Britain is calling out for new modern housing, and in many places around the country, that means reclaiming old, outdated properties. But in this process of replacing old with new, there are a great number of architectural gems that are finding the tip instead of new homes.
Thanks in part to the efforts of the restorers, antique dealers and reality television, architectural salvage has gained in popularity across the UK. Now, the hunt is on for things like kitchen and bathroom tiles, windows and stained glass, industrial lighting fixtures, even claw-foot bath tubs and unique wash basins. Now this trend has taken off, and everyone wants a chance to recycle something beautiful and different.
Older products were built to last. Although there will likely be restoration involved, the entire point of sourcing this type of salvage is because of its quality. But be prepared for hard work. Finding the right kind of salvage for your home takes time and patience. Watch online auctions, poke around local reclamation yards, car boot sales, and flea markets.
Salvaging these items is a great way to bring amazing pieces into your home décor and is also environmentally friendly. These items are complemented by installing modern products that have an old-world feel. Our vintage lighting products, for example, use the most efficient technology possible to save on your energy bills, but can fit in perfect with that 19th century wash basin found at that estate auction in Somerset.
If you are thinking about getting involved in architectural salvage to kit out your home’s interior design, here are some basic tips in getting started:
Sourcing the right types of salvage
Most sellers are focused on getting reclaimed items to private homes or small businesses. Architectural salvage enthusiasts are mostly concerned with gathering a supply of desirable interior fittings like joinery, millwork like railings and bannisters, reclaimed ironwork, glass products, flooring wood, and even garden furniture.
For many projects, it could take a large amount of items to complete. If you are hoping to install new hardwood floors, you may need to find a large supply in order to have enough. If it is a specific type of wood you are looking for, some reclamation yards may set aside stock for you and let you gather it over time, in each case you would be advised to talk to the yard owner to find out.
For certain one-off items, like plumbing fixtures or architectural columns, if you are lucky enough to find them, get them! You never know when you might come across them again. Remember, prices are not usually set so be prepared to haggle.
Local newspapers – especially the free ones – auctions, and even recycling centres or tips are all great nearby sources or interior pieces for reclamation. You can also use the web to search sites such as eBay, Freecycle, and Gumtree for anything from second-hand paving slabs to oak timbers.
Cleaning off all that wear and tear
After finding that piece you have been searching for, the process of re-claiming its former charm and beauty is not always glamourous one! Cleaning old materials can be a time-consuming and tiring process. Take care when using chemicals and stripping agents. Many older products were often sealed with lead-based paints and enamels. Some products may also contain asbestos and other hazardous materials. Before using any cleaning products, read all directions and use the necessary safety equipment to protect yourself. Always wear suitable protective clothing.
According to Antiqueswebsite.co.uk, the key is keeping it simple.
“Much wooden furniture does not require much treatment to keep it in good condition, and doing any extensive treatment at home is likely to result in some sort of damage,” they say. “If a piece requires extra TLC or restoration, seek the advice of a professional.”
If you are using, restoring or installing original cast iron baths and basins, be sure to consult local building regulations prior to undertaking the job. A licensed plumber will help you determine any defects and may be willing to oversee installation. To prevent any potential water damage, there are also companies that will re-seal old plumbing fixtures.
Remember that many salvaged items are quite heavy. Be sure to determine that the hopeful location of your new piece can withstand the weight. Many people choose to hang re-claimed stained glass panes as wall decorations. When installing, use hardware that won’t damage your walls, but will still carry the weight of the piece.
Inventive use of salvage
There are a great number of businesses that actively seek salvage pieces. For corporate boardrooms, reception areas, or restaurants, architectural salvage is used everywhere. To meet that demand, there also specialist builders and architects who can help incorporate reclaimed building materials in house designs. Many of them will do the work with you as well.
A new housing development is moving forward in Manchester, is partially supported by the reclaimed materials of the now-demolished Durban Mill. According to the Manchester Evening News, around 96 per cent of the materials extracted from the site demolition will be recycled and reclaimed including floor boards, bricks, steel, basement flags and Lancashire boilers.
Reclaimed materials are still the most environmentally friendly option for the building industry. There are no set rules as to how you display or use your reclaimed materials. Stonework can be used as artwork. Old doors can be converted to writing desks or tables. Chimney pots can be used for storage or decorative art.
A wide range of reclaimed materials are also perfect for use in the garden: brick and flagstones for paths, railings and gates for boundaries, and even old sinks as planters. Antique and salvaged garden statuary, such as sundials, garden seats and urns are also in plentiful supply. The only limit is your imagination.