Racks + Books

January 22, 2010

From my title you may assume this post will be about some dumb new American reality show where beauty competes against brains to win the bachelor or something. But no, I’m simply pulling together inspiration for my next apartment (we’re currently on the hunt) and I thought I’d share some from Skona Hem in Sweden and they happen to include a rack and some books and I am simply making an attempt at being clever with my quirky title.

Racks + Books

I love the pendant above, though I wonder if little Greta is missing her ballet tutu and hasn’t thought to look up? And I’m digging the clothes rack in the home below, not because I’d ever consider doing it now (my clothes are not nearly as hip as this homeowner), but because I had one from an old store in my bedroom in Boston for years and my friends would laugh at me for not having a proper closet. They thought it was so tragic that I had a vintage rolling clothes rack in my bedroom. I wish I could have pulled out this exact photograph below to prove to them that I wasn’t only too broke to afford a proper closet, but apparently I was hip and cool to have even used one in the first place. Plus we all know that once the Swedish give something their stamp of approval that things we once saw as strange suddenly become Oh My God desirable.

Racks + Books

Racks + Books

What do you think of books with pretty covers displayed as art? I see this idea in lots of decorating magazines here where a series of 3 shelves are installed, usually slim ones with lips created specifically for leaning art against the wall, and instead of photos and prints you see cookbooks or artsy books. I loved this idea when I first spotted it a few years ago and the more I see it lately I’m considering the idea for my kitchen. Would you do it? Anything in these images that catches your eye?

(photos: skona hem)


  • Reply Siobhán January 22, 2010 at 4:15 am

    Hi Holly,

    I’m also falling in love with this way of displaying art, photos or books – I’m thinking about using these to display my son’s books, also making them easier for him to see and access:


    Those black chairs under the picture ledges are fab!

  • Reply Juana @ SweetVisualAids January 22, 2010 at 4:37 am

    I also love the idea of using the shelves to display books. And in the kitchen definitely comes handy! :) Nor days the cooking books come with some amazing cover pictures! that are indeed art!
    .-= Juana @ SweetVisualAids´s last blog ..The Portuguese Life =-.

  • Reply Kristin January 22, 2010 at 4:48 am

    Die Lampe im Wohnzimmer ist toll!
    Weißt du wie die heißt?
    Ich muss sie haben!! :)

  • Reply Ele January 22, 2010 at 4:55 am

    I love the idea of a slim display shelf for cookbooks! Even just one, for my pretty favourites, would be great- practical, too.

    Swedish mags seem to love that tulle light fixture! I featured a photo of it in a kitchen on my blog a few months back, from Hus & Hem. I think I like it even better in a kitchen, because of the contrast:

  • Reply Melibu January 22, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Hi ! I already saw this house with books displayed as art and I thought it was really pretty on those white shelves !
    .-= Melibu´s last blog ..Soutien-gorge et String Eres 80A/38 =-.

  • Reply Erin January 22, 2010 at 4:58 am

    oh la la, I love those slim shelves and am planning on putting them in my new apartment (picking up the keys in an hour!). I don’t know where to buy them in France though – I guess I may have to make them myself, but the effort is wonderful.

    Good luck with the next house visit!

  • Reply Anna January 22, 2010 at 5:10 am

    I’m rather bemused by the red tool chest in the first photo – only because I think it is a Snap on tool chest that costs ££££’s and my husband is coveting. He would love to see it on pride of place like this instead of hidden in a garage. But because it is so obviously a tool chest I’m not feeling it in that space….I’m all for repurposing but is jarring a little for me.

    I love the other images – particularly fond of the sheer lampshade.

    On the kitchen display shelves – I think it is a great idea. I have 2 shelves over the loo in my ensuite bathroom that I use to display artwork like this. It feels good to have them in an unexpected place like a kitchen or bathroom I think…..where it is a surprise someone has made the effort to display art.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..This trunk =-.

