Prometheus Bound Books

Interior design and the bound book

by Marie Stevens
20 November 2009

Complement,  contrast or the book as an object of focal interest?  When books are bound beautifully they become decorative objects in their own right.

Whatever the motive for a book display, the result will create a decorative impression and say something about you and your taste. If new bindings are carefully selected and positioning given thought, one or more bound books can enhance and personalize a room scheme.

A row of books bound in the same colour can heighten a minimal interior, particularly when matching or toning shades are used. Texture can be varied – smooth leather, shiny patent, embossed fabric – all create a different atmosphere. Spine detailing can be exploited, silver, gold or even coloured to echo the highlights of a room, with perhaps that colour picked out in several, randomly spaced, bindings.

A ‘Gustavian’ decor featuring  distressed furniture in a mixture of grey, off white and pale cream  lends itself to a well thought out display of bound books. In these room schemes the message is softer and book displays can reflect the frequently chosen mixed colours in soft furnishings. In such rooms, bindings should not be too pale but should act as a contrast to the uniformity of colour found in the furniture. A more eclectic selection of bindings would give personality to a room designed in this popular style. Deep red bindings would be effective as would blue, green and burgundy. This design style would be improved by mixing books in their normal bindings with a set of bound books (each set bound in a particular coloured binding). Informality could be demonstrated by positioning the books both vertically and horizontally.

A traditional drawing room would be a barren space without books.  The care one takes with the decor, soft furnishings, paintings, ornaments and photographs should also also be applied to the display of one’s books. Rows and rows of paperbacks (however neatly aligned) may  detract from a room which has had an enormous amount of time (and money) lavished on it. Books  tell the story of who you are and where your interests lie. The arrangement and books themselves can and will be eclectic – a matter of personal taste. However the bindings can tell a story and relate to the ambiance of the room. If your taste lies in the great libraries of the past then you may wish to bind many shelves in the same binding; the uniformity of this approach is pleasing to the eye and individualism can be demonstrated in the choice of material and colour used in the binding. A conservative approach to uniform shelves can hide a surprising content on a closer look; shelves of pink or scarlet patent leather bindings or azure blue or purple “lizard” can reflect the furnishings of a room and will certainly make a statement about your personality. Conversely, shelves of brightly coloured bound books, arranged geometrically, can provide a focal point in much the same way as a striking painting would. A “shabby chic” approach will fail if the books displayed look more shabby than chic. To succeed, this look needs care and a few bound books interspersed with a mixed collection of existing bindings will save the scheme if carefully chosen. Groups of bound books in complementary colours (dark grey, dark blue or burgundy for example) will show that care (but not too much) has been taken. Remember that books are frequently displayed in prominent places in a drawing room and as such will catch the eye almost before anything else in the room.

If you only want to bind one or two books to enhance an existing scheme then make sure that the books  you select (if they are to be displayed singly) are of a reasonable size to stand out and choose an eye catching binding. Smaller bound books are better displayed in sets of two or three. The pile of books on the coffee table can also be enhanced (and appear more cohesive) by the placing of one or two bound books interspersed with the otherwise often random selection. Here the binding should be chosen in much the same way as cushions and curtains are selected – to give personality to their surroundings by way of an acceptable level of contrast without introducing an entirely new look.

The design options for including bound books are endless. Almost every room in a house, or office, can be improved by the inclusion of books in carefully chosen bindings.

If you would like advice on binding one special book, creating a design scheme where bound books will complete the look or rebinding your whole library, we are here to help. So do please contact us and we will be delighted to advise you.

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Delivery times from order: Domestic (UK): 3 weeks; Worldwide: 4 weeks