How to style with books when selling your house

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“A room without books is like a body without a soul”  Quote: Marcus Tullius Cicero

I love books (and love even more that I’m married to a bookseller) and always use books when I’m staging. I find it hard to describe but a house is missing something without books – soul, heart, warmth. Call it what you will.

So, I thought for this post I’d share some ideas on how to style with books, particularly if you are preparing your house to sell.

First up – what books to use?

For me, everything I do stems from the question “who is the most likely buyer?” Once you get clear on this you will know what books to use. For example: To sell a high end unit appealing to semi retired downsizers – Golf, yachting, travel, business and interiors would all work. For a young family, kids books, cookery and modern fiction would fit the bill.

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When you think of books – don’t forget magazines. They work in the same way. What would you expect in a beautifully styled $1m+ house? Vogue Living or Better homes and Gardens? Remember, everything communicates.

Hardback is generally better than paperback, especially for coffee tables. Dust jacket old and grubby? Then just take it off. THE best place to get books for free is your local library. You can go armed with a list: 3 coffee table books on travel, 5 red cookery books etc. You don’t have to like the books, they are just there to make potential buyers think “this house is for me, I could live here”

Colour is important. If I’m styling a blue and white bedroom for example I will use a toning book for the bedside table in blue or a contrasting pop of yellow or orange.

Book Shelves

Book shelves look best with a mix of books, art and accessories – not just books. Keep the look light and not too cluttered. Style books in groups vertically and horizontally. Accessories can then be placed next to or on top of the books. Keep standing back and looking at the shelves as you go. Your aim is an edited but interesting balance.

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Coffee Table

Keep your largest ‘coffee table’ books for your coffee table. Group in piles then add plants/flowers and accessories around and on top of them. Play around with different ideas as the books under the glass dome show. Nothing’s permanent. If you don’t like it change it round until you do.

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Entrance tables and consoles.

The entrance table is usually the first item of furniture a prospective buyer will see when they enter your house. Give them a great first impression with books, lamps and some greenery. See how effective it is when the metal globe is placed on a pile of books?

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A couple of relevant books or magazines on a desk always look good. Try to stay away from your old college accountancy books  – keep it aspirational!  If you have low cupboards in your office then small piles of books along the top (as below) look fantastic.

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Bedside Tables

I love to use books on bedside tables. Keep away from all the usual taboos (sex, religion, politics and sport!) and think about what your most likely buyer may be reading. You might not think this matters but is does. Buyers make all sorts of subconscious judgements when they look around a house. Make sure they’re making good judgements about your house.  The vignette below is a perfect example. Again see how the clock is placed on top of the books – a much used  but effective styling trick.

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You can use books to style your mantelpiece. I think the bottom picture is really pretty but is moving into over styled territory when selling (although it would look lovely in a cottage). With staging to sell, less is often more.

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Children’s Room

I think everyone likes to see beautiful story books in a kid’s room. Children’s books are often works of art in themselves and look great facing outwards as part of the decor. Use a storage box, gallery rails (available from IKEA) or even painted guttering as below. Books as art.

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I like to use books in every room of the house (with the exception of the bathroom – no books or magazines here please!) This includes the kitchen where cookery books can add much needed colour. I sometimes open a cookery book on a stand to add some height/interest on the counter top. I open it to a recipe I think my most likely buyers would like to cook and eat. (yes, I really do go this far!) Only do this if it feels natural. As regular readers will know, I have a fear of over styling. When selling your house you don’t want it to look obviously styled – you just want it to feel like a lovely place to live. As with all things – it’s a balance.

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Finally I wanted to share how books can add colour. The first is a popular although impractical styling trick – turning the spines inwards to give a lovely neutral texture. The second organises by colour and the third takes just one book in a matching colour to work alongside  artwork and an accessory. Simple yet very effective.

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I hope this post has given you some ideas as to how to style with books, especially if selling your house. I’ll leave the last word to Horace Mann:

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I’m Imogen Brown a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you are preparing to sell your house and need styling advice, give me a call on 0432 994 056 or contact me through my website

You might also like to read:

Styling your coffee table to help sell your house

Styling your kitchen to help sell your house

4 thoughts on “How to style with books when selling your house

  1. Nice blog. Will certainly use the tips when I do the property styling! Keep blogging

  2. Donna Roberts says:

    Brilliant blog Imogen. Saving this one for future reference 🙂 Donna

    1. ib69 says:

      Thanks Donna. Glad you found it useful ?

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