Hardware stores play a major part in house projects such as painting walls and repairing toilets. But Stephen Antonson and Kathleen Hackett see the potential in Ace, Home Depot and the like to turn pipes and pegboard into modern decorations and furnishings, with a little bit of DIY ingenuity.
The New York husband and wife provide instructions for several such projects in their book, Home From the Hardware Store: Transform Everyday Materials into Fabulous Home Furnishings (Rodale, 192 pages). Antonson, an artist, designer and father of two, talked about the couple's inspiration for the book and how not to hurt yourself when assembling their designs.
When did it occur to you that hardware could be transformed into decorative, functional things?
When I made my now-wife a chandelier from baling wire and chains. I'm an artist, and inevitably . . . I'd find myself at the hardware store, sometimes two or three times. And it started to look like a land of discovery to me.
How do you determine whether, say, a packing crate will make a good table or a drain grate can be turned into a lamp?
I think anything at the hardware store is up for grabs. . . . Just walk the aisles at the hardware store and try to imagine what something could be, not what it is.
You have a lot of kids' projects in the book.
The hardware store has so much raw material that's made to last, it's ideal for things like building forts or crazy costumes.
What's your favorite project in the book?
We did a screen using bifold doors, craft paper and thumbtacks . . .
Isn't there a danger that newbies will hurt themselves turning piping into table bases?
These aren't really building projects; they are more about assembling. We have a candlestick project that is just putting plumbing parts together, and you can do it in five minutes.
How do you suggest mixing these hardware store pieces into a home?
I think you mix these with things that are not industrial at all, like an 18th century Swedish sofa. That'll keep things interesting.
Why do you think industrial furnishings are in style now?
There's been this whole shift to mid-century modern furniture and lighting. The way people live now, they don't want a Victorian tea-set holder in the corner; they'd rather do a wall shelf unit made of cardboard tubes.
Are there other unmined sources of good home projects?
Kitchen-supply stores could be great for office organization projects. Just think about all those little steel containers and forms. . . . My point with all of this is that you should zig, not zag, when you think about your home.