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Remodelista Essentials: 25 Inexpensive, Surprisingly Good-Looking Design Finds from the Hardware Store

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Remodelista Essentials: 25 Inexpensive, Surprisingly Good-Looking Design Finds from the Hardware Store

February 21, 2019

Consider this our ode to the humble hardware store, the affordable emporium of just about anything you need (and several things you didn’t know you needed). The wares in a hardware store epitomize beauty in function: these are practical workhorses, often designs that haven’t changed in decades (or even centuries); they’re built to last, sometimes multi-purpose—and many of them are surprisingly good-looking. And there’s something old-fashioned about wandering the aisles of the iconic hardware store, with its dusty, jam-packed shelves, and third-generation shopkeepers who can tackle any question you throw at at them. (We’re advocates of the local mom-and-pop hardware store—I’ve made regular runs to Garber Hardware in New York, across the street from my new apartment, for everything from drop cloths to advice on paint colors over the past few weeks—but if shopping online is easier, national stores do the trick, too.)

Over the years several hardware store essentials—from drop cloths to surprisingly good-looking porcelain light fixtures—have made their way into each of our arsenals and become Remodelista icons. Here are the hardware store favorites we’ve returned to, and used in our own homes, again and again.

1. Silver-Tipped Lightbulbs

Silver-tipped lightbulbs look more expensive than they are and add a touch of glamour to even a bare lightbulb. And they can be found at many hardware stores; these Archipelago Soft White Silver-Tipped Light Bulbs are $.99 for a two-pack from Home Depot.
Above: Silver-tipped lightbulbs look more expensive than they are and add a touch of glamour to even a bare lightbulb. And they can be found at many hardware stores; these Archipelago Soft White Silver-Tipped Light Bulbs are $15.99 for a two-pack from Home Depot.

2. S-Hooks

Think of the simple s-hook as the tiny, unsung hero of organization: it can hang towels from a towel bar in the bath, soap-on-a-rope in the shower, and keep any number of essentials—from dish brushes to pans—off of the counter in the kitchen. And s-hooks are fairly easy to find; Grainger Industrial Supply sells these Stainless Steel S-Hooks, $.06 for a pack of .
Above: Think of the simple s-hook as the tiny, unsung hero of organization: it can hang towels from a towel bar in the bath, soap-on-a-rope in the shower, and keep any number of essentials—from dish brushes to pans—off of the counter in the kitchen. And s-hooks are fairly easy to find; Grainger Industrial Supply sells these Stainless Steel S-Hooks, $13.06 for a pack of 25.

3. Classic Clothespins

Old-fashioned wood clothespins aren&#8
Above: Old-fashioned wood clothespins aren’t just for the laundry line: these well-made wooden tools can clip a bag of chips shut, corral mail in the entryway or office, and even keep chargers corralled. A 50-Pack of Natural Wood Clothespins is just $2.35 from Lowes.

4. Twine

Similarly, the hardware store roll of twine can be used for wrapping leftovers, as ad-hoc hanger for small wall hangings or curtains, or, our favorite, in lieu of ribbon when wrapping gifts. This roll of Natural Cooking Twine is $loading=
Above: Similarly, the hardware store roll of twine can be used for wrapping leftovers, as ad-hoc hanger for small wall hangings or curtains, or, our favorite, in lieu of ribbon when wrapping gifts. This roll of Natural Cooking Twine is $12.99 at Ace Hardware.

5. Porcelain Light Sockets

The simple porcelain light socket is a favorite on the Remodelista editorial team (so much so that wrote an earlier ode to it; see Object Lessons: The Hardware Store Porcelain Light Socket). Still made in New York by the same company who designed it in , its design is simple, time-tested, and elegant—yet it costs only a dollar or two. Case in point: this Leviton Porcelain Keyless Lampholder is $loading=
Above: The simple porcelain light socket is a favorite on the Remodelista editorial team (so much so that wrote an earlier ode to it; see Object Lessons: The Hardware Store Porcelain Light Socket). Still made in New York by the same company who designed it in 1910, its design is simple, time-tested, and elegant—yet it costs only a dollar or two. Case in point: this Leviton Porcelain Keyless Lampholder is $1.82 from Home Depot.

6. Candles

Hardware stores are a surprisingly good source for basic candles of all sorts. This simple white taper Emergency Candle is $5.5
Above: Hardware stores are a surprisingly good source for basic candles of all sorts. This simple white taper Emergency Candle is $5.52 from Walmart, but they’re readily available in many forms at your local hardware store. Look also for plumbers candles and packs of tea lights, well-priced and as suited for the dinner table as for emergencies.

