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Looking for chic, industrial housewares? Look no further than your local hardware store. The new book "Home From the Hardware Store: Transform Everyday Materials Into Fabulous Home Furnishings" shows you how to transform utilitarian items into furniture and accessories that really work.

Machine-Age Candlesticks, as seen on page 106 of Stephen Antonson and Kathleen Hackett's book, require no tools to assemble. Photo: Lesley Unruh

For co-authors (and real-life couple) Stephen Antonson and Kathleen Hackett, it all goes back to a chandelier in Paris. Shortly after they began dating, Kathleen moved to the City of Light for six months. On his first visit, Stephen noticed the peaked ceiling in her rented apartment, thinking it could really benefit from a chandelier.

That day, while Kathleen was running errands, Stephen took a quick trip to the hardware store and picked up four supplies -- a pair of pliers, a single jack chain, a baling wire, and four candles -- which he used to make a chandelier by the time she got home that afternoon.

"I make a lot of things...whenever we need something I make it," says Antonson, who met Hackett when we was a home editor and she was an executive book editor at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Soon after that chandelier was hung, he and Hackett realized they had a book idea on their hands. To come up with enough projects to fill an entire book, Antonson would wander the aisles of local hardware stores (they live in New York City) each morning with a cup of coffee, in search of inspiration.

The end result, "Home From the Hardware Store: Transform Everyday Materials Into Fabulous Home Furnishings" (Rodale Books, $23), was published in early November. It contains dozens of affordable DIY decorating projects, which use common hardware store items in brilliant yet simple ways to create modern, industrial decor. "If you can wrap a birthday present, you can do half this stuff," says Antonson.

Not familiar with hardware store items? Not to worry; you don't need to know an item's intended use. Instead, look to the lines, materials and beauty in each individual piece.

(Left) The Space-Age Coffee Table uses galvanized elbows (a type of pipe fitting) as an unexpected table base. (Right) The Periscope Lamp turns a crimp elbow (also a pipe fitting) into functional art. Photo: Lesley Unruh

Some of our favorite projects from the book include the Machine-Age Candlesticks (pictured, top), which require no tools except your own two hands. We also love the Periscope Lamp (pictured, above right), which transforms a crimped elbow into display-worthy light source.

The authors were kind enough to let us share with you our favorite project of all, the Space-Age Coffee Table (above left) -- an ideal DIY project for a weekend warrior.

To fasten the tiers together, you need to assemble the base without screwing anything together, and then disassemble it in vertical sections, which is not exactly an intuitive process, given the way the base it stacked.


Eight 90-degree galvanized elbows, 7" each
Four 90-degree galvanized elbows, 4" each
Eight zine bolts and nuts, 8=1" x 32
Twelve #6 sheet metal screws. 1/2" each
36" x 1" round solid pine panel
One quart primer
1/2 quart paint in desired color (we used Benjamin Moore Soot/#2129-20)
Industrial strength adhesive-backed Velcro, 35" x 2" strip


Black permanent marker
Drill with 3/16" and 1/8" bits
Phillips-head screwdriver
120-grit sandpaper
2" all-paints paintbrush


1. Join four 7" elbows to form a circle. Repeat with the remaining 7" elbows, and then join the 4" elbows to make a smaller circle.

2. Stack the circles on top of one another to form tiers, aligning the ribs and placing the smaller tier in the middle. Find the seams where two elbows meet. On the ribs adjacent to the seams, mark the tiers deep in the middle, where they meet, with a horizontal line.

3. Pull the stack apart in half vertically, making note of the top and bottom of the base. Using the marks as guides, mark an X 1" beyond them, toward the center. Use a drill with a 3/16" bit to drill a hole at each X.

4. Break the tiers into quarters so you can fasten one quarter of the base together at a time. Rest the elbows on a work surface so that the openings of the elbows are facing you. Align the holes, slide the bolt through, and fasten the nut with your hands. Don't fasten it too tightly -- once you put the entire base together, you'll need a little room to play. Repeat with the remaining three sections of the base.

5. Put two sections together to make half the base. Use an 1/8" bit to drill a hole 1/2" from the seam on each tier, through two layers of elbow. Screw in the sheet metal screws. Repeat on the other half of the base. Put the two halves together. Screw them together in the same manner, drilling a hole 1/2" from the seam on each tier, through two layers of elbow, and fasten with the sheet metal screws. Set the base aside.

6. Sand the top, bottom, and edge of the pine round. Wipe it down with a soft cloth, brush with a thin coat of primer on the top and edge, and let it dry. Sand the round all over and wipe it down with a soft cloth again. Apply a coat of paint on the top and edge and let it dry. Apply a coat of paint on the bottom and let it dry.

7. Cut the Velcro into twelve 3" pieces. Separate the hooks from the loops. Wipe down the top of the table base with a soft cloth to remove any traces of grease or residue. Remove the adhesive backing from one of the loop pieces and fasten it 3 1/2" from the outer edge of the base, along a rib. (This is the high point, where the tabletop makes contact with the base.) Repeat with the remaining loop pieces and ribs.

8. To determine where to put the hook sides of Velcro on the underside of the table, set it on top of the base. Use a pencil to mark the underside of the tabletop where the Velcro is attached to the base. This is where the outside long edge of the hook sides of the Velcro should be attached. Place the tabletop wrong side up on a work surface. Remove the adhesive from the hook pieces of the Velcro and fasten them to the table, using your pencil marks as guides. Flip the tabletop over and set it onto the base, aligning the Velcro pieces.


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