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Interior Design Inspired by Local Salvage Centers

Looking for Style in All the Green Places

Lately I’m a bit obsessed by home decorating with reclaimed goods like old doorknobs, ornate metal heating grates, and odd hanging crystals from a long-gone chandelier. Sure, it would make more sense if I actually had a house — at the moment, my new husband and I are squeezing into our 600 square feet, one-bedroom apartment — but one day soon we will own a home, and when that day comes, I’ll be able to spread out and complete all the projects I have going in my head.

Meanwhile, I’ve found that trolling architectural salvage yards and house-part recycling centers is a fascinating diversion. You can find some amazing ways to decorate your home in completely unique (and green) ways, but you can also find perfectly good double-hung windows, newel posts, kitchen cabinets, big pieces of wood flooring, and bathroom vanities (from this century, even!).

I’ve found a list of several of some salvage centers on the “This Old House” website, in cities like Sarasota, Buffalo, New Orleans, Portland, Seattle, Canton, and Queens, New York. Also in the comments section of that article, there are dozens of stores like these that people recommend in other cities, too. Google “architectural salvage + (name of your town)” and you’ll spend an interesting Saturday afternoon being shocked at the hardware, wood, fixtures, and tiles that get pitched during a home or business demolition.

Next time you’re tempted to buy a brand new, poorly constructed, cheaply laminated pressed/treated wood shelving unit from your local home decorating center, consider recycling mismatched but beautifully stained hardwood boards to create your own unique shelving unit.

Do you have a center near you to recommend? In my area, I’ve found Pasadena Architectural Salvage, Sante Fe Wrecking Company (in L.A.), Silverlake Architectural Salvage, and a shop called Olde Good Things which has one of its stores downtown. Now, I just need to find a house we can afford, and I can get busy!

Here are some related Green Options posts to check out:

The Reuse People: Salvaging Building Waste

More is More

LEED Double Platinum for Construction Offices

Written by Deb Hiett

Deb Hiett spent several years in New York City, where she was an actress, dancer, musician, and playwright. In reviewing her first original one-woman show, The Village Voice called her "the bold new voice in solo . . . a sure-shot writer." Her work has won The Carl Cherry Center for the Arts “One on One” Writing Competition and The Western Stage's “Starving Artist” Playwriting prize, and her short stories have appeared in several literary journals.

Deb’s love of writing married her passion for healthful, organic, and environmentally-conscious living once she moved to Los Angeles a few years ago. She has spent the past year planning her wedding, writing screenplays, and applying a variety of broad-spectrum sunscreens.

4 Comments

  1. There’s also a branch of Olde Good Things in New York, and they also have a stall at the Brooklyn Flea Market – they sell a lot of old ceiling tin (which I’m determined to do something with!)

  2. Oooh I love that ceiling tin! I’ve seen some very cool picture and mirror frames made with that tin. I think it might also make an interesting mantel cover or planter box. There’s lots of other ideas on tinology.com.

  3. Hi! I stumbled on your site searching for architectural salvage areas in new orleans. I’ve actually been searching the craigslist “free” page. So far, I’ve found a lot of items that people no longer want, and have refurbished them myself. I’ve found a cedar chest, tv cabinet, chest of drawers, chairs, etc. All free! They just need a little love. Check out my facebook page @ facebook.com/amyedumas to see some of the things I have restored or built from re-claimed wood.

    Thanks for your blog!

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