If there was ever a time to judge a book by its cover, it’s when you’re using tomes to accessorise your home. How you display your books depends on the aesthetic you’re aiming for but there is a style to suit everyone, from maximalist tightly-packed shelves to the minimalist art of arranging a single novel.
If you are styling a coffee table and you want the books to convey a lifestyle or make an impression, opt for pristine-condition hardbacks. A collection of Assouline’s travel books will add a splash of Pop Art colour, while if your theme is monochrome, either Chanel Collections & Creations or Tom Ford’s eponymous book will be enough on its own.
If you can build a collection of books with gold or silver gilt-edged pages, you can really make a design statement. Stack these books high with the page edges facing outwards and top with a table lamp or a photo frame for best effect.
Another popular book stack is the pyramid – three of four books placed on top of each other, spines facing out, with the largest at the bottom and the smallest on top. An easy design win is to use books with similarly-coloured covers, then top with a contrasting candle or vase.
If your display involves a traditional bookshelf or bookcase, you’ll need to pay attention to the spines. For a style that echoes a Georgian-period reading room, you can’t go wrong with leather bound books with gilt printing. Buying up encyclopaedias is a quick way to amass such books – look out for Chambers, Funk & Wagnall’s and even Britannica sets.
Grouping books of the same colour together – perhaps following the sequence of the rainbow – is a real visual treat, or you may be led by interesting typography on the spines. If you’re not keen on colour order, you could arrange your books in ascending height order, devoting each shelf to books of a similar height to avoid a mismatch. Don’t be tempted to stuff books in on top of those that are neatly organised as you’ll spoil the streamlined look .
There’s a design trend that sees bundles of books tied together with raffia or string, with some foliage interwoven on top. You can easily make your own, using books with similar colour jackets for a subtle effect or in clashing colours for a more retro look. If you’re not feeling creative, you can buy pre-made bundles from OxSupply and even have the spines personalised.
Where to buy books
Books are one of the most affordable design accessories you can buy. If you need to bolster numbers, start by asking friends and family for any unwanted reads. Charity shops, jumble sales and boot fairs are budget-friendly places to buy, with the advantage of being able to pick up books according to your theme or space.
If you’re looking for instant impact, head for the ‘decorative’ tab on the Country House Library website, where book bundles are sold by colour, style and even by the foot. For specific titles, visit Daunt Books or Foyles, and Maggs is the place for rare books.
If you have your heart set on more space to display your cherished books, please contact us for a list of available properties.