When Stephen Staples comes across an ancient ash can or a board stripped of its nails, he studies it as if it’s the Mona Lisa. What appear to the common eye to be scraps are seen by Stephen for what they truly are—the building materials of early New England homesteads and factories. With his family, Stephen repurposes the salvaged materials into handcrafted kitchen tables, headboards, armoires, and benches.
“All this stuff is from somewhere special. … You look at the piece, you see the history, you know what went on," he says. "They say the piece can’t talk. They do talk, you just need to know how to listen.” For those not fluent in the language of reclaimed materials, Stephen includes a certificate of authenticity with each piece that details its age and probable history, including which pilgrims stored their socks in it. For his meticulous handiwork and passion for history, Stephen has been featured on This Old House and WCVB's Chronicle and in Design New England magazine and the Boston Herald.
For more than 38 years, Light 'n Leisure "The Purple Buildings" has brightened abodes with high-quality, stylish lighting fixtures and home accents. Customers perusing one of three showrooms can gape at a plethora of fixtures, from interior enhancers such as the duchess antique nickel sconce ($80) to outdoor darkness repellers such as a nautical textured black wall mount ($69.99). Other fixtures, including ceiling lights, lamps, and wall lights, are also available to help send monsters into hiding and stem the tide of toe-stubbing epidemics. An array of home accents such as candle holders, decorative boxes, and vases is available for outfitting newly illuminated rooms with an eye-friendly wardrobe, and an in-store bonanza of clearance items augments the selection of domicile dressings.
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.
Furniture from more than 15 national and international sources fills Northeast Furniture Direct, a store that sells home furnishings at factory-direct prices. Shoppers can peruse memory-foam mattresses, leather sofas, formal dining sets, and more, all still wrapped in their factory packaging and bearing their manufacturers' full warranties. Each week, the store announces its public business hours; patrons can also visit during scheduled one-on-one appointments.