How To Style Vases In The Home

Once you get past the larger pieces of furniture in a room, the smaller touches you add can make or break an aesthetic. And it's harder to find an ornament that is more versatile or well-loved than the vase. With a multitude of functions, vases have been used since antiquity as vessels for storage, for wine (we can get on board with that), and as trophies, according to the Mayfair Gallery. Vases have been decorating homes since roughly 3,000 B.C., so it's little wonder we still use them today.

Nowadays, though, vases tend to be trusty holders for flowers. But true to their versatile roots, vases don't stop there. There are plenty of innovative ways to style them in your home, and we wanted to make sure you were in the know about the best ways to showcase your favorite vessels. They can be used to spruce up empty mantels, flank doorways, or introduce your home's style right at the entryway. They can also help you channel rustic or eclectic tastes — depending on your preference — or allow you to become a rule-breaker by choosing a piece that doesn't conform to traditional ceramic designs. Let's look at the best ways to show off your vases.

Pairing your flowers with the right vase will make your home sing

Say the word "vase" to pretty much anyone, and the first thing they'll think of is a gorgeous bouquet in a pretty container. But there's an art to pairing flowers with vases, and certain types are better suited to specific vase shapes, notes Bloom & Wild. For example, if you have a tall vase, try placing flowers in them that have a sense of height, like sunflowers, lilies, or gladioli.

If you have shorter stems and only have a tall vase on hand, you can give the blooms more height by placing a small amount of balled-up cellophane in the bottom. For wide vases, create a grid shape over the mouth of it with tape, and then tactically insert bulkier flowers like statice or bupleurum to act as anchors for daintier foliage. This trick helps create an even spread and stops your flowers from flopping to the sides. A good tip is to rotate your vase while styling the blooms, so you can see how the arrangement looks from every angle and spread out your flowers evenly.

A floor vase can help create levels of style

While we're used to seeing vases perched on surfaces, there's no reason why they need to be elevated. The tactical placement of floor vases around your space creates a sense of lower-level visual interest, but you don't have to spend a lot to achieve the look. IKEA's CYLINDER vase, which starts at $24.99, is as tall as a chair and quite affordable. Its clear design can suit both floral arrangements and more unique objects placed inside.

Remember, though, that your floor vases don't need anything in them to make an impact. Acquiring statement vases of varying shapes and placing them on the floor in pairs can conjure a sense of style and serenity, as Rebekkah Davies Interiors + Design shows. Just make sure you consider foot traffic when staying floor vases — you don't want to place a priceless designer vase in an area where small kids or excitable pets are likely to knock them over. Instead, sprucing up your corners with floor vases is a safer choice.

Placing string lights in a clear vase can create an instant light feature

Multiple sources of light in a room are key to creating a cozy yet dynamic atmosphere. But your lights don't need to just come from fixtures. Create a light feature by placing string lights inside a glass or acrylic vase. The soft glow from the vase will create an inviting ambiance in the room, while also adding a unique twist to the standard desk lamp option. While this is an excellent year-round option to bring some sparkly joy into your rooms, it's also a perfect choice around Christmas time.

Remember that your light choice is everything when pairing string lights with a vase. "For a warm and inviting atmosphere, we suggest using warm white lights as a timeless option," Lucy Kirk, creative and photography manager at Lights4Fun, told Livingetc. "The most important tip is to make sure they don't flash. It's the difference between a soft, magical wonderland theme or a stress-filled fairground nightmare," Lucy St. George, founder of Rockett St. George, advised. We don't need to be told twice!

Defy gravity with hanging vases

Since time immemorial, vases have been placed on things. On tables, on mantels, on floors. Now, don't get us wrong — we love putting stuff on other stuff as much as the next person, but it's time to change it up. Hanging vases are a fresh and appealing way to introduce levels into a space and to display your flowers and objects innovatively. Hanging vases can be a steal, too, with a pack of 12 available in a stylish rustic-chic design from Walmart for less than $20.

