Off the Stack: Home From the Hardware Store by Stephen Antonson and Kathleen Hackett

Finding new inspiration from hardware

Off the Stack: Home From the Hardware Store by Stephen Antonson and Kathleen Hackett

Truth be told, who doesn't get a thrill on a routine trip to the hardware store? All of those strangely-shaped fittings and L-joints are begging to become something, but since we're usually there for errands that are anything but fun, our numbed minds can hardly process the impulse, much less formulate a new aesthetic on the spot.

Stephen Antonson and Kathleen Hackett have worked that out for us, and present Home From the Hardware Store (Rodale Books, $22.99) just in time for spring projects. Antonson, a decorator and artist, won Hackett's heart years ago when he put together a chandelier for her Paris apartment with baling wire and screws while she was out for the afternoon. Hackett, the coauthor of The Salvage Sisters' Guide to Finding Style in the Street and Inspiration in the Attic (Workman, $14.95), finds such inspiration, and unexpected nostalgia, at the hardware store, that she and Antonson insist on starting there with every project. Among the fifty project pieces included here are folk art silhouettes; faux boiserie, or carved panelling; a space-age coffee table, using galvanized air-duct elbows; as well as some striped wallpaper ideas that we may try ourselves. There are lots of DIY books out there, and many of them are long on style and short on real fabrication technique. The purpose of this book is to provide some projects that will make you see humdrum hardware a new way, and it succeeds, largely thanks to the amazing table-top photography of Leslie Unrah.

Before spirit-sucking big boxes like Home Depot became the one-stop answer to every household need, hardware stores had character, and they smelled great. So as you pass through small towns from now on, stop in every old one you see. Here in Austin, Harrell's is always a good bet on the southside; out east, Callahan's General Store is worth leaving early for the airport; farther north, Breed & Co. is the go-to tradition for Hyde Park and environs, but it's now short on hardware and long on gifts, chocolates, and gew-gaws (if it doesn't smell right, it's not a hardware store). Over in Brentwood, Zinger's is a good stop, but also big on the gift shop gew-gaw.

Between yoga, teacher conferences and therapy sessions, take back control of your left-brain and make some things for the house. Your therapist will approve.

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Home From the Hardware Store, Stephen Antonson, Kathleen Hackett

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