Employ a clever Mom-trick to place music front-and-center in your home. Cover your walls with musical instruments -- a design strategy that provides clutter-free storage and daily practice inspiration at the same time. Drums, flutes, strings and unusual local instruments are often as beautiful as sculptures -- with the additional benefit that they come down off the wall for a little improvising. Even instruments destined to go unplayed can find a decorative purpose on your walls.
1. String Sculpture
Keep those strings out where they serve as decor -- and a practice reminder -- by dedicating a section of wall in the practice room to exhibiting the family's violas and violins. Complement the rich wood tones of the instruments with lush paint colors -- color-washed parchment, terra cotta or acid-green on the walls. Frame a page of vintage sheet music to hang over the violins and violas and set up a music stand below them so there is no excuse for your kids to miss the daily "Twinkle" repetitions or a virtuoso run of the Bach Double. A bow is another work of art with eye appeal. Hang a set of graduated sizes, from the four-year-old's to Dad's, right next to the instruments. No need for dusting any strings if everybody practices every day.
2. Wall Guitar
Celebrate your aging or teenaged rocker by featuring a colorful collection of electric guitars on an equally colorful wall. Padded instrument hangers hold guitars flat against the wall -- paint it glossy red enamel for a high-energy vibe. Small gallery spots highlight prized instruments and a guitar comes down off the wall easily for a quick riff or some serious jammin'. For a family den, try arranging guitars around a big-framed concert poster. In a teen's room, skip the red wall but add a bulletin board for tacking up concert tickets, programs and other musical memorabilia next to a treasured Fender, Gibson or Martin.
3. Musical Museum
Indigenous and folk musical instruments are conversation starters and a visual delight grouped on a single wall. A banjo made from a coffee tin, a cigar-box dulcimer, a homemade, hand-painted fiddle vie for eye appeal with Chinese erhus and pipas, Beijing opera yueqins, Andean panpipes, Native American shamanic drums and bronze Thai gongs. Hang the instruments from hooks or padded cradles. Rest them on small rosewood or ebony pedestals. Borrow a style trick from museums and identify each instrument with a small typed card that states its name, provenance and the material from which it is made. For greatest impact, arrange like instruments together to show different ethnic versions, crude to refined craftsmanship, or just an extensive collection of a favorite music maker, gathered on various travels over many years.
4. Liberated Brass
A battered horn deserves a better fate than scrap metal. Repurpose an old tuba, trumpet or French horn as a wall-hung planter for a note of greenery in a hallway or family room. Hang the instrument so the bell is up and fit a plastic container inside the opening, trimming it if necessary so it is flush with the rim. Put the plant pot inside the plastic holder to keep drips and leaks off the wall and floor and be careful not to over-water it. A trailing plant looks as graceful as an adagio spilling over the edge of the brass -- try a delicate, cascading rosary plant or string of pearls plant, both fairly sturdy plants despite their fragile appearance.
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