Passionate Over Hardware Stores!

From my blog in the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror

I know I’m not alone. My heart races with excitement when I’m in a hardware store. All those possibilities! A few weeks ago I spent an hour in Ace Hardware in Key West. Did- Not- Need- One- Thing!! So, why was I there? I love to browse the aisles for inspiration taking pictures of things with possibilities to ponder at my leisure. Then I go back to get the materials for the projects worth doing. Great inspiration! Here’s a primer. The following are the results of one visit. 


First thing – the blocks of wood with a carved medallion, often used at the corners of molding around doors and windows in a Federal style house. I can imagine them painted or stained and used to create a frame for any size artwork or mirror. Create the size needed and glue them with wood glue or Elmer’s around the item. Or, create your own artwork on a scrap piece of finished plywood or Masonite and then adhere the blocks as your frame.


And while we’re on the subject of frames, these molded plastic medallions are perfect for a small center mirror. The carved design is already molded and ready to paint. Find an inexpensive round mirror slightly larger than the center hole and glue it to the back of the medallion. Great for faux finish technique like marbleizing! Wouldn’t that be smashing?


Love those little wooden dollies used to move heavy objects. Perfect for holding planters on the deck. Move them wherever you like for sun and shade. I’d opt for a dark hunter green paint, but honestly wouldn’t they be great in different colors to match the plants? And here’s another idea….. Use two of them to hold a solid piece of stained wood, even a weathered thick board used for scaffolding for a low bench or outdoor coffee table. These items come in all different sizes and the industrial look with the chunky rubber wheels are pure Restoration Hardware on the cheap.. Tip: This kind of rustic thing looks best when you use good stuff with it. Think big, interesting pottery on top. Piles of books, a low lamp or glass lanterns for low lighting outside. Ace10 What could you possibly do with a wooden step -ladder to turn it into something else? One year, for daffodil weekend, I painted a step ladder bright yellow and put it in the window of my shop. I spray painted empty quart-size paint cans orange and yellow and filled them with daffodils placed at random on each step. Spray paint a ladder to hold cascading plants on each step so the ladder is less obvious, but practical in a corner of the deck or patio. Even inside.  Marry the rustic with the refined. stepladder You see the workmen around town wearing those snazzy leather toolbelts with all the pockets and cool compartments for holding tools. I don’t see a toolbelt. I see a sturdy, good-looking holder hanging on a kitchen wall or back of a closet door. They come in all sizes and can be used for sorting mail, holding magazines, wooden spoons and kitchen utensils, beach stuff like sun glasses and lotion near the back door, keys, almost anything you can think of that could be organized. Ace12 And then my all time favorites! Galvanized pots. Think of all the things you can do with these containers. Not just for holding ice for soda and beer bottles at a picnic, these babies are: Ace15

  1. Wonderful plant holders. Group a bunch of potted plants together in an oversize tub. Spray paint them if you’d like. I like the honesty of the bare material.
  2.  Store outdoor cushions in an over-sized tub.
  3. Use small ones to hold your hand garden tools and gloves,
  4. Cover them with pretty Con-Tac paper for wastebaskets.
  5. Roll up beach towels in another.  Kids toys in a large one.
  6. Paint one to hold kitchen utensils.
  7. Use to hold a hanging plant.
  8. Poke holes around the sides with a drill and insert a fat candle
  9. Use small ones to hold party favors
  10. Line a pail with a pretty napkin for picnic gear. The handle makes it practical for carrying to the beach.
  11. Use a large one to hold running shoes and flipflops by the back door.
  12. Under the bathroom vanity for cleaning supplies.