12 Smart Salvage Ideas
Give any home character with found objects and recycled materials. Gary and Cathy Pursell in Little Rock walk you through a real-life style lesson.
Truckloads of secondhand ingredients have given Gary and Cathy Pursell’s Little Rock home first-class style. “Gary scours the want ads on Sundays to find people selling old barn wood,” Cathy says. “We’re always looking, no matter where we are―so many of our best finds have come from just driving around!”
Owners of a build/design firm, Creative Heights Partners, the couple took a custom approach with their home. You can too: Steal their 12 best ideas.
Add character to your home’s exterior with antique shutters. Found wood shutters complement the Pursell home’s stone-and-stucco exterior. Cathy says if you want to use salvaged materials in your design, tell your builder on the front end so you can avoid problems.
Hang an antique lantern as a porch light with one-of-a-kind flair. Follow Cathy’s advice and don’t pass up a fixture because the wiring is old or cracked. Rewiring is simple and inexpensive.
Choose a salvaged door for your entry to make a stunning first impression. Gary and Cathy had the paint stripped off their front door (an antique original to the house) to showcase the beauty of the wood. If you want to use antique doors in an existing home, be prepared to trim the door to fit or to replace the doorjambs and surrounding trim.
Give your outdoor spaces cozy atmosphere with iron chandeliers and sconces. Antique candlelight fixtures, such as these in the courtyard, are the easiest of all salvage to use because no adjustments are necessary.
Surround your interior doors with impressive salvaged beams. Gary and Cathy can thank former President Clinton for the gorgeous oak beams surrounding their back door. They came from the May Supply Company building in downtown Little Rock when it was torn down to make way for the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.
Install vintage floorboards to give your home instant warmth and age. The Pursells’ kitchen and living room floors are comprised of 1-inch-thick oak planks in random widths. Using salvaged wood for flooring is also an eco-friendly choice.
Find a use, such as a tabletop, for your salvage leftovers. Gary built the trestle dining table out of remnants from the floor material. With a little creative thinking―and, yes, a very skilled craftsman―wood scraps can always be put to use.
Fake an old-world look with pecky cypress. Not everything has to be old to have that saved-from-the-wreckage look. Gary and Cathy’s kitchen cabinets are built from pecky cypress. A fungus puts holes in the wood, giving it a time-ravaged appeal.
Mix found pieces to create unique furniture and accessories. Gary built this bench in the entry as a birthday gift for Cathy out of the remnants of reclaimed wood beams and wrought iron antique fence material. “It was all just scrap stuff most people would throw away,” Gary says. “I just don’t throw anything away.” He also used antique wood to frame views of Black Lake photographed at Cathy’s mother’s home in North Louisiana.
Mix reclaimed materials to get the look you want. Gary combined cypress siding from the Pursells’ former home (an early-1900s Sears Craftsman painted green), wood from a 100-year-old barn, and wrought iron fencing to create the porch’s sliding doors. The doors slide on a new track, but the rollers are antique meat-hook wheels from a meatpacking plant. “I found them lying on the floor in a pile at a junk store and bought them all. I just cut the meat hooks off,” Gary says.
Use antique brick for outdoor patios and fireplaces. The brick in the courtyard came from buildings that were torn down in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. “The biggest problem with antique brick is there are several different sizes and it tends to get mixed up. That can make it tough to lay out a patio,” Gary says. Cathy recommends setting the brick in sand, rather than concrete, to give a relaxed and aged look. Plus, the sand helps level odd-size bricks.
Give old wood new life by having it made into shutters and doors. They may look like authentic antiques, but the courtyard shutters are newly crafted with old wood Gary found at a lumberyard. The wood came from weathered timbers on which new wood was being stacked. Gary added new distressed hardware so they can be easily functional.