10 Creative & Crafty Ways to Decorate With Vintage Books

Get those dusty old books off of your shelf with these creative upcycling crafts that give your home decor a literary spin.

Published October 23, 2023

We’ve all made the mistake of running through a thrift store and throwing stuff into a cart with the best intentions, only to have the stuff collecting dust in the corner of a room for months. So if you picked up one or two vintage books too many, don’t panic. There are a ton of ways you can use your vintage books for decoration that'll be pure poetry in your home.

Make & Frame Blackout Poetry Using the Old Pages


If you’re more of a words person than a crafty person, blackout poetry is the perfect way to put some vintage books to use. Blackout poetry involves taking a page and literally blacking out portions of the words to create a whole new poem. In a way, it’s a metaphor for the entire upcycling process; stripping things back to create something fresh.

Once you’ve torn and blacked out a few pages from the old books collecting dust, get a few cheap frames and hang them. HomeGoods would definitely charge a whole lot more than what they cost to make.  

Take a Magical Turn by Crystalizing the Books

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If you’ve never heard of crystallization, it’s the incredible scientific process that leads to entirely whimsical results. You can crystallize just about anything that you can soak in a bucket or tub for a couple of days.

Upcycle one of your old vintage tomes using TikToker blair.boylee’s recipe. Just fold the pages into an arrangement you like and soak it for a few days in warm water and a couple of cups of borax. After a short time, you can pull the glittering book out. It’s an enchanting way to transform vintage books if you’ve got a witchy altar table or have an overall fantasy aesthetic.

Use Them for a Floral Centerpiece

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If you’re in a crafting mood and one of the side tables in your living room is looking appallingly naked, try TikToker athome.with.you’s one-day upcycling book transformation. Use a little Mod Podge to secure the first few pages on the front and back together and then cut out a rectangle from the remaining pages.

Fill the hole with green foam and arrange fake flowers throughout by sticking their stems into the material. And if you’re feeling extra, you can add all sorts of other accoutrements, like feathers and trim. Set it up with the cover open to reveal a beautiful upcycled floral centerpiece.

Turn Vintage Hardcover Spines Into Bookmarks

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A lot of the ways that people use vintage books for decoration involve tearing out the pages, but that leaves so many spines and covers left for the landfill. If you’ve got a few old hardbacks that you’ve already torn into for parts, cut away the spine and hot glue or Mod Podge a backing to the exposed area. You can use fabric, cardboard, scrapbooking paper, etc.

Then, use an awl to punch a hole in the top and string some ribbon through it. Voila! You’ve got a brand-new bookmark made from the parts of an old book.

Make Acrylic Box Snow Globes With Old Paper Confetti

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For a while there, acrylic boxes with holes in them for you to put notes, shells, or other keepsakes were everywhere. Turn the elder millennial fad on its head by getting one of these acrylic boxes and filling it with vintage paper confetti.

To make the confetti, simply take a hole punch (preferably one with the rubber bits that capture the paper) and punch out a lot of holes. And we mean a lot. Then pour them into the slot, and watch them cling to the sides in a cool, eco-friendly snow globe kind of way.

Cover Vintage Books' Spines With Matching Wallpaper


If you’re a wallpaper truther (and wow does the topic give some Gen X and Baby Boomers flashbacks), take some of that leftover peel-and-stick wallpaper and stick it to the covers of those old books. It’ll be an awesome callback to the 60s and 70s when the wallpaper matched the sheets, and the rugs, and the lampshades.  

Use the Binding to Make Cute Notebook Covers

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One way you can show off your upcycling talents to the world is by converting a few vintage books into custom-made notebooks. Pen & Pink Vintage’s TikTok has an awesome peek into the process. Cut away the spines, mark where you want the holes to go on the pages and covers, and use a hold punch (industrial works really well here) to make the holes. Then snap book rings or feed coil bindings through the holes, and you’re done!

Make a Diorama in the Hollowed-Out Pages


If you’d like to keep the general book aesthetic but want to add a little something special to it, select one of the larger hardbacks and cut out a section of the majority of the pages. You should end up with a good hollowed-out bit.

From there, use your favorite literary scenes as inspiration and make a miniature replica inside the pages. From cozy dinners to battling dragons, the ideas are up to you.

Have a Lot of Vintage Books? Make a Collage


The collage is a seriously underrated art form. Slapping a few torn pieces of paper onto a board does not a collage make. Instead, you can methodically arrange different images and quotes in a way that tells a story or communicates a feeling.

To start, sift through the piles of vintage books you have and tear out the pages that catch your eye. Then, cut or rip into the pages to have disjointed pieces to put together in a larger artwork. From there, you can glue or pin the pieces onto a myriad of backing materials (cardboard, corkboard, canvas, and so on).  

Don’t be afraid to use other things to build out your collage! Take whatever crafty materials you’ve got lying around and see if they fit your collage’s narrative. Then, pick a spot and get to hanging!

Use Old Pages as Canvas for Art Projects

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Just browse through a website like Etsy, and you’ll find thousands of examples of watercolor illustrations painted onto sheet music or old pages from books. Instead of forking over 20 to 30 bucks on a single print, why not make your own?

If you have some vintage books on hand, thumb through them for the perfect pages. Then sketch out something that speaks to you. It could relate to the book, it might be an abstract piece full of color and shadow, or it could be something else entirely. Be sure to frame your finished work so you can hang it for all your guests to see!

Make Like a Magician and Upcycle Vintage Books


Some people look at a vintage book and see something worth passing up on at the thrift store, while others use their creative eye to envision all the decorative possibilities that lie within. Take a walk on the creative side this year, and spend an afternoon transforming an old book into something new.

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10 Creative & Crafty Ways to Decorate With Vintage Books