One of my favorite things about the mid-century era of design is the mixture of brass and wood. I know that characteristic isn’t specific or exclusive to 1950s/’60s design, but it’s just done so well during this particular period. So, when I saw the brass and wood box pictured below at a local antique mall, I couldn’t pass it up. It wasn’t marked as having any one purpose, but I knew I could come with a cool way to use it in our home. After thinking about it for a day or two, I ended up deciding to turn it into a spice rack.
Luckily, the box size was perfect to fit these inexpensive glass spice jars from Target. I picked them up for $20 from our local store, gave them a quick wash, and then impatiently waited for them to dry so I could fill them up with our most-used spices. I couldn’t fit all 12 jars in my vintage wood box, but I knew I could save the extras for other purposes, so into our cabinet they went! As I waited for the six jars I could use to dry, I got started making labels.
I’ve explained many times before that I’m actually not a big fan of label makers. Yes, they can be handy, but I don’t love the idea of having to store yet another only-occasionally-used electronic item in our house, and always having to keep extra ink cartridges on hand, too. So, instead I always make my own labels using the one everyday printer we do keep operable, plus a few other household supplies.
I start by typing up my labels on the computer, size them to fit whatever container I’m working with, and then I print them on regular old computer paper. I then cut the labels out, trim a piece of clear packing tape to fit over top of the label with a little extra room on each of the four sides, and then I press it in place. Easy as can be, and this method means I can avoid a clunky label maker entirely!
Once I had my clean, dry jars all labeled with our most-used spices, I could get to filling. As I said, I wasn’t able to fit all of our spices in this rack, so I just picked the ones we use every day, like onion and garlic powder, dill weed, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and an Italian spice mix.
One thing I had to deal with unexpectedly was the fact that the little frosted shaker tops (the part with holes in it) that came with the spice jars wouldn’t stay in place. As in, the minute I went to tip the jar over, the cap fell off and all the spice came out. Luckily I tested this over my hand first and not on food.
To fix that issue, I went through our spice drawer (pictured above) and stole six matching white screw-on covers to put over the shaker tops of my new spice jars. This kept the tops in place and left me with a matching set in the end. Just beware of that if you purchase the Target spice jars. It may take a little finagling to get them in good functioning order.
It has been so nice having this little collection of spices out on the counter for everyday use, and I love how they look all nestled into their vintage wood and brass box. Do you happen to know the real purpose of this mid-century item? If so, please tell us in the comments! I’d also love to know if you would have done something totally different with the box. Maybe turn it into a planter? Maybe to store jewelry or bathroom products? As a perfume bottle caddy? Let me know what you would have done.
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I believe this is from the 1980s… my best guess would be some sort of side serving tray. Love how it’s being used for spices! It looks great.
Thanks for your insight! And I’m glad you like how it turned out here 🙂