14 Flashes of Design Brilliance With Everyday Products

Every now and then, I encounter a design idea that’s so simple yet so imaginative that it sparks a “Why didn’t I think of that?” facepalm. All these 14 bursts of inspiration speak for themselves. They represent some of the best lightbulb moments that has to share — all easy, all inventive and all totally inspiring. Which one’s your favorite?


Believe that this backsplash is a tile mosaic? Look closer. It’s actually cloth covered with glass so much simpler, more affordable and unexpected.

Sett Studio

The last place I would think to place a window would be right near the floor, but this one completely transforms a narrow office. It leads the eye straight through the space and provides an unusual perspective on the natural world outside.

Winn Wittman Architecture

A simple coat of kelly green immediately joins this section of window framing into the landscape and calls attention to the perspective. Shade is one of the surest ways to create maximum effect with minimal fuss, and this motivated treatment demonstrates the point.

Alex Amend Photography

Mirror cutouts layered over wallpaper curve combined this powder room wall, filling the vacant space in a totally delightful way.

Robert Kaner Interior Design

Flummoxed about how to hide unsightly wall wires indoors? Embrace them within the plan. Not only do these wires act as graphic, industrial-style frames to your windows, but they also inform the room’s palette.

Sellentin True Design Build

If your shower curtain is too short for the space, connect extra curtain rings with each other to create a series of chains. Poof! Problem solved, with a great new look to boot.

Actual Size Projects

Instead of a traditional foot-of-the-bed seat, this wise design incorporates a built-in ledge which can be a perch for slipping on shoes or a spot for stashing extra blankets.

Elad Gonen

What is sassier than an animal-hide carpet? An animal-hide rug cut up and stitched together in a crazy quilt of arbitrary squares.

Ed Ritger Photography

Many people would have painted these chairs whitened and called it a day. A dip-dye technique puts a slick cap of paint on just the shirts — and raises the attention 10-fold with no ounce of extra effort.

Filmore Clark

Colorful grout is really common, but this shower stall takes a few steps farther: Slivers of those perpendicular tile which makes up the rounded columns separate the subway tiles to get a grid of staggered colors.

Lisa Day

No room for a traditional breadbox about the counter? Tuck it deep inside the island. You could also stash utensils or other kitchen gear indoors.

Here’s one approach to tackle unsightly older paneling: Paint the grooves whitened and the boards indigo to change it into a graphically darkened wall therapy.

Greymark Construction Company

If you have ever had a dog or a small child, you understand what a nuisance it would be to put up and take down door and stairway gates. This built-in, retractable version not just is a cinch to pull out when you need it, but also looks way more appealing than the portable kind.

Harper Design from HarperCollins Publishers

Who knew C-clamps could be so smart? Mounted on a taxicab-yellow slab of wood, they morph into the most amazing coat rack ever.

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