- 23 of Our Best Salvage-Style Projects
- Old Door Trim-Framed Mirror
- Medicine Cabinet Turned Message Center
- Barn Pulley Wall-Mount Light Fixture
- How to Make a Window Box with Vintage Trim
- Outdoor Bar Made From a Salvaged Sink
- Vintage Tap-Hook Towel Rack
- Chimney-Pot Garden Light
- Old Hinges and Shutters Folding Screen
- Side Table Made From Stair Parts
- Vintage Tile Tabletop
- Tub-Foot Umbrella Stand
- Vintage Window-Guard Pot Rack
- Salvaged-Beam Table
- Salvaged Cabinet Door Coffee Table
- Cornice Garden Tool Holder
- Spigot-Handle Garden Tool Rack
- Window-Sash Picture Frame
- Salvaged-Column Coat Tree
- Vintage-Door Dressing Vanity
- Wagon Herb Planter
- Doorknob Coatrack
- Cabinet Doors Made From Old Shutters
- Stair Baluster Candlesticks
- 4 Thrifted Frames, 1 Easy Distress Technique
- I spent ,000 remodeling my kitchen, and here are 10 big lessons I learned
- Plan ahead to save money
- Set a realistic budget
- Hire a kitchen designer
- Choose the right cabinets
- Pick a good contractor
- Don't skimp on key pieces; sprinkle in bells and whistles
- Pick quality countertops
- Add shine with a backsplash
- Prepare for a mess — and lots of take-out
- Choose efficiency over size
23 of Our Best Salvage-Style Projects
Love hunting in salvage yards and vintage shops for one-of-a-kind pieces and knickknacks? Follow the lead of TOH's salvage-style expert, Amy Hughes, and use a little DIY knowhow to give old gems new life. Here are 23 ways to use those found objects to create new, unique pieces of furniture and accessories for your home.
To see more projects these and read on about how to navigate the flea market or turn old architectural items into amazing new details, check out Amy's book, This Old House Salvage-Style Projects, available wherever books are sold.
Old Door Trim-Framed Mirror
The entrance halls of Victorian-era houses were often decorated with large pier mirrors in front of which homeowners could primp on their way out for the day. You can DIY a version with a few tricks.
This large pier mirror is crafted using the entablature of an old door casing for the top and preprimed pilasters from a lumberyard for the sides and bottom. White paint unifies the old wood with the new.
Get the step-by-step instructions: How to Make a New Mirror with Old Door Trim
Medicine Cabinet Turned Message Center
Besides its obvious utility in a bathroom, a vintage medicine cabinet can double as a kitchen spice rack or a curio cabinet.
Here, a wall-mounted, oak medicine cabinet (found of Craigslist!) was transformed into an organizer and situated in the corner of a kitchen.
Rather than filling the empty recess in the front of the cabinet door with new glass, chalkboard paint was brushed on and the back was lined with cork. A row of cup hooks is perfect for hanging keys.
Find instructions here: Turn a Medicine Cabinet Into a Message Center
Barn Pulley Wall-Mount Light Fixture
Pulleys have been doing the heavy lifting for centuries. Simple machines comprising a grooved wheel, called a sheave, inside a wood or cast-iron frame, pulleys can be found in various designs and sizes the task they were originally created for. Scour flea markets and put one back to work as an adjustable bedside sconce the one shown here.
To make your own light, follow along for the easy how-to: How to Use a Barn Pulley to Make a Wall-Mount Light Fixture
How to Make a Window Box with Vintage Trim
All you need to build a cottage-style window box is a few feet of 6- or 8-inch-wide trim (choose straight baseboard or casing, rather than angled crown), one 2-by-2-foot sheet of ½-inch exterior plywood, water-resistant wood glue, and a shallow plastic planter to cradle the soil and flowers. Because a lot of old trim is covered in toxic lead paint, either remove the finish with a wet stripper or seal it under a clear top coat.
Try this project with a helper or on your own: How to Make a Window Box with Vintage Trim
Outdoor Bar Made From a Salvaged Sink
The core of the project is a 1950s cast-iron sink scored at a salvage yard, supported by a cedar potting bench that was assembled in about an hour from a kit.
Stoppered and filled with ice, the basin is great for chilling beers. Drain waste water into a bucket placed below the sink or, if you hook the faucet to a garden hose, divert it through PVC pipe.
To hide the bottom storage shelf, there is a colorful outdoor-fabric skirt.
See how to make your own in time for outdoor entertaining: How to Turn a Salvaged Sink Into an Outdoor Bar
Vintage Tap-Hook Towel Rack
Cross-handle faucet taps can double as hooks. All you've got to do is mount them on a board—such as the salvaged barn siding shown here, but any scrap wood will do—and hang the assembly on a wall. This project went a step further by adding a shelf supported by ornate cast-iron brackets for stacking fresh bath towels and drying wet ones.
See the simple steps: How to Make a Towel Rack With Vintage Taps
Chimney-Pot Garden Light
It is difficult to visualize an old chimney pot casting a warm, 50-watt glow on the undersides of a Japanese maple's leaves. But here, a low-voltage landscape light is fitted snugly inside the base of a crown-topped pot. This project also was constructed using a built-in timer so the unit will automatically turn itself on and off each night.
Here's the step-by-step to help you put all the pieces together: How to Transform an Old Chimney Pot Into a Garden Light
Old Hinges and Shutters Folding Screen
Four old door hinges of similar size and style were used to link together three vintage wooden shutters into a bedroom folding screen. Digging around in the hardware bin at the salvage yard for matching hinges is the toughest step in this project. Making the screen is the easy part, you simply need to screw the hinges to the face of the shutters, rather than mortising them.
See How to Make a Folding Screen Using Old Hinges and Shutters for detailed instructions.
Side Table Made From Stair Parts
Create a central repository for keys, dog leashes, and mail that fits in a tiny front entry without gobbling up precious square footage. This two-legged console saves space by anchoring directly to the wall. It matches the lived-in look of a farmhouse and it was built using inexpensive salvaged stair parts.
Follow along to create your own: How to Build a Table From Stair Parts
Vintage Tile Tabletop
For centuries, decorative tiles have transformed the mundane elements of a house—namely floors and walls—into works of functional art.
Part of the fun of making a table this is rooting through the tile crates at a salvage shop to snag a find this 1890s 6-by-6-incher depicting a Spanish Colonial mission. Flowered accents, yellow-and-white marbled tiles from an old fireplace surround—bought in bulk—and a wrought-iron table base with a recess for a glass top round out the materials needed for this cute outdoor accent.
Get crafty and make your own version: How to Create a Vintage Tile Tabletop
Tub-Foot Umbrella Stand
Claw-foot tub interiors were coated in porcelain, but the outsides and feet were usually bare metal. The three matching feet shown here are mounted on the base of a galvanized-tin flower bucket to turn it into an elegant umbrella stand.
See more details to replicate this for your own entry or mudroom: How to Build a Tub-Foot Umbrella Stand
Vintage Window-Guard Pot Rack
Vintage iron window guards boast strength and enduring style, even when repurposed, the one shown here. Turn a found one into a rack for hanging pots, oven mitts, and utensils in the kitchen.
Boost storage and display your most loved cooking tools: Make a Pot Rack From a Vintage Window Guard
Salvaged from the ruins of old homes, factories, and outbuildings, reclaimed wood has a history, heft, quality, and character you won't find in the new stock sold at your local lumberyard or home center. The wood is typically harder and more dense than timber sourced from many of today's quick-yield tree farms.
The three Douglas fir beams used here were rescued from a dumpster. Their massive size—about 6½ feet long by 15 inches wide—made them ideal for a communal dining table the ones at trendy farm-to-table restaurants.
Read on to make your own: How to Build a Table from Salvaged Beams
Salvaged Cabinet Door Coffee Table
This knotty-pine door was found on the street; the unfinished wood had been babied furniture, displaying the luster you get from years of waxing.
Here, this old door was transformed into a coffee table. The lower shelf is actually leftover tongue-and-groove flooring from a previous project. So, except for the legs and fasteners, this coffee table was practically free to create.
