Take any perfectly sound retail concept—swimsuits, books, leather goods, bikes, kitchenwares (or even all of the above)—add a little coffee bar to the back of it, and suddenly you've got a hub. A place for the neighbors to meet and linger, fuel up, or just stand around swapping local news. All the more likely that they shop.
I was in one of these coffee-shop hybrids this weekend in tiny Bellport, New York; the store, called Seilanna, is still in that wonderful just-opened phase while the manager, Annaliese, restores furniture and expands the inventory. The coffee is excellent, and the hand-woven tunics from Mexico are distractingly lovely, but I was most excited about a piece Annaliese had fashioned herself for display: a copper ladder.
But combined, the supplies and the purpose are more inventive than their parts: Swing by Ace on the way home, free your favorite cloth napkins and and tea towels from an over-stuffed drawer, and decorate that bare swath of wall all in one swoop. It shouldn't set you back fifty bucks.
You'll need lengths of copper pipe (10 for the sides and 4 for the rungs, if you're recreating the one shown above), plus t-shaped corner pieces to fit them all together, and end pieces to cap the feet of the ladder. A blob of rubber cement, or epoxy, will be enough to bind one piece to another for draping with linens—just don't go attempting to climb up it, ever!
Make your display ladder smaller, just two rungs tall, if you have a low piece of furniture that it could sit up on top of, or skinnier if you'd like it for a more narrow blank wall. Or consider all the other ways copper pipes could be configured: for spiffier toilet paper rolls, or as legs on a tiny side table, or even for a headboard. And report back!