Optical Illusions for the Home
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  Houdini mouse pad  

Perhaps it’s a holdout from a childhood spent obsessing over magicians or a continuation of my adulthood fascination with artists like M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali, but either way, I love a good optical illusion. With wild creativity in home décor running rampant across the globe, conversation-piece design elements seem to be all the rage. Don’t rub your eyes, your vision is just fine.

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Color-fading chair

Though my wife is decidedly less enthusiastic about turning our home into a hallucinatory carnival, I pick my battles where I can. Furthermore, she really prefers a more rustic, down-home, log cabin-y feel in the home and I tend to agree. However, most of these cool optical pieces that I’ve been finding lately incorporate more modern, even Deco, lines. Either that or they look positively goofy.

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Concave bookshelf

I’ve been on the lookout for a key piece, something suitably subtle, to integrate into our home. As much as I would love to load up on the wacky, I have enough sense to avoid anything that screams ‘novelty’ too loudly. And when I say I have enough sense, what I really mean is that my lovely wife has enough sense. The slight curvature of these bookshelves would be a perfect way to meet in the middle.

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Artist John Pugh for Chico State University

My first instinct is to go with one of the quirky, 2-D wall coverings that are widely available. There are the deceivingly realistic versions or the surreal op-art designs. These are probably best in a room that is otherwise decorated fairly simple. The French call it trompe l'oeil; I just call it super cool. While I probably won’t find some extraordinary artist with the spare time to drop by my house and whip up one of these crazy murals, a man can always dream.

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Melting cabinet

A simple Google search produced Judson Beaumont and the team at Straightline Designs, who are turning out original, awe-inspiring pieces like this melting, Alice-in-Wonderland-like chest of drawers. This is innovation in woodworking, taken to the max. I think this would be a perfect fit for a child’s bedroom.

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Hovering books

Before I crack the safe and blow my future-child’s college fund on one outstanding piece of craftsmanship, I must remind myself there is much that can be done with simple mirrors, glass or clear plastic. It’s possible I can get away with one of these ‘floating bookshelves’ in my office, but it’s also possible that I would waste a good portion of my day just staring at my own mysterious décor. “They’re gonna fall, I know it…”

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Faulders Studio’s ‘Deformscape’

If all else fails, look to the floor! Maybe it’s me, but I think the angle of the picture above is throwing my eyes off even more than the design itself… Regardless, there are seemingly endless options out there for baffling carpet and eye-popping flooring. Whether you’re looking for a swimming pool, an endless abyss or just a little concentric-line trickery – I wholeheartedly believe there’s an illusion out there for everyone.

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Cube switchplate

Let’s face it, as much as would love to transform my home into a phantasmagorical wonder-world at every turn, the classicist in me will likely settle for this quirky lil’ outlet cover. Not exactly the hallway conversation-starter, centerpiece that I was hoping for, but a realistic compromise. On the other hand, if you want to get down with the DIY, there are hundreds of uses for a few simple stands of fishing line. Impress your friends; scare your neighbors!

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