A few hanging vases scattered about your space are great for rustic-chic designs, since rustic decor incorporates natural materials and old-world charm, as per Dianne Decor. However, as with any hanging objects, it's important to consider safety. Make sure any hanging vases you place are well-secured to your wall or ceiling, and it's advisable to put them in an area where, should they drop, they won't cause any damage.

For smaller style moments, grab some bud vases

While regular vases might be a staple in the home, we implore you to go one step further and grab some tiny bud vases to scatter around your space. Bud vases, explicitly designed to hold a single flower stem, are the definition of less is more. A wide range of flowers can be at home in these miniature marvels, from single hydrangeas to roses to a solo orchid, says JamaliGarden.

The beauty of a bud vase is that you can place it pretty much anywhere it fits. Still, these small ornaments are particularly useful where larger vases may not fit, like on narrow windowsills or mantels. If you have a rectangular table in your home, a line of bud vases dotted along it will create pops of color and vibrancy. Bud vases are also an excellent vessel for any leftover flowers you have from creating an arrangement in a larger vessel. For example, did you cut one of your flowers too short? Pop it in a bud vase, and away you go!

When styling vases, contrast is key

When it comes to interior design, uniformity certainly has its place. But contrasting elements can bring a space to life. Using contrast throughout your design adds dynamism to any room, and helps you avoid that drab feeling some spaces get when everything's just a little too cohesive, says Hudson & Crane. And vases are the perfect vessel (excuse the pun) for contrast in any room.

To achieve contrast that doesn't feel random, you need to follow a few design principles. Oka founder Sue Jones told Homes & Gardens to look at the height of your decor pieces. Creating a contrast between tall and short vases creates pleasing vignettes. It's also useful to try and keep your contrasting elements within an overarching theme or color palette, so your room feels like it makes sense. "For spring and summer, look for ceramics featuring nature-inspired textures and calming shades of blue or cream," Jones suggests.

Remember, it's not all about flowers

Look, we're simple folks here at House Digest. We see a vase, and we put some flowers in it. However! We're also here to tell you that flowers really are a starting point for styling vases, and once you get into the heady world of vase-use in interior design, you'll find many other choices to snazz up your space.

In fact, one alternative way to use a vase is to incorporate natural elements that aren't flowers. You can also fill vases with seashells, pebbles, sand, dried flowers — pretty much anything you want. And there's a reason why nature-inspired vignettes are trending right now. "As we are being faced every day with the collapse of our ecological climate, there seems to be increasing interest in all things natural. This, of course, has translated into interior trends," Martin Waller, founder of decor brand Andrew Martin, told Homes & Gardens. To subtly introduce the sense of the coast into your home, try taking a round vase, filling 1/3 of it with sand and seashells, and then placing a votive candle in the center of it (via JamaliGarden). Not only will you have an immediate sense of the sea in your space, but you'll also have a cool new light source.

Go vintage with your vases

Vintage design serves the double function of providing something totally unique with a sense of history, and avoiding buying any newly-made stuff. Vases are a natural choice to fulfill your vintage quota, and you can guarantee that your vintage vase will be the talk of the town. Platforms like Chairish and Etsy are perfect places to seek vintage vessels online, or if you want to take it old-school, check out yard sales and vintage stores in your area (via EyeSwoon).

But, contrary to popular belief, styling with vintage pieces isn't as simple as just buying them and placing them in any old room. Once you have your vintage vases, you need to think intelligently. "Plan and scheme your design based on either a furniture or light fixture or wallpaper from a certain era, then build your design from that one inspiration," Jonathan Rachman, owner of the eponymous Jonathan Rachman Design, tells The Spruce. And try not to go kitsch, people. "Unless you are trying to do a movie or theater set to be historically accurate, please don't take the retro style to a level that it becomes theatrical," Rachman says.

Place vases in your entrance space for a big impact

Your entryway is important. As the first place in the house that your guests will see, it's important to curate your home's aesthetic in this seemingly nondescript space, designer Shalini Misra says. That's where vases come in. From big to small, a well-placed vase can indicate to your visitors that this is a home of style and substance.

