Top 10 Architectural Salvage Items to Repurpose for Your Home

It’s a hot word in today’s online world of DIY blogging and made over décor: Repurpose.  But what does it really mean to “repurpose” something? Google has informed me that to repurpose means to “adapt for use in a different purpose.”  This is one of my favorite words, and working at ReHouse I have daily inspiration.  It got me to wondering, what are the most popular architectural salvage items to repurpose?  I’ve done my fair share of upcycling, as it is also called, but I turned to the DIY pros via Pinterest for some guidance on the topic.

I conducted a search on Pinterest for “repurpose architectural salvage” and gathered my data on the frequency with which each item or category appeared in the results.  I then compared those results with our own POS database and the quantity of each item or category we sold in 2016 and 2017 so far (these numbers will be listed in parenthesis for each category or subcategory).  I have concluded that the top 10 architectural salvage items to repurpose (in no particular order) must be

Doors (1081)

Interior (709), exterior(209), paneled wood, metal, wood with leaded glass, rustic/barn (53), sliding, folding, painted or natural, hundreds of DIYers are adapting doors to fit their décor needs and styles.  These photos all come from ReHouse customers who have reinstalled or repurposed the doors they purchased here.

Top left: Tim repurposed a pair of oversized doors from a garage or barn into outdoor privacy walls on his deck. Top right: Exterior door with side lites and arched transom from Victorian home in Hornell, NY reinstalled at MCM Natural Stone in Rochester, NY. Center right: wood interior door with beautiful grain turned on its side is now a customer’s headboard. Bottom right: an assortment of paneled interior wood doors pieced together to make the sales counter at Grossman’s Nursery also in Rochester, NY.  Bottom left: side folding wood and glass garage doors became a space divider in a clothing store in NYC.

Windows (955)

Technically these are window sashes or one part of the whole window unit.  Most DIYers using windows seem to choose older wood framed sashes with divided lites (256), leaded glass (100) or the occasional stained glass (31).  Pinterest has window project round ups that include “25+ DIY Repurposed Window Ideas” and “40 Simple Yet Sensational Repurposing Projects for Old Windows.”  Wall decor seems to be a very popular result, and here are a few I would be happy to hang in my home.

Left to right.  1. Frame a fun favorite poster within the divided lites and add a whimsical accent to the front like Cassie from Little Red Window.  2. Feature a collection of small stained glass windows on an empty wall like this arrangement from Pinterest said to be in the home of John McGivern.  3. At Right Up My Alley Design on Etsy I found inspiration for painting on glass just as I would on a canvas.  4. I could not find any one to which I can attribute this creative enclosed frame except that it is obviously from the family of Sgt. Gregory W Ball.  Cases and cabinets seem to be a natural progression in window repurposing.

Left: By Your Hands featured this cabinet with windows as doors but did not know where it originally came from.  You could use a pre-built cabinet or build one to suit a found window.  Similar to one at my house, this cold frame from Grow Garden Tomatoes will protect your sprouting plants in the cool spring.

Metal Accents

Metalwork that was a part of something else in a former life often peeks through or sometimes even dominates architectural vignettes.  In ReHouse these items fit into all categories.  Among the top choices for salvaged metalwork are fence sections or pieces (73), gates with some sort of latch (7), heating grates (180), tin ceiling (361), lamp/lighting parts (320), and other metal do-dads, tools, and thingies from who knows what (I don’t have a number for that).

Top row, left to right: Narrow console table using reclaimed wood and wrought iron fence pieces, this post led me back to Cass at Remodelaholic. An aged run-of-the-mill chain link fence gate becomes a decorating focal point when hung above the fireplace and adorned with a natural arrangement at Back Porch Musings.  Those little dod-dads come in handy when making unique wind chimes as Rebecca discovered from life. by hand.  Tear that ugly fabric off an old lamp shade, invert, and let it hold up your tulips (no attribution).  Bottom row, left to right: Antique heating grates set into the ground and filled with colored stones become and enchanted walking path aparently from Hometalk. Make your own toilet paper holder out of pipe pieces or purchase at Reclaimed Art.  This lovely bouquet accent lamp is made of lamp parts with a touch of hardware for the blossoms by Jack at Jack Riley Lighting.

