Continuing our series on DIYs from Saint John’s Opera Bistro makeover, today I’m going to show you how to (re)invent an item that many businesses and households take for granted, or dismiss as archaic or old-fashioned: the guest book. Whether you’re talking home or business, great design is all about making a statement. This statement is modern, creative and fun, and can be made for as little as under $20! All design ideas were conceived and carried out by Punch Inside, Creative Director, Judith Mackin.
The “guest book” pillar in Opera Bistro’s newly renovated space. Photo by Hemmings House.
When you think of a guest book, you probably picture a book with a pen at the end of a string. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the limits of design are defined only by your imagination. Instead of asking guests to sign a traditional guest book, why not paint a wall, or some portion thereof, and have guests sign it with a silver pen? This is what we did at Opera Bistro [see above], and the owners — and guests — are loving it.
• An expanse of wall or pillar
• Paint colour of your choice (enough to cover the particular surface); latex flats work best — approx. $10
• Sharpies/markers that will show up on your painted surface — approx. $5
• Something to hold your pen/marker; optional: Offer Hand Hook — $83
STEP 1: Paint It, Black(?)
Paint a small wall or pillar the colour of your choice (in our case, black). Apply the recommended number of applications and make sure all layers are very dry before the first inscription.
STEP 2: PEN AND LINK
When you have a vertical writing space it’s hard to set your pen down, no? Put a shelf within easy reach — or something unpredictable, eye-catching and fun. For the Opera Bistro guest book/pillar, we used an “Offer Hand Hook” by Harry Allen for Areaware ($83; available at Tuck Studio). The gesture of the hand offering the marker works perfectly. Whatever your choice, make sure you place your shelf/hook at a height and location that allows people to reach the marker without ever bumping into it.
There are four possible options you can use with Harry Allen’s marble and resin “Hand Hook” pieces, all pictured below. First up, the “Offer” and the “Grab”; next, the “C’Mere”; finally, the “Bestow.” Again, we went with “Offer,” but not because of the implied gentleness in the name. Any of these dynamic hand hooks will make a positive impression.
The “C’Mere Hand Hook” (left) allows you to tie a string to the ‘come hither’ finger, to hang your pen; you could replace the flowers with your sharpie in the glass tube of the “Bestow Hand Hook.” Photos via Areaware.com.
STEP 3: SIGN OF THE (FUN) TIMES
Last but not least, put out the markers and let the signings begin! Is the host allowed to post on her/his own guest book/wall? You decide: This is your modern guest book — it’s perfectly acceptable to provide an encouraging message for your soon-to-sign guests.
As used at Opera Bistro, to complement the black paint: Sharpie Metallic Permanent Markers, Fine Tip, Silver; 2-pack costs under $5. Photo via Staples.ca.
This modern guest “book” is a lovely way to turn a wall into a form of keepsake — a literally graphic aide de memoire for all of those special occasions you share with friends and family.
Next in Judith Mackin’s DIY makeover series: How to redesign an old piano