The classic handkerchief is a true-blue American beauty. What better way to celebrate the utility of this iconic textile than by showcasing it in the hardest-working rooms of the house?
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Bandannas may conjure images of the rugged Old West, but an office done up in a variety of navy blue cloths can look modern and refined. The desktop can be made with a hollow-core door: Paint it blue, cover it with six bandannas sewn together, stretch vinyl over the bandannas to simulate oilcloth, and finish it with upholstery tacks hammered in a decorative pattern. A vintage dotted fabric is cut and adhered to a lampshade, while a wastebasket rests in a slipcover made from two bandannas sewn together, which slides off easily when you're ready to wash it.
Bandannas (on desk), levi.com. Hollow-core door, 36 inches by 80 inches; homedepot.com. Vika Lilleby trestle legs, ikea.com. Cylinder can, containerstore.com. Uno lampshade, in White; justshadesny.com. 1920s cast-iron factory light, hudsoncityantiques.com. 19th-century blown-glass cylindrical jar, L. Becker Flowers; 212-439-6001. Ground rug, in Orange; fortstreetstudio.com (to the trade only). Eames plastic chair with dowel legs, by Herman Miller; abchome.com. Clear plastic, bandjfabrics.com.
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Bandanna Laundry Bag, Curtain, and Hangers
"Bluing" the laundry takes on a new meaning when the room is decked out with bags and baskets in a variety of lush dark-blue patterns. (Have no fear about the shades running or bleeding: Colorfastness is a hallmark of bandannas.) A few clips turn a kerchief into a cafe curtain, two squares make a clothespin bag, four squares make a small laundry bag, and a few cut scraps give a makeover to a humble metal hanger. For the sink skirt and the basket liner -- where larger widths are key -- a crisp, dotted fabric ties right into the look.
Paisley bandannas (for small laundry bag in basket), acmoore.com. Denim print fabric (for large laundry bag), nyelegant.com. Adirondack storage basket (similar to shown), basketville.com. Reproduction Shaker drying rack, hancockshakervillage.org.
Taken out of context -- that is, snipped from the cloth -- the borders of bandannas often resemble ceramic tiles or Turkish pottery, as is the case with this mirror frame. The ideal frame for this project has an edge that matches the width of the bandanna’s thick border (densely filigreed versions look best). Other small objects complete the scheme, including picture frames, a box wrapped in scraps, and a birdcage cover created by making a buttonhole in the center of a bandanna.
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Before you even think about getting out your scissors, make sure any bandanna you plan to snip is of the dime-a-dozen (or really, more like $10 a dozen) variety. Indeed, the older or more unusual ones -- such as those with the intricate, lacelike white printing and the three color patterns shown here -- are even pretty enough to frame. Since the sizes vary (usually 18 to 22 inches square), custom frames might be required.
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Bandanna Napkins and Placemats
Sit down to a square meal -- and a table adorned with many different bandannas. Their size and durability make them perfect napkins or place mats. They also complement an eclectic collection of blue-and-white china and enamelware.
Faience Slice decoupage platter, johnderian.com.
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If you have a few bandannas and a couple of layers of quilt batting, there will always be a comfortable spot to sit with these easy and graphic cushions. And a vintage bandanna -- this striped one is a rare find -- can become wall art with the help of a few map tacks.