DO IT YOURSELF VINTAGE FRENCH BOOKS . . . Restoration Hardware inspired.


There is magic in very old books.   They speak to you with a thousand tales.  Secrets from the past.  Adventure .  Romance.   Intrigue.

Restoration Hardware’s catalogue  “Objects of Curiosity”   was my inspiration for altering inexpensive soft cover books into expensive looking objects of desire. It is very easy to create these copies of  magnificent l8ths century handcrafted journals.


All your need is a length of heavy string or twine, Elmer’s Glue,  natural coloured muslin fabric, Mod Podge,  Black craft paint, Gesso, a flat paint brush and an exactor knife.

I picked up some fat books (six inches by nine inches) 50 cents each in the discard bin at our local library.   They were ideal since they were about the same thickness and would make a set.

l. cut pieces of twine for each book and glue to the spine with Elmer’s Glue.  Let dry.

2.  Cut muslin fabric slightly larger than the book.  Do not use pinking sheers.  You want the edges of the fabric to fray slightly.


3. Put sheets of wax paper between the covers and pages of the book and brush on a generous layer of Mod Podge.

4.Smooth the fabric onto the book and make a few small cuts on the fabric at the base of the spine.


5. Let dry a little and remove wax paper and let finish drying.

6. When dry add more cut along length of the spine.

7. Mix gesso with one or two drops of black craft paint and stir well.  You want a dirty gray so you may have to add a little more paint.

8. Put wax paper between the book cover and the pages and paint the muslin with your gesso mixture.

9. Let dry a little and pull out wax paper and let dry completely.  This may take a day or two.   You are now finished creating your very French vintage books.


I was so delighted with the results I went on to cover really large coffee-table sized  soft- cover books.    The instructions are exactly the same.  I also dabbed a damp tea bag on the edges of the pages to age them.

Sets of similar books retail for around $195.00.  Doing it yourself it works out to about $6.00 a book.  If you are a  “crafter” and have Mod Podge and gesso on hand (as I did)  the set of books cost me less than $5.00 for the set of four.





16 thoughts on “DO IT YOURSELF VINTAGE FRENCH BOOKS . . . Restoration Hardware inspired.

    • Apparently in the 1700’s books were covered with blank covers to hid books that were banned. Would seem it would be the ideal way to cover trashy books, Resa. XXOO Virginia

    • My dear friend. I have this ambitious and rather wonderful plan to fill an entire bookcase with these marvelous counterfeit books. Think how posh this would look. Merci!! Virginia

  1. Oh you artist, you creator of beauty!! I so love your home filled with all the treasures you have created. You make is seem so simple; however, it is your “beautiful eye” that creates these wondrous items from that beautiful mind. I love you so, Virginia!! hugs and kisses from the Emerald City

    • Dear Tinny. Such splendid words of encouragement. Give Me a glue gun, books and a paint brush and I would create a whole new world – all the time singing “somewhere over the rainbow”. Mr. Tin Man, you really do have the biggest heart. XXOO Virginia

    • I do have a lot of fun doing these little things, Jo Nell. I take advantage of those days when Lar is rock climbing and spread my messes everywhere. I put on opera on – full blast – I open the windows so the cows can listen. What a way to spend a day!!

  2. Gorgeous, Virginia! What about old telephone books? A great way to recycle them. And then they become time capsules! (I love the top shot of the book and music sheet. Lovely!)
    Enjoy the week,

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