It’s a common enough sight around the globe, particularly in third world countries, but ironically popular here in Japan. For some reason, perhaps health, perhaps energy conservation, perhaps small living spaces, the art of hanging out laundry continues to be practised here with great flair. Elaborate hanging devices dot the balconies of even the fanciest buildings in the toniest neighborhoods. Futons are aired regularly on sunny days. So it’s no surprise that amongst the pickings of a shrine sale I have encountered vintage laundry hangers, including these gaily colored enamel ones. Too cute to leave behind, but the question remains, “What are you going to do with them?”

In the grand spirit of repurposing, I have a few ideas. Recently I have noticed all kinds of unusual photo display holders at the homes of my (almost) teenaged daughter’s friends. They are great for catching photo strips and mementos in an ever rotating display, like this one from Amazon

…or this one from Target

…or this one from IKEA.

So using one for a photo display would be easy and fun, but I have another idea. That very same daughter collects vintage postcards (coincidence?) and wishes to display them more publicly than just in an album. So we loaded up one of the purple colored holders with her language of flowers postcards…

…thinking it would look lovely suspended in her lilac bedroom at the shore.

While not normally a black and white kind of gal, I have long loved the simple palette perfection of Ellen O’Neill’s Gramercy Park studio, including its amazing Ingo Maurer Zettel’z 5 chandelier. Referred to as “interactive suspension lighting” in its sales material, Zettel’z “is a grand chandelier where the Bohemian crystal drops are substituted by scribbled paper notes from some incurable romantic’s desk.

The interactive thing about it is you can change out the standard notes it comes with and put up your own. O’Neill refers to hers as her “bulletin board.”

It isn’t only the chandelier that grabs my attention. I think that amazing wire parasol frame above the mantel might be my favorite item in the apartment, reminding me of another laundry hanger in my collection – this one possibly old enough to be called antique. Its wire curls are sculptural and eye-catching, much like that frame.

I think it would be easy to rig up a hanging light on a cord, suspend it through the center of the laundry hanger and clip on all kinds of mementos to construct a makeshift but infinitely more personal version of the Zettel’z. It would certainly be easier than constructing one from scratch, like Mavromatic did, and make a better looking fixture than the advice given over at Apartment Therapy.

Love notes and language of flower postcards just in time for Valentines Day.

Image credits: 1. L. George, 2, 6-7 & 11. me, 3. Amazon, 4. Target, 5. IKEA, 8-10. House Beautiful July 2010, photo credit: Thomas Loof, 12. via Mavromatic.