Decorating with Demijohns: Old and New

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

Despite the popularity of modern reproductions, many people have never heard the term demijohn. In this post, you’ll learn what it is, how to tell if it’s a true antique, and where to find a demijohn and how to style it to add old-world charm to your home.

decorating a shelf with glass and wicker demijohns

What is a demijohn?

A demijohn is a particular style of glass jug. It is characterized by its large rounded body that is quite narrow at the neck. It can be encased in wickerwork or not.

Pottery Barn glass glass demijohn bottles

It is believed that demijohns and similar containers have been around since the 14th century! Some later versions were made in America, but the original jars were crafted in European countries.

white built-in shelves styled with decor including a wicker and glass demijohn

You may be wondering, “Where did the name demijohn come from?” The name was first used by the French in the 17th Century. Legend has it that it began with the French term “Dame Jeanne” or Lady Jane. Over the years, the demijohn has had many monikers.

Another term you may (or may not) have heard is a carboy. Both jugs were used to transport large amounts of liquids, but it is thought that the carboy was a smaller version of the demijohn.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap back in the 14th century, so they had to improvise when it came to protecting the glass jugs during transport. Shattered or cracked glass meant the contents – usually wine or oils – were lost. To prevent damage, the jugs were insulated with straw or wickerwork (one of my favorite things!).

Where can you find a demijohn?

Looking for a true antique or vintage piece? Your best bet is to scour your local antique shops or Facebook Marketplace. Authentic demijohns can come with a hefty price tag. They are a highly sought-after collector’s item in some circles so it can be a challenge and a thrill to find a really old one!

The next best thing would be to check Etsy – a great site for all things unique and artistic. You’ll find vintage bottles in lots of different shapes and sizes. The many colors and patterns of wicker will keep you scrolling! 1st Dibs is another source, but you will be spending a lot more.

white kitchen with demijohns styled near the sink

Modern reproductions can be found just about anywhere, mostly without coverings. Retailers like that are known for artisan vases and pottery are a great source. Pottery Barn is my go-to place for such things and they offer several different styles and unique colors. They have the traditional clear and green ones but they also have black and white ones. What a modern twist!

Here are a couple of favorites I found that are worth a look:

Antiques vs. reproductions

They may seem similar at first glance. However, there are a few telltale signs that a demijohn is an antique. Truly knowledgeable collectors and experts will have a long list of features that separate the old from the new, but there are a couple of obvious ones we amateurs can detect.

Antiques will have some irregularities that modern pieces will not. During the glass-blowing process, a brave soul uses a blowpipe to push air into the glass. Once the desired shape was created, they used an iron rod to push the glass from the blowpipe, causing the openings to become uneven.

shelf styling ideas

There will also be pontil marks on the bottom. This irregularity is caused by the removal of the pontil rod (the long pole that holds the glass at a safe distance from the glass blower) from the finished piece. Modern reproductions often have a smooth bottom.

How to decorate with demijohns

Now for the fun stuff! I love all things wicker and woven and was ecstatic when I found demijohns at an antique store with the wicker wrapped up the handle. They went home with me and I knew exactly where I was going to style them.

glass and wicker demijohn bottle on countertop in white kitchen

The original use for a Demijohn bottle was for wine and oils, so what better place than the kitchen? Purely decorative for me, it went right on the countertop in my white kitchen. The perfect little charming addition to a contemporary space.

A popular way to decorate with demijohns is to group them. Showing off your collection of glassware on a shelf or the top of a tall cabinet will do the trick! With the variation of heights, colors, and textures, your display will make a statement.

collection of demijohns styled on top of tall cane door aabinet

Decorating with flowers, real or fake, is a top tip from designers when finishing off a space. Placing a single long branch or stem in a demijohn creates a simple and beautiful look – perfect for a kitchen island or dining table centerpiece.

Modern decor influenced by antiques

Decorating with natural materials will never go out of style. But it’s interesting to see how very old designs have influenced the decor we use today.

The wicker-wrapped demijohn bottles have inspired many other things, like jars, urns, and vases. But instead of serving the purpose of protecting the vessel, the wicker is the vessel!

wicker vase with branches on kitchen island

Leather-wrapped vases and wicker-covered candle holders are another nod to this antique style and add some interest to an otherwise not-so-interesting piece.

See something you like? Scroll and tap the image to check it out!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy