Architectural Salvage

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>W e’re all familiar with the saying, “They just don’t make things like they used to,” and I know this to be a true statement! That’s one of the reasons many people come on tour to search for architectural salvage. Whether clients are building their dream home, adding a special addition, or purchasing inventory to stock their store, architectural salvage tours seem to be one of our most popular request. It makes sense to me—when you spend your money on something, you want to know that it is made of quality materials that will stand the test of time. What better way to ensure that they’ll last than to buy something that’s been around for over one hundred years?! Speaking of quality materials, antique architectural salvage can often by purchased at a fraction of the price it would cost to reproduce them.

Architectural Salvage

Architectural Salvage

Price and endurance aside, architectural salvage pieces allow you to add something unique to your home. In a cookie cutter world, it’s becoming more and more important to incorporate unique pieces into your life, better reflecting your style. Whether you’re incorporating antique mantels or lighting fixtures into your home or reinventing salvage by creating furniture from recycled items, antique pieces add character to any space.

Architectural Salvage

Architectural Salvage

We’ve seen architects use old French doors in new construction, interior designers source vintage sinks in multiple colors to complement a scheme, and private clients buy gorgeous chandeliers to hang over their dining tables. The options really are endless. Owners of older homes often look for period pieces for restoration projects while those building new houses want something that’s going to add that warmth and patina that only antiques can add. Loft dwellers love finding burnished pieces and industrial salvage, perhaps from an old warehouse or factory.

Architectural Salvage

Architectural Salvage tiles

In fact, we’ve helped clients source entire frescoed ceilings, built-in libraries, Italian roof tiles, floor tiles, reclaimed wood floors, and even staircases. Whether found on tour or through our Buying Services, our guides know where to go, who to talk to about restoration, and what a fair price is. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re on the hunt for architectural salvage:

Shop First
If you wait until the last minute to try and find a mantel or door that will fit the exact spot that’s already carved out, chances are it’s going to be difficult to source. Instead, find special pieces you love and ask your contractor to create a space for it.

Measure twice 
The last thing you want to happen is that you buy a beautiful piece only to find out that it won’t fit through your door or up the stairs! Take measurements of the space you want to fit it in as well as all doorways and hallways it will need to pass through.

Rely on Restoration
Many times you’ll come upon an item that could use some TLC. That’s ok! It’s normal to purchase something in its “original state,” often meaning that it hasn’t been restored or changed at all because the seller wants to let the buyer choose how much to restore it, what finish to use, and to advise if size adjustments need to be made. A lot of antique dealers do their own restoring or have workshops they trust to carry these wishes out. Don’t be afraid to ask about a piece just because it isn’t in pristine condition.

Get the Right Team
Make sure the contractor you are working with understands architectural salvage. Often times if someone isn’t used to working with reclaimed materials, they’ll say that something isn’t possible, when in fact, it is. Interview your contractor and trades men to make sure they appreciate repurposing.

See Green
Not only is architectural salvage a green choice for the environment, it also can save you money. For instance, you can find antique cast-iron tubs for about a tenth of the price of new ones. Of course, you may need to refinish the tub, but you’ll still be ahead of the game financially. Installation of these antique tubs requires common plumbing techniques and they can be outfitted with reproduction faucets. Solid wood doors are another place to save by using salvage. Just be sure they have no rot on the bottom and that they aren’t warped. Compared to modern doors that are often made of lightweight pine, old doors offer much more value.

Architectural Salvage

If you are interested in one of our Architectural Salvage Tours, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to help you source the perfect piece!

The Antiques Diva®

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Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.