Solutions: Look for treasures that add life to a home

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Let’s face it. The basics that fill our homes can be a bit boring in the big picture, especially when compared to their captivating counterparts. For example, when we make safe selections like neutral upholstery for a sofa in an attempt to ensure longevity, there should be a balance with some inspiring sidekicks.

I recently came across an old photo taken in my living room that shows a unique floor easel I had at the time. This particular style with its gold finish and slim profile allowed the art to be the star attraction.

Though I would eventually sell it when we no longer had the right spot due to the constant shifting and addition of furniture, I feel a longing for another. Even a tabletop easel will do because I like the flexibility these pieces afford with their ever-changing contents.

Another distinct find is a 3-way floor mirror that’s been in our home for years. Though I never expected it to become a favorite, the whole family finds it handy. Even the dog likes to curl up inside. It can also be configured as a folding screen, but I prefer the traditional setup that reminds me of one from my childhood.

I’ve always been a fan of folding screens like the one that’s made its way around our house. Though some, like mine with open cutouts, are purely decorative, others can conceal clutter or divide a room.

This metal folding screen that’s in our living room features a timeless moon and star motif. At one point, I folded each end inward to form a triangle to save space. I liked the way it looked, so I decided to keep it this way.

Now the screen is neatly tucked into a corner behind a sectional sofa. There it adds visual interest to an area of the room where a heating vent in the floor prevents the placement of a solid piece like a pedestal.

Though I’ve since bid farewell to my modern-style jewelry stand, I still find myself drawn to these pretty little pieces that can be hard to find if you’re on the hunt for one that stands out from the crowd. A recent online search led me to a delightful little specimen from PBteen ( with sides that open for additional storage and a top that lifts up to reveal a mirror.

For now, I’ve decided to keep my decorative telescope even though I don’t have the right place for it at the moment. It took a long time for me to find the right one, so I can be patient when it comes to placement. The nautical style that combines brass accents with wood is truly a classic.

Lastly, I still have a vintage clothing valet discovered long ago at a local flea market. While it’s been in storage for quite some time, I haven’t been able to part with it. So, I’m thinking it needs to come out of hiding not just because it’s handsome, but because it’s handy, too.

None of these pieces takes up a lot of space, yet each has a distinct style and purpose. So, the next time you find yourself shopping for home decor, keep an eye out for items that take the basics to another level.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at