Readers share artful solutions to old windows, bare showers and broken light fixtures.

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SUSIE HECHT HAD CANCER. And then she had a moment.

“After one of the many tests between meetings and surgery, I said to my husband, ‘Let’s just go to Hilltop [Ale House],’ ” Susie says. “ ‘Do you realize how lucky we are at 3 p.m. on a weekday to choose to go to lunch?’ ”

Her husband then had a moment of his own.

“He turns to me and says: ‘If you died today, I’d be happy,’ ” Susie says. “This will forever be a joke between us — my response to Richard was, ‘I know you so well, I understand what you meant. But could you find another way to SAY it?’ ”

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These days, exuberant Susie no longer has cancer — but she and Richard do have his heartfelt quote, memorialized in a set of historic windows repurposed into beautiful, personal art.

Susie and Richard live on Queen Anne in a duplex dubbed “The Love Shack.” (Their thoroughly charming home, part of the former communal complex of Love Israel and his followers, was featured in NW Living in 2013.) Since moving in 14 years ago, the Hechts have replaced carpet with bamboo (and shelves with built-in cabinets), created office space in the breakfast nook and overhauled the upstairs master bath.

Then came the windows. All single-paned. Some ill-fitting. All exceptional.

“When we started taking out the old handmade windows — yowza — they were really heavy, framed in old-growth fir,” Susie says. “Noah (Israel) had built them. If they were plain glass, we didn’t care, but if they were framed, I kept them all.”

They took the first set to Museum Quality Framing to brainstorm preservation strategies. After finding a perfect frame, they left the well-worn, weathered wood as it was, along with the “latching” hardware, and added beveled-edge mirrors. It became art.

It became addictive.

“I was so pleased with the result of that first framed window, I had a companion made,” Susie says. “My husband stepped in at some point to state, ‘Enough.’ How many walls would I fill? How much money would I spend?”

Susie and Richard Hecht hold one of their more meaningful pieces of repurposed window art: Susie printed a memorable quote by Richard and had it framed and matted, then added the mirror, and presented it to him as a gift. Their historic Queen Anne home, part of the former communal complex of Love Israel and his followers, is reflected in the mirror.  (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)
Susie and Richard Hecht hold one of their more meaningful pieces of repurposed window art: Susie printed a memorable quote by Richard and had it framed and matted, then added the mirror, and presented it to him as a gift. Their historic Queen Anne home, part of the former communal complex of Love Israel and his followers, is reflected in the mirror. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

So far: Ten sets of historic window art grace walls all over the Hecht home. The one in the new office sparkles with a silk-screen that matches the blue in a piece of Love Family stained glass. Three sets are topped with arched “eyebrows,” created by their woodworker friend Tom Scibilia, to complement arches in the home. One pair, a gift to Richard, frames vintage prints of Queen Anne Hill and Lake Union.

They gave another pair to a member of the Love Family, and another to a friend. But the rest belong to the happy, healthy Hechts — and to history.

“Regardless of where I put them, I love that they’re handmade, and the connection to the Love Family, and I’ve had some fun doing the art,” Susie says. “I love the idea of repurposing, especially with history or connection. It would have been criminal to send those windows to the dump.”

 

FINALLY, KIM HERBER found just the right lighting for her Madrona bedroom: a “simple yet fabulous” pair of round, ceiling-mounted, glass-and-metal fixtures at Second Use.

“The shades were flat, frosted disks, held up with a simple gold button finial, that gave off a warm, diffused light,” she says. “I loved the gold accents painted on a creamy beige background and guesstimated they were from the 1950s. I was so excited and planned to install them that afternoon.”

Then she heard the crash.

Her sleepy Great Dane, Luna, had nosed the light-filled shopping bag out of her sunny nap spot.

“One of the disk shades was broken into two pieces,” Herber says. “I got the glass glue, carefully joined the pieces and waited a couple of hours for the glue to set, and the lamps were up on the ceiling before dark, looking magical.”

Then she heard another crash. The glue had snapped under the heat, and the shade had shattered.

Kim Herber of Madrona had a true light-bulb moment when she thought to use a glass frying-pan lid to replace a broken shade on one of her antique lights.  (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)
Kim Herber of Madrona had a true light-bulb moment when she thought to use a glass frying-pan lid to replace a broken shade on one of her antique lights. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

“I just had to find a replacement for the broken glass,” she says. “But after visiting every lamp and shade store in town, and hours online, I came up with nothing even close.”

Think, think, think: What possible potential replacement is round, almost flat, with a hole in the center? Cue the light-bulb moment.

“At my next trip to Goodwill, I bought a glass pot lid that looked about the right size,” she says. “I brought it home, unscrewed the center handle and asked my tall husband, Thom, to hold it up just to see if it was even in the ballpark.”

Home run!

“The circle could not have fit better had I measured it, and the hole in the lid aligned to the spline on the lamp base,” Herber says. “Glass etching compound worked like a charm to dull the lid’s clear glass into a soft sheen that turned milky white when illuminated. With the little gold button holding it in place, my 99 cent ‘shade’ was a most improbable replacement for its stylish ’50s original. Voilà!”

 

MOLLY SIMON AND her husband, Omar, spent six years remodeling their home in Shoreline. Then Molly spent four winters in the bathroom.

Molly Simon started picking up salvaged tiles and ended up creating a beautifully detailed mosaic in the shower of the Shoreline home she shares with her husband, Omar.  (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)
Molly Simon started picking up salvaged tiles and ended up creating a beautifully detailed mosaic in the shower of the Shoreline home she shares with her husband, Omar. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

Happy indoors during those pesky “non-outdoors months,” Molly was creating an incredibly intricate, detailed, colorful shower mosaic — her first tile project.

“I started picking the tiles up while shopping for our home-remodel project,” she says. “I hunted at local building salvage stores: Bedrock Industries, Second Use, The RE Store, Habitat for Humanity and Earthwise, plus a visit to a tile artist’s seconds bin.”

While Molly toiled with tiles, Omar crafted a coiled towel warmer/bathroom heater as artful accompaniment.

Winter is coming. Molly’s not done yet.

“The hunt was and continues to be what I do for fun,” she says. “I’m looking forward to starting the other shower in the house!”