Use vintage books to construct useful and decorative items for the home

Ian Harvey
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Old books that are not collectors’ items can be beautiful things in their own right. A growing trend is to upcycle them, either the whole book or just the stunning, sturdy covers.

Here is a collection of ideas you may want to try if you have just the book for it.

9. Create bookmarks from old book spines

Select book spines with the lovely muted coloring and decorations that older books tended to have.

Bookmarks Photo Credit


Bookmarks Photo Credit


Bookmarks Photo Credit

Carefully cut them off the book and tidy up the edges. You can punch a hole in the top to attach a ribbon, and there you have a handful of unique and antique-looking bookmarks.

8. Create a lamp stand from a pile of old books

To do this, you need a lamp kit and a lamp shade, some tools, and about eight hardcover books.

Stack the books into however a tidy or untidy stack you require and measure the lamp’s threaded rod against the pile to be sure the rod pokes up an inch above the last book.

Lamp, Pitcher, and Vintage Books Photo Credit

Drill a hole through each book individually. On the base book, you need to cut out a channel for the lamp’s cord to be hidden inside so that it matches the width and thickness of the cord.

Run the lamp rod through the books and screw the top book down to the next book. Assemble the top of the lamp and, voila! Done, and now you have a unique lamp stand.

7. Make a vintage book purse

Vintage book handbag Photo Credit


Vintage book handbag Photo Credit



Vintage book handbag Photo Credit


Vintage book handbag Photo Credit

Take out the pages of the book and line the covers and spine with a heavy-duty material, being sure it is long enough to use for the sides of the purse when the covers are closed.

Hot glue the material to the cover. Add handles of your choice and a clasp to keep the purse shut if you wish. Now you have an unusual handbag that will be the envy of all.

6. Make a vintage e-book reader cover.

A bit like the old days when we used to hide books we wanted to read inside an old book cover, this has a modern twist as it covers an e-book reader instead.

Take out the pages from the selected book. On the back cover, add elastic at an angle on each corner.

Homemade Kindle Case Photo Credit


Homemade Kindle Case Photo Credit


Homemade Kindle Case Photo Credit

This is what will hold your e-reader in place, so make sure those diagonal strips of elastic are attached firmly to the book cover.

5. Turn your old book into a new journal

Remove the pages of your old book carefully, and remove the cover of your journal too.

Journals Photo Credit

Glue the stack of pages into its new home inside the old cover. It’s as easy as that. If you like, you can keep a few of the old pages at the front and back of the old book for novelty sake.

4. A succulent planter in an old book

Find a plastic or glass container of the correct width and depth that will fit into your book.

Cut out a hole in the cover and through the pages of text so that the container will sit snuggled inside the book. Glue the pages down that remain.

Book Planters Photo Credit

Slip in the planter container and plant a small succulent. Top it off with glass beads, fancy stones, or a handful of gravel. Use a succulent, as these don’t need much watering. Place your planter on a bookshelf.

3. Make a bookshelf from an old book

Select your old book and glue the pages shut. Attach a wall bracket to the back of the book and attach the assembly to the wall where you want your small but tidy unique shelf.

An overly organized bookshelf. Photo Credit

Different size books will give you different lengths and widths of shelving for your odds and ends.

2. Create a lamp shade out of your old book

You can only use very low wattage bulbs for this lamp shade, as the bulb sits inside the pages.  Anything higher than a 15w bulb may cause some charring and fire, so do be careful.

Find a large old book and cut out a rectangular shape from the middle of the spine into the depth of the book, large enough to generously accommodate a light bulb.

A lampshade Photo Credit

Mount a bulb holder on the wall after inserting the metal plate into the spine of the old book. Drill a hole right through the book about an inch from the openable edge of the cover, top, and bottom, and through all the pages. A wire goes in here, so the book will lay open with the pages fanned along the wire. This book lamp you can place flat on a shelf or hang on a wall.

1. Turn the book pages into a paper vase

Paper vase Photo Credit

Draw half your intended vase shape on a sheet of cardboard, this being your template. Open an old book and hold the flat edge of the template against the seam of the book; mark out the design on the paper. Slice through the layers of pages.

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Remove the cover of the book and fold the book backward; with a glue gun, glue the last pages together like you would a Christmas paper lantern. Display the paper vase on a shelf.