Upcycling Ideas for Old Books and Other Book Crafts

Upcycling Ideas for Old Books and Other Book Crafts

What to do with old books – upcycle or leave alone? It can be a controversial topic (the repurposing of books) and one I’ve grappled with myself. I am a casual collector of vintage books, particularly the ones with crumbling leather binding, and I use them around our home for decorative purposes. But other books are considered less “visually valuable”, so I’m always interested in finding new upcycling ideas for old books.

For instance, these old books will NEVER be upcycled in my home…they are perfect as vintage decor. Antique books have so much texture and history; even if they’re falling apart at the seams, they’re just wonderful to incorporate into your home’s style.

Decorating ideas for old books as vintage home decor

For instance, my collection of antique books was an integral part of putting together this Thrift the Look: Dark Academia decor vignette:

dark academia decor that comes from thrift stores and upcycling

But what about old encyclopedias from the thrift store? I upcycled these into fun Halloween magic books or spell books

Making a Halloween Spell Book from an Old Yearbook

There are oodles of old books out there that are just waiting to be dusted off and re-imagined into something new. For instance, I had a decrepit old field guide that was literally falling apart.

So, I framed some of the color plates as wall decor. Aren’t they delightful?

Color plates from a vintage field guide

(And aren’t those reclaimed wood frames amazing? You can find similar versions from this Etsy shop here!)

From trashy romance novels, to mass produced hardcovers from the 1990s, to outdated encyclopedias that make no mention of current day topics, thrift stores are usually overrun with old books.

Old books that are ideal for upcycling, such as this mini book necklace below.

Making a book necklace from leather scraps and old book pages

And if you’re interested in discovering new repurposed book projects, then this collection of inspired ideas is just what you’ve been look for!

Upcycling Ideas for Old Books

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So, what do you think? Is there a repurposed book project in your future? Perhaps covering some non-descript hardcovers in fabric for decor?

fabric covered books for cozy home decor

As for me, I love the book craft project that takes new-ish books and makes them look old with paint…I think that one would be particularly fun to try! Or even painting older books, like these, and adding exotic ribbon to the spines!

Decorative books with bohemian design

Whether you want to repurpose the entire book, just the binding, or just the pages, there are endless upcycling ideas for old books. Whether you use the entire thing or just a single page, like I did here!

diy message in a bottle

Maybe you’ll even run across a project made with another type of paper (like vintage sheet music) and re-imagine it with book pages, instead!

neutral christmas decor with a receipt spike

And don’t forget, I actually wrote a book, too- “Crafting with Flannel”! It’s a craft book filled with 55 colorful tutorials that all use flannel shirts or flannel yardage. You can purchase it online from Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart.

Flannel craft ideas and projects

Speaking of books, sometimes I upcycle things FOR my books, instead of to them. Such as these boho bookends that I made! They started very plain but ended up quite pretty.

boho bookends as botanical home decor

Craft on!


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what to do with old books

Upcycled crafts for old books and decorating with vintage books

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. wow!! Lots of ideas!! 🙂

  2. Have you seen Vivian Swift’s castles she makes out of old books set on open pages? They’re brilliant. And I used to have a lamp made out of stacked books … downsized and couldn’t keep everything.

  3. Wow what neat ideas for repurposing old books. Ireally love that jewelry box made from books !

  4. I just found your website. Wonderful uses for old books! I take old books, thrift store finds, and I gut them (remove all the pages) and then put junk journals inside. These make a tidy income, what my Mom called “pin money”. So glad to see so many other ways I can use them!

  5. Really like all your ideas ! Good ones!

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