Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
Oriental Furniture unites customers with a vast online inventory of authentic Japanese, Chinese, and Thai home furnishings. Peruse their collection of Chinese art furniture items such as the ladies tea-time display table featuring dark lacquered trim and traditional artwork from the Song dynasty ($129), or check out a variety of room dividers and accent lamps to divide and illuminate living spaces. Close off room corners with a six-foot-tall window-pane shoji screen ($79), choosing from six natural colors to complement the existing hues of your library and provide ample privacy for changing into smoking jackets. Groupon holders can also invite a figure of compassion into their homes by opting for a 12" handmade Kwan Yin statue. With its head bowed in a peaceful and reflective manner, the Kwan Yin statue encourages onlookers to reflect on their relationships and to perform compassionate acts not only for others, but also for themselves.
Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
Dream On stuffs its 10,000-square-foot store with sturdy futons and more than 30 types of cushy mattresses. Wood whisperers can finish an Ash L full-futon frame in six different shades ($249), helping it match your existing chairs, tables, and toothpick models of San Francisco. Add a full-size futon mattress made from cotton ($129–$399) or high-performance foam ($349–$699) to cushion tushes as they recline and a full-size cover ($39.99–$99.99) to defend cushions against stains. All futons must be assembled by the customer or their staff of human-size allen wrenches.
A Harvard Square fixture for more than 50 years, Dickson Brothers equips crafty carpenters and handy homeowners with home-improvement supplies to help execute DIY restorations. Create family-room frescoes with California and Pratt & Lambert paints ($36.99/gallon), using tidy tools such as brooms ($5.69), irons ($17.99), and vacuums ($69.99) as inspiration. Illuminate lavish living spaces with lava lamps ($17.99) while brand-new teakettles ($20.99) warm up human interiors.
Renaissance Framing Gallery revivifies worn art and frames using careful, artisanal restoration techniques. Employ skilled framesmiths to enshrine a memory-encrusted jersey ($250) or diploma ($115), or have them carefully restore an 8"x10" oil painting ($150) or the gold-leaf frame surrounding it ($85 per hour including materials). Before and after photos show how restoration services make the Dark Ages skies brighter, Victorian skin alabastier, and dramatic gilds more dramatically gilt.