Follow along to see how it came together: How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door
Cornice Garden Tool Holder
With its deep ledge, this 19th-century terra-cotta cornice makes a perfect top shelf for the tool rack shown here. It is attached to an old piece of wood and paired with a five wrought-iron hooks, which are reproductions ordered from House of Antique Hardware.
See the steps to create a unique rack for your own: How to Turn a Cornice Into a Garden Tool Holder
Spigot-Handle Garden Tool Rack
a perfectly seasoned cast-iron skillet, garden tools and ornaments tend to get better with age. There may be rust or chipped paint, but nothing a little WD-40 or a new clear finish can't remedy.
These colorful outdoor spigot handles and a length of reclaimed door casing were repurposed into a cheery wall-hung tool rack.
The handle “hooks” are great for keeping hand trowels and rakes at the ready and for holding a sun hat.
See step-by-step how it was done: How to Build a Spigot-Handle Garden Tool Rack
Window-Sash Picture Frame
Pained at the thought of a charming wood double-hung ending up in a landfill, the contractor husband of TOH reader and fellow salvager Leslie Geesaman lugged this window home from a job site. And in true TOH fashion, Leslie put it to good reuse. Her idea: Mount photos behind the wavy-glass divided lights and hang the sashes side by side on the wall.
Read on to craft one for your photos, inspired by Leslie's: How to Make a Window-Sash Picture Frame
Salvaged-Column Coat Tree
Columns are a bedrock of traditional architecture, and most American columns found from the past century or so are made of wood.
For this reuse project, a single column is fitted with shapely brass hooks and stood up on a new plinth base to create a six-foot-tall coat tree.
The fluted shaft and the egg-and-dart molding on the capital will add a touch of formality to even the casual entryway.
To learn how to make your own coat tree a salvaged column, see: How to Turn a Salvaged Column Into a Coat Tree
Vintage-Door Dressing Vanity
This Victorian-era cottage door was transformed into a mirrored dressing vanity with hooks for hanging clothes. Just an old window, the glass in a vintage cottage door is typically cased in wood, with a decorative stool and apron moldings at the bottom. A shelf was created by widening the stool and the empty space above it was filled with a new mirror, instead of replacement glass.
To replicate the look of this stylish storage unit, see: How to Make a Dressing Vanity from a Vintage Door
Wagon Herb Planter
Looking to spice up your container garden? Dig out Junior's rusty old Radio Flyer and turn it into a mobile planter that can go from a sun-steeped corner right to your kitchen door. Your herbs will never be fresher or more local!
Here's how to get rolling: How to Make an Herb Planter From a Wagon
After a long day at work, messing with hangers in a coat closet can seem so fussy. For this project, six vintage metal doorknobs and their matching rosette backplates were used to make a toss-and-go coatrack—the antidote for those lazy evenings. A piece of salvaged chestnut trim stands in as the base.
Here's the step-by-step build your own: How to Make a Doorknob Coatrack
Cabinet Doors Made From Old Shutters
Turn a set of shelves into a discreet storage cabinet by attaching doors. Here, two mahogany shutters picked up at a salvage yard and hinged together as a bifold, and made a perfect fit to hide media equipment.
Get the step-by-step instructions here: How to Make New Cabinet Doors From Old Shutters
Stair Baluster Candlesticks
Evocative of classic holders cast in bronze and iron, these stately candlesticks can be made for surprisingly little cash—the balusters cost a few dollars each at a salvage yard. The finished product can transform your hearth or make a dramatic tabletop display.
Here's how to make them: How to Make Candlesticks from Stair Balusters
4 Thrifted Frames, 1 Easy Distress Technique
Hey y’all! I think I’m finally getting back into my groove after last week’s Myrtle Beach trip.This project I’m sharing with you guys today is really a little teaser for what’s to come.
Remember my mash up of gallery wall inspirations that made my head swirl with ideas? I have figured out my direction and I’m so excited for our naked stairway wall to have some bling on it! And by bling I mean distressed vintage-inspired awesomeness.