Try placing taller vases on either side of your door — or by doors leading off your entrance space — for an immediate stylistic pop. Or, if you have slightly smaller vases, combining a vase with a console table is a perfect choice. "Often located in foyers, console tables are often one of the first glimpses into your home, and your console table is an opportunity to impress your guests with a taste of your fabulous personal style," interior designer Liz Walton told Real Homes. Place several shorter items on your entryway console table, and anchor them with a tall vase to create an immediate visual impact.

Don't shy away from a little symmetry

In our homes, few things emanate more peace than a sense of order. And few things deliver such a feeling better than a few pops of symmetry. "Symmetry provides balance within a room," designer Liv Wallers told Homes & Gardens. "It brings a sense of comfort and rhythm to a space which is an integral part of our design approach. It can be used right down to the smaller details of the room, cushions on the sofa to lamps on a dresser." 

But understandably, achieving symmetry in a space can be tricky with larger items, which is where smaller ornamental pieces like vases come in handy. Simple touches like matching vases on either end of a mantel or bookcase can create serious equilibrium and anchor a space. If you want to go a little larger, try using floor vases, like this Moroccan embossed floor vase in neutral tones from Walmart. Grabbing two of these and placing them on either side of a door will introduce a sense of balance before your guests even step into a room, which you can then match with more touches of symmetry within.

Your mantel is the perfect place for your vases

Your mantel is the ideal place to display your finest ornaments, so vases and mantels are a match made in heaven. It's pretty hard to go wrong, whatever your design tastes are. If you're a fan of a slightly more eclectic approach to your interior design, try adorning your mantel with "white ceramic vases of different shapes," interior architect Alexi George tells Style Curator. Bringing a sense of ordered dynamism to your space can really make the room pop.

But what if you want to keep it minimal? Or what if you only have one vase you particularly love and want to spotlight? Your mantel is ideal for that too. Try placing "one hero piece on the mantel such as a beautiful large-scale floral arrangement (there are amazing fake florals out there these days) and letting the mantelpiece and the mirror/art/wallpaper be the hero," designer Nicole Rosenberg suggests. Opting to stay simple and remove any other ornamental distractions keeps your mantel calm and your vase in full focus.

Three is the magic number for your vases

They say that good things come in threes, and to be honest, we think whoever coined that phrase had vases in mind. Okay, maybe not exactly, but as a general interior design principle, aiming for threes is a great idea. "Grouping items in three is a great way to make your home feel more balanced," says designer Tracy Morris to MyDomaine. And while trios can be harder to introduce in a room with furniture, for smaller items like vases, it's a doddle.

Vases work particularly well in groups of threes in areas closer to eye level, where they can achieve maximum visual impact. "To achieve the perfect shelfie, try clustering three vases together, but with varying heights for visual interest," suggests designer Courtney Sempliner. The height difference will keep the display feeling energetic. And if they're the same vase? No problem. "If items have similar heights, try placing a book — or three — underneath for elevation," Sempliner says. Placing three different vases in a group of three also works perfectly, particularly if they're different shapes or widths but have a sense of uniformity through a shared color.

Move away from the pack with seriously unique vase choices

We're not sure why, but at some point down the line, vases gained a reputation as being a safe, easy choice for interior decorating. We can see why: They're one of the most reliable ornaments out there. But to be quite honest, in this modern day and age, we're here for vase choices that stray away from the pack, and picking up a vase that works as a piece of art in itself will have everyone talking. Break the mold by opting for a vase in a contoured, unusual shape, such as the Completedworks compound vase, which simultaneously functions as a vessel for flowers and as its own sculpture, breaking the rules of traditional ceramics and vases. Its unusual dips and dents easily make it a showpiece and will add an artsy touch to your room.

But what if you like your spaces to have a little more of a human touch? There's a vase for that too — many, in fact. Designer Anissa Kermiche creates stunning body-inspired vases in a range of tones, shapes, and styles, mimicking the female form with its use of curves, circles, and lines.