s that books are neat, stackable, colorful accessories that can become the major focal point of a room or its subtle backdrop.
I prefer shelves that display a mixture of books with other interesting objects. Bring together a few rows of books among boxes, vases and framed artwork, and now you have an attention-grabbing vision.
There is an art to placing books on shelves. Books should be aligned in a straight row about 1-2 inches from the front edge of a shelf regardless of their height or depth. From here you can decide to organize your books by size or color. Grouping all like colors makes a dramatic visual statement. If you prefer to organize by size, start with the tallest books and work your way to the shortest. Halfway through a long row of books, turn a few on their side and place an interesting object on top of the stack.
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Think beyond the stories on the page. The images that decorate the jackets and the colors of the binding go together to help make a simple room more stimulating.
My coffee table always has a stack or two of carefully selected books. If I’m entertaining a group of old friends, that stack may contain books about the Beatles or travel destinations that we have shared. The presence of those books ignites conversations and memories.
If I’m moving from winter to spring, a stack of beach-themed books topped with a pretty sea shell creates a new direction for my decor. In a guest room, I may select titles that I know will inspire guests and let them know that I have taken extra time to prepare for their visit.
The floor is also a great place for displaying books. I often use a stack of large, thick books as a small end table next to a reading chair. If you don’t have bookshelves, consider filling baskets with books and sliding them under a table or desk. In the kitchen, don’t hide your cookbooks. Put them out on shelves or display a couple of them leaned against your backsplash. You’ll be amazed at how much color and fun they can add to your kitchen setting.
The most important thing you can do with your books is to enjoy them and share them. To reread a favorite book is like spending the evening with an old friend. And if you’re looking for a way to spark your mind and your decor, reach for a book.
Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at ForYourHome.com.