Style at Home: The ginger jar is a New Traditional staple


New Traditional design is made up of a medley of fantastic pieces, many of which are constantly changing and evolving. However, the roots of New Traditional are always firmly planted in the past. As someone who is inspired by the styles and motifs found throughout history, there is no better style to align myself with and to explore. While the evolution of decor is never done, certain staples tend to hold on through the passing fads. One such item is the ever-charming ginger jar.

Ginger jars have been around long before the English starting using them to bring beauty to their sitting rooms. These must-have accessories originated in China and have been around since at least the Ming Dynasty period (1366-1644) when they were used to transport spices, oil, salt and other goods to Western countries. Now, of course, once Europe saw how beautiful these cargo containers were, they became highly coveted accessories for homes.

The beauty of these jars comes from both their unique shapes and the traditional surface designs. The most classically well-known ginger jar is customarily blue and white with stunning hand-painted designs that often feature human and animal figures, landscapes, blossoms, symbols and much more. Today, no longer are ginger jars only found in blue and white designs but in a variety of patterns and solid colors. While my love for original Asian toile patterns is still going strong, it is certainly fun and exciting to see all the wonderful options you can bring into your home today for your own collection.

One thing that has stayed the same throughout the revival of ginger jars is their stunning form. Known for their easily identifiable high shoulders, small openings and domed lids, they are fabulous additions to any room. With a large range of sizes available, it is easy to work ginger jars into many a display. I love to use medium and small sizes in clusters (usually two or three) to create a statement vignette that provides a pop of elegance to a room. The large and extra-large jar sizes (some are almost as tall as I am!) are perfect for flanking a fireplace or doorway to add a punch of symmetry.

Ginger jars are versatile and perfect for decorating all year long. For everyday use, I enjoy them as stand-alone pieces, but it’s easy to pop off the lids to use them as floral containers. They also make wonderful additions to bookshelves and pair wonderfully with other containers, decorative boxes, and of course, books. The possibilities are endless! And if you haven’t read up on the rich history of these beloved pieces, I highly recommend grabbing a gaiwan of tea — in blue and white of course — and digging in.

(Adapted from Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s. For more information, contact Katie at [email protected].) ©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

This story was originally published February 7, 2022 5:30 AM.

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