No matter how you stack them (or what you pair them with), books are the perfect supporting detail to your home’s aesthetic narrative. We sat down with Kara Mann to discuss her views on these literary accessories.
LX: What fun/unexpected items do you like pairing with books?
KM: I always like to stack things on top of books…whacky little collected items, bowls full of flowers. Books [serve as] a good base.
LX: What are some solutions you’ve come up with in the past to accommodate a client’s large collection of books, to organize them in interesting ways?
KM: I think organizing by subject is pretty cool. It takes a good robust collection to pull it off though.
LX: Other than bookshelves or coffee tables, where can you integrate books into the design of a room?
KM: I like putting books on windowsills (but be careful of the books you choose to put there, the sun can take its toll). I also like stacking them on the floor in an artistic way.
LX: What ways can you decorate the books themselves; i.e., paper or fabric covers, etc.?
KM: For my personal library I took off all of the covers. I like the exposed, simplified book better.
LX: What’s important when styling a set of books—are you looking at the colors on the spine, the font, the cover, etc.?
KM: It depends where they are being placed. If they are sitting on a table then I am focused on the cover. Stacked in shelves, the spine.
LX: Are there any rules when it comes to arranging books in a stylish way, i.e., sizes, number of books, stacking versus standing them side-by-side, etc.?
KM: Unless you have a large collection and can pull off that totally unkempt look where books are piled next to and on top of each other, forward and backwards, I do think it is important to create a rhythm with the collection you have. Choose books with like colors to stack together, or colors that complement each other. Organize by size, for example place large books vertically and then stack a grouping of smaller books horizontally, abutting the front large book.
LX: Are books a decorative element in your own home? How are they styled?
KM: Yes! I love books. I love decorating with books and actually use them quite a bit. I’ve got them stacked on chairs, stacked under side tables and filling one of my walls side-to-side, floor to ceiling.
LX: What are your favorite sources for great coffee table/decorative/vintage books?
KM: Assouline has such a beautiful collection of new books as well as vintage. And they have a service that will even create a library for you based on your likes.
LX: What are your go-to coffee table books?
KM: Tom Ford has a gorgeous book I reference often. Christian Liaigre’s first book will always be a heart stopper. And I love Terry Richardson’s zany and provocative coffee table book.
LX: What does decorating with books add to a room?
KM: What I like most is that books can give insight into the person that owns them – the subjects that they love and want to surround them with.