Treasure: Antiques put the fun in functional

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Like many homeowners at this time of year, getting organized is at the top of the list of my New Year’s resolutions. And while a visit to The Container Store is always a possibility, I’ve decided to skip the plastic and work harder to integrate vintage pieces into my decor that offer both and style and storage. “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” English philosopher and designer William Morris advised. For me, antiques offer both.

It was a trip to New York City last fall that first prompted the reassessment of my organizational options. At the Upper Rust, a wonderful — and oh-so-tempting — antique store in Greenwich Village, I fell hard for his vignette of stacked wooden crates and ironstone and vowed to do better at both displaying and enjoying my favorite collectibles. In that vein, I offer other following tips to help you corral clutter and tame (and enjoy!) your treasures.

Think outside the box: Be on the lookout for anything with cubbies — tool boxes, wooden printer’s trays, mail sorting slots or soda crates, which can be used either on their back or hung on a wall. Wooden wine crates make great succulent planters or magazine organizers.

Suits me: I admit to a real weakness for old-fashioned suitcases, and usually have a stack or two in my basement at any given time. Fill them with files, books, fabric and other items you want to keep handy but out of sight or stack them for a colorful display that you use as a side table next to a sofa or bed. Top with an antique lamp for a quick and charming vintage vignette.

Distinctive displays: Hung on the wall and used to store small things such as jewelry or handkerchiefs, colorful clutches and period purses make unique and useful wall decor that can still be taken down and used for their original purpose when needed.

Winning ways: Old trophies are award-winning accessories in their own right, of course, but why not put them to use as desk holders for pens, pencils, scissors, letter openers and other desk necessities?

Toolin’ around: Scout garage sales for old garden rakes and hoes. Hung on the wall without the wooden pole, they are handy holders for necklaces, kitchen utensils and a variety of other items. Wooden tool caddies with handles can also store almost anything, including Post-it Notes and paperclips on a desk, dish soaps and scrubbies in the kitchen — I’ve even seen them holding flowers on a table, where they make an unusual and rustic centerpiece.

Now you’re cooking: Overstuffed kitchen cabinets? Muffin tins, vintage lunchboxes, wooden bins originally designed for silverware can all be recycled into new purposes with a little imagination.

Ladder love. Look through a home magazine or watch a repurposing show on HGTV and odds are you’ll see at least one ladder used in a creative way. Try leaning it against the wall in a bathroom for towels, in a living room for blankets or hung from the ceiling in the kitchen as a pot rack or in the laundry room as a drying area. It could even make a fun shoe rack in a walk-in closet.

Win a free VIP appraisal with Dr. Lori and breakfast with yours truly: Feeling lucky? It’s not too late to register for the fun giveaway that will award five lucky Detroit News readers and their guests with the chance to enjoy a free appraisal with renowned appraiser Dr. Lori at the upcoming Novi Home Show. Homestyle is teaming up with the show to host the Jan. 27 event, which also includes breakfast with Dr. Lori and me at the Suburban Collection Showplace. Each winner will also receive tickets to the show.

To enter, visit vipbreakfast. The contest runs through Jan. 23 at 11:59 p.m.