9 Hardware Store Design Statements

A designer discusses some down-to-earth, cheap and easy ways to decorate.

Posted by Linda Merrill | Apr 06, 2011
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The author's own copper pipe rack.  Photo: Linda MerrillIf you’re a fan of reality design shows like HGTV’s “Design Star” or the now defunct “Top Design” on Bravo, you may be familiar with the standard “Hardware Store” challenge that requires the contestants to create a space using what they can find in this non-traditional decorating store. But, the fact is that there are many hardware store finds that are decorative on their own, or can be turned into pretty fantastic decorative objects.

1. Copper Plumber’s Pipe Rack: One of my favorite DIY projects is my copper plumbers pipe pot rack. I suspended a 4’ length of copper plumbers pipe from link chain that is screwed into the ceiling joists. S-hooks hang off the pipe and pots and pans hang off the hooks. This is an easy and inexpensive project with great industrial appeal.

2. Burlap and Dropcloth Drapings and Window Treatments: Burlap, cloth grain sacking and other natural cloth coverings have been very popular décor items for the last couple of years at all price points. These textiles, which are environmental and budget friendly, are all available at the average hardware store. Low cost painter’s drop cloths are often all cotton and make great window draping, tablecloths or upholstery fabric. Burlap makes for easy and inexpensive window treatments as well.

3. Lights: There are many decorative lighting options at a hardware store from ready-made pendant light track systems to basic DIY light kits that can be turned into unique, custom light fixtures with imagination and little money.

4. Tiles: Ceramic and other decorative tiles are plentiful at most hardware stores and they often have remainders or open box sales at greatly discounted prices. You may find enough to tile up the back of a small sink area or turn individual tiles into drinks coasters by simply adding felt dots to the back to protect surfaces. A collection of broken tiles will make great mosaic pieces.

5. Tiny mirrors: Mirrored tiles can be used on walls, stair risers, counter back splashes, as table decorations or trivets for flickering candles.

6. Knobs: Cabinet knobs and drawer pulls have their obvious uses, but they can also be affixed to a wall or decorative board as hangers for hand towels, oven mitts or kitchen utensils.

7. Casters: Affix chunky casters to the bottom of a small cocktail table to add height and a touch of industrial chic. Or, for a really rustic chic look, ask the store for a couple of wooden pallets and create a low table with the casters on the bottom and a piece of cut-to-size glass or plexiglass on top.

8. Closet doors: Louvered closet doors make for great country-style headboards. Paint to desired color and affix to the wall behind the bed.

9. Nail heads: Dress up upholstered furniture or wooden casegoods with decorative nail heads or brass nails with oversize heads. A simple nail head in an interesting pattern will turn a plain object into something very special.

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