How to Make a Book Look Vintage


I’m Holly
My mission is to help you create a timeless home that you love through interior design, DIY, and organization!
TOp categories

Vintage style books are beautiful accent pieces for your home. This simple tutorial will show you how to make your own DIY vintage books – Restoration Hardware inspired. So grab some old books and get ready for a fun DIY!

Use Chalk Paint on Books

I know I’m not the only one out there that loves Restoration Hardware’s vintage book sets?! I am not however in love with the price so I convinced myself I could make my own. These DIY books have a somewhat vintage style and I fell in love with the way they turned out so much that I couldn’t wait to rip apart all of my old books! There are so many ways to use painted books in decor and I’m going to show you an easy tutorial on how to make your own DIY Vintage Books.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. For more info, please see my full disclosures here

How to Paint Books for Decorating

Materials Needed:

In this tutorial I am going to show you 3 ways that I was able to turn old books or encyclopedias into books that were much more appealing to have sitting around the house! I will show you a way to use chalk paint to transform old encyclopedias into beautiful staging pieces, how to use burlap to give books a more farmhouse look, and how to simply just rip off the covers to reveal a more restoration hardware book bundle look.

How to Use Chalk Paint on Books

You’ll want to start with an old set of encyclopedias (or they don’t have to be old)! I found these at a flea market and I couldn’t pass up grabbing a few for this project. They actually don’t have to even be encyclopedias, just as long as they are hard cover they will work best.

Aging-Old-Books-with-Chalk-Paint, DIY Vintage Books Restoration Hardware Inspired, Restoration Hardware books, vintage books, DIY vintage books, DIY Restoration Hardware Books

Next you’ll want to grab chalk paint in the color of your choice. I used Annie Sloan’s Old White because it is what I had on hand.

I laid down some craft paper and grabbed my chip brush and started painting the backs of the encyclopedias. I ended up using about 2 coats on the books. The red seemed to bleed through. After the second coat it still came through a bit, but I liked it so I left it at 2 coats.

Chalk Painting Books


At this point I gave my books a light coat of clear wax over the Old White finish so in case I messed up with my dark wax, I could just wipe it off and start over! This stuff is amazing!

The key to giving these beauties a real vintage look was to give them a little dark wax love. I have grown to absolutely love dark wax. I was intimidated at first before I knew how to use it, but now it’s one of my favorite ways to give things that restoration hardware look. Just like my chalk painted chandelier which achieved it’s look thanks to dark wax!

You’ll want to rub on a small amount of dark wax and then immediately go behind it with an old rag or sock and wipe it off. This will leave that vintage look without having clumps of dark wax all over the books.

I was so happy with the way they turned out and I ended up using them in several different places around the house to style with.

Here are a couple of examples of ways I have used them to decorate in the house. I’m sure I will end up moving them around several times before they find their permanent (or not so permanent) home!


How to Make a Book Look Vintage

This next option was so easy that I couldn’t believe they turned out so well. I apologize because I don’t have a before pic of the hardcover books that I used but I used a couple of Nicholas Sparks hardcover books (I know…but I can still read them)! I took off the paper cover and then got to working on an idea to cover up the front label. I do love the way the books look without the paper cover on, but I was going for something with no title on it. I decided the best option would be to cover them with some craft paper.

I started by laying the book down on the craft paper and tracing the outline of each book two times. Once to cover the front and the next to cover the back. I didn’t worry about covering the spine with the craft paper…I was going to do that with something else that you’ll see in a min. 🙂

After I was done tracing I cut out the outlines. I then went to my handy Mod Podge and cover the front and back of the books and then laid down carefully my cutout pieces and made sure to smooth out any bubbles.

While I was waiting on that to dry I cut out two pieces of burlap to cover the spine of the book. Sorry again, I don’t have a pic of me doing this.

Then I made sure to give the book spine a good amount of Mod Podge and attached the burlap to the book spine.

I then went over the whole book again with a layer of Mod Podge on the front and back.

Next I brought out my chalk paint again! This time I went with Annie Sloan Paris Gray (another color I had on hand) and gave the spine a couple of layers of chalk paint to give the book some contrast.

Choose a color of paint that goes with the color scheme in your home or leave them as is….they would both look great! Here they are completed and sitting in my home office.

How to Use Books for Decorating

This was the easiest of all the options! I rounded up a handful of books I bought for a quarter each at a flea market (minus the Nicholas Sparks books) and decided I wanted to rip off the covers and leave them bare like I have seen in places like Restoration Hardware.

Next I took a box cutter and opened up the books and cut right along the spine of the book to loosen up the cover and then ripped it off…seriously so easy! Sometimes I would go a couple of pages in to make sure I got to a page that didn’t have a ton or wording on it that I thought would look good on the front.

And with that you are done! I have these sitting on a couple of shelves in my home office and plan on taking some twine and bundling them together. They definitely look different without all of the bright covers and I love it!

And that’s it friends! Three simple ways to turn some old books or encyclopedias you have laying around into something with character!

This post contained some affiliate links for your convenience. For more info, please see my full disclosures here

Looking for More DIY Posts & Guides:




How to Make a Book Look Vintage

How to Use Chalk Paint on Books





Add a comment
+ show Comments
- Hide Comments
  1. Love the hardcover book idea! Can you believe I’ve yet to try chalk paint?! Visiting from Project Inspired.

    • Holly @ Life on Southpointe Drive says:

      Thank you! I love chalk paint! One of my favorite things to do is try it out on different things to see how it turns out!

  2. Miss Kitty says:

    Thanks for these great ideas, Holly! I saw your post over at “Share Your Style” blog party.

    • Holly @ Life on Southpointe Drive says:

      Thank you for coming by! Glad you like the idea!

  3. Angelina says:

    Such a clever idea. I like the look of the white books! Thanks for linking up with Thursday Favorite things! Angelina at Petite Haus

  4. Nina says:

    Hi Holly – thanks for linking up this post to last week’s Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop and Linky Party! I featured this post at this week’s party on my blog here: http://vintagemamascottage.com/2017/11/16/a-few-of-my-favorite-things/ We are right in the middle of a major home update and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at painting vintage books, but I’ve been afraid to try . . . so you’ve inspired me to be brave and paint a few books. Maybe this weekend! Thanks for linking up to the TFT party, hope to see you this week, too.

    Nina @ Vintage Mama’s Cottage

    • Holly @ Life on Southpointe Drive says:

      Thank you so much for the feature this week!! It really was an easy and quick project so you should totally give it a try! I will go along great with all the updates you’re doing! I will def. be heading over to the party again this week!

  5. Eve McCarthy says:

    Wonderful and such a clever idea! Thank you for sharing it I will try it this weekend at home.

    • Holly @ Life on Southpointe Drive says:

      Glad you liked it! You should really try it…so quick and easy and a big difference!

Get On the List

Just another way for us to stay in touch! When you join my newsletter you will get access to exclusive content, behind the scenes of my DIY projects, and subscriber only access to my printable vault!


Welcome to my online community where I share all things DIY, decor, and lifestyle!