Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Make do and mend your home with architectural salvage

For years architectural salvage was reserved for the eccentric and the expert - those with an eye for the hidden value of fixtures and fittings ripped from the carcasses of demolished or gutted properties. But today, as modern builds lacking the charm and character of period properties saturate the market, and as an increasingly stoic wartime mentality of ‘make do and mend’ kicks into every aspect of our recession-occupied lifestyles, architectural salvage is enjoying a new popularity.

So with this in mind, and to help you get started on the hunt for architectural salvage items for your home, this handy check-list should help.

Consider the setting before committing to installing any major piece of architectural salvage. Victorian flooring may be beautiful, but in the wrong home it could look very out of place. Think carefully about the overall look you want to achieve, and plan meticulously the items you are looking for. As with any interiors overhaul, creating a mood board or concept map of your ideal outcome is highly recommended and will give you a good idea of what to look for when you visit salvage yards.

If you are unsure of what you want to add to your home, it’s worthwhile to visit salvage yards or workshops to see what is available and to compare prices. Most salvage experts are only too happy to offer you advice and recommendations.

‘Don’t overdo the salvage,’ advises Adam. ‘Think carefully about where everything will go, or your home could end up looking like a scrap-yard! A few good pieces such as flooring or fireplaces, are better than a lot of clutter.’

Check the salvage seller has signed up to the Salvo Code. ‘The Salvo Code aims to give customers greater confidence, in particular that items which they buy have not been stolen or removed from protected historic buildings without permission,’ advises Ruby Kay from Salvo Llp. The Salvo Code lets you know that you are buying from a safe and responsible source. You will still need to be vigilant about pricing. Think carefully about the price of an item you want to buy, and check if it is worth it or if you can get the same or similar item for a more reasonable price elsewhere.

Be prepared to see the potential of items in salvage yards. Not everything is displayed in showroom fashion; many pieces will be stacked up or in need of a good clean. Having a good rummage and seeing beyond the muddle and grime will help you uncover hidden treasures!

Take photographs (ask the seller’s permission first), measure up, and take notes. These will help you make a sensible decision.

Unless you have some architectural or interiors knowledge, if you are looking for actual structural salvage features such as beams, pillars, staircases, bricks, and so forth, it’s important to seek expert opinion before buying, and to ensure you are fully able to install these features safely and professionally.


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