If you have any picture frames lying around waiting to be jazzed up, this project is perfect.
(Update: You can see my finished gallery wall with this project here!)Over the course of several months, I’ve had a little collection going of random frames I’ve discovered in thrift stores or craft stores that I thought had interesting details.I knew I wanted to eventually do a gallery wall.
Some were as cheap as 99 cents (poppin’ tags yo) and some I paid a little more at around $10. I always always check the frame section of thrift stores when I visit. I chose 6 total to distress for our wall- 4 thrifted and 2 from Hobby Lobby.
Okay, they’re really not too bad. And I originally thought they would be pretty in Olivia’s ballet theme room, but I swiped them for our living room instead…I know, shame on me…so greedy.
The other two of the 6 were this brassy gold plastic, which, unfortunately, I forgot to snap a before shot of (bad blogger!).
Believe it or not, I have never done a chalk paint project. (Say whaaat?) I had always wanted to! And, y’all, I gotta say, I have found the elixer of life. Okay, I exaggerate. But it’s amazing stuff.
From this point on, if you stand still long enough, I might slather you with a layer of chalk paint. I think I shyed away from it before because I was so scared of ruining a paint project and ending up with wasted funds.
That stuff ain’t cheap! Annie Sloan projects are beautiful, but I can’t swing over $22 for 8 ounces and potentially mess it up. (Update: I finally did it, and it was SUPER easy! I had no reason to be scared. And I discovered a little of that paint goes a long way.
See my beginner’s guide to chalk paint here.)
BUT I found a super cheap alternative.
I’m loving this Plaid brand, Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paint, so if you’re a beginner at chalk paint, me, I highly suggest trying it out.Supplies I used: (Affiliate links are provided below for convenience. For more info, see my full disclosure here.)
- 2 colors of chalk paint (I used Folk Art paint in Java and Parisian Grey.)
- A clean, dry rag
- Paper towels
- 2-3 large artist brushes
Step 1. Paint frames with a coat of your base color (the shade that will show underneath the distress finish). I used the Folk Art Chalk Paint in Java on four of the frames, and I used Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze on the other two just to see if there would be a major difference. Both came out great. You can really use anything.
Step 2. After the paint is dry, rub Vaseline onto various spots on the frame.I focused mainly on the corners and edges where normal wear and tear would occur. And, hey, I got a little skin softening treatment in the process.
I spent $35,000 remodeling my kitchen, and here are 10 big lessons I learned
The tiny kitchen in our 1980s northeast Phoenix home came complete with a dropped ceiling, fluorescent box lights, tile countertops and original major appliances, including a groovy trash compactor. When we bought the house in 2009, we knew we’d eventually have to renovate. For years the task — and pricetag — seemed overwhelming.
When the main electric cooktop burner went out and the odd-sized oven was scorching everything, it was time. If we needed to sell the house, we knew we’d take a hit; kitchens and baths still sell homes. The last thing I wanted was to make incremental upgrades or renovate at the finish line for someone else.
If done right, I knew this space could improve not just the look of our whole house, but the way we live. I envisioned making cupcakes (and healthier meals) with our 3-year-old at a new peninsula, and supervising her craft projects while I cooked. Until now, we’d done all we could to keep her the cramped space, where danger seemed to lurk at every inefficient turn.
Here are 10 lessons learned from our kitchen remodel, which took months to plan and five solid weeks of construction dust to complete.
Plan ahead to save money
My husband and I had hoped to save money by assembling our cabinets and having a local non-profit demo and haul away the old cabinets and appliances. Stardust Building Supplies offers a free demo service when you donate your used cabinets and appliances.
Unfortunately, they were booked weeks in advance and couldn't schedule the demo in time for our contractor, who was ready to get started. Nor did we end up having the many days it would have taken to assemble 20 flat-pack Ikea cabinets. We easily could have saved more than $1,000 by doing both. We also learned financing can take longer than a remodel.
We were told it takes an average of 45 days after pre-approval to get a home equity line of credit. Ours took longer, so apply at least three months before you’ll need it.
