Anyone else love the look of architectural salvage? You know, those old seemingly unusable pieces of houses and buildings? Maybe it’s my deep passion for history, or my devotion to sustainability but  I can’t bear to throw away cool old doors or windows, doorknobs, etc.Having completed several historic renovations myself, I find an undeniable beauty in these pieces. There is a harmony to be found in mixing old with modern…adding character to the often sterile lines of contemporary design.

A good example is this beautiful mantle I have restored and included in several of my Stella Stages for a pop of rustic charm! Look how this mantel adds effortless texture and warmth.

The response to architectural salvage is interesting and perhaps a bit unexpected. I find when I  use architectural salvage as adornment instead of it’s original functional purpose, there is a quiet appreciation from the viewer.  Because it is understood to be a fundamental of function, it is kind of taken for granted in the space, but fully accepted and appreciated in the same way.  The piece automatically makes a space more interesting and completely familiar at the same time.  

My sources for these items are the definition of true architectural salvage.

  1. Contractors and homeowners who give me cool old parts instead of throwing them away.
  2. I harvest from my own home projects.
  3. Second hand (Habitat for Humanity is one of my favorite places).

You can also look for reclaimed elements at flea markets and occasionally yard sales. There are even some stores dedicated to architectural salvage. 

I have a piece of architectural salvage, I use A LOT.  It’s a piece of tin ceiling mounted on a wood frame.  It’s a perfect accent piece everywhere always.  It’s metal and paint chippy and beautifully elegant at the same time.  This piece shows up in my staging design often and much. 

Most items just need a light cleaning and occasionally something might need a seal. But its salvage, so it’s not supposed to be perfect. Chips and dents are all good when it comes to salvage. The more the merrier!

These treasures can be amazing design aspects to put back in a house or re-purposed into furniture and artwork. Imagine the home these old-world corbels might have once hung on… now they prop up a glass desktop. Cool, right?

From reclaimed wood and shutters, to radiator covers and  vintage tubs the possibilities are endless. There are some awesome ideas from Better Homes and Garden for how to incorporate architectural salvage here. 

Ok, just looking at those ideas gave me 100 more for my staging and my own home renovation projects. One thing to know about this type of design, it’s not always a quick find. Or you find something you love but don’t have a real place to use it… yet. I say if you find it and can store it, do it! These items are rare so you need to grab them when you find them.