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Decorating with books _ literally

(ran HS edition)

Books are one of my favorite things to decorate with. I pick them up for a dollar or two at garage sales, estate sales and libraries' used-book sales and then go from there.

When it comes to using books as decorative elements, I have to admit that I'm not supercreative. I prefer the library look _ lots of books grouped on lots of shelves. There's something quieting, almost librarylike, about the look.

Consider the following ways to use books in home decorating that are anything but the ordinary line-'em-up-and-love-'em approach. They come from the October issue of Romantic Homes magazine, and I think they're worth repeating.

If you would like to corner a classic look, checkerboard a wall with large botanical prints carefully clipped from picture books. Before you begin and for a coordinated look, paint the wall a color you have picked from the prints.

Next, attach the prints to the wall with glue, floor to ceiling, in a checkerboard pattern, then outline each print with white ribbon, attaching tiny brass tacks in each corner where the ribbons crisscross.

Use the wall as a focal point for the room, picking up colors from upholstery and floor and window coverings.

If you prefer, use the technique with a chair rail _ prints in a checkerboard above the rail and the coordinating color below. Give the chair rail a coat of white paint to coordinate with the ribbon.

For the kitchen, snip pages from a cookbook with food illustrations or recipe photos. They're bright and colorful, prime kitchen decorating stuff.

Create a backsplash with them by hanging the pages with a decoupage medium and then giving them several coats of acrylic sealer to protect them from splashes.

For a child's room, go the book-as-border route.

Begin by quizzing your child about his or her favorite storybooks, fairy tales, rhymes. Mother Goose? Aesop's fables?

Once you have that figured out, buy two copies of the book, remove the illustrated pages and apply them as the border. Put the pages in sequence so they actually tell the story as they move along the wall.

Why two copies? You will have the front and back of each page to tell the story in your border.

Home offices tend to be fairly faceless places, but that can be taken care of by doing them up by the book.

From a dictionary clip out the first pages of each letter, the ones with the large letters "A" "B" "C" at the top. Remove additional pages to fill in between the labeled pages.

Attach the pages to a wall in your home office. One standard-size collegiate dictionary should have more than enough pages to cover an 8- by 12-foot wall.