Books as Decor—What a Novel Idea!

decorating with plants

Books as Decor—What a Novel Idea!

When you think of room decor and accessories, your first thoughts might be of vases, wall hangings, and flower arrangements. And while those are definitely wonderful accents to add character and interest to a space, today I share tips on one of my favorite decor items: books.

Books are an easy, affordable, and interesting way to enliven a room. For starters, they come in a variety of sizes and fit on almost any surface. Stack to add dimension and height to accent tables and fill barren shelves. Arrange some on an ottoman or a cocktail table. Or stack a few books on a floating end table to make a pedestal for a piece of sculpture.

Coffee Table Books as Accents
For a truly impactful accent, I love decorating with coffee table books. These books are often oversized with beautiful photography that adds pops of color when displayed. What’s more, these gorgeous books are meant to be enjoyed! Coffee table books work as functional decor that residents can flip through while lounging.

Books to Compliment a Room
Today’s coffee table books are published on practically any subject so it’s fun to select titles that complement a room’s specific use. Below are a few of my favorite titles by room.

Set an inviting scene on the kitchen counter with recipe books. Today’s social media influencers and food bloggers have seriously upped the game of food photography. And many cookbooks feature incredible images rather than just pages of printed recipes. I love standing these on a counter with some kitchen-themed bookends or propped open on a cookbook stand featuring a particularly mouthwatering photo.

See You on Sunday (ISBN 978-1400069927)
Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (ISBN 978-0307595652)
Betty Crocker’s Lost Recipes (ISBN 1328710335)
A Couple Cooks-Pretty Simple Cooking (ISBN 9780738219691)
The Art of the Cheese Plate (ISBN 9780847849826)

Beauty Salon
Because most salon clients in senior living communities are female, coffee table books about beauty, hair, makeup, fashion, and classic movie stars are very popular.

Chanel: Collections and Creations (ISBN 978-0500513606)
Timeless: Recreate the Classic Makeup and Hairstyles from 100 Years of Beauty (ISBN 9780762464050)
The Atlas of Beauty: Women of the World in 500 Portraits (ISBN 978-0399579950)
Always Audrey: Six Iconic Photographers. One Legendary Star. (ISBN 1788840321)

Go Hollywood with books related to movies, television, and famous stars. Residents love to flip through these books while waiting for the main event to start!

Hollywood Icons: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation (ISBN 978-1851498192)
Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking (ISBN 1419738097)
Making Movie Magic: A Lifetime Creating Special Effects for James Bond, Harry Potter, Superman & More (ISBN 0750991232)
Hollywood Dogs (ISBN 1788840208)


Travel books are great for the library. Adventurous residents can feel like they’re travelling the world without leaving the community.
Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel (ISBN 1760342777)
Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips (ISBN 978-1426201257)
The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small (ISBN 978-0789332691)

These areas generally end up trending more masculine from a decor standpoint. So it’s fun to use accents and books that trend more masculine. Sports and classic cars are very popular choices.
Classic Car (ISBN 978-1465453396)memory care booksAmerican Muscle Cars (ISBN 978-0760350133)
Sports Illustrated Football’s Greatest (ISBN 1683300033)
The Story of Baseball: In 100 Photographs (ISBN 1547800011)

Living Spaces
These shared living spaces offer many options for books as decor. In lobbies, I like to showcase something local. For example, I just completed an install in Kentucky where I sourced books on bourbon, Kentucky homes, and racehorses. Other options for these neutral spaces include design, architecture, nature, and art.

Down to Earth (ISBN 978-1419738197)
Veranda Retreats (ISBN 978-1618372123)
Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style (ISBN 0847848922)
The Finer Things: Timeless Furniture, Textiles, and Details (ISBN 0770434290)
Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating (ISBN 1419717855)
Nancy Braithwaite: Simplicity (ISBN 0847843610)

Memory Care
For these areas in a living community, I suggest books that are full of images, illustrations, and photos while limited on text. The goal is subject matter that is familiar to residents to prompt memory and conversation. If you choose books about real-life people, choose personas who were active in the 1940s through the 1960s so residents have a better likelihood of recognizing them. Animals, nature, travel, and hobbies like fishing and sports are great general-interest book subjects.

Stunning Photographs (ISBN 978-1426213922)
The Life and Love of the Sea (ISBN 1419718622)
The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs (ISBN 1579656714)
Animal Kingdom: A Collection of Portraits (ISBN 1599621479)
100 Dives of a Lifetime (ISBN 978-1426220074)

Since many sunrooms tend to be bright spaces with windows overlooking pretty landscaping, it’s ideal to choose books that relate to nature, gardening, or flower arranging.

Decorating with Plants (ISBN 978-1579657765)
The Flower Recipe Book (ISBN 978-1579655303)
Color Me Floral: Techniques for Creating Stunning Monochromatic Arrangements for Every Season (ISBN 9781452161174)
Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms (ISBN 1452145768)

Order Now
Many of these titles can be found in The Simple Home store. Just sign up for a free account  at The Simple Home to place an order. Browse the store and site to find book titles, decor, and helpful tips to create beautiful, welcoming senior living spaces.

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