The old adage is true: There is strength in numbers. When one simple object is coupled with a matching mate (or grouped with a few siblings), its style and usefulness multiply exponentially.
With this easy math you can make unique, customizable, and affordable designs that fit seamlessly into your home.
What good luck, what bad luck: You have space for a home office...but you have to share it. Popular opinion prescribes using the same desk or lining two against a wall, but face-to-face is far more fun: This workstation creates two zones without breaking up the room. Light (and enlightenment) flow freely; walls are left open for books.
Look for slender worktables so your finished product won't resemble Briscoe and Curtiss setup at the 27th Precinct. To determine the dimension of the Plexiglas divider, measure the width and height of one desk, then add 28 inches to the height. Our fluorescent-pink acrylic sheet is a quarter-inch thick with polished edges (ask for them when you order it from the plastics supplier). Position the sheet between the desks, push them together, and voila -- the weight of the tables will secure the center panel. With binder clips or artists tape, the divider doubles as a chic bulletin board.
Directions: Start with two simple desks. Insert a Plexiglass panel. Push the desks together, back to back.
Materials: Simple work tables, westelm.com. Plexiglas panel (color #2085), Canal Plastics Center, 212-925-1666 (or look up "Plastics Supplier" in the Yellow Pages). "Nordmyra",chairs, ikea.com for stores. "Hi-Light" task lamp, pbteen.com. Structure letter tray set, seejanework.com for stores.
Necessity is the mother of invention and budget is its very close aunt. When senior home editor Shane Powers couldn't afford a runner for his hallway, he made a long rug by piecing together small floor mats. Not only did he get a custom fit for a fraction of the price, he mixed color and pattern for a one-of-a-kind design.
Depending on the length of your hallway, pick out any number of 2-by-3-foot cotton or wool flat-woven rugs. Here, we used five to create a 2-by-15-foot runner. Have a color palette in mind, and choose mostly simple geometric patterns, plus one organic or ethnic design to soften the scheme. Iron the rugs on the proper setting (cotton or wool) to flatten. Arrange them face down, with the short ends perfectly aligned, and cover each seam with duct or gaffer's tape, pressing down to seal. Or you can sew the mats together with a hooked carpet needle and nylon carpet thread.
Directions: Select an array of same-size flat-woven rugs. Attach with a tape on the underside (or with a needle and thread).
Materials: Madeline Weinrib Atelier mats in "Stripe," "Song," and "Zig Zag", ABC Carpet & Home, 212-473-3000. "Blu Dot Strut" console table, twojakes.com. Rope stool,The Future Perfect, 718-599-6278. "Big Wheel" sculpture by Fred Bendheim, Posey Baker, 718-623-2000.
Modular Coffee Table
You'd like your coffee table to hold something besides a couple of remotes and a pair of tired feet. This sectional -- made from four closet-storage cubes -- offers more than six square feet of surface area, and more than four cubic feet of storage underneath. Plus, you can pull the pieces apart for added utility (e.g., multiple side tables for a party).
Paint four fiberboard or wooden cubes with high-gloss white paint (high-gloss is ideal for high-traffic furniture because it wipes clean with a damp cloth). Thoroughly coat all five exterior sides and the edges of the open side; let dry overnight. Next, select paint colors for the cubes interiors; we chose rich shades of green and yellow, but nearly any combination of complementary colors will work. Tape the edges and paint all interior walls; let dry overnight. Slide cubes together so one opening appears on each side of the finished table. Fill interiors with books, blankets, etc.
Directions: Buy four storage cubes. Paint as desired. Push together.
Matrials: Modular fiberboard storage cubes, stacksandstacks.com. Paint in White Dove (#OC-17), Adam Green (#2037-40), and Citron (#2024-30), benjaminmoore.com for stores. Madeline Weinrib Atelier "Nepal Toile" rug, ABC Carpet & Home, 212-473-3000.
