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Welcome to my Maker's blog, where I feature my own unique creative projects. I'm eight years out from breast cancer and counting my blessings.

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to Restyle Books to Look Like Vintage Decor Part 1

Here's a phone photo of this project. Look how neat these old books are. But they're not old...I made them look this way. Read on!

I love books. My whole family loves books! I have 9 bookshelves full in my house and that's after I thinned them down! So I decided to take the situation in hand and make them a pretty part of my decor.

So here's what I did....I remade them with paper, paint, hot glue, Mod Podge and imagination. Now I can have the elegant vibe of beautiful vintage books on all my shelves. Not only was this inexpensive and clever but I can still read the books. Win win!

Look at these fine vintage volumes...they definitely look like some jewel toned editions from the library of an elegant estate, right?  

I don't know about you but these are reminding me of some collector's editions of the Harry Potter books, lol! But they all started out as ordinary hard back books of various ages and styles. I LOVE the way they look now!

Here's what you need to get started on restyling your own books.....

1. Various printed papers. I prefer tissue paper and printed napkins for their beautiful designs. Scrapbook paper works too although it is thicker and takes more time to dry.

2. Hot glue, Mod Podge and glue sticks. 

3. Acrylic craft paint in compatible colors to dry brush and "age" your books. You can also use scrapbook chalks to age the edges.

4. Small scrapbook embellishments, jewelry charms and stickers as you wish.

5. Clear acrylic sealer spray in matte. Gloss finish is too shiny for me but it is your choice.

Here is a collection of tissue papers and napkins I pulled out of my stash. I am ALWAYS on the lookout for beautiful printed paper for my projects. 

On some of my books I added several lines of hot glue to give the illusion of hand stitched bindings. This gives the spines a bit of character and adds fun detail. Don't worry if your hot glue isn't perfectly even since hand binding does not always appear perfect. You want the look of an antique, hand sewn book spine!

Here is a book with the first layer of paper. I will add more paper til I like the way it looks and the paper has totally hidden the color of the original cover. Note the margins of loose paper hanging over the edge. 

I tear the tissue in large pieces and keep the straight edges for the outside of the book. I crinkle it up tightly before Mod Podging it to the book cover, then I straighten it out. Smooth it over the Mod Podge leaving about 1" margin hanging off all the edges.The crinkled tissue gives a wonderful  texture like old leather to your upstyled book. I LOVE how it looks! The tissue and napkins I use are VERY fragile when wet so I only put the Mod Podge on the book and not on the paper. If you are using paper napkins, REMEMBER to peel off the plain paper backing and only use the printed layer. If you do not do this your napkin will peel off in an ugly way. Don't ask me how I know this.

IF you are using scrapbook paper you can brush the back of the paper with Mod Podge as well as the book cover. The scrapbook paper is thicker and not as fragile as the tissue and napkins I used in this post. The thicker paper will take longer to dry so take note.

Here is the same book shown above with multiple layers of paper.  I use the glue stick on the inside edges of the cover and fold the 1" margins over nice and neat. Then I use a complimentary color of craft paint and dry brush all the edges, spine and corners for a vintage finish. I faked in some binding lines, too, since I didn't use the hot glue trick on this book. Now this plain black book is a "hand bound antique" and it's looking good!

Here I've used tissue paper printed in gold damask and layered it with more tissue that is printed with cursive writing. Notice how authentic the hot glue "binding lines" look once they are covered with tissue. I have used metallic gold craft paint on all the edges and on the label. I followed up with a very light dry brush with black paint. So pretty!

Here is a combination of two damask print papers that I crumpled, Mod Podged and layered. Again, I used black craft paint to dry brush the spine and the edges. I love the drama of damask prints.

Here's a row of finished books. I had the labels on hand and I think now that some steam punk type embellishments would be perfect for this project. Miniature skeleton keys, gears, watch faces... I know I have some of them in my stash, I need to pull them out!

Here is a stack of books done with the blue printed napkins and damask printed tissue in the photo above. Just gorgeous! I use this color alot in my decor.

 See the plain blue books in the pile?

In part 2 I will show you how to make these "plain" painted books using tissue paper, Mod Podge, craft paint and Elmer's glue. This technique is also inexpensive, clever and easy and you can make your mismatched books look like collectible antiques in any color you desire. Stay tuned!

As promised, here is Part 2.


Have fun!


  1. I love this and I am going to try it...thank you.


  2. The books turned out really well- I can't wait to give it a try! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. What a neat idea! Love it! Can't wait for part 2 ♥

  4. Interesting. Do you keep a list of books with paint color or other code which tells you which is which so you CAN read them again? I get lost hunting an Austen or Where Did I Put That Poirot? in plainly-marked shelves.

    Our HPB had two four-foot trees in the store this year, stacked of diagonaled books. They were obviously from the remainders shelves, for you could read the titles through the light haze of white spray paint.


  5. I love the way these look! Thanks for sharing the glue technique...I might try it on other things, too. :)

  6. Okay, I'm still dreaming, these are awesome and they do have a steam punky, Harry Potter style to them. You provide so many little tips and tricks. The hot glue binding tip is awesome. They are all gorgeous, pinning ~ Amy

  7. I've been looking for ways to make books look older. Thank you for the wonderful blog post!

  8. Excellent! I can't wait to try this technique!

  9. Is there a Part 2? Your work is stunning!

    1. Yes! I have added a link to Part 2 at the bottom of my post. But here it is for you, too. https://makethebestofthings.blogspot.com/2014/01/make-vintage-style-books-part-2-with.html


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