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20+ Different Ways To Repurpose Old Books

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Electronic readers are officially taking the world by storm, and while the technology is really very cool, is that hunk of plastic really going to keep you warm at night? Not a chance (um… unless you give it such a workout that the battery overheats). Bibliophiles claim that the tactile sensation of cozying up to a first edition leather bound text is unparalleled, but you really don’t have to be a diehard book geek to appreciate the simple pleasure of flipping through a real life text.

New vocabulary words and intellectual stimulation aside, tangible books (as with their electronic counterparts) serve as an affordable form of escapism. They enable us to live vicariously through enviable literary characters – whether they’re the focus of hot-n-heavy romance novels or gripping tales of international intrigue. But when it comes to true blue cover-to-cover literature, it’s more than that. Pulling out the latest-greatest novel or how-to book as we’re waiting for our tires to be rotated, touching each page and ultimately tucking a book mark inside – it’s all part of the pleasure of ownership. It’s ours to treasure any which way that we like.

Now for the inevitable bummer. Compared to those new-fangled e-readers that admittedly liberate us from excessive clutter, old-school books eventually accumulate into unwieldy piles. Before long, a fine layer of dust settles on top and then we’re swimming in tomes that could only conceivably be re-read if cloning ourselves were a viable option. What’s a book-lovin’ junkie to do? Donate, sell or drop ‘em on a doorstep and run? Oh… I know – yesterday’s literary relics can be upcycled into tomorrow’s wildly creative collection of DIY décor items and fashion statements!

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From the Organic Authority Files

Old Books Equal New...

  • Craft a multi-layered wall collage using hundreds of old book pages as Nathalie Boutte has done.
  • Make a color-blocked headboard for your master bedroom using the covers of dozens of hard backed texts.
  • Tuck valuables away into a DIY treasure chest carved into the pages of an unassuming old book.
  • Mount an assortment of books against the wall for a built-in shelving system that will blow any Crate and Barrel offering out of the water.
  • Emulate the incredibly imaginative three dimensional sculptural book art of Brian Dettmer, the stacked portraiture of Mike Stilkey or the molded, multi-layered creations of Jonathan Callan.
  • Rather than placing old-fashioned framed art on your children’s walls, literally tear a few pages out of Bryan Ku and Sonia Lamera’s book(s) and dazzle your kiddies with a positively unforgettable wall-mounted pop-up recycled text alphabet.
  • Recline in a DIY chair made entirely out of old well-worn paperbacks sealed with a top coat for extra durability.
  • Wear your love for books on your sleeve – or your wrist– by making book cover spine cuff braceletsa la Lana Manis.
  • Are you a secret woodworking fanatic? Jane Dandy’s hand-tailored book side table will give you plenty of food for thought as will Laura Cahill’s decidedly different design, appropriately titled ‘Heavy Read’.
  • Fine feathered friends will surely appreciate these well-read accommodations which make the most of the sturdy exteriors of several old text books. 
  • Short on cash but in dire need of a substantial work surface? This beefy desk makes the most of hundreds of books stacked one on top of another.
  • iPhone/iPodenthusiasts are typically drawn to mass manufactured yet necessary charging docks, but this bookish version offers a distinctive old-school feel. 
  • Help your houseplants get in touch with their literary roots by hand-crafting a few of these great-looking DIY pots!
  • Make a picture frame with a recycled hard book cover!! 
  • Add well-read flair to your fashion accessories with Jeremy May’s baubles crafted entirely from the pages of a favorite novel.
  • Kick up your vintage, one-of-a-kind wardrobe a few notches by toting around one or more handmade upcycled book purses.
  • Plaster the wall of one entire room with the pages of several treasured novels – now that’s some seriously eco-friendly wallpaper
  • Let there be light… with a biblioteque-inspired reading lamp or positively illuminating wall sconces, both of which you can make yourself without earning an advanced DIY degree first. 
  • Carve out some privacy for yourself with a cozy room divider erected from recycled novels or better yet, make it a full length ceiling-to-floor WALL!! 

Image: The Shopping Sherpa

For more juicy green goodness, follow Elizah via Twitter @elizahleigh

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