How to : Style your Book Shelf with Vintage Books.

As part of my mission of “keeping heirlooms around for another generation” I must take time to step out of my bubble of kitchen + entertaining and into the rest of the home from time to time.

If you follow my Instastories then you know I spend a lot of time sourcing unique, vintage treasures. Vintage books are one thing I just can’t help buy buying, especially when I find something with a design detail to die for.

Because I’ve collected so many books over the years (with more to come each trip) I thought I’d share my best tips for styling your book case with vintage books in your own home.

Turn It Around

If I have one rule about design it’s to keep it as neutral and clean as possible, allowing the textures, details and uniqueness of each object to really pop. Because my own collection of vintage books ranges wildly in shape, size and color my go-to tip for styling a bookshelf that comes together beautifully is to actually turn the spines backwards on the shelf. 

The white to off-white papers are the only variation you see then which is especially nice on a large wall case like this one in my living room. And, it allows me to display other special treasures on the shelf, like paintings and family photographs, and have them pop visually without getting lost among the books.

Show the Collection

My other go-to tip for making vintage work in your home is to show the collection. This is an especially handy tip when it comes to books because of the novel series, encyclopedia sets and National Geographic magazines that you can find out there.

Keeping an entire collection together is so special, or starting a collection of your own and always being on the hunt for the missing pieces is such a great tribute to the books themselves. The collection below is a family heirloom of mine that is displayed in Waylon, my youngest son’s, nursery. It’s a set of fairy tales that were once my dad’s when he was little and they are truly such a special part of the room design.

Another way to make a collection visually is to simply source books in a single color range. Some of the most dramatic cases I’ve seen have stuck to a single color story (which for me tends to be black, white or some neutral shade in between) but I’ve seen a range of greens, blues, blushes or yellows work so beautifully to make a collected statement on a shelf.

Find the Hero

When all else fails. less is more. If you have one or two books that are simply too amazing design-wise to blend in with the others, make it the hero of the book case. I will generally do this by having a stack of books with the best one being on top, so you can see both the spine and book cover detail.

This works great too for a side table next to your bed or a coffee table where you’re truly wanting the book to be the focal point. I also love finding some relevance to the book besides it being just another “pretty face.” For example, in a beach house it’s always great to have a vintage book on sea shells or the local lighthouse to really make a deeper design connection for the story of your home.

I’d love to see some of your own favorite vintage books and how you’re using them around your own home. #HEIRLOOMED



heirloomed is a lifestyle brand with a mission of “keeping heirlooms around for another generation.” Our blog features stories about family recipes, creating traditions with your family, interior design and entertaining by mixing new and vintage pieces, classic style, and small town + historic travel. Our shop features a collection of “goods inspired by the past, for generations to enjoy” with an array of products and meaningful gifts including linen apronstabletop linensartceramics and beyond. Learn more at www.heirloomedcollection.com

I’m an old soul based in Atlanta, GA and mom of 3 with a deep love of all things from the past with a story to tell, on a mission to keep heirlooms around for another generation - whether it be a tradition, splattered family recipe, or historic home.

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