8.7.09

Welcome to S.I.F.T.H.

Smartass Ideas for the Home,
a new series introducing a style of home decorating that incorporates mental gymnastics to turn your home into a true form of self-expression. Pushing interior design and changing the way you see your immediate surroundings.

Not to just think out-of-the box, but crush it.


Today all space has value and demands efficiency and optimum aesthetic and functional bang-for-the-buck.

Everyday Objects = Dual Purpose

All photos copyrighted by Bob Eckstein ©2009 except where noted*

Objects should be reincarnated; e.g. this collection of salt & pepper shakers laid out on a picnic tablecloth doubles as a chess set.
Best way to find a wide range of salt & pepper shakers is to visit the restaurant district in any city (in NYC that would be Bowery, south of Houston) for the Queen piece use a fancy antique set (I stole Grandma's).

We’ll start with obvious stuff–transformations that just require ten seconds and alittle awareness. Smartass decorating means there's a scheme to where and the way you place everything.

Rolls of toilet paper uncovered may not be a new 'thang' (I probably saw it done in a home magazine) but how about taking it one more step and form a pyramid or something?
Take eyesores and flaunt them. Have an ugly drain pipe?
Paint it shocking pink and make it a focal point.


We'll focus on the bathroom to illustrate this point, although this location is arbitrary.


Scientific beakers filled with three different flavors of mouthwash provide the color needed to decorate this nook instead of forcing color through towels or coordinating.

The beakers can be bought at
medical supply stores. Although you find beautiful bottles at yard sales, use new glass since you'll be using them. Don't fill them to display only. What keeps these ideas from just being silly is that they serve a function.
Decorate with household objects you need.


An industrial tampon holder found at a restaurant supplier ($20) serves as a space efficient wall-mounted garbage can in a bathroom.
This is one anecdote you can leave off the house tour.


A bedpan holding potpourri–one of many bedpans one can find throughout the house, if they’re pointed out. I hoarded them at country auctions for about a dollar a piece. I turned this personal surplus into a motif. Surplus is good no matter what it is.


This is one of the heavy types of bedpans so on the floor it stays. It's actually collectible and I found a blueprint of this special bedpan so it seemed fitting to make the bathroom light switch plate out of it. Home stores carry these special see through switch plates allowing you to decorate them anyway you like whether it's photos, children's artwork or foreign materials like birch bark or little aspirins. (This will be explored in detail on future episodes.)


Bedpans as sponge holders. Works great because the water drains out bottom.

Attach by industrial Velcro tape and don't use the heavier porcelain pans to hang unless you want to rub out one of your guests. There are lighter bedpans to attach on walls.

But they are not just for the bathroom! Other bedpans serve as containers for dying wool......soup bowls for the in-laws...

This one serves to collect a leak from the burner.

...or a target for practicing chipping indoors in our living room.

There' another example of cheap surplus and it's a cheap rug solution.
Astro-turf is sometimes given away. A defunct Brooklyn TV studio was breaking down their set and giving away rolls of of it. Lesson #22; You won't get unless you ask. Home Depot or Loewe's, of course, carries this cheapest of floor coverings...but buy only in the spring or summer when it's on sale and in stock.

This mini-golf has been holding up well for over a dozen years and gets spruced up with a rug rake which are easy to buy at yard sales if you're looking.

The fact that I have a lot of bedpans or got free artificial turf was not the point. It could be anything. Nor is it important how original or unoriginal these applications are. It’s about the methodology.


Keep your eyes out for free stuff. Every object has hidden clever multiple uses.


The point is utilizing the surplus of whatever it is you have a surplus of and transforming these objects.
It doesn’t seem easy (except for directly copying the ideas photographed here) but it will be when explained later.

Old wooden painter's ladders (at auctions for about 50¢ each or in dumpsters for free. It's a good idea to learn when rubbish day is.) turned into trellises which saved money by covering up "problem" sections of the house that needed a new siding or just need some kind of camouflage. This strategy was employed on a few places along the house. It's better to cluster your collection (in this case birdhouses found or made) for visual impact than to spread them out. One of almost anything gets lost but dozen or so of anything turns any everyday object into, if not a piece of art, at least a conversation piece.

Next time; Getting Started.


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