Mind in the Gutter

Building products can be surprisingly beautiful.

For example, I have an affinity for stainless steel drywall mud pans, which make sleek containers for floral arrangements. A tool caddy of old wooden bubble levels occupies a place of privilege in my house, alongside my favorite local art. And there’s a stretch of half-round gutter floating around the office at The Wills Co. that’s as elegant as any window box I’ve ever seen.

That is all to say, I’m no snob when it comes to the provenance of items. There is beauty in utility.

Still, I had to laugh at a recent estate sale, when I saw an unexpected objet d’art among the china and crystal. Elegant in its simple uterine form, this wire structure (pictured above) found its way to the holiday decor table, where it fit right in among the pumpkin-shaped soup terrines and cookie jars, until it dawned on me what it was: a lowly gutter strainer.

Known colloquially as egg beaters, due to their wire-whisk shape, these simple devices are used to prevent downspouts from clogging with leaves.

Depending on the grade of metal you you’re looking for, you can get a 3-pack of these guys for 15 bucks at Walmart.

But I get how you might elevate one to centerpiece status. Its lines are lovely. More importantly, anything that keeps gutters from overflowing should be considered a thing of beauty.

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