Monday, May 7, 2012

Living with Antique Books

Through antique shows, brocantes and second hand shops, I have acquired a lovely collection of antique and vintage books. From rare bibles to Victorian paperbound garden journals, my collection is based on subject matter and, yes, the book cover. I do judge a book by its cover! Please forgive me, and accept my apology as I love to decorate with my books. Thank you :)

Living with books---what does that mean? To me, it means cherishing a book because I've immersed myself in the story, appreciated the viewpoint of the author, loved the images, admired it's aesthetic qualities, found it a great resource, etc., etc.

Here are some of my favorites:
 Antique vellum bound bibles & music sheet on Spanish trestle table
 Early 20th century vellum bound fictions
 Linen spines echoing the same bittersweet hue of a Swedish corner cabinet 
ABOVE: Antique French history books on Napoleonic France
 Hand blocked paperbound lovelies
 17th century scholarly manuscripts
  18th century law books on a Swedish Gustavian painted chest


  1. Just beautiful! Love that clock too. Your images are so well edited. Lovely post.

  2. The books are truly works of art. And there are a couple of pieces of furniture there that are making me swoon. Beautiful photos, Loi; thanks for sharing! All best, Phyllis

  3. Hello Loi....your collection of books is amazing! I adore those blue hand blocked papers and the vellum Bibles and the blue Swedish law books...I could go on and on. I have many, many books that I have collected over the years...but none of the quality that you have shown here. And now...the Swedish pieces you have shown are making my heart race! Thank you for sharing your books and these wonderful photos!

  4. Well loi, not only do I love your books I love what they are displayed in and on. Thanks for the follow, I think I will really enjoy your very neat blog

  5. Oh my goodness, Loi! ANother great post. Love love the books, and this makes me want to get back to sculpting so I can make bookends!
    What a lovely collection you have here, and the vehicles to hold them.
    Thank you for sharing.

  6. Hi friend! I was noticing your books in the store and meant to ask you about them. What a treasure to own such pieces of history. They are so beautiful. Your vignettes are also over the top gorgeous! Have a great week.

  7. Loi, this is so beautiful, both in aesthetics and in the concept of cherishing the content! Recently I found some hymnals that were being thrown out at my church because they were too rough to salvage. I got permission to take a few and removed certain hymns from each book that were my favorites as a child. The pages are a little yellow and creased, but I am going to have them framed. They bring back such good memories.

    Great post, as always-- so well put together! I'm finally feeling better, so I'll be going back through reading your posts that I missed. Talk to you again soon!


  8. Hi Loi,
    Great post as always.
    I love the expression' judge a book by it's cover'. It's hard not to isn't it.
    The books and glimpses of the books, give extra interest to your wonderful pieces of furniture.
    Hope you have a lovely day.

  9. Hi Loi, What a beautiful post!
    The images, the books, the furniture, the words, the sentiment - all of it - pure perfection.
    I have a house full of books - far too many in fact, and not enough shelves or book cases as yet to accommodate them! So some of them just sit in large piles until they find a home. But I love them all, and would never be without them. I love the look, the feel and the smell of books, and above all, I feel comfortable in a house full of them. When we first viewed Hill House where I now live, the owners didn't have a single book on display. There were no shelves, bookcases or hidden cupboards. Everything was immaculate, and one got the impression that this was a household denied the pleasure, thrill and romance of a good book. We've put this right since, but I've always thought that that was rather sad!
    Have a wonderful day amongst all of those gorgeous things! Paula x

  10. I love old books on display too. I have a collection of leather bound French book with hand marbled paper and a few were bound by my great-grandfather. Antique volumes of the classics are my go-to gift for my husband and he actually reads them. I love them because they are great to have lying around.

  11. Hi Loi,
    I have always been drawn to old books. There is something completely undervalued about just having them in a room. They add dimension and connection to the past and a reminder that no matter how far technology advances, some things cannot be improved upon.
    There is nothing like putting your hands on a book, sitting in a quiet nook and taking just a little time to "be".
    Thank you for the beautiful images, your vignettes are simple and elegant... as timeless as the content of the books themselves!

  12. Good morning Loi,
    The lovely books paired perfectly with the pretty tables and chairs. The pieces I keep scrolling back to look at are the marble topped table with the handsome swag/leaf carved skirt and the blue blocked books with the little side table....and all the seating! I love the lines of the linen arm chair with wheels and the stripped English chair has great color.

    A fantasy would be to have an empty house to fill and happen upon your shop!

  13. Beautiful books and gorgeous photos! I love all of the furniture as well! I especially like the books with the hand blocked covers! Those are wonderful! We have a lot of antique books in my shop and I truly adore them! Thanks for sharing these images….makes me want to re-decorate the shop today!

  14. Dear Loi,
    The exquisite images of your gorgeous books paired with your lovely pieces of furniture are a pleasure to behold. Thank you so much for sharing them.
    Best regards, Ruth

  15. Books really are gorgeous. The papers, the materials. I'm a sucker for a good binding paper, preferably Italian marbled. My husband collects books on subject but I do encourage his acquisitions on more superficial grounds! Antiquarians just can't be duplicated - just a wealth of knowledge and information that is lost in the e-reader era. I'm decidedly anti-e-reader!

  16. Everything is gorgeous. The books, furniture and how you displayed them are wonderful.

  17. What a beautiful post, Loi! To me, a bookless home seems to be empty, even though it might be full of other things. And I love making vignettes with antique books, the covers are a work of art which deserve to be displayed. Love the way you styled them on the antique pieces of furniture.

    Thanks, Loi!


  18. Dear Loi,
    Me too I love antique books! Love all the pictures here and the way you decorated the gorgeous furniture with books! Stunning!

