DIY Antique Books In Minutes!

Do you love old books and want to get creative with making your own that look decades old? If you love vintage displays there is just something intriguing about rumpled pages!

Before we get started on this technique…you might like to pick up my 30+ page STYLING & PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE that will help you “get the look” and capture it…whether on your iPhone or regular camera! It’s just a $5 investment and you’ll receive this book via your inbox immediately! Just click on the I WANT THIS below…

It’s no secret that I love to create vignettes and many times I use books in my styling. Old books with ruffled pages set my heart on fire. I have picked up bunches in my travels over time. These particular books date to the 1800’s and are French. We will be recreating the look here shortly.

how to make new books look old

They just add that je ne sais quois to this autumn mantel setting for me! I even stuffed some books and pumpkins into a lantern for autumn…which you can see in THIS post of my HOME TOUR fall 2015

They can be used to give height to objects and can be turned so that the ruffly pages are on the outside for texture.

If you don’t have a trip to France planned in the near future to find books are from the 1800’s, it’s pretty simple to create the look with this little DIY.


Get yourself some paperback books that aren’t literary masterpieces and not worth saving. The best place to find them on the cheap are obviously thrift stores and yard sales. I have been downsizing the stuff in our home and what better way to add to my “old” book collection! Aged paper just looks delicious to me and smells good, but new paper made to look old has less issues.

Use Old Outdated Travel Books

The travel books are outdated and the stock book came from my husband’s office (he’s a hoarder at times:~)) and he actually had 2 of the same copy. Please don’t tell him that I took one, wink…wink
The first step is to rip off the covers and any pages inside that have the editorial text that is usually in larger print.
Find yourself a deep bowl with a flat bottom that is wide enough to fit your paperbacks into lying flat as well. This one is actually the top of a Tupperware cake saver. I knew that I must have had that around for SOME reason.

Make yourself a pot of strong coffee and pour it over the books, as shown. If you have enough to cover them that’s better. Open up the pages and get them soaked really well. This will help the pages absorb the liquid and ruffle up nicely. Leave the books to soak for several hours if possible for more stain…
I know that some people use tea for staining but I prefer to use coffee. As a result of using coffee you can achieve a deeper stain.

The books were soaked for about a 30 minute period of time. In the left stack, I ruffled the pages by hand as I set them in the coffee to soak.  The books on the right were not ruffled to create a different look. Finally, set in the sun to dry when finished soaking if possible to avoid any mold.
how to make new books look old
I hope that you have a chance to try this out and let me know how it goes!

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  1. Wonderful Janet, thanks for the Tutorial. I plan on sorting out my books this weekend for this project. ?

  2. Katie Mansfield says:

    I'm doing this tomorrow! Love this idea.

  3. Cocoanlace says:

    Thanks for the tutorial. I've been wanting to do this but I was thinking I'd have to scour garage sales, find old books, and with much guilt, rip off the covers. Your method is much better.

  4. Gorgeous…I love this idea, going now to give this a try. TFS, you ROCK!!!

  5. OMG I love this idea, they came out so old and pretty! Thanks for linking up to Merry Monday! Sharing on Fb & pinned! Have a great week!

  6. Rebecca at says:

    I love project that use stuff I already have. And what a great idea to turn old paperbacks into a cool decor piece. Thanks for the tutorial!

  7. Melissa French - The More With Less Mom says:

    Thanks for posting. Hello from Treasure Box Tuesday.

  8. pamela lepage says:

    Thanks for how to on the books. Will be using Pinterest to save so it on the party with my ftench country cottage.

  9. Great idea and so simple! Thank you for sharing with Dream. Create. Inspire. Link! I hope we'll see you again next week!


  10. How exactly do you “ ruffle the pages “?

    1. They should ruffle somewhat naturally if you use this technique. Some of the books pictured are genuine antiques and we are going for the look in this tutorial.

  11. Odessa Graham says:

    This weekend I am going to try this aging process on some no longer needed books I have. Then I am going to cover the covers with Christmas design paper. Thank you, Janet!

    1. That sounds like so much fun Odessa and will look great for the holiday season!

  12. Will the pages stick together in this process? I am wanting to make a book look vintage, yet still readable without taking it apart and putting it back together.

    1. This would not be a great process if you still want to read the book, as it may indeed cause some stuck pages

  13. Allyn E-H says:

    So, I have been looking for some way to age only the pages of a new sketch book that I got, and I was curious if you know of any other ways to dry the books faster after staining it? I am just worried that my brand-new book will mold before the sun dries it.

    1. You can try a blow dryer and that should help

  14. Allyn E-H says:

    Great! Thank you very much!!

  15. Nice post! Will you be able to read them still? I want to do this but I still want to be able to read the book I am doing.

    1. I would not use this particular technique on books that you intend to read Valarie.

  16. Thanks for the idea. I plan to try it out.

    1. Glad you liked the tutorial Eileen!