Garden Stools

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10 UNIQUE WAYS TO USE A VINTAGE GARDEN STOOL

Compact, colorful, and ultra-versatile, the vintage garden stool might be touted as a petite sidekick, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this multitasker isn’t cut out for the main event.

A direct descendent of the Chinese drum stool, today’s garden stool is believed to have originated in China over a thousand years ago. Undeniably Zen-like, garden stools are likely to have been born out of Buddhist garden tradition. In the 18th Century, Chinese garden stools were exported to Europe for the first time and the Brits immediately pegged them as essentials for their indoor conservatories. As British potteries began churning out their own garden stools, they made a few edits, casting garden stools in brighter colors than the Chinese traditionally had and including more open fretwork—hallmarks of the vintage garden stools we know today.

To give you a sense of the many ways in which a vintage garden stool can be used (both in and out of the garden), we’ve compiled a list of ten must-try scenarios. Read on, for our best tips and surprises.

Side Table

Okay, so using a vintage garden stool as a side table isn’t exactly out of the box, but it is a fine place to start. In spaces where a traditional side table might feel too ungainly, nestle one between two accent chairs. A garden stool is also especially wieldy when used alongside a chair stationed in front of a fireplace. A vintage garden stool’s profile will keep things looking tidy while providing just enough space to balance a book and a cocktail glass.

Tub Buddy

A claw foot tub is a glorious thing until you discover that there’s few places to stow that bottle of Mr. Bubbles. Coming to the rescue? A used garden stool. Set one up tub-side and it’s an ideal place to set out your bath essentials—whether that be lotions and soaps or a candle and a bottle of Merlot. And the best part? You can stay blissfully emerged while reaching for all of those relaxation-inducing necessities.

Under a Console

Console tables are practical for entryways and living room nooks, but since they lack an excess of drawers they can sometimes feel superfluous—especially in a room that’s already pinched for space. To make a console feel more functional, try slipping vintage garden stools under it. Not only will they fill white space, but they’ll be easy to pull out when extra seating is needed.

Coffee Table

A used garden stool is a fine place to perch a drink when you’re kicking it solo, but what about when you’re hosting a crowd? With no offense to the garden stool, it leaves a little to be desired space-wise. To up its function, try grouping three vintage garden stools and capping them with a piece of circular glass. Now you have a place for drinks and a bowl of queso—and seriously, how easy was that?

Umbrella Stand

Flip a used garden stool hourglass style and—voila, you have a fine umbrella stand! Some tips to keep in mind for this look? Firstly (and most obviously), seek out a used garden stool with a hollow bottom. Next, take a moment to consider if your stool features a pattern that can handle being inverted. Simple fretwork garden stools often work best since they have no true top or bottom.

Garden Lantern

Another option to consider when you have a hollow, open fretwork garden stool on hand? A larger-than-life garden lantern. Position your used garden stool (or stools) in a garden nook and place a battery-operated light under it. Switch on the light prior to a party or a solo, post-sundown stroll. In full disclosure, we love this idea best for the way it returns the garden stool to its Zen roots.

Vanity Stool

If frou-frou vanity stools make you wince, try parking a vintage garden stool under your bureau or desk. While just as functional as a vanity stool, a garden stool feels more substantial thanks to its ceramic construction. Their slim profile also makes them perfect for tucking away when they’re not in use. To keep the look feeling femme, look for used garden stools with delicate details like all-over chinoiserie, or a nipped and fluted silhouette.

Daybed Side Kick

Daybeds pose a perplexing problem. Since visually they’re not a sofa, they don’t lend themselves to a coffee table stationed in front, but since they’re routinely used as one, it begs the question: where in the world does one set a drink? Thankfully a used garden stool offers up a witty (and good-looking) solution. Group two vintage garden stools front of a daybed to create a place for books, flowers, and, yes, a cup of coffee or two.

Plant Stand

If you’ve ever tried to place topiaries outside of your front door then you know that scale is a tricky thing to master. If you wind up with topiaries that are a little smaller than you would like, despite your best-laid plans, try propping them up on vintage garden stools. A garden stool will provide just the boost that an ordinary topiary needs to assume the role of extraordinary.

Nightstand

Have a guestroom that you’d just as soon rent out to strangers than decorate yourself? We get it, spending your hard-earned dollars on a room you won’t be personally indulging in can feel like a blow. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to edit down the pieces needed for a guest room, one of which includes using vintage garden stools for nightstands. No, they won’t provide places to store and stash—but when you think about it, doesn’t that count them perfect for overnight guests? Perch a large coffee table book on top to create more usable surface space, one that can accommodate a small lamp, a pile of jewelry, and a phone if need be.