Hardware (9725)

That leads us into another broad category that spans all types of door knobs (816), door plates (688), drawer pulls and knobs (2451), latches (205), hinges (1348), hooks (217), escutcheons (162), and brackets (64).  I was surprised to discover that many hardware repurposing projects are resulting in beautiful and unique jewelry.  There are also many customers at ReHouse who want to give their kitchen or furniture a makeover with new knobs or pulls.

Top row, right to left: ReHouse customer, Alissa Laine, restored this beautiful dresser by replacing the knobs with original glass.  1/2 of a hinge + 2 typewriter keys = a classy hook for necklaces made by Paul at Etsy shop StrangeTanks.  An antique eschutcheon (that key hole thing) and a few beads create a simple and elegant statement from a web page that is no longer active.  Some shabby chic door knobs are retrofitted for candles and rented out as wedding decor at Something Borrowed.  Bottom left:  One of my favorite uses for antique hardware has to be the addition of a door plate from ReHouse to a real and functioning guitar by Jonathan at Postal Commerce.  A statement piece worthy of a red carpet event this necklace features an antique drawer pull and (I think) precious stones made at Retreaux Girl.  Another ReHouse customer (whose name has been sadly misplaced) used 12 point glass door knobs and a wood door header to create an elegantly rustic coat rack.

Wood Trim and Accents

This is admittedly a large and varied category.  People are using corbels (76), plinth blocks (76), door headers (over 150 linear feet), column capitals, and pieces of wood appliqué.  It also includes all types of turned wood findings such as balusters (149), newel posts (8), columns (57), and furniture parts like chair spindles (145 chairs) and table legs.

Top left: An antique extra large corbel mounted on the wall becomes a plant stand at the Bachman’s Spring 2011 Ideas House and captured by Itsy Bits and Pieces.  Top center: Using some salvaged wood trim our customer Ms. Farnung created a lovely space to display her jewelry.  Top right: Decorative plinth blocks used to adorn the bottom corners of doorways where 2 types of trim meet.  Add a hook of your choosing and mount them to hang hats, necklaces, or dish towels like My Desert Cottage.  Bottom row: Matching corbels are used to support a shelf in the dining room at the Red Chandelier.   An unidentified but beautiful piece of salvaged wood repurposed as a table lamp by Meyer Interiors.

Mantels (33)

Pinterest viewers are not inundated with mantels as they may be doors or windows, but the end results are so beautiful and inspiring I feel they have earned a spot in the top ten.  These mantels are might be striped, sanded, painted, and/or stained.  Many live their new lives simply as restored mantels for real or imagined fireplaces, but often they are transformed into headboards, book shelves, or even a mirror frame.

Top left: upholstered mantel headboard by Rhonda at My Blue Creek Home.  Top right: shabby chic arched mantel headboard from a compilation at Country Design Home.  Middle right: mantel turned bookshelf found on Pinterest from an old Ebay link.  Bottom right: small mantel repurposed as a bathroom mirror frame at Neighbor’s Hill Bakery and Cafe in Arkansas (photo by Aunt Ruthie at Sugar Pie Farmhouse).  Bottom left: imagined fireplace vignette at Chateau Chic.

Shutters (224)

Both interior and exterior, shutters are used in a variety of household vignettes and projects.  Interior shutters are usually shorter and narrower.  These were more for privacy that for protection as large outdoor shutters were.  In case you’re interested, the most popular exterior shutter color is green if our inventory is any indication

Top row, left to right:  Gail Wilson at My Repurposed Life made this handy magazine rack with one wide interior shutter.  A tool caddy using 2 small interior shutters made by customer Gail Miller at a ReHouse workshop last year.  Four small interior shutters painted white and attached to form a box hangs from a chain and lights up the space (unknown source).  Bottom left: A lovely autumn vignette featuring a pair of shutters in another customer’s home.   Bottom right: I’ve seen many display shelves made with a shutter as the back but this one includes a light at the top and doubles as a hall tree with coat hooks (unknown source).