Set a realistic budget
necessity and frugal DNA, I was sure I could do an affordable remodel. I wanted to do an affordable remodel. But affordable is a relative term. When we started daydreaming about this project, I thought I could do it for around $15,000 — perfectly plausible if you watch certain home-improvement shows. Unfortunately, that’s less than half what it ended up costing.
The national average for a mid-range major kitchen remodel was $56,768, according to the Remodeling 2015 Cost vs. Value report. That’s for semi-custom cabinets, mid-range appliances and laminate countertops in a 200-square-foot kitchen.
Their national average for an “upscale” major kitchen remodel (with custom cabinets, high-end appliances and stone countertops) in 2015 was $113,097. A mid-range minor kitchen remodel (without new cabinets) in 2015 was $19,226.
Those numbers broken down for the Phoenix market were slightly lower: $55,269 for a mid-range major kitchen remodel; $110,646 for an upscale major kitchen remodel and $18,839 for a mid-range minor kitchen remodel.
Electrical work alone to update the 35-year-old wiring in our kitchen was $4,175. Quartz countertops and installation cost $4,265. Raising the ceiling meant re-routing a main air duct, which got complicated, as did removing a structural half wall.
Overall, the total Ikea bill for all appliances (dishwasher, cooktop, double oven and installed microwave) was $3,500; the cabinets cost just shy of $8,000. But construction costs meant the whole project came in just under $35,000.
When all was said and done, it really did feel a new house, not just a new kitchen.
Hire a kitchen designer
Some of the best money I spent was $395 to Modern Family Kitchens (modernfamilykitchens.com), a California firm that specializes in designing Ikea layouts.
Yes, you can do this yourself with the Swedish homegoods company's software (Lowe's and Home Depot also offer online design tools), but a designer who knows the product extremely well can save you a lot of time and frustration and help you maximize storage in a tight space.
It helped that I was specific about the layout and amenities I wanted (thank you, Pinterest). Modern Family Kitchens offers two design revisions (included in the price), emails you beautiful 3-D renderings and uploads your entire order list to Ikea’s Kitchen Planner.
Their documents showing where each numbered cabinet and Ikea panel goes were invaluable, as was their customer service. They added touches an installed wine rack and open bookshelf at the end of the peninsula that made this feel a custom kitchen.
If you go with more expensive or contractor-supplied cabinets, or hire a design/built firm, the design should be included. There are also many free and affordable online design tools you can use. You'll probably only remodel a kitchen once, so it really is worth it to consult an expert on the best and most efficient layout.
Choose the right cabinets
Affordable design is my mantra. I’ve known many architects and builders who the modern look, quality hardware, soft-close doors and drawers and the many organizing options that make Ikea cabinets highly functional.
I d the price, although the extras added up fast and cost way more than the approximately $2,000 advertised for a 100-square-foot model kitchen.
What I didn’t know: these cabinets have a fiberboard (basically cardboard) back panel, and contractors who aren’t familiar with them are going to have a learning curve.
Note: We should have signed our construction contract at Ikea to explain the whole system of laminate (technically particleboard and melamine foil) inner cabinets covered with wood panels; it could have saved some of my more than half-dozen trips there and a few mistakes.
I had also planned on Ikea’s 15-20 percent off kitchen sale, which happened several times a year clockwork on an entire kitchen order (including appliances) until the one year I needed it. I’m told they stopped the sales when they couldn’t keep up with demand.
Overall, I love the dual rotating carousels in my corner base cabinets, the full-extension drawers and affordable organizers that fit perfectly. I the modern wood-grain. But I don’t the fact that the doors feel less than luxe to the touch and the rough grooves are tough to dust.
My contractor insists when all the individually priced flat-pack parts, panels, shelves and man hours are added up, stock real-wood cabinets from his supplier would have been in my budget. I’m satisfied, but it’s good to research all your options.
Pick a good contractor
Make sure your contractor is licensed, understands what you want, is someone you can work with (for weeks on end) and is a bit of a perfectionist.
