"Some people are inspired by museums and galleries," says Melanio Gomez, the home editorial director of Martha Stewart Living. "I'm inspired by hardware stores." Melanio is one of those thingamajig junkies who has been known to make a quick trip to a home center to get a few screws only to end up in the lumber department an hour later, studying the various kinds of molding while contemplating what to do with a slab of marble he spied two aisles back. The difference between Melanio and the rest of us, though, is that his mind's eye sees such raw materials playing dignified and surprising new roles. We asked him to flex his imagination with improvements to his house in Asbury Park, New Jersey -- and to provide us with insight into his unconventional approach to decorating. He assembled the projects on these pages, all of them occasioned by common items from the hardware store. That inexpensive slab of marble, for example, was manufactured to be a threshold; Melanio transformed it into an attractive bathroom shelf. Likewise, when he spotted wooden purlin designed to secure sheets of corrugated metal on buildings, his mind went not to roofing but to the frame for a front-hall mirror.
The trick to decorating successfully in this manner is retraining your thinking. Once you skip the question What is that? and head straight for the thought What can I do with that?, you can, like Melanio has done here, turn the sow's ears of home-supply stores into silk-purse touches that will make any room in your house more handsome, more inviting, more efficient, or all of the above.
Stair-Tread Side Table
Purlin Mirror Frame