Shopping for Decorative Boxes - The New York Times

The best ones hold ‘any sort of unsightly things’ — but they’re also interesting pieces of functional art. (And no, they don’t have to be square.)

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Shopping for Decorative Boxes - The New York Times

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The best decorative boxes are both storage containers and functional art: They corral little things like jewelry and office supplies, but they’re also interesting on their own.

“Instead of using a plastic container, you can get something like an inlaid wood box, which just upgrades the experience exponentially,” said Alyssa Kapito, an interior designer in New York. “They replace commonplace storage with something that’s more beautiful.”

Whether it’s keys near the front door, cuff links on a bedroom dresser, tea bags in the kitchen, cotton balls in the bathroom or paper clips in a home office, “any sort of unsightly things can go in a box,” Ms. Kapito said. And so can small, valuable objects that you worry about losing.

What if you find a box that you love, but you can’t figure out what to put in it?

Don’t worry: It doesn’t have to hold anything at all. “It can be an objet all by itself,” Ms. Kapito said.

Can multiple boxes be displayed together? Yes, Ms. Kapito said: “I like to group them. Often, I’ll do two boxes on top of each other, and then a third box” beside them.

Should they match? Choosing boxes made from the same material provides a uniform look, Ms. Kapito said, but “I love mixing materials — I might do one wood box, one shagreen box and one metal box.”

Does it have to be square or rectangular? No, despite the name, decorative boxes come in a variety of shapes, including some that resemble objects or creatures found in nature.

Japanese box designed by Simplicity for Suzuki Morihisa Studio

$125 at Nalata Nalata: 212-228-1030 or

Walnut box set with tray

$139 for the set at Rejuvenation: 888-401-1900 or

$82 at Michele Varian: 212.343.0033 or

Brass box with leather insert made in Sweden

$325 at Les Few: 917-913-3161 or

Scalloped marble boxes made in India

$40 each at West Elm: 888-922-4119 or

Shopping for Decorative Boxes - The New York Times

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