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Old ashtrays are great for storing mementos and seashells — or just some loose change. The ciggie indentations and the fonts are always fun, and when they're from hotels, motels and restaurants that are either foreign or no longer exist, they're just that much more chic. I see olives in this one's future.
Cloches are spectacular, and they've had a huge resurgence these past four or so years. Traditionally used in gardens to protect seedlings in colder weather, they've been repurposed throughout the house. If you're lucky, you can unearth one at a treasure shop.
I love the way this designer put books under the dome and created a weirdly whimsical vignette under there. It just goes to show, you can put anything under one — food included. (Mounds of grapes — red and green together —would look so decadent.) Which is why I think repurposing a cheese dome is perfectly OK. And those are easiest to come by. Find a taller one one with a marble or wood base — lovely!
Mason jars have been around forever, and they're as useful in the kitchen as in they are in the tool shed. (This enterprising family uses theirs for spice storage; they've just screwed the lids up into a wood beam.) I'm fond of the old, blue or brown jars with the zinc lids. Some lids are even zinc and porcelain, indicators that they're definitely old, as that kind isn't made anymore.
I've seen people spray paint them matte colors, to match their collections and decor. A nice hostess parting gift would be a small one filled with soil and a little basil or lavender plant. Just wrap the jar with jute twine a few times and tie it in a knot for a classy send-off.