Steel cube that was originally used to store petri dishes

The former lab cabinet, about 12 inches on each side, has a slide-out shelf.

When we spotted this sturdy little box at Scout, Larry Vodak’s Andersonville antique shop, we knew it had potential because—well, Vodak thought so, and we trust him. Originally used to store petri dishes in a laboratory, it’s now a functional-looking glass and steel cube in search of a function. We asked Vodak and four local interior designers to tell us how they’d use it in a home.


1 Serving Piece  "Line the top and bottom shelves with red cabbage leaves and use it as a cheese tray. Guests can open and close the door as they help themselves. Or, for a special occasion, put the cabinet in the middle of a large painted farm table and fill it with sliced green and red apples, grapes, kiwi fruit, and strawberries." 
-Larry Vodak, Scout, 5221 N. Clark St., 773-275-5700;

2 Jewelry Chest  "Line the middle shelf and the bottom of the cabinet with midnight blue velvet, then fill both areas with jewelry. To illuminate the jewels under a soft glow, install a small, low-wattage light inside of it."
-Richard Abrahamson, RJA Design, 630-584-9474;

3 Spice Rack  "Use this piece on a kitchen countertop to house oils, herbs, spices, and maybe even an interesting mortar and pestle or pepper mill. Include a set of beautifully colorful spices in glass vials supported by a stainless steel wire rack. Put herbs and salts in small containers and oil in medicine bottles with stoppers." 
-Lisa Becker, Lisa Becker Interiors, 312-953-2267

4 Telephone Stand  "Make a stand for the cabinet out of iron or wood and use it as a small telephone table between two chairs. The material of the stand will depend on the height and style of the chairs. For example, if the chairs are very contemporary and low, make the stand only about three inches high to relate to the seat height. In this case, use a small natural iron base slightly larger than the size of the cabinet, with a small lip so that the cabinet fits into it. The phone can then be placed on top." 
-Brian Snow, SemelSnow Interior Design, 312-640-0000;

5 Bathroom Storage  "Use this cabinet as storage for toilet paper rolls, Q-Tips, cotton balls in glass jars, soaps, and small hand towels in either a classic or contemporary bathroom. I envision it in a predominantly white bathroom with chrome fixtures, placed between two sinks on a double vanity or on crisp white open shelving with white towels stacked beside it. I love this juxtaposition of materials as well as form: the clean lines and cool steel and glass of the cabinet beside the organic shape of soft, fluffy towels." 
-Christy Foran, Christy Foran Design, 773-360-9576;


Photograph: Matthew Gilson