Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

4.29.2009

Making Room

When my mother was engaged, her parents set up long tables to hold all of the wedding presents that began streaming in. They used crisp tablecloths but the backdrop was nothing like the room Grace Kelly is standing in here, in High Society. Mom's presents were displayed in my grandparents' basement.

My friend Cameron got shelves. Her parents installed shelves in their basement to accommodate a bounty of Herend's Chinese Bouquet. Since she doesn't have much storage space in her own house, she can still go back to that basement and "shop" for things when she is visiting her family in Lexington, Kentucky.

I'd love to have shelves to hold a growing collection of modestly priced vases (I fantasize about that the way other women dream of bigger closets) but I literally don't have an extra inch to spare. So I'm thinking about tidy boxes placed under the bed.


Maybe something from The Container Store. The problem is, though, that the vases, glasses and containers need to be accessible: Use It or Loose It. There's no point to holding on to the collection if each item is not really used. In her book, Flowers for the Table, floral designer Ariella Chezar talks about the importance of having on hand all sorts of varied containers. She says the vessel should effortlessly suit the flower's shape and height, and she picks up random containers at garage sales and flea markets so that she is always prepared for any floral situation.

It doesn't seem insanely extravagant to have a lot if they are truly useful. But where to put them? What are your storage solutions?

Image three, above
©Flowers for the Table: Arrangements and Bouquets for All Seasons

The first image is via YouTube.

28 comments:

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Such a pity wedding gifts aren't displayed any more. I think it an odd but charming custom worth reviving.

Mrs. Blandings said...

My mother-in-law displayed ours, but I must admit I found it amusing. What was I just watching and the gifts were displayed but they were emerald necklaces and such?

Anyway, I do have a couple of chests (front hall and living room) that are chocked full of this sort of stuff. A great excuse to use AL decoupage tip from today!

Style Court said...

I should have interviewed a bunch of people about their wedding presents before doing this :)

Wonder if Darcy Miller's presents were displayed?

Patricia, you made me think, maybe a bedside chest to do double duty? Except I have tables not chests.

Anonymous said...

I got married in 1980 and also had Chinese Bouquet in Rust...my mother set up all the gifts in the dining room and had an afternoon party called a "Sip and See" so all could see the loot. Seems quaint now!

Style Court said...

Anon -- I'm crazy about the rust! Sounds charming and like a nice memory.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Court - maybe time for a change! Oh, and it was House of Mirth that I was reading - not watching. That would explain the jewels.

GrannySmithGreen said...

A real butler's pantry would be divine! Until then, I'll stick with glass fronted kitchen cabinets. That way, I can see the goods and really use them. Just this past weekend I pulled out a wedding present I had not used--ever. A crystal bowl works well as an ice bucket! Hey, why not?

We're "sip and see" girls around here. The home of the bridal "tea" usually sets up the tables, or displays items in the bedrooms. Such fun and special times!

Anonymous said...

Sorry - I hate hate hate the display of wedding presents. But Chinese Flowers in rust, on the other hand... YUM.

Style Court said...

GSG -- my aunt has a real butler's pantry in an old house, that's my favorite approach too. And I also like glass fronted cabinets in the kitchen.

I'll have to ask my mom and a few friends if they had a tea related to the gifts. Cam was married 5 years ago. I think the downstairs dens or basement areas were used to hold the gifts b/c there were hundreds of them and it was a practical location to have all that stuff out for months :)

Style Court said...

And in terms of organization and staying on top of the thank you notes, I guess the basement became command central.

Sarah said...

My grandmother has floor-to-ceiling shelves in her "back room" full of hundreds of vases, cachepots, planters, etc. I would love to have a room like that.

Displaying wedding gifts like you described is common here. We even had a "Sip and See" where people were invited to come over to have some cocktails and view all the gifts. Or at least the pretty ones (not toasters or waffle irons, lol).

Paul Pincus said...

that still from high society is gorgeous. so is herend's chinese bouquet!

The Peak of Chic said...

Fortunately I have great storage in my kitchen, but my dream would be to have a Butler's Pantry. If I were building a new home, I'd cut down on the living space in the kitchen and build a Butler's Pantry. Oh, I am having issues on where to store my linen, though. :)

Dickie said...

