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A Fast, Cheap Way to Make a Plain Wall Look Thoughtful

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I didn't go to Supercrown Coffee in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood looking for design ideas; I was looking for caffeine, which I got, and very happily. But the design in the coffee roastery-café space—all of which, from the packaging of the beans to the design of the shop, was overseen by the Danish designer Martin Justesen (whose work you may recognize from the super-colorful, graphic Evil Twin Brewing beer cans)—jumped out at me. It's every bit as thoughtful and bright as the coffee Supercrown roasts in house.

One of my favorite details in the spare, cool space was a tiny strip of wall behind the barista counter:


Originally, that space between the bricks was a tangle of pipes, Supercrown's founder, Darleen Scherer, told me—and not ones that she wanted to show off. So she covered the pipes in drywall and, with the help of her friends Anne Reath and Jim Boyd, measured out a simple grid pattern across the drywall. They planted a tiny pin every four inches or so, and on each pin hung a stainless steel washer. Like, the kind of washer that you buy at any hardware store.

A closer look. See? Thin pins with heads keep the washers in place.
A closer look. See? Thin pins with heads keep the washers in place.

Drywall's not cheap, but washers are; and if you have a bare patch in your kitchen or bathroom—or column, or any recessed nook that needs a little love—borrow the washer trick to draw attention to an otherwise plain corner. Just make sure to measure carefully: Precision is the key to making it look smart (and make people look twice before realizing what's hanging on the wall) and not haphazard.

This writer has a real soft spot for design sourced from the hardware store. What hardware store solutions have you found in your own home? Share them in the comments.

Tags: DIY projects