7. Clamp Lights

Justine, Alexa, and Meredith have all, with the help of spray paint, transformed the utilitarian hardware store clamp light into attractive task lights for their bedrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms, respectively. See how at The $ DIY: The Hardware Store Clamp Light Improved; a 0-Watt Incandescent Clamp Light is $9.3loading=
Above: Justine, Alexa, and Meredith have all, with the help of spray paint, transformed the utilitarian hardware store clamp light into attractive task lights for their bedrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms, respectively. See how at The $15 DIY: The Hardware Store Clamp Light Improved; a 150-Watt Incandescent Clamp Light is $9.31 from Home Depot.

8. Ball Jars

In our quest to eliminate as much plastic from our lives as possible, we use glass jars all over the house, for decanting grains and dry goods in the pantry to storing cotton balls, as Kristina did in her apartment bath, and detergent. Hardware stores generally sell a variety of designs and sizes, sometimes in bulk; a loading=
Above: In our quest to eliminate as much plastic from our lives as possible, we use glass jars all over the house, for decanting grains and dry goods in the pantry to storing cotton balls, as Kristina did in her apartment bath, and detergent. Hardware stores generally sell a variety of designs and sizes, sometimes in bulk; a 12-pack of Wide-Mouth Mason Ball Jars is $12.99 from Ace Hardware.

9. Flour Sack Towels

Scour the hardware store for simple cotton kitchen towels like these Cotton Flour Sack Towels from Amazon, good-looking for the kitchen (and not so precious that you need to worry about stains). These plain, well-made towels can also serve as simple window covers, breathable storage for produce and bread, covers for small side tables, and reusable cleaning cloths, or even sewn into pillow cases.
Above: Scour the hardware store for simple cotton kitchen towels like these Cotton Flour Sack Towels from Amazon, good-looking for the kitchen (and not so precious that you need to worry about stains). These plain, well-made towels can also serve as simple window covers, breathable storage for produce and bread, covers for small side tables, and reusable cleaning cloths, or even sewn into pillow cases.

10. Copper Scrubbers

Cruise the hardware store aisle for hardworking pot brushes and copper scrubbers, good-looking once removed from their packaging. A pack of two Redecker Copper Pot Scrubbers is $9.99 from Lehman&#8
Above: Cruise the hardware store aisle for hardworking pot brushes and copper scrubbers, good-looking once removed from their packaging. A pack of two Redecker Copper Pot Scrubbers is $9.99 from Lehman’s.

11. Terra Cotta Pots

The ubiquitous hardware store terra cotta pot is a classic in the garden—or inside, for houseplants or storage. A Terra Cotta Clay Pot is $7.99 from True Value Hardware.
Above: The ubiquitous hardware store terra cotta pot is a classic in the garden—or inside, for houseplants or storage. A Terra Cotta Clay Pot is $7.99 from True Value Hardware.

12. Clothespin Bags

Rather than their intended use, we use clothespin bags over the arm of the sofa to keep the remote handy; we could also see using them at the bedside for books and reading glasses. The Honey-Can-Do Clothespin Bag from Home Depot.
Above: Rather than their intended use, we use clothespin bags over the arm of the sofa to keep the remote handy; we could also see using them at the bedside for books and reading glasses. The Honey-Can-Do Clothespin Bag from Home Depot.

13. Retractable Clotheslines

A small-space essential: a Retractable Clothesline, for hanging laundry, or added storage in the kitchen. (This one is from Bed Bath and Beyond, but ask your local hardware store; chances are they have something similar.)
Above: A small-space essential: a Retractable Clothesline, for hanging laundry, or added storage in the kitchen. (This one is from Bed Bath and Beyond, but ask your local hardware store; chances are they have something similar.)

14. Galvanized Pails

Sturdy, good-looking metal pails in all shapes and sizes can be used to tote cleaning supplies or as a simple bath waste basket. A Behrens -Quart Galvanized Pail is $9.97 from Home Depot.
Above: Sturdy, good-looking metal pails in all shapes and sizes can be used to tote cleaning supplies or as a simple bath waste basket. A Behrens 10-Quart Galvanized Pail is $9.97 from Home Depot.

