Hey guys! It’s Thrifty Style Team time! Thrifty Style Team is a group of talented ladies who get together every month to bring you beautiful and thrifty DIY projects and decor inspiration that won’t break the bank! Thrifty Style Team is hosted by Julie at Redhead Can Decorate!
You can see all these beautiful and thrifty projects and decor inspiration through the links at the end of this post!
My thrifty style project for this month is how to make paperback books look vintage.
Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting you do this with books that are already vintage, limited edition books, literary masterpieces or any other kind of books that are valuable. The kind of books that you should use for this project are paperbacks that you could by at the thrift store for a quarter. Literally tons of paperback books get thrown away each year, so why not repurpose them into decor instead of filling our landfills with them?
Here’s the paperbacks I used for this project. My mom had a bunch of western paperbacks that belonged to my dad. She isn’t into westerns and was going to take them to the recycling station, so I grabbed a few of them to use for this project.
I tore off the paperback covers and any pages at the beginning or end that had large writing on it that would be distracting in decor. Then I put them in a bucket and brewed a pot of strong coffee.
I poured the coffee into the bucket with the books and added enough water to cover all of them. They floated up a bit, so I used a glass electric insulator to hold them down. I allowed them to soak for a few hours.
After soaking for a few hours, I took the paperbacks out of the bucket and poured the coffee out into the garden (it’s good for the plants!). I then laid the paperbacks on our concrete walkway and gently pushed down on them with my hands to squeeze as much of the coffee out as possible. I did it on my concrete walkway so I could rinse away the coffee with a water hose after I was done, but any flat surface will work. Once they were reasonably squeezed out, I opened them to around the halfway point and laid them out on our patio table to dry in the sun (I pushed the table out into the sun after I took this picture). Every few hours why they were drying, I would flip the pages around to the areas that were still wet and lay them out that way to help them dry faster.
It took two days outside in the sun in 90 degree weather for the paperbacks to dry thoroughly. I wanted to make sure they were completely dry so there was no chance of mold once I brought them inside.
I am super happy with how they turned out! I will definitely be using this process to “make” more vintage books!
Be sure to check out all the other beautifully thrifty projects and decor inspiration from the other Thrifty Style Team members through the links below!
Redhead Can Decorate – Sun Clothespin Wreath
The Painted Hinge – How to Make Paperback Books Look Vintage
DIY Beautify – DIY Weathered Wood Pedestal
2 Bees In A Pod – Thrift Store Planters – Thrifty Style Team
Postcards From The Ridge – Tiered Tray Decor Ideas with Thrifty and Vintage Finds
The Creek Line House – Ten Plants to Grow for Home Decor
The How To Home – Upcycled Berry Basket
The Tattered Pew – How to Easily Recover an Old Footstool
Unskinny Boppy – How to Frame a Puzzle without Puzzle Glue
Sweet Pea – DIY Patriotic Vase
What Meegan Makes – Thrifted Mirror Gallery Painted with Homemade Chalk Paint
I Should Be Mopping The Floor – Ethan Allen Console Table Makeover
Thanks so much for joining us and have a wonderful weekend!
Vicki and Jenn says
Hey Michelle – love this idea! We too love using thrifted books for home decor and craft projects. So inexpensive and a great upcycle!
Thank you so much guys! 🙂
Cheryl Atkinson says
I am definitely going to try this. You said you laid them on the concrete to squeeze them out. Please explain. Thank you for sharing! It is a shame so many books get thrown out.
Thank you Cheryl! 🙂 I just gently pushed down on the books with my hands to squeeze as much as the coffee out as I could. I did it on my concrete walkway so I could wash away the coffee with a water hose after I was done, but you can do it on whatever flat surface works best for you.
Kristi Dominguez says
Such a clever idea, Michelle! I absolutely love how simple this is, too. xoxo
Thanks so much Kristi!
What a great idea! These books look great in the vignette that you created and you’ll be able to enjoy decorating with them in any season. We run a dehumidifier year-round in our basement. I’ll bet that drying the books beside it would work, too.
Thanks Paula! I never thought of a dehumidifier to help dry the paperbacks out – thanks for the great tip! 🙂
Dam, I donated a bunch of paperbacks a few months ago. I love this idea of recycling them into such pretty vintage decor. I’ll never look at paperbacks the same again! Pinned 🙂
Thanks so much Marie! It always seems to work that way (throw stuff out and then find a good use for it later). It really tempts me to start keeping everything “just in case”, but I have to force myself not to because collecting (hoarding) runs in my family. I’m the generation that broke the cycle and I want to keep it that way 🙂
Thanks for sharing your tutorial. The books look amazing and so lovely in your vintage vignette. I am excited to give this a try!
Thank you so much Meegan! 🙂
Mary Beth says
I love the aged look of your pages. They look so perfectly vintage!
Thank you so much Mary Beth! I was really surprised and pleased with how authentic they look!
Kathy A says
Great idea. As an instant coffee user, this would be an easy quick idea! I have TOO many paperbacks to need any for decor; arthritis in my thumbs makes holding up a hardover book uncomfortable; I read laying down as a siesta and respite for low back pain. I tell people I am gonna use the books as insulation on the outside walls!
Haha! Well now you have another way to repurpose them! 🙂 Thanks Kathy!
Oh my gosh…this is so fun, Michelle!!! They totally look authentic, girl! And say wha??? I had no idea coffee is good for plants. This blows my mind. Rick throws a ton out. I don’ drink coffee I am tea NUT, but I will tell him to water my plants now, lol.
Thanks so much Julie! And yes coffee water and grounds are good for plants! Especially the acid (nitrate) loving plants like tomatoes, peppers and roses.
Kelly Radcliff says
Michelle this is such a creative idea and they turned out just great! I am all about recycling books!
Thank you so much Kelly!
Angie @ Postcards from the Ridge says
This is such a great idea! It sustainable and cute. I love the way they look with your vintage goodies!
This is the coolest project I’ve seen in awhile! I just love that ‘vintage’ patina!
Thank you so much Cindy!
Thank you so much Angie!
Anita Holland says
This is so clever, I will be trying this. I love all the extras that you added to your photos. You have so many interesting pieces. I am very jealous. Pinned
I’m happy you enjoyed this project Anita!
Love your idea!
I am going to try this also, but if you remove the paperback… does the boek still hold together? Is it still readable or do the pages come off? How do you remove that paperback then ?
Hi Dries! Yes, the book still holds together – just be careful when removing the binding part from the cover. It is still readable – whether or not the pages come off depends on how carefully the cover was removed. It sounds like you still want to use the books for reading, but I recommend you get inexpensive paperbacks from a thrift store or flea market that you won’t want to read at a later date – that way if you do lose pages when removing the cover, it won’t be a big deal.
Rachel Harper says
I love old books and I’m all over this idea. Will you allow me to share this on my wrap up post – Dirt Road Adventures – this weekend. Thanks so much.