The bins-each about 8 1⁄2 inches wide, 15 inches deep, and 7 inches high-are from Olde Good Things, 1819 W. Grand Ave., 312-492-1485. Our editors have spotted similar bins at Salvage One, 1840 W. Hubbard St., 312-733-0098.
This issue, we opened the "What would you do with this?" challenge to interior design students at Harrington College of Design. We asked them how they would turn galvanized-steel parts bins, salvaged from an Ohio tractor factory, into useful home accents. We received a slew of inspired responses; here are our favorites
1 Recycling Center Put the bins in a pantry or in a wide-based cabinet in the kitchen, possibly on rollout shelves. Refinish them, color-coding them with low-V.O.C. primer and paint. Each color represents a different recyclable material-red for paper, yellow for plastic, green for glass, blue for aluminum.
-Matthew Skow Hudson, junior
2 Patio Decor Thread a cable through the openings of the steel bins and fasten them side by side on a patio wall. Then install a fluorescent light or citronella candle within each bin. The bins would add a beautifully rustic feel to a garden or patio and help keep bugs away, too.
-Lisa Christine Johnsen, senior
3 Light Boxes Create fixtures that provide both high-intensity lighting and diffused mood lighting. Suspend bins from the ceiling with threaded rods and attach high-wattage sockets to the undersides of the boxes (the light would shine down toward the floor). Inside each bin, mount three bulbs inside swiveling floodlight sockets; this light would shine through the sides and create a diffused light pattern. The fixtures would be controlled from wall switches.
-David Pargulski, freshman
4 Desk To create an industrial-feeling desk, use the bins as legs and recycled glass for the top. Have the bins stacked and welded together at an approximate height of 30 inches. The top bins will face upward and contain display items visible through the glass. The lower bins will have their fronts cut and hinged, creating doors for storage.
-Walter Bruckner Jr., freshman
5 Room Divider Stack and hang eight bins from the ceiling to create a room divider. They could be hung unevenly from two steel poles for a decorative effect. For example, the top bin on one pole would hang 18 inches from the ceiling; the top one on the other pole, 30 inches from the ceiling. The columns would be positioned 12 inches apart and each would hold four bins.
-Naomi Sherman, senior
Photograph: Matthew Gilson