15. Cast-Iron Pans

A welcome hardware store regular: the indestructible cast iron pan. The Lodge .-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet is $.90 from Amazon, but the brand is also available in many hardware stores, including Ace, for just about the same price.
Above: A welcome hardware store regular: the indestructible cast iron pan. The Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet is $14.90 from Amazon, but the brand is also available in many hardware stores, including Ace, for just about the same price.

16. Tension Rods

Use a simple tension rod as a no-screw curtain rod, or mount one inside a kitchen cabinet as an instant paper towel dispenser. This Interdesign Shower Curtain Rod is $.99 from Ace Hardware.
Above: Use a simple tension rod as a no-screw curtain rod, or mount one inside a kitchen cabinet as an instant paper towel dispenser. This Interdesign Shower Curtain Rod is $19.99 from Ace Hardware.

17. Wooden Clothes Hangers

We like wooden clothes hangers for their durability, uniformity, and ability to hold clothes in place; luckily, they&#8
Above: We like wooden clothes hangers for their durability, uniformity, and ability to hold clothes in place; luckily, they’re readily available at most hardware stores. A 30-Pack of Natural Wooden Hangers is $29.23 from Home Depot.

18. Drop Cloths

Cotton drop cloths are our secret design weapon: Among us, we&#8
Above: Cotton drop cloths are our secret design weapon: Among us, we’ve been known to use them as no-sew slipcovers, fuss-free tablecloths, simple curtains, even in lieu of a lightweight summer coverlet. A 9-by-12-Foot Canvas Drop Cloth is $15.99 from Harbor Freight; see more uses in 8 Easy, Low-Cost, Low-Commitment DIY Projects with Painter’s Drop Cloths.

19. Plumbing Pipes and Fittings

Above:We also look to the plumbing aisle for DIY inspiration on a budget. In recent years, a slew of projects have cropped up using copper pipes and flashing, from DIY faucets and curtain rods to shower rods and backsplashes. Believe it or not, brass and metal nuts and bolts also make good-looking candle holders (another version here). A 2-Foot Copper Pipe is $4.28 from Lowes; a pack of three Brass Compression Nuts is $2.98 from Home Depot

20. Dustpans and Brushes

Shop the hardware store for practical wood-handled brushes of all sorts; this loading=
Above: Shop the hardware store for practical wood-handled brushes of all sorts; this 12-Inch Metal Dust Pan with Wood-Handled Broom is $30.61 at Home Depot.

21. Multi-Use Brown Paper

Rolls of brown paper can be used for lining shelves, wrapping gifts, covering the table, or creating a drawing wall for the kids. A roll of Medium-Weight Brown Masking Paper is $
Above: Rolls of brown paper can be used for lining shelves, wrapping gifts, covering the table, or creating a drawing wall for the kids. A roll of Medium-Weight Brown Masking Paper is $2.99 from Ace Hardware.

22. Workhorse Fan

Another dependable hardware store find: the hardworking metal fan. A Westpointe High Velocity Personal Fan is $40.99 from True Value Hardware.
Above: Another dependable hardware store find: the hardworking metal fan. A Westpointe High Velocity Personal Fan is $40.99 from True Value Hardware.

23. Brooms

Well-made brooms need not be expensive; look at your local hardware store for a classic model with a wood handle and tightly-bound fibers. A Warehouse Corn Broom is $.49 from Do It Best.
Above: Well-made brooms need not be expensive; look at your local hardware store for a classic model with a wood handle and tightly-bound fibers. A Warehouse Corn Broom is $17.49 from Do It Best.

24. Folding Clothes Racks

Hardware stores tend to carry our favorite laundry workhorse: the collapsible wood drying rack. A Honey-Can-Do Large Wood Knockdown Drying Rack is $.36 from Home Depot.
Above: Hardware stores tend to carry our favorite laundry workhorse: the collapsible wood drying rack. A Honey-Can-Do Large Wood Knockdown Drying Rack is $20.36 from Home Depot.

25. Peg Boards

Pegboard can be used as good-looking wall storage all over the house, from the office to the kitchen (just think Julie Child&#8
Above: Pegboard can be used as good-looking wall storage all over the house, from the office to the kitchen (just think Julie Child’s pegboard pot rack), and it’s available on a dime at most hardware stores. This sheet of One-Piece Hardboard Pegboard measures 48 by 96 inches and is $19.48 at Lowes.

N.B.: Prices listed are approximate, and vary based on your location.

More tried-and-tested Remodelista essentials, available from Ikea, Amazon, and more:

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