Ex­perts share the in­side scoop on de­sign­ing and dec­o­rat­ing with sal­vaged ma­te­ri­als.

Flea Market Décor - - Contents - By Kristin Dowd­ing

Re­use ex­perts share their in­side scoop on de­sign­ing and dec­o­rat­ing with sal­vaged ma­te­ri­als.


add another venue to your list of fa­vorite flea mar­kets: the sal­vage com­pany. Though sim­i­lar to fleas in pur­pose, sal­vage busi­nesses take their wares from old houses, so they sell ar­chi­tec­tural pieces as well as dé­cor. “We made cof­fee ta­bles out of doors from the Civil War pe­riod,” says Susan Hud­son, an artist at Black Dog Sal­vage, in Roanoke, Vir­ginia. “Within two hours, we had sold 60 of the 80.” Home­own­ers are see­ing the ben­e­fits of adding sal­vaged prod­ucts to their home, and its pop­u­lar­ity is quickly grow­ing. Sal­vage can be found in many places, (see side­bar on page 117) but the com­pa­nies them­selves get the ma­te­ri­als pri­mar­ily from house de­mo­li­tions and do­na­tions. “Peo­ple will come to us be­fore a de­mo­li­tion and ask us to check out the prop­erty to sal­vage the ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments,” says Susan.

What Ex­actly Is Sal­vage?

Ex­am­ples of sal­vage in­clude an­tique cor­bels, floor­ing, wain­scot­ing, bead­board, win­dows, struc­tural beams, win­dows and doors. Re­ally, it’s any­thing that’s given a new pur­pose in­stead of go­ing to the trash. “Ev­ery­thing from a build­ing is reusable,” says Justin Green, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Big Re­use, a non­profit in New York City. Au­thor and de­signer Joanne Palmisano, owner of Burling­ton, Ver­mont-based Sal­vage Se­crets De­sign, likes to break it down into two cat­e­gories: func­tional sal­vage and dec­o­ra­tive sal­vage. You can add char­ac­ter to things that are func­tional, like sinks, doors, light­ing and floor­ing, by re­plac­ing them with sal­vaged items. “You don’t need to add dec­o­ra­tions around it, be­cause the piece it­self is the dec­o­ra­tion,” she says. “Dec­o­ra­tive sal­vage in­cludes ev­ery­thing else, like win­dows, old maps or ar­chi­tec­tural mold­ing that you hang on the wall for art­work.” Joanne wrote the forth­com­ing book

Styling with Sal­vage: De­sign­ing and Dec­o­rat­ing with Re­claimed Ma­te­ri­als

to show home­own­ers the ben­e­fits of styling with re­pur­posed pieces and to ex­em­plify un­ex­pected ways to make your home unique. It’s due out at the be­gin­ning of 2018, so keep an eye out for it.



was re­pur­posed into an in­door bed­room lamp. Joanne pulled apart the brass fix­ture and made it into a switch light with a plug. Re­claimed wood gives this bed­room char­ac­ter and in­ter­est with min­i­mal wall art.

What Is the Cost?

The costs of sal­vage will vary, de­pend­ing on the rar­ity of the item, its age and ma­te­rial. “You’re al­ways go­ing to pay for qual­ity,” says Don Short, owner of West End Ar­chi­tec­tural Sal­vage in Des Moines, Iowa. “Some­times, sal­vage can be more ex­pen­sive for a prod­uct that will last longer,” he says. Other times, you’ll find pieces that are half the price of what you’ll find new. It’s a hunt­ing game. Along with the qual­ity and strength of a piece, cost can also come from the work that you put into it. “Some­times, you’ll find sal­vaged ma­te­rial that’s less ex­pen­sive,” says Joanne. “But un­less you’re do­ing ev­ery­thing your­self, la­bor costs can make it more ex­pen­sive.” If you have to hire some­one to fit the frame and paint your sal­vaged door, it may end up cost­ing the same as a new one—but you’re still ben­e­fit­ing from its char­ac­ter and crafts­man­ship.

Why Sal­vage?

Sal­vage ma­te­ri­als are not only unique, but also en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly. “Our goal is to keep ev­ery­thing out of a land­fill,” says Susan. Ma­te­ri­als and items that would or­di­nar­ily go to the

trash are now be­ing given a se­cond chance at mak­ing a home spe­cial. “Why cut down a tree to make a ta­ble when there’s tim­ber just sit­ting un­used?” says Don. Older ma­te­ri­als also bring char­ac­ter, emo­tion and feel­ing to a space through their his­tory. “It makes your home into some­thing non-cookie cut­ter,” says Susan. “It will in­di­vid­u­al­ize your home.” It’s also use­ful if you’re ren­o­vat­ing an old home and want to match the look. “New stuff looks new if it’s sup­posed to look old,” says Justin, so turn to sal­vage to com­plete your ad­di­tion. And let’s face it: many prod­ucts were made with bet­ter qual­ity in the past. We now ex­pect things to fall apart shortly af­ter we’ve pur­chased them; that’s what makes sal­vage so valu­able. It’s sur­vived the life it had be­fore you, so you know it will con­tinue on. “In to­day’s dis­pos­able so­ci­ety, sal­vage shows ap­pre­ci­a­tion for things that are built to last,” says Joanne.

Styling with Sal­vage: De­sign­ing and Dec­o­rat­ing with Re­claimed Ma­te­ri­als by Joanne Palmisano, pub­lished by Coun­try­manp ress, ©2018; coun­try­

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