  19. A beautiful post, beautiful books, beautiful furniture. I too collect books; many I have read or will read, but many -- like you -- for the beauty of the binding. I have some antique vellum books and some antique and vintage leather-bound books (some from my childhood) and some lovely hand-made books. I even have a book I made myself years ago in a bookbinding class. It was a fascinating process; I just wasn't that good. I love my books. I don't believe a home is complete without them. Thanks for your beautiful examples of how to incorporate them into a home setting in elegant and interesting ways.
    All the best...Victoria

  20. Hey Loi,the way you style your vignettes is inspired! You chose the perfect books for each piece of furniture! I love books - both to read and to simply enjoy looking at them, displayed on a shelf or desk. I don't have any really old ones like yours though - yours are stunning and look so well displayed on your Swedish pieces. Interestingly, a tourist (from the US) shopping at a market near me last Summer picked up a First edition Pride & Prejudice for a couple of euro!!! To think - it could have been me!! It just goes to show - you never know what treasure you'll find at markets etc. I really like the sound of your Victorian paper bound garden journals too, I must keep an eye out!


  21. Loi,
    As a new tone on tone follower, I want to add my praises to your eye for design and collecting. I too am a bibliophile! I look forward to watching your posts here as well as your pins. I am glad I found your blog!

    my view from 1502

  22. "No furniture so charming as books" Books have always been an abiding love, we have then in every room in the house. The collections you have shown are just stunning, both books and furniture. I found my way to your blog via 'Mrs Sutton' I am so glad I did.

  23. Loi, I think your old books are so lovely. I would like to have a few for my china cabinet, to break up the dishes. I have begun to look for some in my travels. I don't really like huge shelves of unused books, but I really love the look of 2 or 3 or a little series of 6 sitting around. They are so beautiful - when binding books was an art, and not an afterthought!! A beautiful old book is a visual and valid art form like any other.
    P.S. Have you sold your French landscapes? Are they posted on your shop website??!
    xo Terri

  24. You had me at hello. Vintage books, make my heart go pitty pat. I too, love to decorate with my books. And every room has to have some. Your pictures are stunning.

  25. I can't seem to resist a beautiful antique book!
    I am including to huge book shelves in my new office to house all of my favorites.
    This is a gorgeous post, Loi (as always :) )
    Those chunky beauties in the last picture are fabulous!

    xo xo

  26. What gorgeous books and the vignettes are stunning...adore the books with the blue scroll. Thrilled to be your newest follower!!

  27. I adore the old books and snap them up each and every time I am lucky enough to unearth them. There is little else that will make my heart race as much as seeing ruffle pages peeking out from under something else at a brocante. I walk away with them and know that I have a look of an excited child but could not care less!
    Beautiful post Loi!!!

  28. Gorgeous books! I am always looking for books and enjoy both the pages inside AND the covers! Do you take your own photos? They are amazing! xo

  29. So nice to be back home and to catch up on my favourite blogs:) I too love antique books especially books from my family...cookbooks, prayer books etc. You display them beautifully and I appreciate the reminder to give mine more room to breathe. Many thanks, Brenda.

  30. The Vellum bound books are gorgeous, with such tactile spines. They compliment your furniture wonderfully.

  31. Neat, post, Loi. Never apologize for judging a book by its cover. I once bought a book written in French because of its beautiful leather cover. It could be all about dissecting a cadaverous ground hog for all I know, but I still love it.

    Great job with your photos. Is your camera an expensive one on a tripod?

    1. Hi B - Mainly, I shoot with my very old "point and shoot" Nikon. I sometimes will use my Nikon digital D3000, professional but more mid level. Never a patience to set up. Thank you for asking!! L

  32. Loi, A lovely post filled with beautiful books that I am not privileged to see often. I especially like the blue hand blocked paper books. Your new shipment is beyond gorgeous! I am especially fond of the Swedish paint colors like the soft apricot color of the inside of the Swedish corner cabinet. I would just have to show that piece with the doors open. Your thoughtful eye has captured these lovely pieces in a most amazing light. Your new blog is easily my favorite read. I look forward with giddiness to your next post!

  33. Loi

    Another great post! I love that table in the second is so unusual. What is the provenance on it? Just lovely! Cindy

  34. Loi,

    Just have always been in love with books and magazines too. Such a great way to make them a huge part of design and great conversation starters at parties. Loving history as I do...I look for the story behind the art in all design and in people too.

    Thanks for your lovely comments at Ideezine I learn from you posts and am thrilled to come here and learn more.


  35. I'm so happy to have found you over at Powell Brower. What gorgeous images. And at my house, we all adore books!

  36. Wonderful post! You have the nicest furniture! Huge Blessings! Meranda

  37. SO pretty post:) Im happy you will bake my divine wont regret it haha:)
    Here in GBG its grey and its raining:( well Ill hope for better weather next weekend.
    Have a awesome weekend.

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis
    PS you never told me were your anique store were in Sweden...I might visit it:)

  38. Love your eye, Loi! the curves of your accessories, mirrors, etc. juxtaposed against your gorgeous Swedish geometric forms are stunning. and, of course, the books...well, what can I say...perfection?


  39. You are starting to piss me off.....a beautiful backyard AND some really swell old books. I can't take much more:)

  40. Drooling now. I love old books as well, and while mine are not fine antiques like yours, they are precious to me. I definitely choose books by their covers, and don't read most of them, as they are written with such flowery prose, I find them laborious. I love decorated covers, fancy typography, interesting titles, Biblical themes, and of course, white books. I use them to decorate as well.
    Thanks for sharing your amazing collection!

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Many thanks for your visit! If you have a question, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer. Loi