Window to the Soul
Creative personal photographs can bring a home to life.
A self-portrait by Laura Novak.
Photograph by Laura Novak
Whether your pictures are taken professionally or are the product of an impromptu photo shoot in the park, creativity is key when deciding how to incorporate them into your home.
Photographer Laura Novak suggests buying a plain wood frame and hand-painting, stenciling or illustrating it to match the decor of a room. This technique works especially well with black-and-white prints.
When you get around to hanging those photos, it’s perfectly fine to adorn your foyer with that close-up shot of your son sporting his characteristic happy-go-lucky grin.
“It’s important to capture the expressions of the kids,” says Novak, owner of Laura Novak Photography in Wilmington. “Something different really calls people’s attention more than just a traditional approach.”
Novak strives to capture the best in her clients’ personalities through photography, and she says you can follow the same approach in your own backyard.
“Take your kids out and play with them. Dress them in their normal, everyday clothing and let them be themselves,” she says. “Just let them be.”
Photos should come to life with an essence of the people they portray adding their own personal touch to a room, she says.
“By putting framed portraits in a house, it lets you know who lives there and what they’re all about,” Novak says. “It’s really the art of a family that makes a house a home.” —Stephanie Ostroff
Refinish Your Furniture
Local experts explain the dos and don’ts.
If you’ve never had furniture refinished, the process can be confusing. Here are some tips to help you get started.
• Know the difference between refinishing and restoration. Replacing only the finish? You are refinishing. The stain may or may not match the original. In a restoration, the finish should match. “We restore it to the original specifications,” says Robert Moore of R.J. Moore Furniture Refinishing in New Castle.
“Restoring almost always means touch-ups, blemish repairs, not taking it down to bare wood, but working with the finish that’s there,” says Scott Alexander of New Life Furniture Systems in Newport.
• Evaluate the worth. Some pieces retain their value better without work. Generally, bench-made furniture—made by hand prior to the Industrial Revolution—requires delicate handling. Furniture from the 1900s usually gets a boost from refinishing, Alexander says.
• To dip or not to dip? In cold-tank dipping, furniture is immersed in a tank of stripper. The finish is then removed with water or a lacquer rinse. Hot-tank dipping involves first a bath of lye, then oxalic acid. It’s best for architectural items with several coats.
“Never dip,” Alexander says. Moore has seen pieces fall apart, so he uses a paint remover and putty knife. Alexander uses a flow-tray system that employs acid-neutral liquid stripper. The piece is never submerged. “You’re dissolving the finish off,” Alexander says.
• Be patient. After you get a price, it might be months before the worker can take the job. “A lot of these pieces have sat in disrepair for so many years,” Alexander says. “If it takes another six months to see the job through, it all makes sense to me.” —Pam George
A Perfect Marriage
When Gail Angelucci, a stained glass artist, and her husband, Scott Angelucci, a fine wood craftsman, opened Angelucci’s Fine Woodworking and Stained Glass Gallery in Milford last year, they hoped to hone their skills while selling their wares.
But when customers began requesting pieces that combined wood and stained glass, the couple discovered that joining forces was a good business strategy.
Scott started designing custom windows to frame Gail’s stained glass. Their personalized wood and glass work is limited only by a client’s imagination.
At Christmas a merchant marine and his wife, a teacher, ordered custom doors with stained glass panels. One panel portrayed a man going to sea. The other was of a woman looking to sea.
The Angeluccis prefer to visit customers’ homes to discuss lifestyle and decor. Scott offers a manual of wood types and albums of his work.
Though the Angeluccis’ combined work sells well, their individual pieces remain noteworthy. Scott reproduces decorative moldings, furniture, bookcases and desks. Gail’s stained glass graces hallways, foyers and living rooms.
Furnishing a home with custom work is an investment that pays off. Most wood pieces sold in stores are either stapled or nailed. Scott advocates traditional joinery.
“Imported stained glass is not made properly and doesn’t last,” Gail says. “When you do stained glass, you’re hand-cutting, grinding and wrapping in foil, then soldering. Traditional glass has a nice smooth bead around it. It won’t fall apart.
“You may pay more for our art,” she says. “But it will last forever, and it will tell your story.”
For more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 422-4533. —Maria Hess