Using Architectural Salvage to Create a Link to a Simpler Time

As the world gets more and more complicated many "lovely decorating addicts" are finding unique salvage items discovered into new uses to create a nostalgic link to simpler times! A stair baluster becomes a one of a kind candle holder, a pair of corbels (the more blistery the better) becoming amazing shelf brackets for
a salvaged piece of fence or barn wood to "make hearts break" at your next dinner party of get together with friends and family. The message here is anyone can go into the widget store and get the same widgets that everyone else has. Why not stretch your creativity (and probably your budget) and hit the local flea market, thrift store, antique store or (if you are lucky enough to have one close by) the "Architectural Salvage Yard".

Been looking for one of these salvage yards? Let's explain how to not only find one but find the right one for your taste and budget.

Architectural Salvage Certificates are primarily divided into two categories:

1) Salvage yards that also do their own demolition of old buildings. These I call "Primaries"
2) The other type of yard is a buyer and reseller of salvaged items from demolition companies, remodeling home owners, builders, private parties. These I call "Secondaries".

Within both categories are grades and qualities of salvage yards. Some carry the relatively common items such as old windows, door and hardware and generally are relatively modestly priced. The second type involves impassioned operators who either deconstruct items (sometimes even buying salvage rights for the
demolition) and carefully transport them to their warehouse. Tearing down things is easy. Deconstructing historically significant artifacts without destroying them is labor intensive, highly skilled work. The end product usually commands a price commensurate with the time and effort needed to rescue it from its present location to a new one!

So which type of place should I frequent?

The answer is according to your budget and taste. I intend to focus in future articles on sharing unique design ideas from the "secondary" category. I believe that great design (with no concerns about budget is simply a "search and acquire" game best performed with a internet link and a phone. tag!

Each article I publish shall deal broadly with reuse of relatively modest price architectural items that are capable to be re-engineered with "medium level tool skills", tools and the "ever popular" drywall screw and screw gun. You will not need to have a "contractors license" or a "building permit". Simply a passion for a really great item that reflects your creativity not the "widget stores"!

Here is the design idea # 1 in a series of "too cool … reuse ideas" that will be a theme of each article.

Design idea # 1-

Materials needed:
Baluster Candle Holder. A baluster is one of the spindles that you find between the upper and lower support railing on a stairwell. Most salvage stores, a good day at the flea market or a building supply
store have new (if you can not find old) balusters. Old ones are ready to go into production. New ones create a old look with a bottom coat of crackling medium, or a combination of glue mixed with water and a top coat of whatever the finished color should be. 1 piece of 2 "x8" wood approximately18 "long. (Scrap cuts of wood are plentiful in home improvement stores or just pick up a 8 'piece (about $ 6) and save the rest for later.

Tools needed:
One drill. One 3/4 "paddle drill bit One Phillips head # 2 screw head One small box of course thread 2" drywall screws. One bottle of wood glue. One 1/8 "drill bit One hand or power saw.


Step 1- Cut your 2×8 wood piece to desired length based on what your eye tells you the right relationship is in proportion to the height of your baluster.

Step 2- Cut any angles off of your baluster so that it is flat on the top and bottom.

Step 3- Take your paddle bit and cut aa 3/4 "wide (the width of the paddle bit) and 1" deep in one end of the baluster. (this is your candle holder opening).

Step 4- Take the other side and put a small amount of wood glue on base of 2×8 where you want the balluster to be attached. Turn the 2×8 upside down and drill a 1/8 "hole from back of 2×8 into the 2×8 and into the baluster about 1/2 inch.

Step 5- Screw the baluster to the 2×8 with a 2 "drywall screw and set overnight overnight for the wood glue to get good and dry. .

Step 6- Add any other decorative elements you like to the 2×8 base. Old peices of door hardware, old tools, and any other trinkets that inspire you.

Step 7- Paint as desired.

Step 8- Insert a inspiring candle to opening in baluster.

With a little creativity, basic tools and very modest expense you have created a "unique expression" of your sense of style. And a "really great" non mass produced, "anti-me too" product to amaze your friends
with your decorating style!