The use of glass is clearly a trend in home decor.
There’s renewed interest in the Victorian-era mercury glass globe as a focal point in the garden. In blue, red, green or silver, each sits atop a decorative concrete pedestal.
Indoors, glass takes on modern dimensions in furniture and accessories because their reflective surfaces add sparkle to decor.
“We have been seeing more glass in both decorative and architectural applications lately,” Metropolitan Home editor Donna Warner says, adding that they can range from glass tables and colored glass dinnerware to glass brick walls and unusual windows.
Warner’s magazine recently photographed living rooms at opposite ends of the country for two separate issues. It wasn’t by design, but they had identical cocktail tables. The modern classic, by Italian designer Gae Aulenti, is a large slab of glass on four industrial wheels of black metal.
“What’s wonderful about glass furniture is that it is there, and yet it is not there,” furniture designer Dakota Jackson says. “Glass is heavy and strong, yet you can see through it.”
Jackson regards glass as “the quintessential modern material - transparent, clean and architectural” and recently introduced the three-tiered Self-Winding Cocktail Table.
“It is a reverse Lazy Susan,” he says, “in which the top is stationary and the bottom two levels revolve 360 degrees in both directions. The transparency of the glass lets you see all the operations at once, and shadows are created as light hits each layer.”
While Jackson puts himself in the modern camp, Lynn Hollyn likes glass because it is, she says, “traditional and contemporary in the same moment.”
Hollyn, a designer of interiors and home furnishings, says she’s using more glass in both arenas. As an example, for clients she installed stained glass windows and etched glass panels over a mantelpiece.
Hollyn also made extensive use of glass in her new home in Palo Alto, Calif. Two dining room tables are 48-inch squares of 1-inch glass, each on a metal base in a weathered copper finish. A table on the terrace is a piece of glass, 9 feet by 4 feet, resting on three cement urns. The urns are filled with river-washed stones, visible through the glass. Also visible are the flowers planted between patio stones and curled around the urns.
In Hollyn’s kitchen, custom cabinets above a center island have bubble glass panes on all four sides. The bubble glass adds texture without obscuring glass shelves lined with collectible glassware. Other wall cabinets have bubble glass doors.
Such custom designs don’t come cheap. For those who don’t want glass to shatter their budgets, there are plenty of less expensive ideas. Marshall Watson, a New York designer, suggests an etagere with glass shelves for collectibles.
“The furniture disappears and lets you focus on the objects on display,” he says.
A glass server on casters is a widely available design. The one Watson often specifies has two shelves and doubles as a side table.
“It is elegant sitting against the wall or in a corner but can be moved to wherever it’s needed,” Watson says. “I often use two of these servers in front of a sofa instead of a coffee table.”
As an accessory, Watson says, any collection of art glass, even inexpensive pressed glass, “adds a glow, especially when bright halogen lighting, which brings even more sparkle to the glass, is used.”
Watson offers a couple of tips for using glass:
Shelving that is at least three-quarters of an inch thick has a beautiful green edge that enhances whatever is displayed on it.
For tables, an interesting edge on the glass - beveled or rounded - creates a finished look and makes it clear that you haven’t merely slapped a piece of plate glass on a base.