Tips for successful salvaging
Be diligent. "You may have to visit several shops before you find the right item," says Minneapolis designer Amy Meller.
Keep an open mind. A church pew might work well as a mud room spot to kick off boots, for example.
Have a basis of comparison. If you're looking for something specific, research how much the item would cost retail or new so you know if you're getting a good deal.
Our favorite shops
There are more than 1,000 salvage shops in the United States—half of which are nonprofit, with proceeds benefiting charities. Here are five of our favorites:
• Build It Green! NYC (Queens, New York; 718-777-0132, bignyc.org) sells castoffs from area construction projects to generate revenue for environmental education. Located in an 17,500-square-foot former foundry, they housed more than 350 tons of materials—including doors from production sets for The Sopranos—last year alone.
• Urban Ore (Berkeley, California; 510-841-7283, urbanore.ypguides.net) offers three acres of salvaged items for sale. In addition to doors, windows, sinks, tubs, and even salvaged bricks, Urban Ore sells collectibles and appliances, lighting, motors, sporting equipment, and old art and media.
• The ReUse Center (Minneapolis; 612-724-2608, thereusecenter.com) specializes in a mix of wood flooring, plumbing fixtures, doors, windows, and cabinetry. Managers take homeowner requests for specific items and contact the customer when they're found. "Their stock is a mix of historic and more contemporary items," says Meller, a frequent customer. "For people with more modern homes, it is a good resource."
• Architectural Salvage, W.D. Inc. (Louisville, Kentucky; 502-589-0670, architecturalsalvage.com) offers 24,000 square feet of salvage inventory and also fabricates tables, screens, and beds from antique iron pieces. They also sell reproduction garden urns and entry doors.
• Sarasota Architectural Salvage (Sarasota, Florida; 941-362-0803, sarasotasalvage.com) has a huge inventory of lighting, mirrors, and garden objects, as well as vintage items like signage and toys.