For avid readers, altering a book’s cover or pages in any way may feel sacrilegious. But do you really honor your books by letting them accumulate dust on the shelves?
If you feel like putting your books to use after you’ve read them (maybe more than once), then give these creative, beautiful, functional projects a try. Even if your home bookshelves aren’t packed to the gills, you can check out the collections at used bookstores and still take advantage of all the benefits these DIY projects have to offer. And don’t worry: A few of these projects actually keep all the beloved pages intact.
Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover: Give Your Old Books New Life
What could be more fitting? Keep your place in a new book with a bookmark made from an old book. Simply cut the material off the binding of a hardcover book, punch a hole near the top, and attach some pretty ribbon or string—then never lose your place again.
These creative DIY candleholders make for pretty centerpieces at virtually any type of gathering. Cut out individual pages from old books, and then cut the shapes of your choice (such as diamonds or butterflies) into the pages. After some measuring, secure the pages around mason jars. When you light a candle inside the jar, the pages create a soft glow that illuminates the cut out shapes. Follow detailed instructions here.
This unique timekeeper possesses both distinguished form and useful function. Start with a hardcover book, a clock kit, clock kit numbers, a utility knife, and a power drill. Cut a hole into the book to make room for the clock kit, then drill a hole through the cover so the clock mechanism pokes through the front of the book. Assemble the clock, attach numbers to the cover, and you’ve got yourself a gift (or a personal timepiece) that’ll have everyone talking. Find full instructions at Art of Manliness.
These pretty coat hangers will have guests talking the minute they walk in your door. Turn dust-collecting books into a fully functional coat rack by attaching colorful books to a piece of scrap wood, adhering coat hangers, then attaching the whole thing to your wall. Follow detailed instructions at Knick of Time.
Perfect to rest your books on top of, this stack-of-books end table is an easy way to repurpose great reads. Form the table pedestal or legs with similarly sized books, create a top from the material of your choice, and attach all the pieces together. Follow detailed instructions here.
Put unread books to good use—and create a new home for knickknacks—by making ”floating” bookshelves. Simply attach shelving brackets to a wall and place the books sideways on top of the brackets (one book per bracket). Use hardcover books for maximum sturdiness.
Broadcast your bibliophilia in the bedroom with a new headboard made out of used books. Gather the books of your choice, size a piece of wood to your specifications, nail each book to the wooden backboard, and attach the board to the bed or wall. Find detailed instructions at Design Everyday. If you can’t bring yourself to hammer holes into books, decoupage an existing backboard with individual pages instead.
This one’s probably best for people who have some experience using a drill, but the payoff is worth it for anyone ambitious enough to give it a go. A stack of old hardcover books forms the base for this vintage-meets-modern lamp design. Find full instructions at HGTV.
Little Free Library
If you’re tired of your books collecting dust but don’t want to destroy them, consider making your own Little Free Library. Little Free Libraries are growing in popularity around the world. They are a way for community members to share favorite books with each other and bring the literary arts to the streets. Follow these instructions to build and maintain your own miniature library.
From cake toppers to paper flower magnets, jewelry, and paper shapes (such as butterflies or birds) in terrariums , the pages of old books can be turned into a variety of miniature decorations that make a big visual impact.
Display books in a personalized way by cutting them into monogrammed letters. Make one for your significant other, give them as gifts, or celebrate yourself by carving out a letter to represent your name. Design the letter on a computer, print out the design, and lay it on the book (much like a stencil). Then use a sharp utility knife to cut out the shape. Follow detailed instructions at Ashbee Design.
Use these pretty garlands to spruce up any festive gathering (or beautify a room in your house). They’re cheap and relatively easy to make, and they’ll put your books on display in a whole new way. Wrangle some used books, scissors, tape, and twine, and then follow these instructions at Project Wedding to make pinwheels, pennants, fringes, or other shapes of your choice.
Make a wreath fit for any season with a little help from books. In this case, the more discolored the book, the better—dark or faded areas will add visual texture to the wreath. Cut out pages from your books and roll each page before adhering it to a wreath form (you can purchase one at most craft stores). Take your time and choose the size and shape that works best for you. Find detailed instructions at My San Antonio.
Phone charger dock
Tired of cords cluttering tabletops? Make a distinguished phone charger stand with a few old hardcover books. This project requires some precision so the phone is properly balanced, but the clean designer look is worth the extra effort. Bonus: No more fretting over a lost charger. Find full instructions at Little Lovelies.
Here’s one for everyone who thinks it’s irreverent to cut up the inside of a book. Even once you’ve converted a book into a frame, the book remains completely readable. Choose an old hardcover book from your shelf or purchase a used one in whatever color you’d like to frame your photo. Collect a plastic page protector, a utility knife, masking tape, a pen or pencil, and a ruler. Cut a hole (sized to your photo) in the cover, attach the page protector to the back of the hole, and slide in your photo. Find full instructions at It’s Always Autumn.
The gift of words just keeps on giving with these book covers turned postcards. Start by removing the cover of a hardback book. Trim it to postcard size (use a regular postcard to measure out the correct size). The inside of the cover is now ready for your own words. Just be sure to leave room for the recipient’s address. If you want to get extra fancy, use a postcard stamp, as seen in these detailed instructions from I Am the Bee.
Terrariums are so last year. Instead of planting succulents in glass jars and bottles, use an old book to create a visually arresting planter. Cut out the center of the book, line the hole with parchment paper (to prevent water damage), fill it with potting soil, and plant two or three small succulents. Place the planter(s) in an area that receives lots of sunlight and use a squirt bottle to spray some water onto the roots about once a week. Find full instructions at Apartment Therapy.
Secret treasure boxes
Not just fodder for the imagination of eight year olds, boxes made from books are useful to stash goodies or valuables, and display tchotchkes. Simply start with a thick, hardcover book (ideally leather bound), bind the exposed pages together, and cut out the inside of the “box” using an X-acto knife. Then fill with treasures! Find detailed instructions at DIY Network.
This pretty flower vase looks more complicated to make than it actually is. Arrange four or five hardcover books of the same height side by side. Cut out the covers and pages of the middle books, then slide a container (such as a repurposed glass jar) into the hole. Fill it with flowers and leave your guests wondering how those books stay dry. Follow detailed instructions at Woman’s Day.
With a lot of ingenuity and a little effort, you can transform old books from dust collectors to showstoppers. Happy reading—or cutting, gluing, planting, and displaying.
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