  • Reply juliette January 22, 2010 at 5:12 am

    love tutu pendants! I blogged about them a while back – so fascinating in their tactile-ness, yet so freak-out for those of us w/big dust allergies!

    and I had to laugh:

    Plus we all know that once the Swedish give something their stamp of approval that things we once saw as strange suddenly become Oh My God desirable.

    ha ha!
    .-= juliette´s last blog ..Fabric kick-off for 2010 =-.

  • Reply Sandra@Botanys January 22, 2010 at 5:13 am

    I LOVE the idea of using book covers as art. Besides, many book covers are professionaly illustrated so they are actually works of art. Hope that makes sense LOL.

    Also, I like the red garage tool box. I don’t know if I would do it myself but I can see how it would be very useful in an office as storage for all kinds of things.
    .-= Sandra@Botanys´s last blog .. =-.

  • Reply amber kane January 22, 2010 at 5:31 am

    I really like the first room, the light is so interesting. Recently I have been cutting up my slip from my wedding dress and reusing the tulle in projects. The storage pieces in this room are also wonderful.
    .-= amber kane´s last blog ..Wallpaper Envelope Design =-.

  • Reply jules @ the diversion project January 22, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Be still my heart, that home is beautiful. I love the very gentle use of colour, very well done!

    .-= jules @ the diversion project´s last blog ..News Just In =-.

  • Reply Renee January 22, 2010 at 6:57 am

    I live in a 1929 Bungalow and my kitchen has very little storage space. I was just pondering the idea of putting white shelves above my stove to store & display and I love the idea of adding the vintage books as art pieces. You should definitely do this in your new apartment.

    .-= Renee´s last blog ..Barbie =-.

  • Reply Heather January 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

    As a book designer, I think this is a terrific idea…my books will suddenly become display art as well! That room with the bay windows is beautiful by the way! Nice choice, and good luck w/ your apartment hunt!

  • Reply Lil Jessy January 22, 2010 at 8:02 am

    How cute and sweet face is in the first article, all the rooms are wonderful.

  • Reply Narumi January 22, 2010 at 8:12 am

    The tutu pendant is adorable ! I love the idea of showing pretty books or cook books, I think the three shelves are from Ikea because I’ve got exactly the same !
    .-= Narumi´s last blog ..Random sunday pictures =-.

  • Reply Caroline January 22, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I love the shelves with the books/magazines displayed. Really nice, some books are art pieces in and of themselves and it’s a fantastic way to display them, especially if you don’t have a coffee table like I don’t. :)

    Great rooms. I think Greta definitely lost her tutu, though!
    .-= Caroline´s last blog ..Clothing to Covet from Nadinoo =-.

  • Reply Gina January 22, 2010 at 8:29 am

    These are *fantastic* ideas! I love the clothes rack – love. it.

    Never thought of books as art, but it makes sense. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..here kitty, kitty. =-.

  • Reply Molly Jean January 22, 2010 at 8:43 am

    books as art always works, in my opinion, whether thoughtfully covered by their owners in pretty paper/fabric or displayed in all their old & worn & natural glory. love love love books in design!!! ps: that red tool box in the bedroom (top) is so so awesome & unexpected!
    .-= Molly Jean´s last blog ..Gearing up for next week’s Paris couture shows, sans Christian Lacroix (le sigh) =-.

  • Reply Gina January 22, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I love my books in the kitchen. They are featured in an open, permanent kitchen cabinet. Most of the books are cookbooks but a few garden books and medicinal plant books have found their way into the milieu.

    .-= Gina´s last blog ..Gold Leafing Tutorial II =-.

  • Reply kristina January 22, 2010 at 9:12 am

    does anyone know what the name or type of that brown chair sitting right next to the bed? i looooove it.
    .-= kristina´s last blog ..Black Diamond BIB and BURP set =-.

