Long before decorative letters, numbers and symbols became a staple for home decor stores and vintage sources, I found myself drawn to their quirky potential and the graphic quality they lend to any setting.
Though their popularity may have peaked at some point, typewriter keys remain a personal favorite of mine. Whether they pop up on pillows in a fabric motif or as drawer pulls, magnets or picture frames, their simplicity and recognition give them a timeless appeal.
Many people can also relate to famous locations, which may be why reproduction subway signs were everywhere a few years back. Their straightforward list of stops from Fenway Park to Times Square and beyond creates an instant conversation piece in any home. Like typewriter keys, their black and white palette lets them blend with just about any style.
A more recent trend of Morse code posters and prints quickly grabbed my attention. The fact that I’ve run out of wall space may have been my only saving grace when I fell for one that I wanted to purchase.
When eye charts suddenly became graphic pieces of art, I found myself especially fond of the prints that spell out a sentence or two, which becomes a welcome challenge for guests to decipher.
Throw pillows with important reminders like BE NICE OR LEAVE and CALL YOUR MOTHER never fail to make me smile. They also make it clear to all who enter your home that you have a sense of humor.
Amusing desk signs for your personal workspace are among the latest trends. Humorous sayings include: I’M KIND OF A BIG DEAL and I’M NOT BOSSY, I AM THE BOSS.
Light boxes that come with a selection of letters offer a fun touch when you’re entertaining because they let you create your own personal marquee message, while scrabble letters make great placeholders for your guests.
Decorative letters in metal or wood also let you spell out your own message like NAP in a bedroom or WASH YOUR HANDS in a kid’s bathroom. These letters can also serve as monograms to further personalize your space, while numbers can mark a special date like a birthday or an anniversary.
Pieces from the past that feature characters can be added to the mix. Some of my favorite flea market finds include an old folding ruler and vintage shoe forms that sport a combination of letters and numbers.
Vintage and reproduction signs with commercial origins take on new meaning in a home environment like those that say EXIT and NO PARKING.
License plates remain popular accent pieces that can be displayed in their original state or made into colorful creations like birdhouses and maps.
Even some bold wallpaper motifs feature letters, numbers and other iconic images like the variety of newspaper styles sold at the Home Depot that set the tone in an entry.
Lastly, you can add some classic symbols around the house, such as ampersands and musical notes that are sure to stand out wherever they land.
Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at [email protected].
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