My favorite decorating tools are those that score a perfect 10 in the categories of form and function.
Glass delivers on both counts by adding brilliance and beauty to home decor while also serving as a reliable workhorse, helping out with lots of tasks around the home. I fell under glass's power several years ago when I first started experimenting with ways to make daily life a more lovely and luxurious experience. Nothing helps turn the mundane into magic like glass containers and accents.
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Here are some suggestions:
• Glass compotes make everything magical
A girl can't have enough glass compotes. These simple but supremely stylish bowls on a pedestal are an essential when you entertain or just want to elevate the status of nearly anything in your home. A few weeks ago, I hosted a gathering of Dan's old law-school buddies. Since I had decided to cheat and serve just a few simple appetizers instead of a fancy spread of culinary delights, I needed to make them look as amazing as possible. Thank heaven I had not listened to myself earlier this spring when I was caught up in a cleaning frenzy, purging my home of everything I didn't think was necessary. When I was about to weed out my glass pieces, a little voice reminded me that there was nothing like a glass compote when you want to make the simple look sublime.
The key to using compotes to serve food and drinks is to collect a wide variety of heights and sizes so you can create a multidimensional display, like the one I pulled together in a jiff on the drinks table in my entry. The compotes themselves are so delicate and pretty that they make the simple food service seem luxurious.
I also like to use glass compotes to hold everyday items. For example, I have one in my bedroom filled with jewelry. You could place one in a powder room to display soaps or tip towels. If you're a crafter, use compotes to collect pins or spools of thread. For your home office, use compotes to corral office supplies, filling them with everyday items like paper clips and stamps.
• Glass jars hold everything in style
I have very limited space on my kitchen countertops, so I've determined that everything that wins a spot in this coveted area needs to be as pretty as it is practical. Not surprisingly, glass jars have earned a place of prominence because they allow me to showcase daily stuff beautifully. A plain glass jar on my counter holds the cats' food. Somehow, simple glass jars make even kitty kibble look beautiful.
I also keep my dish soap in a pretty glass jar, much to Dan's dismay. He thinks it's annoyingly impractical. In fact, I'm pretty sure that if I died tomorrow, the first thing he would do would be to toss the decorative jar and put dish soap directly on the counter. Woe to him, I do this same thing all over my kitchen, pouring his olive oil into pretty decanters and vinegars into unique jars. (Honestly, after nearly three decades of dealing with me, the fight is almost out of him -- he hardly ever grumbles anymore!)
I also use glass containers in my bathrooms. You'll find apothecary jars filled with cotton balls, decanters holding mouthwash and compotes with daily grooming items like Q-tips or soap.
• Pitchers and glasses make tabletops more picturesque
When my way-too-expansive collection of glassware is not in use for entertaining, I like to use it for daily decorating. I used a collection of glasses to hold the flatware Dan and I use for quick meals in our kitchen. The silverware goes straight from the dishwasher to this pretty trio of glasses, where it looks beautiful as it waits to be used.
I'm of the school of thought that dishware is artwork, so when we renovated our kitchen, I dedicated one wall of this small space to a bank of glass-front cabinets. I fill them with an assortment of glasses and dishes, arranged simply but beautifully so I can drink in their sparkling grace as I zoom through the kitchen on my way to work.
Do you have a way to put your glassware and glass serving pieces out for public view when they are not in use? Try working them into displays in your home, like holding a snippet of garden flowers on your mantel or votive candles on your kitchen windowsill, or standing by the bedside in your bedroom to quench a midnight thirst.
Glass decanters are so glamorous, aren't they? Dress up a coffee table or side table with a tray holding a crystal decanter and two regal glasses. Even if you never intend to use them for drinks, they look amazing.
• Glass accents add to everyday decor
My favorite way to decorate with glass accent pieces is to intersperse them throughout my home, winding them through displays. A decanter and glasses are a perfect focal point for a display on a coffee-table ottoman. And an empty glass apothecary jar adds balance to a bold display on the side table.
Hurricanes are another of my favorite go-to decorating tools. They are fabulous for seasonal decorating because you can fill them with all sorts of treasures, like colorful gourds, pine cones or green apples.
On the center of a dining table, I like to fill a cluster of smaller vases with fresh blooms, cut short. You can also perch little vases filled with a single flower atop each place setting. Also, thread them through seasonal mantel makeovers. And they are perfect for a little pick-me-up treatment on a kitchen windowsill, holding a bloom or two.
I've been carrying apothecary jars for years at Nell Hill's because these classic pieces are ideal for storage and decorating. I love their graceful lines, regal pedestals and little lids that hold the treasures within. If you want simple beauty in a display, leave the apothecary jar empty so the focus is on the graceful curves of the glass. For a fresh infusion of green, fill them with plants for a terrarium. Let them hold natural treasures, like acorns, a bird's nest or fall leaves. Or, use them for a fetching food service -- cluster a trio together filled with colorful candies.
• Adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com.