  • Reply Whatever DeeDee Wants January 22, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I love the use of the big tool chest in the first picture. I never would have thought to use one inside the house. Love it!

  • Reply Sandra January 22, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Can someone tell me more about the lamp on the last picture on the left? Beautiful!

  • Reply Carmella January 22, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I did this in the dining room in our former house, and displayed cookbooks there. I’d always admired the great photography found on the covers of a lot of cookbooks these days, and was looking for an inexpensive solution to wall art. It looked wonderful, and visitors complimented it often. I’ll probably re-interpret the idea in another room in this house.
    .-= Carmella´s last blog ..Nest this House: Found =-.

  • Reply Eliza January 22, 2010 at 9:58 am

    wow books as art is such a good idea…and you can get very cool covers/books on the cheap at used bookstores/thift stores! It’s a double win! My husband and I used a “American National Parks” picture book as the guest book at our wedding…it would be cool to have in on display like that!
    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Reply Sarah January 22, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I am loving the 3 shelf idea in these images. You could mix and match books, art, miniatures and knick knacks and super easy to switch them out when you feel like it.

    I also love the pink chair under the windows…so cozy!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Add some boogie to your Friday =-.

  • Reply Gini January 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the red tool chest-as-dresser! How smart! Slim little drawers for jewelry and such, medium-size drawer for panties and socks, and deep drawers for all the rest. Brilliant!

  • Reply Julia January 22, 2010 at 10:39 am

    The lamp pendant is pretty, but oh so expensive…

    I’ve seen some of these pictures on a Swedish blog (not too long ago) and as the homes are so beautiful it’s lovely to see them on here as well.
    I believe the one with the clothing rack is Malene Birger’s home (she’s a Danish designer) and the living room with the beautiful window is Ebba von Sydow’s home (which she is/was in the process of selling).
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..the Sweetheart necklace =-.

  • Reply Jillian January 22, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I love the idea of books as art. What a great excuse for collecting both new and vintage children’s books (since I don’t actually have any children)!
    .-= Jillian´s last blog ..Shop Sneak Peek =-.

  • Reply Ericka January 22, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Oh..the ballet pendant is lovely…i have seen one using a full black and white dress in a hotel and thought it was great!
    .-= Ericka´s last blog ..Color Theory {Haiti} =-.

  • Reply Leslie January 22, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I love Love the pendant light hanging low in the living room over the coffee table.

  • Reply Solvi January 22, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Kristina, the chair is vintage, it used to belong to the owners grandmother. Sköna hem calls the style “Emmafåtölj” (Emma chair).

    Sandra, it’s from Dis, http://www.disinredning.se/. Click on Produkter and then Lampor and you will find it.

  • Reply nina January 22, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I love the coats on the coat rack!
    .-= nina´s last blog ..So pretty Thursday =-.

  • Reply honey living January 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    i like the idea of displaying books, though specifically i like it in a way that doesn’t look too planned. i guess that’s to say i like them as part of a display of other objetcs too.

    i love the well-chosen pops of black in the rooms you’ve shared with us. we’re so used to seeing rooms that are all white and muted with sometimes pops of color, and i think in those settings, black can be underused. i think it looks great the way it’s worked in here.
    .-= honey living´s last blog ..happy weekend! =-.

    • Reply decor8 January 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      honey living – I agree 100%, I want to use black more in my home when I move, I keep thinking of how I want to bring it in and I’m excited to think about the idea of having shots of it around. You are so right!!!

  • Reply Design Fixation January 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Love the shape of the room in the sixth photo – it feels so welcoming. Not to mention the color scheme…

  • Reply Sara January 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I love the idea of using book covers as art. I’ve made a few pieces of art for my own home (using fabric & paint) and have been searching for more ideas…I think I may have to use this idea!
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..My Dream Dining Room =-.

  • Reply lush bella January 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    what caught my eye was that organza pendant that appears in a couple images. solvi, thank you for the link!

