This Is an Unexpected but Brilliant Use for a Terracotta Pot or Jug

published May 30, 2023
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Credit: Erin Derby

In my never-ending quest to create a beautiful and functional home, I’m constantly tweaking things and reorganizing corners. My latest project is transforming our cluttered (and frankly blah) entryway into an orderly, stylish entrance. PSA: Don’t overlook an entryway! This corner, no matter how tiny, sets the tone for the rest of the house and shouldn’t turn into a dumping ground for shoes, bags, basketballs, and the like, if you can help it. In addition to coat hooks and a landing spot for keys, another must-have item to keep by the door is an umbrella stand.

However, my search for this essential was a bust for a long time. I did a deep dive on many sites, only to find essentially one ubiquitous cylindrical style out there. And it’s so basic. When it comes to organizational items, I don’t exactly want my place looking like it’s from a catalog. No offense to catalogs, but sometimes you have to think outside of the box and come up with a more visually interesting solution to hold your everyday goods. This is how I landed on using an olive jar-style terracotta planter as an umbrella stand. 

Terracotta vessels, essentially works of art on their own, add a touch of earthy Mediterranean charm to any room. I’ve been obsessed with placing pots on my shelves, deck, and pretty much any room for a while now. Then it hit me that these simple, classic designs can easily work as stylish catchalls for items other than plants. For example, use a small one to house kitchen spoons à la Athena Calderone of Eyeswoon, or get a medium-size beauty for — you guessed it! — umbrellas in your entryway. Whether squat and wider around the lip or taller and more amphora-shaped, elegant earthenware used this way is unexpected and makes even mundane tasks, like putting your umbrella away, feel a little more special.

Take it from Lauren Santo Domingo, co-founder of luxury retail site Moda Operandi and new artistic director of Tiffany & Co.’s home collection, who came about the idea accidentally (as shown above in her home). Santo Domingo ordered a planter to place on her mantel but didn’t check the measurements (been there!). “It sat in my front hall whilst I tried to figure out where to put it,” she says. Eventually, it became the family’s umbrella holder. Santo Domingo says she actually prefers the wider proportion of the planter to a traditional cylindrical upright stand. “It is so inviting — guests always drop umbrellas in there. Before that, short umbrellas always ended in a puddle on the floor.”

Convinced you need one? I’ve rounded up some options to keep your entryway orderly and artful. Now you can have a conversation starter right out the gate.

1 / 4

This whitewashed terracotta pot has total vintage vibes despite being brand new. At $129 and 14 inches tall, it’s not a bad price for the size.

2 / 4

The Umbria Vase from Arhaus comes in just under $100 and stands 16 inches high, making it perfect for taller umbrellas. It ships free of cost, too.

3 / 4
One Kings Lane
was $305.00

For a larger entry, try this white jar with a faux moss-covered finish and epic proportions.

4 / 4
Pottery Barn
was $199.00

At just over a foot high and with its wider opening, Pottery Barn’s Azina Planter in the “small” size is a similar style to Santo Domingo’s own umbrella cachepot.