Vintage Books, Seeded Eucalyptus and a Bit of Sparkle!
Vintage engineering books, seeded eucalyptus, mercury glass, and some printer's type set letters all came together to don our winter fireplace. It all started with a box of vintage engineering books that belonged to our good friend, Joe Bonk, who passed away last March. His wife, Janet, was "excavating" Joe's room, and feeling a lot overwhelmed. She turned to me and said, "and what am I going to do with these old engineering books?" I immediately replied, "Vintage books are really hot in home decor. I'll take them." We packed the books and I'm sure Janet thought I was crazy. They were old, weathered, and some were missing parts of covers. They were PERFECT!
Thus, began the inspiration for our cozy fireplace decor.
Our fireplace mantel is very, very narrow. It is only 4 inches wide across most of it's length, with a little more to work with on each end. The ends wrap around the fireplace bump out. I had to get creative and work with the space I had. I began by stacking books on the left side of the fireplace. This is the widest spot. I loved reading the titles of each book I selected. I could hear Professor Bonk expounding on the knowledge gleaned from each volume. (Joe Bonk was an engineer and taught engineering at the Community College of Allegheny County. He was much loved by family, friends, and the students he taught.)
The mercury glass candlestick was the perfect contrast to top off the first stack of books.
Next, I tackled the right side of the fireplace. I decided to mix things up and lean a couple of books against a mercury glass candlestick.
As I've shared before, our television is mounted above our fireplace and the sound bar is below. We spend most of our time in our family room/kitchen combination. The space is designed for the way we live. Admittedly, it can be a challenge to "accessorize", but as you can see--I chose to take the challenge and plunge forward.
At this point, I was able to position a few books flat and slip them under the sound bar.
The Traveling Curmudgeon--isn't this a great title! It turns out that this book isn't that old. It's copyright is 2003, but the cover graphic, color, and title are just so fun. It makes me smile to have it front and "off-center" on our mantel.
I placed the red volume on the left to balance out the yellow The Traveling Curmudgeon book on the right.
Now, it was time to add some fun and whimsy. I began to "shop" our home for something more. I found it in the living room! My husband is a graphic designer, printer, and so much more. He collects old, type set letters, and we have many of them displayed in a wall mounted, type set printer's drawer in the living room. It houses many treasures. I moved a few to the fireplace mantel to add more vintage charm. Here, we have our last name "JONES" spelled out. The little, tea stained, handmade, snowman just looks so happy to be part of this vignette.
I placed the typeset letters for "FUn" in front of The Traveling Curmudgeon, for obvious reasons.
Finally, I tucked seeded eucalyptus, miniature pine cones, and a few mercury glass votives throughout the display.
The fireplace hearth is adorned with a large lantern, birdhouse, and a pine cone crock. The empty crock was sitting on the floor and looking rather flat. I selected some large coffee table books from places we've been and stacked them. Once the crock was set on top of them, all I needed to do was to move my ever versatile, variegated, philodendron to the crock. The lush, green leaves are a perfect pop of color in the midst of a Pittsburgh winter.
I use books in our decor throughout our home. We love books, and I try to select books that are much loved and/or have memories associated with them.
Now, take a look at the final reveal that all began with a box of vintage, engineering books. I had considered shopping thrift stores for vintage books, but knowing these books were among the treasures of our good friend, Joe, makes them super special. I think he would be very pleased to see his books on display.
Here are a few more ways I've spread the wealth of Joe's books around our home.
This vignette is in our powder room. It is on top of a wall mounted cabinet, opposite the vanity. I am proud of how this vignette came together. I can see changing the snowman candle out for another candle, or maybe one of my Willi Rae figurines come spring.
Note: I did the paint technique on the walls over 15 years ago. It's been fun, but I am thinking of painting over it one of these days.
My Christmas orchid has finished blooming. I cut back the dead stems, and accessorized the decorative white container with dark stones. I love the structural shape of the orchid leaves, in the smooth white fluted container surrounded by black stones, sitting on top of a stack of vintage books. This vignette has contrast, textures, vintage, modern, and organics all rolled into one! I think it works.
There you have it. I used things I already had. I shopped our home and moved a few things to the mantel that had never had a place on the mantel. Last, but not least, I had a lot of fun reading the book titles and adding whimsy to it all. The moral of the story today: Have fun playing with home decor. Seek out things you love and already have and consider giving them a new location!