  • Reply Juliet January 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I love displaying art on small ledges because of it’s versatility. Remember though for the kitchen, things could get gunky, so I wouldn’t do any books I cared about. Love the photos! More white rooms!
    .-= Juliet´s last blog ..Snowy Golf Trees =-.

  • Reply Pattie C January 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    The book idea so good, but the tutu seems like a fire waiting to happen and the clothes rack seems tragic. Buy a wardrobe.

  • Reply Carina January 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Definitely loving the books displayed as ‘art’. Books need to come out of the bookcase and into the open where they can be properly appreciated! (-:
    .-= Carina´s last blog ..Name it to win it =-.

  • Reply Coco January 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    I don’t lke how the shelves are just on the wall and not hanging above a low cabinet or sofa.. They are just shelves now and look so lonely!
    I’ve kind of the same shelves above my sofa and i have displayed some books on them. Now i’ve two photographs in black/white and one in shady colors. Next to it i’ve one book with a b/w photograph cover of an old war victim. It sounds more dramatic than it is… by grandpa was a war victim and the photograph reminded me of him, he looked just the same as this old guy so thats why i liked the cover.

  • Reply Chloe January 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I love rolling racks! When placed/used in the right way they work and look better than a closet. Pull it out of hiding :)
    .-= Chloe´s last blog ..New York New York! =-.

  • Reply Kirsten January 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I love the shelve idea! I wanted to do the same thing for my livingroom but it might be even better in the kitchen to display my cookbooks!

    “Viel glück” with the appartment hunt, I hope you find The One!

  • Reply modGIRL January 23, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Sweet house!!! Love it :)

  • Reply elizabeth January 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

    i am in love. i can’t get enough of Scandonavian design. seriously. I love that little pink settee. the splash of color just adds so much warmth. love love love.
    .-= elizabeth´s last blog ..Peter Reinhart’s Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough =-.

  • Reply Maleah January 23, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I really love the shelves, I noticed them right off! The only downside with magazines would be cleaning and dusting, which I passionately hate! For myself I might do some art and books or magazines to make it a little easier.
    .-= Maleah´s last blog ..Mod Meadow Collection – Nine 4×4 Fine Art Prints =-.

  • Reply Manette January 23, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    My favorite is the pendant over the coffee table – I want one. I first noticed the snap on tool box, it works well in this space and a clever idea for crafters, jewelry storage etc. I have one in my office for jewelry supplies. The use of shelves as art display always a great touch. Thanks for me a touch of spring on this raining day in CA.
    .-= Manette´s last blog ..New Wave Sea Glass Necklace =-.

  • Reply Shell January 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I love the tutu chandelier and that adorable soft yellow chair in the first picture. This apartment radiates with beautiful charm and grown up sophistication.
    .-= Shell´s last blog ..My name is…. =-.

    • Reply decor8 January 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm

      Shell – I want to cut in for a moment to personally thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your lovely comments on a regular basis. It’s encouraging and people like you make me feel really happy and grateful to be here each day. You are a wonderful person, I never want you to think for a moment that I don’t read and appreciate every single comment you leave. Shell, thank you. So much.

      Everyone go read Shell’s blog – she’s such a supportive and wonderful woman and blogger! http://swanofdreamers.blogspot.com/

  • Reply cynthia January 23, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I think using your books as art is a great idea! I love showing off the beautiful art on the covers and looks especially good on white walls. Great ideas, thanks for sharing. xoxo

  • Reply Thea January 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Love the three white ledges. I think it would look lovely in a kitchen. I may try it in my living room.

    The pink love seat and black accents stand out in the photos to me.

    I am trying to get to homework for week one in our class, but am enjoying browsing here…procrastinating:)
    .-= Thea´s last blog ..paige ~ theater headshots ~ thea coughlin photography albany ny =-.

