Feather your nest with rustic chicken wire decor

08/01/2014 7:00 AM

08/02/2014 8:30 PM

Maybe you weren’t cut out for backyard chickens, but you like the look and feel of a rustic henhouse … sans the constant clucking. Using chicken wire in your home will create an aura of barnyard chic.

Chicken wire, or hex netting, made a comeback a few years ago as the DIY movement in home décor gained momentum. Pinterest is teeming with pictures of items made with the silver wire.

Chicken wire pinboards framed in old windows or doors seem to be the current craze. The grid-like design of the wire is pleasing to the eye and perfect for displaying photos and mementos, and its flexibility makes it fit into a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s inexpensive, easy-to-trim and requires only minimal tools for most projects.

Wire décor can easily blend into industrial-looking spaces, and the silver metal meshes well with rooms with a contemporary feel.

Despite the enthusiasm online, we were skeptical of the appeal of chicken wire. We feared that, without the right medium, it might make a space feel too much like a farm. Thankfully, these Kansas City designers stepped in to show us that chicken wire can spruce up your roost if used correctly. Don’t be a chicken: Try one of these projects at home.

Chicken wire chandelier

Designers: Erica Rigdon and Shannon Myers, co-owners of Charm in Martin City

The process: Rigdon and Myers “go around and look at junk” regularly to see how it can be repurposed for resale. On one of their Saturday excursions to a flea market, they came across the inspiration for a chicken wire chandelier and bought it on a whim.

“I found this old box, and my husband is super handy, so I knew he could figure out something to do with it,” Rigdon said. “I assume the box spring is from an old ottoman because of its shape, and it only cost us $50.”

Rigdon put the box of springs and coils in her garage, along with her dream of a repurposed chandelier. Then we called. Our chicken wire challenge prompted Ridgon and her husband to head to the hardware store.

She estimates that they spent $60 on wires, light kits, paint and hanging supplies to make the fixture. They dropped light kits into some of the coils — not all — so that the fixture wouldn’t seem too bright, Rigdon explained.

Then they stapled and wrapped chicken wire around the inside of the box and spray-painted the entire thing in an ivory hue. The final touch was to add the rope and pulley system for fuss-free installation.

“More people are thinking outside the box when it comes to home décor and design to achieve individual and one-of-a-kind looks,” Rigdon said. “They’re willing to give chicken wire and chicken wire chandeliers a chance because they don’t want what everybody else has.”

The fixture would look fabulous on a screened porch or over an outdoor eating area, said Rigdon, who loves the beachy feel of the piece. To jazz it up, Rigdon suggested hanging old crystals from the chicken wire. She plans to sell the chandelier at Charm.

Chicken wire dress forms

The designer: Dianne Ripper of D-R Designs Jewelry

The process: Ripper is a designer of vintage jewelry and an antiques dealer. To keep up her habit of adding bling to just about anything, Ripper adorned her dress design for the chicken wire challenge with a smattering of sparkles. Ripper’s biggest advice for DIYers who want to create a chicken wire dress form: “Wear gloves and use pliers.”

Ripper began by cutting the wire to her desired height and width for each dress form. She cut the width based on the largest circumference of each dress form or “wire mannequin.” (Wire for the small form was cut to 18 inches wide by 20 inches tall; wire for the large one was cut to 37 inches wide by 49 inches tall.)

She rolled the rectangles into cylinders and twisted their wire ends together. Ripper shaped the neckline and hemline of the gown by cutting the wire, then gave the bustline and waistline their curves by crimping hexagons.

“I used fairly simple shapes, but elaborate designs are possible by cutting out different necklines or adding shaped sleeves and larger skirt sections,” Ripper said. “If you want to add color, the wire dress form is easy to spray paint at this stage, too.”

To dress up your dress form, Ripper suggests adding any embellishments on hand. She used a ribbon belt made of velvet on the smaller dress form and attached a rhinestone shoe clip as a belt buckle. To the larger dress form, she added a vintage velvet and crystal belt. She attached chandelier prisms across the neckline.

“Dress forms look great in a closet or sewing room,” Ripper said. “They can also be used to organize or display jewelry, scarves, belts, hats or favorite clothing items.”

Chicken wire wreath

The designer: Joshua Shepherd, Studio Dan Meiners

The process: Shepherd is used to thinking outside of the box to make the ordinary seem stylish. He took a glamorous approach to the chicken wire challenge by adding a gleaming mirror to a square wreath adorned with brown twine and faux calla lilies in bright yellow.

“Originally I was going to do a pinboard, but I thought you might already have 10 of those, so I came up with the idea of a wreath,” Shepherd said. “I decided most wreaths are circles, so I went with a square.”

Shepherd bent and shaped the chicken wire like a three-dimensional frame, cutting it at angles where the corners would meet. He fastened the corners using garden wire that came wrapped around the roll of chicken wire. Then he placed moss inside the frame and wove flowers and twine through the wire to give the piece flair.

“I put the mirror on the back because I didn’t want the wreath to be flat,” said Shepherd, who believes the mirror gives the wreath more depth and versatility.

He attached the mirror using wire tied across the back in an x-shape and secured the wire to the mirror with duct tape.

Shepherd said the mirror would look good in a hallway or entryway. It could also be on the front door or mantel and is interchangeable for the seasons, he said.

“You could weave vines and sticks through it for a more modern and contemporary look or hang things on it too,” Shepherd added.

A writer’s attempt

The designer: Yours truly, Carla Kath, freelancer and mother of two small daughters

The process: My dad, a psychologist in Mississippi, is probably the only person who would respond calmly to a text about chicken wire at 7 a.m. I was at odds with a hand-me-down television stand that had a door with a dangerous glass insert that opened to reveal DVDs and VHS tapes. It’s in constant use by my young Disney-loving daughters. The glass wasn’t going to last long, and I didn’t want to clean up the pieces or visit the emergency room.

After perusing Pinterest, I surmised that chicken wire might be a quick fix. Dad called me back immediately with info about where to buy the wire, what to use with it and what to have on hand for his next visit, just in case I never got around to the project. I didn’t. A few weeks later, he showed up with wire cutters.

After the project was complete, I was immediately enchanted with the industrial, vintage, country feel of the new door. I also had more chicken wire to spare. What else could we do with it?

While visiting my family in Mississippi recently, I happened upon an old doll cabinet in my childhood bedroom that needed a dire makeover, not to mention fewer baby dolls, according to my husband, who gets a little creeped out when we spend the night in that room.

Dad and I removed the dolls and the glass inserts in the cabinet. Then I went hunting for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I decided on Sloan’s Duck Egg Blue for the background of the piece and Sloan’s Original for the rest.

After wiping the piece down with a mix of water and detergent, we painted it and let it dry. I distressed the edges and surfaces with a damp cloth and waxed the piece with clear Triwax from Booth’s Hardware Store, the oldest hardware store in Tupelo, where Elvis Presley bought his first guitar.

The piece looked mighty fine after a bit of buffing, so we reinstalled the shelves and took a step back. Voilà! Ready for chicken wire.

Mom stepped in to help shape and hold the wire in place while Dad shot the staples in along the edges of the wire. I was afraid that Mom was going to end up with staples in her face, which is why I didn’t offer to help. Dad recommends using a staple gun that shoots straight on rather than one with a side handle.

The wire was a bit on the shiny side for our taste. Dad had spray paint gathering dust on his shelves. We found one in a creamy hue that looked like it might dull the shine of the wire and go with the overall feel of our piece. We removed the wire, sprayed it and stapled it back in place.

We hope to haul the piece to Kansas City one day. Whether the baby dolls make the trip back depends on my husband.

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