Furniture (1633)

At ReHouse our furniture sales are topped by cabinets of all types (1027).  Far below that come chairs (145) and tables (131) and then just drawers all by themselves.  Many DIYers are following the painted furniture trend which is sometimes covered by the repurposed umbrella.  Here I would like to show some amazing examples of furniture repurposed as some totally unexpected things.

Top right:  wooden head and foot boards become a sunny bench for one customer.  Center left:  a refrigerator on its back and covered in barn wood will now hold all the cold drinks for the party at another customer’s house.  Top right: dresser – drawers + wallpaper = dollhouse (unknown source).  Bottom left: another foot board with some shabby chic paint and a dozen small hooks can hold all your tea cups and saucers on the wall (link went to Hometalk). Bottom right: From Gypsy Barn this upright piano has been gutted and fitted with shelves and a drawer to be used as a dining room feature.

Lighting Globes & Shades (528)

Although we do sell the occasional fabric shade for lamps or sconces (24), most of the Globes & Shades (427) category consists of antique or vintage glass ones.  These come in every shape and size and fit all different lamps ceiling mount, chandeliers, pendants, table, wall, even under the cupboard and over the vanity.  They are available for indoors or outdoors, attic, basement, or garage.  I never knew there were so many! On top of that, individual chandelier crystals (101) make up a significant portion of all lighting related glass sales.

Top left: Use round glass globes as a mold for these trendy concrete spheres by following the tutorial by Steve & Kathy at The Garden Glove.  Top right: Search out ridged white globes, add a “stem” and create an autumn display that won’t rot before Halloween, Homeward Found Decor.  Bottom left:  Another great tutorial, this one from Addicted 2 Decorating, shows how to turn the classic school house globes into a succulent centerpiece.  Bottom center:  Two very different glass shades come together with some glass glue to become your new favorite cake plate worthy of the finest celebrations like these from DIY Homer.  Bottom right: Solar lights with a twist, this DIY project uses normal outdoor solar lights and glass shades from a common ceiling fan to light up Gail’s porch at My Repurposed Life.

Commercial

Ok, I hear you…”what kind of category is commercial?”  This may not be on the top ten for Pinterest posts.  It may not even be defined as architectural salvage at all, but this year ReHouse has sold over 700 square feet of bowling alley.  That’s right, bowling alley.  I’m taking a guess that the customers who purchased these 700 square feet are not installing a home bowling alley.  The other option?  They must be repurposing it.

Now 700 square feet is very heavy.  It requires commitment to salvage, commitment to purchase, and commitment to repurpose.  With all that commitment I shall add my own.  I commit to giving Bowling Alley its very own post within the next few weeks featuring only projects completed by ReHouse Customers.  If you haven’t sent photos of your bowling alley project yet, now would be a good time.

Until then, what will you repurpose today?

 

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A Philly Story: Narberth Church

In March of this year, Restore of Philadelphia salvaged this vacant church which had been the oldest house of worship in that borough until the new owner decided to replace it with apartments.  ReHouse has now acquired some of the unique architectural details that formerly called this church home.  Here is the story.
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image source: Google Street View
The Baptist Church of the Evangel, was the oldest house of worship in the Philadelphia borough of Narberth.  Building for the church began in 1891 and was completed the next year.  This is the original structure.
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Image source: S. F. Hotchkin, Rural Pennsylvania in the Vicinity of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, George W. Jacobs & Co., 1897), p. 55; collection of the Lower Merion Historical Society
The church building was enlarged in 1924 to its final size.  An article from the Our Town paper of Narberth, PA on January 28, 1928 offers the following view of the beautiful grey stone building.  You can read the entire 34th anniversary article HERE.
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In an effort to save as much history as possible, Restore of Philadelphia was able to salvage what they could before the building came down.  Their original blog post is still available HERE.
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image source: Restore of Philadelphia
They removed the “enormous pair of doors that entered the congregation room.  Each door is 33″ wide and with the pair together in the frame, the overall width is 6′ and the height is 93″.  Each door is 3 full inches thick with massive hinges.  The jamb frame was buried in the floor about 5 or 6 inches to stabilize the pair.  Gorgeous, massive, impressive, functional, endless possibilities.  Trim for the door stopped at wainscoting on the other side and was inside the tile on this face side.  All parts that can make it work again are here and ready to reinstall.”  $3880.

