How to display those books, books and more books

By Joseph Pubillones

Regardless of today’s technological revolution, there is no comparison between a tablet or e-reader and a book. Books provide a sensation and look that can’t be beat.

Well-known author Jorge Luis Borges once said: “I cannot sleep unless I’m surrounded by books.”

While it’s true that some books can put you to sleep, books are also know to add warmth and sophistication to any decor.

Design icon Billy Baldwin loved books, and said: “Books are the best decoration.” Books are easy to decorate with. Just stack them all over the room for an instant, lived-in look. I have even topped a stack of books with a piece of glass and used them as an end or occasional table. Books are very versatile.


Many interior designers recognize the character that books add to a room. The simplest way to incorporate books to a room is by adding shelving systems and loading them with your favorite tomes. Another more permanent way to decorate with books is to have custom cabinetry built. A more formal way to display and store your books are in antique bookcases.

Of course the grandest way to store your books is in a dedicated room or space. When room is no object, a home library is the way to go. Some may consider it a luxury, but it can be a great space for reading, contemplation and meditation. If you lack a dedicated space, consider introducing books into your living room, dining room or even your bedroom. Books can bring a room back to life.

Bookcases can remedy architectural shortcomings or mistakes. Bookcases can camouflage an oddly placed door or window and can also give a room symmetry and balance when using a pair of shelves. You can also place a shelf within a nook or corner of a room to maximize your use of space.

Keep in mind that bookcases can be any shape. They can be tall and skinny or short and stout. They can line an entire room or just one wall out of your room. Bookcases can also be built around a window or flanking a doorway.

Bookcases are more interesting when filled with more than just books. Bookcases can be mixed in with sculptures and art to create a virtual living tableaux. Be both creative and cautious in order to avoid a cluttered look.

Bookcases can also be used to divide a large room into smaller, more livable spaces. For depth, you may choose to paint the back of your bookcase or mirror the back wall of your bookcase for some sparkle and to make the room appear larger.

Don’t be afraid to hang art or mirrors above a bookcase for a layered look. This layering is quite interesting, especially in more traditional settings. Books can also help to tame the color of most rooms.

Decorating with books needn’t be bookish, just let it happen, almost haphazardly. Books make rooms feel special and will always keep your from being bored or uninformed.

• Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida.

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