  • Reply Renata Gennari January 24, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Hi Holly,

    I love this idea too, however in this picture the books and pictures are so symetric placed that it became boring. For me, it can be a little bit messier.

    Love your weblog!


  • Reply Yasmine January 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    What a lovely and simple idea for the pendant in the first photo! I think I might try to make it as a 30 minutes DIY project!

  • Reply Kika January 24, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Displaying books as art? Definitely yes. Books are beautiful. I’m a homeschooling mama and love having different books out on display. If they were books that nobody really loved (as in just there b/c of front cover) then I wouldn’t like that. However, displaying a collection of well-loved and used books sounds wonderful.

  • Reply Katherine aka. Urban Flea January 24, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    i love that tutu light! isn’t skona hem great?

    xo katherine aka. urban flea :)

    .-= Katherine aka. Urban Flea´s last blog ..malene birger at home =-.

  • Reply Peter January 24, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I prefer the living room with the guitar one, very stylish!

  • Reply Monique January 25, 2010 at 4:23 am

    I love the way Skona has displayed beautiful coffee table books as art on free floating shelves. What a stunning idea!

  • Reply 31everything January 25, 2010 at 10:03 am

    omg! omg! omg! omg! LOVE the red tool cabinet in the bedroom… WOW! That is a first. Wonderful, just wonderful! Great post!
    .-= 31everything´s last blog ..Love at First Gasp #3 =-.

  • Reply Etincelle January 25, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I love the idea of the tutu as a light!! my little one would absolutely love it :)
    Having the books displayed is great too, I used to do it when living in Paris… unfortunately now that I am living in Asia, all my books are in Europe (I am scared of them getting damaged by the humid weather or when constantly moving countries) and I don’t have shelves in my current place that would allow such display. By the way, how would you decorate the walls of you apartment when you are not allowed by the owner to drill holes in the walls? it is my current challenge, and as much as I love the place (very spacious), I am getting annoyed and bored by my big empty white walls…

    • Reply decor8 January 25, 2010 at 2:31 pm

      @Etincelle: Use bookcases from IKEA or something mobile like a folding screen to wallpaper and place behind a sofa or bed to add some sort of interest and to break up all of the white space. You can also use something like a ladder, or even a bookcase that leans like a ladder. Wall decals are also popular for adding some pattern to the walls. If you are allowed to put a few holes in the ceiling, which I’m sure you can and no one would notice it, use a few tiny hooks and screw them into the ceiling and using clear plastic string, you can suspend things in the air to appear as if floating in front of windows or over a buffet. Often when we cannot decorate in a more traditional way, we see it as a negative, but it can force one into thinking more creatively outside of the box which is not only fun but often can build our confidence and make us feel proud of our innovations.

  • Reply Etincelle January 26, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Thank you for sharing the tips! it is so true that obstacles make us think out of the box (and not only in home decoration). I will think about your advices and maybe compile a few ideas from magazines/ blogs before I start re-thinking the space.
    Here in Singapore we do not have so many interesting flea markets going on, however we can find beautiful and affordable teak furniture, and it is also easy to make to order them :)
    I like the idea of the ladder and the ceiling option very much….
    .-= Etincelle´s last blog ..Mini Me Doll – Stella =-.

  • Reply Solvi January 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    The latest issue of Sköna Hem, 2/2010, has a picture of the same pendant (the black one over the coffee table) but in a pale dusty pink. It is very cute too.

  • Reply Danielle January 27, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Love it! I said it before, but I am totally in love with decor8 now.

  • Reply Anna February 2, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I really want that white tv console…looks like they put at least 2, maybe 3 units together to form the console! LOVE!

    .-= Anna´s last blog ..New Prints from Made by Girl =-.

  • Reply riza @ kitchen drawer organizers May 5, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Hello! I really love the racks! It did organize the books beautifully and it attracts readers. I think I’m gonna try to do it on my bookshelf too. Thanks for the idea! Cheers!

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