Novel Ideas: Books as Furniture & Functional Décor


Unloved and unwanted, millions of books are sent to landfills when their text is no longer valuable in itself; the glue in the spine makes them difficult to recycle. But shift their function from repositories for words and pictures to physical building blocks for furniture and décor, and suddenly they once again become desirable objects. These 14 bookcases, stools, lamps, vases, counters and even planters give old books a new life.

Counters & Desks


(images via: the design files, inhabitat)

Stacked and covered with a countertop, books make a surprisingly strong – and beautiful – basis for a desk or counter.  Bookstore Brunswick Bound in Melbourne built a relatively small one, while Delft University went big and colorful for the front desk of its architectural library. The books in the latter were actually salvaged when a devastating fire in the Architecture building destroyed most of the library. The salvaged books represent a physical and metaphoric link to the building’s past.

Invisible Book Shelf


(images via: maydecemberhome)

Invisible book shelves are a fun way to display books on the wall, but look for a tutorial so you can DIY, and you’ll find that most of them require the destruction of the book that will form the base of the shelf. The blog May December Home Accessories uses simple L-brackets to achieve the same look without sacrificing any books.

Books as Planters


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As planters, it hardly seems as if books would hold water (literally). But Italian company Gartenkultur specially modifies unwanted books of all sorts, drilling holes into them and sealing the inside of the ‘pot’ with an insulating material. Considering that paper comes from trees, using books as pots for bonsais seems like an especially poetic way to allow books to ‘get back to their roots’.

Book Shelves by Jim Rosenau



(image via: eco-artware, verdelivre)

Jim Rosenau collects thousands of old hardback books, saving them from dumpsters and library discard piles and transforming them into functional furniture. His work ranges from simple wall-mounted shelves created using 3-5 books to large six-tiered bookcases.

Book Vases, Lamp & Stool by Laura Cahill



(images via: dezeen)

Delicate and ephemeral-looking, these books will long outlast the outdated text on their pages in their new lives as vases, lamps and a stool. Laura Cahill uses a band saw and traditional book-binding methods, creating three-dimensional forms from the cut pages. The pages that form the lantern-like vases are formed around a test tube to create a functional piece, while the stool was created by bolting books together along with wood that forms the legs.

Paperback Chair


(images via: casasugar)

This weird one-of-a-kind chair was made entirely from recycled and reclaimed materials including scrap metal for the frame and paperback books from the discard bins at the local library. Made by artist David Karoff for Providence, RI’s Myopic Books, the paperback chair is definitely an eye-catching piece, though its comfort may be in question.

Hanging Décor from Vintage Books


(image via: rpscissors)

Throwing a party for a book lover? Try your hand at some beautiful hanging décor made from vintage books. Cut into shapes and fanned out into three-dimensional forms, this unusual ‘chandelier’ made by NYC event décor & prop resource {found} vintage rentals was a great choice for a themed bridal shower.

Stacks as Side Tables


(image via: real simple)

Using books as furniture and décor doesn’t get much simpler than this. Real Simple Magazine highlights a low-key, stress-free organized home wherein a large book collection is kept visible and accessible in stacks around the room, but also functions as side tables.

Literary Lamp


(image via: thrifty fun)

Craftily-cut pages aren’t the only way to turn old books into a lamp. Using a lamp kit or recycled lamp parts and a drill bit that’s slightly larger than the pole used to support the lamp, a stack of books can form a totally custom library lamp.

Couch Made of Books


(image via: shelterpop)

In the movie Paper Man starring Jeff Bridges, a couch made of books made a memorable appearance. Bridges’ character, an author frustrated both with his work and the ugly couch in his living room, built a sofa using unsold copies of his last novel. The same concept – using any old books you can find, and a roll of tape – could easily be duplicated as a DIY project.



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The Bibliochase is a cozy chair and a bookcase in one, making it easy to sit back, relax, read a book and pick up another when you’re done. While it’s not exactly recycling or reusing books in any way, it does cut back on the amount of furniture you need to purchase, which is especially helpful for small-space living.