Accolades:
http://sthrngent.blogspot.com/2009/04/accolades.html

Cheers!
DAM

Jennifer said...

this is too funny, I was just discussing with my mom whether to display my sister's wedding gifts or not. she tried them out on the dining room table, but since she's in a new house and the dining room is open to the entry and the family/living room, she couldn't stand the clutter. the basement it is. that's definitely a tradition made more complicated by modern ways of life, I think. still a lovely idea though!

all of my vases are in a little wardrobe in my guest bedroom. I call it the "prop closet."

beachbungalow8 said...

oh this is my BIGGEST issue with the beach bungalows. Drives me insane: no storage and no basement or attic.

So, My fine linens, china, silver and crystal is stored in boxes from, the now defunct, 'hold everything' and stored in every tiny closet throughout the house. I have no idea what i own any more.

I dream of a house with storage

Style Court said...

Megan -- so we can relate on this! I think I'm just going to try to clear a shelf in my closet -- which means parting with clothes -- and then maybe also have an easy to open box under the bed.

Clarity said...

This day and age calls for double-duty storage, perhaps disguised as seating or even a sculptural stand-alone piece.

Style Court said...

Hi everyone -- I really appreciate all of the comments. I'm having some technical problems so there have been delays getting them up, but thanks!

tarheel said...

I'd love to have Sarah's grandmother's "back room!" My sister-in-law displayed her gifts on moveable shelves that we laughed and called "bleachers" b/c they looked like pretty white bleachers. All the gifts just sat there like little guests so eager to please. People dropped by to visit them. I thought it was hilarious, but everyone in the extended family in that small N.C. town used them for their weddings.

balsamfir said...

I have a spare room off my kitchen, unheated, with lots of pantry storage for things mice wouldn't eat, so my vases go there. But I don't have closets anywhere else, so I always go for chests instead of tables unless a place to sit is required. How about a small slant front desk if you need a writing space with knee room, or a drop front Chinese desk if the budget allows? One woman I know put a painted European(Czech) cupboard in her kitchen. She stores paintings in it, so why not vases in the bedroom...

Style Court said...

Tarheel -- I too want that back room! I'd even settle for those "bleachers" in a closet or something :)

Style Court said...

Balsamfir -- thanks! Lots to think about. Great ideas you have. I envy your pantry/extra room.

Blushing hostess said...

We don't have a butler's pantry -yet - but we are in the process of looking for a house with one because I collect porcelain and bone services. Both my parents families had them - now I have both their collections and don't! It is overwhelming at times. I have a rule in acquring furniture because of this situation: Every flat surface must have the ability to store: Buffets, consoles, parsons benches, armoires. Also, because of my Husband's career one of our households moves a lot and I cannot count on storage at the next stop. Temporarily we installed huge stainless shelving in one garage bay and then covered them. I look at a lot of houses from the 1940's and 50's now and there is so little storage, that should be a lesson. And it would be, if my heart were not so attached to the patterns handed down. My own services were not displayed and in fact, until I read this post, I had never heard of this tradition.

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

I have most of my vases in cabinets over my washer and dryer so I can use the laundry sink for filling them. A galvanized flower bucket is in the front hall closet and and a few vases are in the kitchen with the dishes. I also keep a shelf of empty glass jars to use for summer bouquets for friends. I wrap the jars in vintage hankies or tissue paper, held on with a rubber band disguised with a ribbon.

Alicia said...

Until my butlers pantry comes into fruition I actually use my guest bedroom closet top shelving unit and built up from there.
Think about how often its rall y used and for what extent do guests fill it. Ikea has smart, reasonable storge solutions.
And I continue to purchase...

Style Court said...

I'm loving everyone's suggestions. Thanks!

Cote de Texas said...

the last person I personally know who displayed her wedding gifts was my cousin and I was a junior bridesmaid in it - age 13 i think. maybe 14 - 40 years ago!!!! seems like yesterday. today - you don't get the gifts anymore. you get cards. then you either go pick up what you chose or just get a new wardrobe, whichever you really need.