Butler County Times Gazette
  • Through the Front Door: Gather the garden stools for impact, inside or out

  • Garden stools are a welcome departure from the commonplace side table
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  • Good Morning my lovely Butler County friends!
    Today, let me share a delightful little “perch” of an object with you—the garden stool. Many of you may know what these are, but just as many of you may not. Either way, once I describe the incredible impact of these small pieces, you are going to thank me!
    As I often do, I’ll start with a brief bit of history of these small but mighty pieces. Garden stools are by no means a new invention. They made an appearance in China about 1,000 years ago. Gardens were an intricate part of Chinese homes, which were built around a garden or courtyard. To enjoy these gracious gardens, the homeowners needed furniture. The garden stool was born out of a desire to be one with the garden and sit for a while. The stools were made of glazed stoneware, porcelain and even stone was used to withstand the outdoor elements.
    The alluring stools found their way west hundreds of years ago, where they add drama to a garden. The design often echoes a traditional Chinese look with a relief of nail heads at the top. In the past, wooden drums were crafted by stretching skin over the opening and then securing with nails. This design is still a very common design element, even today. I just received an email from one of my vendors, and a good share of the beautiful new stools had this very detail. So, now you have a brief bit of history as to where these lovely pieces came from. They evolved—they didn’t just happen!
    In the last few years, these drum-shaped ceramic stools have been very desirable. I think I bought my first one around 2005 for my garden. The blast of color and the wonderful sheen, luster, or unexpected textures add so much to the lush surroundings of flowers and foliage. I first bought a classic Chinese garden stool in Ming blue with a white floral motif and traditional pierced double medallions detailed in blue. After I bought it, I loved the impromptu table aspect so much that I promptly bought another identical one.
    Less than 10 years ago, garden stools were hard to come by and pricey, as so many decorative items are when they are first “discovered.” Now, the price has dropped dramatically and finding them is a cinch. I recently picked up a delightful apple green one at Michaels for, drum roll please, $32! This new addition to Highland House has wonderful hand cutouts at the top for easy carrying. This makes moving it from room to room so easy, something to think about when shopping for a stool. This delightful charmer can live in just about any room in the house. Having said that, make sure you select a hue or pattern that could live in at least three of your rooms! Make smart purchases, gorgeous, and you will give yourself so many options!
    Page 2 of 3 - Now, where do we place these beauties to give our homes one more level of refined detailing? Anywhere! Absolutely anywhere! They are a welcome departure from the commonplace side table or stool. Let’s approach this one room at a time.
    Living room or family room
    • Tuck one or two under a console table for a blast of unexpected color.
    • Position one next to a chair as the perfect place to stack books and magazines.
    • Use a stool as a sofa “suck up table,” which is essentially a fresh version of a TV table. Simply place a stool tight to one end of the sofa for the perfect spot to place a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
    • Cluster three or four garden stools together, all the same or different ones, and top with a piece of glass for a delightful new coffee table.
    • Place one in front of a smaller-scale sofa or love seat, or place two for interesting spot tables. This is especially lovely if you contrast solid upholstery with patterned tables, or patterned upholstery with solid tables.
    • Position a garden stool as a table between two chairs, and add a floor lamp for illumination.
    • Use as a perfect side table for a chaise.
    Bedroom
    • Pair at the foot of the bed for sitting and putting on shoes.
    • Place in a walk-in closet for perching or collecting shoes and handbags.
    • Use one next to a cozy chair and ottoman.
    • Park one under your bedside tables for a shock of color or pattern, and a handy place to sit.
    Bathroom and powder room
    • Put one in the shower—literally. Hey, if they can live outdoors in the rain, they can handle a shower. This works especially well if you don’t have a shower bench.
    • Position one next to the tub to hold fresh towels or the beverage of your choice.
    • Place one next to a pedestal sink for a place for a guest to put a handbag or phone.
    • Use a large lovely cachepot (large bowl) to store additional toilet tissue. You know me…be sure to tie up the toilet tissue with a lovely plaid ribbon. Oh, it is a show stopper!
    Kitchen
    • Tuck a stool under the knee hole area of a planning desk. This works well when passage is tight and a chair just eats up too much space.
    • Place one next to the planning desk for a handbag.
    Outside
    Page 3 of 3 - • Use garden stools as they were meant to be used—as a place to ponder in the garden.
    • Position them as just lovely side tables for wicker chairs or love seats.
    • Create the most delightful side table for a porch swing.
    • Make the perfect place for a pitcher of ice tea or a seat for a visitor.
    • Place garden stools on either side of your front door to hold lanterns or jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween.
    • Cluster them with a group of handsome glazed pots with tall palms. Stagger the height from tall to medium and then the garden stool.
    Other uses
    • I plan to use my apple green one near my Christmas tree to hold stacks of packages—oh, I am just giddy at the thought.
    • Use one at the beginning of a buffet, with perhaps a lovely French chicken that came to roost and send your guests on down their way of the buffet.
    • Put a garden stool to work on the buffet table as part of the dessert presentation.
    Where can you find these wonderful stools? Try Michaels, Tuesday Morning, Decorators Home Collection, Target, Lowe’s, and Ballard’s Designs, for starters. Also check out garden centers and the summer décor area of pretty much any store. This is the perfect time to look because they will be on sale if not now, very soon. Once you invite one of these vastly useful stools into your home, you will be on the watch for a couple more!
    Have a lovely summer week, and I will be here next week for a visit!

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