Category: Design Tips

Unique Uses #2

I spotted a few other unique uses for items last week. First are these old windows grouped together in an interesting art form at Roanoke C0-Op. I love old windows and this innovative use of them suspended from the ceiling makes quite a statement. The windows could also be hinged together to form an outdoor screen for a patio or greenhouse.

You might just walk right by this next piece of “art” (like I did) if you didn’t know its new purpose. I found it at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke (flagship store for TV’s “Salvage Dawgs”). It’s an old gas tank for a torch welder.

The tank has been suspended from a rusty iron ring. The fun part is that there is a wooden stick perched on an attached stand and when the tank is hit a wonderful bell sound emerges.

My grandfather owned a mining machinery business and I remember seeing what seemed like hundreds of these gas tanks everywhere in bright colors (mostly orange). My uncle David still has them in the old shop building.

So of course this find held a bit of nostalgia for me and I couldn’t resist it when I heard the bell ring. I decided it would be perfect for us to put in our backyard and call all the kiddies to supper.

We will be living on a golf course though, so I’m not too sure how thrilled the golfers will be with the gong. I think I’ll wait until someone hits a particularly bad shot to ring it just for fun.


Affordable Art

Oversized art pieces make a statement in any space. They’re big and bold and you only need one item as opposed to the several it would take to fill up the same area. You don’t even need to hang them…if you have the right spot you can just prop the piece, as I did here, for the same effect (and fewer holes in your wall).

You might find yourself shying away from even considering these overscale pieces due to price. Surprise, surprise! They’re not that expensive. Take this colorful floral “painting” I purchased at Ballard Designs a few years ago for only $299. At roughly 47″ square, it’s a bargain when you consider you’d need many smaller prints to fill up the same space.

These bold flowers are printed on gallery-wrapped canvas (read: you don’t need a frame) and mimic an original oil painting.

Most people don’t know that it’s not the real thing. I knew I’d hit the jackpot when my dad, a serious art collector, asked me who the artist was. I’m pretty sure he’d never heard of the collective works of Madamoiselle Ballard!


Rugs on Ebay

I think you might be surprised to learn how inexpensively you can purchase rugs on ebay. And I’m talking about really good rugs. Authentic antique oriental rugs that you’d think would cost thousands.

For our corporate museum project, we purchased 22 oriental rugs, all on ebay, ranging in size from runners all the way up to 10′ x 13′. They are all exquisite and authentic.

Now here’s the amazing part: the most we paid for any single rug was $424. That’s four hundred and twenty-four dollars. The total bill for all 22 rugs came to a whopping $5,274.10, which included shipping.

Of course it helps to know what search terms to use and to buy only from reputable dealers who have extremely positive ebay feedback.

Some good search terms include: Malayer Persian, Persian Caucasian, Kashan Persian, Tabriz Persian, Meshkin Travel Persian and Isfehan Persian. You can try including the word “antique” with any of those to narrow your search a bit. For an oversized rug, try including “palace size” in your search.

Happy rug shopping! Drop me a line about any great rugs (or other items) you find on ebay!

Framing Tip

The table in our entryway is a sea of picture frames…different sizes and different colors, but all depicting wonderful memories. I print all of the photos myself so that I can change them out often. You don’t need to use photo paper to get a good print. I prefer to print on cardstock (found at any office supply store) because photos will buckle in frames if they are printed on regular copy paper.

I like to take very close-up photos. Of course, that doesn’t always work (especially when kids are involved!); often I have to crop the photos to achieve the desired result. This can be done with a variety of computer programs. I always use either Microsoft Publisher or Picasa, a fantastic free software that allows you to organize and edit your photos and then publish them to a free website for sharing with friends and family.

Photos in frames should be as close-up as possible. You want to be able to see who is in the photo without having to go over to the frame. Many times people make the mistake of thinking you have to see a person’s entire body in the frame. Sometimes it’s more desirable just to see faces! I usually print one size bigger than the frame opening for all of my photos. Doing so brings the subjects much closer and removes any unnecessary background in the photo. For example, for a 4 x 6 opening, print a 5 x 7 photo and trim it to fit. For a 5 x 7 opening, print an 8 x 10 photo, and so on (note: this will work about 95% of the time…sometimes the photos are too large).

The frame in the above photos has a 4 x 6 opening. In the top picture, I printed a 5 x 7 photo and trimmed it to fit. Contrast that with the bottom picture, which has a 4 x 6 photo. The top photo brings into focus what is really important in the photo (in this case, my mom and me!) and eliminates the unnecessary background.

Do try this at home! Happy framing!