Rick Mitch with Repic Builders in Glendale will admit we don’t have the same taste (I clean, modern-classic design; he’s more traditional), but he got our vision and figured out the cabinet system that was more complex (his word would be ‘frustrating,’ or something stronger) than any he had installed.
He disd the cheap fiberboard back panels and the fact that trim and filler pieces weren’t solid wood, and he did a lot of carpentry to make things look custom. Ultimately, I picked a hands-on contractor whose attention to detail made my budget-conscious choices look higher-end.
Make sure to get a detailed construction contract that outlines all costs upfront; unforeseen costs should be handled with a change order. It's also important to check references and make sure your contractor is in good standing (and definitely not on the most-wanted list) at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors: azroc.gov.
Don't skimp on key pieces; sprinkle in bells and whistles
I opted for an under-cabinet LED lighting system, and lights in three glass-front cabinets with a total pricetag of about $500.
The electrician installed outlet strips under the upper cabinets (rather than wall outlets) for a sleeker look, and our contractor installed an on-counter air switch for the garbage disposal, which is handy. For $11 on Amazon, I got an in-counter soap dispenser that gives the countertop a clean look.
These little touches feel more custom than budget and didn’t break the bank. I also chose an electric induction cooktop ($999) that’s much faster and more efficient that regular electric cooktops, and a double oven ($1,400), both by Whirlpool for Ikea.
Both were in the affordable range, but feel a splurge, as long as they keep performing well. One thing I regret ordering online to save money: a stainless kitchen sink. An undermount sink is not easily replaced, and ours is already scratched and looking worn. For things a sink that will get hard, daily use, don't skimp.
Pick quality countertops
In general, I’m not a fan of generic slab granite, which is starting to look dated. Quartz countertops — made from ground natural stone bound with resin — are a growing trend.
They fit a modern aesthetic, come in tons of colors and are more durable and maintenance-free than other surfaces. Our ColorQuartz countertops (in pearl) are the showstopper of this kitchen.
The peninsula feels larger than I imagined and links the kitchen to the family room in way I’d always hoped would happen. No question, quartz was a splurge, but worth it.
Add shine with a backsplash
A backsplash is the jewelry of a kitchen. What you choose can define your style and either add to or detract from a cohesive look. For a couple of years, I’ve noticed a trend toward seamless slab-glass backsplashes. The look is clean, modern and durable, and seamless sounded great.
Who wants to clean splattered spaghetti sauce grout? I also tend to think the look will stay current longer than a specific tile, and heard it was more affordable than individual glass tiles. Because it’s not yet common, getting this installed was a headache.
I’d seen this done by painting the back of clear glass before adhering it to the wall. Two different glass subcontractors insisted on an expensive custom paint or special coating that took this idea off the table. I finally trekked to Floor & Decor and picked out 6-inch by 12-inch glass tiles ($3.75 each) in pure ivory.
Installed, the large, glass subway tile looks more green-gray, but it adds significant shine and polish to a very minimal kitchen design.
Prepare for a mess — and lots of take-out
Our contractor estimated the kitchen would take 3-5 weeks. I was prepared for 5-6. We had a functioning kitchen at the end of week five, although the backsplash went in much later. But before it was over, we wanted our house back.
One day, when I had a sick toddler and too much construction noise in our 1,800 square-foot house, I checked into a hotel (using my Hotel Tonight app for a better price) so she could nap and I could work. The dust and general mess took a toll. We were literally sick of take-out and fast food. Looking back, it was all worth it.
I have vowed to be a better cook; it hasn’t happened instantly, but I’m committed and working at it. For the first time, I enjoy spending time in my kitchen.
Choose efficiency over size
Our entire kitchen is only 120 square feet. For years, we daydreamed about extending it onto a small unused patio, but finally conceded that was a budget buster. By maximizing the space we had (plus the extra cabinet space from raising the ceiling, etc.
) this remodel made our small kitchen feel surprisingly roomy, and the efficient layout has made cooking much less stressful. I made brunch for my visiting parents without breaking a sweat and had friends over for coffee before the construction dust had cleared.
Our daughter loves the space; she calls it “her” kitchen. And those cupcakes? Terrific.
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