Thank you for visiting Tumbleweed Tidings! Today, I’m going to spend a little time talking about things you can use to hold other things. Clear as mud? Okay, let me explain! I love to take ordinary household items and use them to hold other ordinary household items. Still confused? Maybe some pictures will be worth a thousand words.
In our traditional dining room, we have a china cabinet full of beautiful items of crystal; everything from the toasting flutes used at our wedding, to vases, to sugar and creamer sets. Many of these represent years of gifts, and have special meaning. But, there they sit, pretty as punch, just waiting to serve some useful purpose. So I have pulled a few of those items out where we can enjoy them, and use them to hold things we need every day.
In our master bathroom, I have taken a lovely crystal decanter and use it to hold my mouthwash. The top of this decanter had been broken years ago, so I purchased a crystal wine stopper and voila, it was practical again. On a tray in front, sits a covered candy dish that is the perfect size for round cotton pads, and a covered jelly jar that contains Q-tips. They sit on a pretty blue and white porcelain tray that, if not being used to hold these items, would be languishing in a dark cupboard. Seriously, it was like they should have been made to hold mouthwash, cotton balls and Q-tips all along, they work so well.
In one of our guest baths, there is a footed cream and black container that holds cotton balls. Next to it is a small black metal container that I found at an antique store. In its previous life, it was a jelly jar from France, and since the best-by-date was January 2016, some may question it being called an antique. But antique or not, I loved it, and knew it would be the perfect size to hold Q-tips. As you may have guessed by now, I am a big fan of cotton balls and Q-tips being close at hand in every bathroom! In this same bathroom, I have used a harlequin patterned bucket as an unconventional guest towel holder, and a larger version to hold extra rolls of toilet paper.
In our laundry room, I have taken a few items and put them to work holding laundry necessities. First, there is a covered candy jar that holds packets of Hawaiian laundry soap. Every now and then, I need to wash my cloths with this soap, just to bring the smell of the Islands into our lives. Next to that sits a large ginger jar with a cork lid that holds the regular powder detergent.
Another lidded jar holds clothes pins, and in front of the three glass containers is a cigar box we found in Jamaica. We don’t smoke cigars, but the boxes they come in are so intricate and beautiful that I bought a few empty ones from a local vender. Guess what’s in there? My fabric softener sheets, of course, fitting in the box like it was made-to-order!
On my desk, I have taken some items and turned them into office supply containers. First, there are two glass jars with Koa wood lids that are engraved from a Navy ball we attended in Hawaii years ago. They are too pretty to hide away and too nice to give to charity. One day I came up with the idea of using one for office clamps, and the other for paper clips. In front of them sits a beautiful glass frog meant to stabilize flower arrangements. My sister Loralee and I saw it at an antique store in Mount Vernon, Washington, and she told me that she had one and uses it to hold pens. Genius! So that’s what I did, and if I ever need it to use as a floral frog in a flower arrangement, I know right where it is.
In our other guest bath, I found a neat use for an old sewing machine drawer. I put some shredded brown paper in the bottom and filled it with shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and bath and facial soaps. It is the perfect size to hold the items that a guest may have forgotten to bring, while adding an interesting vintage element to the room.
A long time ago, I found this wooden wall file organizer at a store. Someone had already labeled the pockets In, Out and File in cute vintage labels. Originally, I thought I would use it for the office (duh) but now it works to hold reading materials for our guests to enjoy during their stay, and I rotate the magazines periodically. (Periodically is relative in this case, as sometimes in the summer I will find a Christmas Better Homes & Gardens Magazine in there:)) It would also be a good place to provide visitors maps, menus, and local attraction information should you ever turn your house into a VRBO or Airbnb!
At our open house this past Christmas, some good friends brought us a special hostess gift. It is a footed glass serving bowl, probably meant for a salad or side dish. They had filled the bowl with an array of delicious individually wrapped chocolates and truffles, in a variety of colors. It was so beautiful that rather than put it away in a cupboard, we have left it on our kitchen counter ever since. I just keep re-filling it with new wrapped candy, and somehow, they magically disappear!
Another fun item to use to hold things are terra cotta pots. A few years ago, we had an 80th birthday party for my mother in our back yard. Being September, the color theme was autumnal, and I used small terra cotta pots to hold the plastic silverware. I dug out what was left to show you how it looked, and obviously, no one used the spoons but you can still get the idea. I also use a terra cotta pot to hold my pens and pencils by the kitchen telephone, and on rare occasion, I’ve even been known to use them to hold plants…
Several years ago, our oldest daughter and her husband were redoing the back yard at their home. In the midst of cleaning out, they found an old dilapidated looking bird bath. I wish I had a before picture, because this thing was kind of sad. They said it was either going to my house or the dump, so when my daughter asked me if we wanted it, I said “heck, yeah!” I thought we could clean it up, possibly spray paint it, and use it in our yard. When my husband took the top off and started to buff it with the sander to remove years of gray oxidation, low and behold, underneath it was solid copper! Once it was completely cleaned up, he applied a protective poly coat and now this thing looks like a million bucks. At Christmas, I have used it to hold ornaments and oversized pinecones. I have also used it in a guest bath full of towels and toiletries. When we have parties, we fill it with ice and use it to hold chilled wines and bottles of water. Presently, it is holding cut up birch logs. This copper birdbath is so versatile that I just love everything about it. And no, Brooke and Rick, you cannot have it back:]
So, those are just a few of the ways that I have found to incorporate common vessels and use them in an uncommon way. Many of you are probably already doing this, but if not, I encourage you to look around your house, cupboards, and even the yard, to identify items that could have a more functional purpose and be used on a daily basis. Not only is it fun, but small creative touches like these will not only make your house more interesting, it can add that touch of vintage soul or whimsy that will make it look different from everyone else’s. And that is when the magic happens.