As anyone who dreams of Elle Decor on an IKEA budget knows, filling a space with art isn’t exactly easy on the wallet. So when I saw how much of the decor at our new Fifth Avenue store was D.I.Y. (and good D.I.Y. at that), I harassed our store decorator Ruth for her tricks of the trade (then proceeded to spill her secrets on our blog…).
Ruth’s philosophy, it turns out, is more Marcel Duchamp than arts and crafts (sorry, put the pipe cleaners away)
—repurposing everyday objects as works of art. Here’s her process in a nutshell…
Step one: Scour flea markets, vintage stores, eBay, your parents’ attic, etc., for everyday objects that look like
they could moonlight as works of art.
How can you tell? Look for “pieces with sculptural silhouettes, eye-catching textures and/or colors with a story behind them,” says Ruth. Among her finds for Fifth Avenue were vintage chalkboards, jettisoned letterpress letters and industrial gears, an old-school glass beaker set and stray pieces of driftwood—even a stack of National Geographics from 1959 made the cut, thanks to those iconic yellow spines.
Step two: It’s all about presentation—if you treat it like art, it’ll look like art
(it’s The Secret meets Architectural Digest, if you will).
A good rule of thumb is that everything looks better in a frame—think old letters, your childhood stamp collection—or under a bell jar. Alternatively, try arranging found objects of different shapes and sizes into little still lifes, like Ruth did with an odd assortment of wooden finials (ornamental accents you might find at the top of a bedpost). And always go for the unexpected. Case in point: The Fifth Avenue store displays paintings facing the wall because Ruth fell in love with the color and patina of the backs of the frames. And we’ve already shown you her huge textural mural of vintage gloves.
Basically, it’s all about seeing things with a new eye. And if you’re like me and would like that eye to belong to Ruth, check out the
Fifth Avenue store for some more inspiration.
(post by Alexandra Andrews)