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Thinking Outside the Box: Seven Clever Ways to Use Antique Items

Antique objet d’art and furniture items are always excellent additions to the home. Not only are the objects beautiful and historically significant, they are also often quite useful — sometimes in ways that aren’t even their intended use. At M.S. Rau, we love to think outside the box with our antique objects. Many of our spectacular items can be used for multiple purposes. Tag along to see some of our favorite ways to use antiques in a new, creative way.

1. Turn Your Secretaire into an Undercover, Yet Stylish Bar

Secretaires are most commonly used as desks, but their uses extend far past writing spaces. A beautiful antique cabinet or secretaire can easily become a truly exciting bar. Almost covert, bars housed in secretaires blend pleasantly into the room. However, as the doors swing open, the magic appears. Bottles of liquors, bitters and wines on one shelf paired with rare antique glassware on another is a winning combination. One can even add an antique cocktail shaker for more pizzaz.


Mixing and matching period pieces can spice up the look, too. An 18th-century secretaire paired with a 1930s cocktail shaker and Georgian coconut cups makes for an eclectic and exciting look in the covert bar.

Antique Furniture

2. A Silver Charger as a Vanity Accessory

Silver chargers can be useful outside of the dining room or tea service. A smaller, ovular plate is a stylish way to store your jewelry, cosmetics or perfumes atop a dresser or vanity. Delicate objects will find an elegant home on your favorite silver platter. A versatile object, a silver salver could be used on a more modern dressed for a creative juxtaposition or used on a period piece of furniture for a more traditional, elegant appearance.

Antique Silver

This Regency Silver Salver by Paul Storr would be a superb home for a perfume collection.

3. Use a Stunning Sideboard in the Bedroom or Closet

Antique sideboards are typically seen in dining rooms where they store flatware or table linens. However, the storage that a sideboard offers could be just as handy in a closet or bedroom. The compartments could be especially useful for undergarments, foldable clothing and accessories. Meanwhile, the center portion could be used as a vanity with a mirror placed above and a stool placed below.

Antique Desk

This Regency Mahogany Pedestal Sideboard paired with a bench could be a lovely vanity in any bedroom by adding a mirror above.


4. Transform a Centerpiece into a Grand Floral Display (Minton Majolica Mermaids)

Centerpieces are exciting decorations on their own, but they can easily be adjusted for a new look. Floral or greenery arrangements can be added, making the display even more impressive and grand. Our Minton majolica mermaid centerpiece recently housed a spectacular floral arrangement in our gallery, which was an unexpected delight.

5. Beautiful Walking Sticks Displayed as Wall Art

Canes are more than just utilitarian; they can be beautiful works of art, too. Walking sticks that feature intricate carvings, silver handles or colorful knobs can be suspended or placed on walls for a unique, eclectic focal point. By using subtle hooks, the canes can rest parallel to the floor or slightly slanted for some variance. To achieve a more “lived-in” look, place the canes in a basket or umbrella holder.
Antique Canes
Antique Canes

Unique canes like this Carved Canine Cane and Silver Aquatic Cane would make dynamic additions to any wall.

6. Wine Storage inside a Hobnail Safe

Safes are an exciting item to have in a home, but imagine opening up an antique hobnail safe for guests to show off a grand collection of wine! The most unique wine storage is just a few shelves away. Due to the safe’s intricate locking mechanisms, additional perks include a much harder time for others breaking into your favorite vintages.

Antique Safes

An Italian Iron Floor Safe would be a boast-worthy piece even before adding wine storage.

7. Antique Snuff Boxes Make for Wonderful Jewelry Boxes

Taking snuff was a highly regarded social ritual among European elites, thus the creation of snuff boxes became an art. Many artists used fine metals, gemstones and other rare materials to create these small yet beautiful boxes. While snuff may be out of vogue, snuff boxes are still exceptionally beautiful and practical antique objets d’art. Small jewelry collections can be kept safe in an antique snuff box. And since they were all the rage, there are troves of designs and styles to pick from.


Antique Boxes

A Louis XV-period snuff box crafted by master French goldsmith Germain Chaye offers a glamorous home for your jewels.


Antique Boxes


This German Mother of Pearl Snuff Box would make a great resting place for rings or earrings.

There are neverending uses for antique furniture and objet d’art. Stay up to date with our latest finds by subscribing to our email list — who knows what versatile objects we may encounter.


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