Good morning everyone, I hope you’ve had a lovely week enjoying what sunshine there was. Today’s blog is the first in our new mini series Vintage and Thrifty Styling for the Home and to begin, I’m focusing on books and china. I have a great deal of both which I love to use when I’m styling anywhere in my home. As we go through today’s post, keep in mind that you may not have exactly what I use. What you will have though, is something very similar somewhere in your home. Something that after today’s inspirational post will have you looking at your own treasures in a different light. So get yourself a drink, put your feet up and let’s get started shall we?
If you have books, you have a styling base to build on. I particularly enjoy the height books give to another decorative item; maybe a photo in a frame or a small jug with flowers. Here I’m showing a part of my collection of gorgeous coffee table books stacked with a pretty charity shop china jug and colourful sweetpeas from the garden. You will often find this sort of arrangement in our home. This type of thrifty display brightens up an undecorated corner of any room in a home.
And in this next shot we see a selection of more beautiful hardback books this time teamed up with the sweetest shallow dish, again found in a local charity shop. This versatile dish serves many a purpose in our home. It’s been used in the bathroom to house dainty soaps, in the sitting room as a base for beautiful candles and by my bedside keeping jewellery safe for the night. For this simple arrangement a few homegrown flower heads are all that’s needed to complete the look.
And just for a minute can we talk about my collection of coffee table books please. I love them and they always make me happy whether I’m reading them or decorating with them. They move from place to place generally in the sitting room and our hallway which is serving as a temporary dining room until the renovations start. I never put them away on a bookshelf. No, no, if I did that I would forget to look at them and therefore forget all the wonderful inspiration they give. I don’t know if that is one of the gifts age provides us with. Years ago a book to me was something you read or something you looked at. These days books inspire me, they offer happiness and they serve as a good prop for pretties.
Clearly I’m a Rachel Ashwell fan. I have only purchased one of the three books above from a high street book shop. The others and many more books in my collection, were bought second-hand from various sellers on Amazon and at charity shops and even a recent Brocante. The most I have ever paid for a second-hand book online is £12 when its original cost would have set me back £25. On one occasion I simply had to pay pennies for postage and an Atlanta Bartlett Easy Elegance hardback was mine. I truly hope the sale worked for the seller; it certainly made me very happy.
Friends often ask if I’m worried if second-hand books will be clean. A quick wipe over with a cloth dipped in a solution of lemon essential oil and water, leaves my new treasures both clean and smelling fresh. I’ve only once had a minor problem with a secondhand book. A beautiful french book A Romance with French Living by Caroline Westbrook arrived with two pages missing. This meant I didn’t get the entire story…frustrating but not the end of the world; I made up my own ending which was quite alright by me. I’m very happy to think of someone else having loved these books before me. It makes me wonder about another life they once had. So, if you have books and a pretty dish, you have a beautiful display waiting to happen.
Using odd numbers, when grouping anything together works well. It’s a tip I apply to most things decorative. The next photo shows different books used to add height again. These beautiful French books bought at a recent Country Brocante were £2 each and the pretty floral cup and saucer found at an antique fair was just £5. I’ll let you do the maths; I’m more than happy with both investments.
I also use my books upright with different ornaments. Just keep moving them around your home, change them up and enjoy a new look. In the next photo the books have teamed up with a ‘free’ box that once housed an expensive wine generously given to us at a supper party. For sometime the box held kindling by our fire, then one day I saw it in a different light. I love this gold cream jug and sugar bowl together. Firm favourites of mine, I bought them separately, on different shopping trips and they complement one another well. At £2 each I was very pleased. Again, an inexpensive grouping provides another look to brighten up a windowsill.
Here’s that gold and cream sugar bowl again, this time paired with a different china jug. The book on top was a skip find and the tonal green book beneath, a car boot treasure.
The next photo features the box again, this time with a different choice of books. A styling and vintage blog which I love to follow is Little Vintage Nest and Sarah has a book painting and styling tutorial which I followed to paint a 20p car boot sale hardback book. The original navy book was no great looker nor was it a literary masterpiece. I painted it in my favourite chalk pink paint by Laura Ashley. Then I teamed it up with vintage books from my collection and I have another beautiful display. I love the pop of colour it brings to my sitting rooms’ pink and grey colour scheme. Remember if you recreate this look, it doesn’t have to be with a box, it could be a tray or even a shallow basket. Just work with what you have and try to see your ‘stuff’ in a different light.
If you keep following my blog you’ll see many more old and beautiful books used to show off pretty vintage and thrifty finds. For this week though I’ll leave you with this charming little story. One day in the early part of this year, Mr M chanced upon a skip full of ‘rubbish’. On closer inspection he found a pile of old books he thought I might like to paint. With the owner’s permission he took the books and brought them home to me. Some women get flowers I get skip finds… he knows what makes me happy. The books sat in the garage for quite a while until one day I decided to take a closer look. Imagine my delight when I saw many of these musty old books dated back to the early 1900’s and several of them contained handwritten inscriptions. Some are well-known classics and others simply very old and beautiful novels. One is a turn of the century cookery book and yet another, an Elizabeth Craig gardening book. Definitely not books for painting. Each one a piece of history in itself. And for me one book in particular, the highlight of this haul. A timeless fairy tale book. A book which I can only imagine brought joy to children of the past…Just sometimes the book itself gets to be the star of the show.