Daybeds are back, thanks to their low-slung silhouettes and air of informality. A version as pared-down as this is totally modern (forget that frilly trundle in your grandma's "Florida room"). As a sofa stand-in that practically demands relaxation, it works under a picture window, against a wall, or floating in a lofty room.
Look for twin mattresses with minimal top padding (solid foam ones are ideal). Wrap each mattress in a linen slipcover or fitted linen sheet; for the latter use sheet suspenders to keep the covers snugly in place. Order a 1-inch-thick wooden base from your local lumber supplier. To calculate the base dimensions, add 14 inches to the mattress's width and length -- that comes to 53 by 89 inches for a standard twin. Paint the top and sides of the base in a bold, high-gloss color; let dry overnight. Center mattresses on the platform, and top with firm, oversize pillows.
Directions: Cover two mattresses. Paint platform. Stack.
Materials: Daybed covers, westelm.com. Paint in Big Country Blue (#2066-30), benjaminmoore.com for stores. FL/Y suspension lamp, highbrowfurniture.com. Silk pillow and "Zig Zag" pillow, ABC Carpet & Home, 212-473-3000. Pillow by Liwan, Layla, 718-222-1933.
What's better than a bench? Its the place to rest your bag (or your weary bones) at the end of a long day. But every foyer, hallway, and foot-of-the-bed is different. Happily, this strand of simple stools -- fastened together and dressed up with paint -- can be as long or as short as your space requires.
Many types of stools will work for this project, but we chose these modern bentwood models because their legs align easily and are a cinch to connect. Paint each stool in high-gloss latex; let dry overnight. Painting all the legs in one color and the tops in another helps to reinforce the impression of a single piece of furniture. Using an appropriately sized bit, drill a hole through each leg that will be attached, one inch from the bottom. Push a 2.5-inch machine screw through each pair of joining legs and secure with a washer and lock nut. Paint over the hardware to mask.
Directions: Please be seated. Start with some simple stools. Paint them. Screw legs together.
Materials: Stackable stools, stacksandstacks.com. Paint in Sun Porch (#2023-30) and Silver Fox (#2108-50), benjaminmoore.com for stores. Stainless steel 2.5-inch flathead machine screws (#10-24), and stainless steel lock nuts (#10-24), both amazon.com.
Yes, a starlet uses one to prep for her close-up, but vanities are good for more than just, well, vanity. They store toiletries and keep jewelry organized (and having one means never fishing your mascara out of the sink). Most for-sale styles look a bit too glamour girl, but this smart, modern table is just right. You're welcome, dahhhhling.
Start with two nightstands that are at least 28 inches tall; the more draw-ers they have, the better. Order a 3/4-inch-thick piece of glass with polished edges for the vanity top from a local glass supplier. The top should be as deep as the nightstands and as wide as the nightstands' combined width, plus 24 inches for the middle space where your knees will go. Paint the glass edges and the nightstands' frames; let dry. Lift the glass onto the stands (this is a two-man job, since it will be heavy).
Directions: Gather nightstands, plate glass, frames, and mirrors. Paint trim. Position glass on top of nightstands.
Tools and Materials
3 wood gallery frames, at least 20 inches tall
Mirrors cut to fit the frames (order from your local glass supplier)
4 one-inch hinges
1. Remove the backings and plate glass from each frame and paint all sides of each frame in desired color; let dry.
2. Attach frames to each other using two hinges at each joint. Screw the hinges directly into the wood, one three inches from the top and one three inches from the bottom.
3. Insert the mirrors into the frames in place of the glass and replace backings to secure.
Materials: "Robin" storage units, ikea.com for stores. 18-by-49-inch glass top, Rosen Paramount Glass, 212-532-0820 (or look up "Glass Supplier" in the Yellow Pages). High-gloss paint in Tropicana Cabana (#2048-50), benjaminmoore.com for stores. Stool, Bungalow 5, 212-204-6325. For mirror: 10-by-20-inch and 16-by-20-inch unfinished wood gallery frames, A.I. Friedman, 914-937-7351.