Rehabilitate vintage ashtrays for a unique decor twist

by Neal Kielar, Tastemaker in Residence

Weaving vintage into your home and entertaining style is more popular than ever for a lot of reasons. First, it lets you put a unique stamp on your decor with finds that few others will have. Second, you might be driven by a desire to recycle and re-use perfectly good items rather than having them go into the trash. And finally, there’s the fact that many older items are incredibly well made and stand out because of it.

If you’re on board for creative uses of vintage items – mixing the new with the old – then take a leap and consider ashtrays in a whole new way. 

Smoking was commonplace years ago, and even considered elegant. We know better now and fewer and fewer people smoke. But some of those ashtrays had style to burn. So what can you do with amazingly well-crafted ashtrays in beautiful hand-blown glass, intricately glazed pottery and hand-painted ceramics?

Start with a thorough washing. Because high-quality ashtrays were made from glass, porcelain and pottery, they rarely retain odors and old grime comes off easily. Once you’ve revealed those designs and gotten the glass to shine, the uses are as varied as you can be creative:

  1. Serve candy, nuts or other small bites using extra large ashtrays like serving trays 
  2. Use them to serve dips or sauces
  3. For buffet style meals, place bundles of cutlery in a large, flat ashtray
  4. Float a flower in a bowl-shaped ashtray for a unique centerpiece 

Reusing these pieces will give you a dash of style and most people won’t even know you’re using an old ashtray.