5 Uses For the Venerable Finial

We see them everywhere; atop poster beds, fines, gates, and as other architectural elements. The finial has a long and storied past dating back to ancient Greece. In fact, they were "signatures", or an artful way to distinguish one man's land from another. Originally made of sandstone and marble, the ancient finials were rather large and could command a hefty price.

Today, of course, we have finials made of practically anything and everything. Finials have found their way out of the fields and pastures of the ancient world, and into our homes and public spaces in too many ways to count. Small finials have been seen as lamp shade adornments, ceiling fan chain pulls, hood ornaments, flag pole toppers, even tire valve stem caps, and the list goes on.

And why not? After all they are attractive and ornate, lending an aesthetic appeal to other awkward architectural elements. One could even argue that the finial is essential to solid home design principles.

With hundreds or possibly thousands of finial sizes and designs available, and coming in materials ranging from plastic, brass, copper, steel, chrome, concrete, marble, mahogany, cedar, redwood, or any conceivable combination of the above, you will have a lot of fun looking for just the right finial.

So what else can you do with them, besides the uses mentioned above? Try some of these possibilities out for size, and see if a finial can not serve as something functional or ornate in places you might not have ever stopped to consider.

Book Ends – Collect various styles, and use them to prop us rows of books on shelves. They add detail and interest to other drab book shelves. Mix and match for an even more eclectic feel.

Doorstops – We have a long hallway in one part of our house, with a single door about halfway down. The hallway can act almost as a wind tunnel when an outside door is opened on a windy day, and causes the door to suddenly (and with great force) slam shut. We tried a few things over the years to keep the door propped in the open position, but somewhere along the way we took a solid stone finial of about 14 pounds, and placed it as a doorstop. It does not only do what it is supposedly to do in that low role, but does it with finesse and grace. Dozens of people have commented what a unique door stop we have!

Centerpieces – A grouping of an odd number of finials of various shapes, sizes and materials can be a spectacular architecturally themed centerpiece on a side table or dining table. We like to collect finials, so it is easy to display new ones this way, and get the chance to bore everyone with details at social functions we host periodically.

Candlestick Holders – At a garage sale a few years back, I found some old weaved pineapple finials which had served their usefulness out in the sun atop someone's fence. Their weathered condition was what caused most people to pass over them, but to me, they were exactly the reason I wanted them. I bought them all for a pittance, took them home, and with the help of my husband, drilled a rather large hole in the top of each. The hole was the perfect size for some beeswax tapered candles I had in a drawer. This past Thanksgiving, they served as a gentle light along the banister in the foyer where our guests arrived to share dinner with us.

Paper Weights – Okay, these sounds cliché, I know, but I have found that a good paper weight serves much more purpose than merely holding papers to a desk. An ideal paper weight should have something interesting about it, because you will be looking at it a lot. For me, finials are interesting. I find I will pick up the heavy mahogany finial on my desk while on the phone, just turning it over in my hands, enjoying the feel, and admiring the artist's lines and intricate carving craftsmanship.