 

Other doors from the church include some interesting sizes and hardware.  These 6 panel saloon style doors are from bathroom stalls.  They measure 33″ wide and only 66.5″ high.  They include decorative handles, side stoppers, and swinging hinges.  We received 3 of the 4 that were removed.

33w x 66.5h. #91844. $245each.

Next we have some 5 panel doors in the same dark finish solid pine.  The church originally had 26 of these doors throughout and in varying conditions.  We have at least 4 with the natural wood finish as shown and several that have been painted on one or both sides.  One has 2 hearts cut out near the top.  I wonder what room that went to. These do not include hardware.  Lastly, there are a few with ventilation panels on the bottom half.

29.75w or 36w x 84h. #various. $95-120

 

Q & A with ReHouse Recovery

Customer: How do you get all this stuff?

ReHouse: One way is that we go get it! Our Acquisitions Manager is tasked with making and taking daily calls regarding salvage jobs for ReHouse Recovery.

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Customer: How does he know which ones will result in something store-worthy?

ReHouse:  Before taking on any job we request photos and details about it.  For a large job that cannot be adequately represented in just a few photos, the Acquisitions Manager will go out to the location for a preview.  He will take notes and additional photos of items he feels we can save. We work with our customers to clearly determine what is available as part of each salvage job.

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Customer: How do you narrow it down from there?

ReHouse: As with any business there are factors that go into choosing jobs.  How far away is it? How many employees will be needed? Can we take the van or will it require the larger but less fuel efficient truck? How much effort will it take to remove the items? How long will the removal take?  What is the condition of the items?  Is there anything unique or hard to find?  Do customers want the resulting merchandise?  Using a special formula created by the Finance Dept. we can conclude which jobs to pursue.

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Customer: Once you get there how do you know what to bring back?

ReHouse: We have lists upon lists of items we typically look for.  Our primary focus is reusable architectural items such as doors, trim, woodwork, windows, corbels, columns, etc.  We also have an ever growing customer wish list which includes everything from a vague description of something someone’s grandmother used to have to stained-glass, gothic-arched window with specific colors, design, and measurements.  Once in a while we will find something so unusual or strange or ugly we just have to bring it back to the store and see what happens.

Customer: Do you only salvage houses?

ReHouse: No.  We salvage many types of buildings and for different reasons.  Sometimes we go to single or multi-family homes that are being renovated or torn down.  These often have hardwood flooring, gumwood trim, built-in cabinets, leaded glass, wood framed windows, fireplace mantels, hardware, and other architectural details.  Sometimes we go to a restaurant or hotel that is being updated or closed. Here we find multiples of items people often ask for such as mirrors, large frames, chairs, tables, and light fixtures.  Each type of location has its own special findings, its own focus, but the mission remains the same… “ReHouse strives to better the environment by reusing antique, vintage, and modern building materials that would have otherwise gone to the landfill.”

 

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Customer: What have you salvaged lately?

ReHouse:  Our most recent job was in Spencerport where a customer of ours is planning to take down his century old horse barn.  Here, we were given the ok to remove whatever we needed, and our focus was barn wood which is currently very popular in home décor trends.  We also brought back main exterior barn doors, stall doors, and lots of hardware.

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Customer: Isn’t it dangerous?

ReHouse: Life is dangerous.  Salvaging is no more or less so.  The employees that go out on our salvage jobs have been well trained in all aspects of safety when doing such work.  Locations are checked before any work starts to make them aware of any possible dangers.  They are encouraged to work safely and may even call off a job if it presents an uncomfortably risky situation for anyone.

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Customer: How long does it take?

ReHouse: Sometimes it is easy to know how long a job will take.  If we go to a house that only has kitchen cabinets we can usually estimate 1-2 hours for removal and loading.  In the case of the barn it was hard to know.  We scheduled 2 days of recovery in which we were able to remove all stall doors, main doors, hardware and other wooden items that were not “tied down.”  At the end of 2 days we reevaluated, talked to the owner, and are now able to return for one more day in order to cut out as much barn wood as possible.

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Customer: What did you end up with from the barn?

ReHouse: Enjoy these photos of the salvaged goodies that will soon be available for purchase.

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