Fishing floats, those shimmering balls and cylinders that traditionally were used to keep fishermen’s nets and lines at the surface of the water, hint at the mystery and romance of the sea. Glass ones were popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries; those have since given way to modern materials such as plastic and aluminum. But the upside is that the originals have become a boon for home decor, beloved for their storied nautical air and their sculptural, luminous appeal.

Tuck Away a Fishing Float On a Bookshelf


Landing Design, original photo on Houzz


Take a look at the ways in which fishing floats are used throughout these interiors, and embark on a little seafaring fantasy of your own.

Vintage floats still bob throughout the world’s oceans, drifting toward the shores on which they’ll wash up in time. Although numerous manufacturers produce copies, those can’t replicate the patina of the originals, which bear the scuffs of salt and sand and, in some cases, are worn smooth beneath the nets that wrap them.


Thom Filicia Inc, original photo on Houzz


Sea blues and greens tend to be the most popular colors for fishing floats used in decorating, but you can find them in a rainbow of different hues. This one picks up the cheery red in the plaid blanket. It still wears its netting, which enhances the textural feel of the armchair; in many cases, the nets have been ripped away or have disintegrated.

Tip: Look for vintage fishing floats at antiques shops and through online auction sites such as eBay.

Fancy Up Your Sideboard With a Couple Vintage Fishing Floats


Living Room Providence, original photo on Houzz


Floats come in a range of sizes — some are small enough to fit in your hand; others are larger than a basketball. This trio of bulbous ones balances out the rotund lamp base at the left edge of the table.

Tucked amid a shelf of books and eclectic treasures, a float makes a whimsical surprise.


Maison21, original photo on Houzz


Tiny floats cupped inside a shell loosen the symmetry of this sideboard just enough to give the composition energy.

Clustered on an antique dining table, three ethereal floats — all with the unmistakable sheen of age — reinforce the sense of history.


Landing Design, original photo on Houzz


This glowing red float is layered atop a vintage life preserver for a new spin on the usual blues and whites of nautical style.


JM Design, original photo on Houzz


If you have a pool, lagoon or pond in your yard, put floats in their intended setting. Here a single orb gives the impression of an oversize bubble.

Tuck fishing floats amid shells in vases for a refreshing twist on a beach-house classic.

Find More Ways to Use Nautical Teal in Your Home