Project Ideas with Architectural Salvage

Project Ideas with Architectural Salvage

Architectural salvage is a blanket term that encompasses a wide variety of elements reclaimed from a home, building, or other structure. This includes anything from doors and windows to hardware, light fixtures, and tiles that hold potential reuse, even if the building itself is set to be demolished. These salvaged supplies are a special kind of “antique” that vintage enthusiasts covet for their own homes and DIY projects.

Reuse Opportunities with Architectural Salvage

antique hardware at preservation station

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Stores that specialize in architectural salvage are far less common than a typical antique mall. Most states only have a handful of these salvage centers, making them a destination for antique lovers and history hunters. And the reuse potential for these treasures is only as limited as one’s imagination. Here are a few upcycle ideas with architectural salvage to inspire your next project.

Vintage Hardware Display

decorating the entryway with keyhole covers

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Vintage hardware, like these old key plates, are a favorite of collectors. Not only are they relatively affordable, but they’re small and easy to attach to DIY and craft projects. Usually made of brass, they sometimes sport intricate designs that echo their time period. Or in this case, they were simply painted over with the rest of the door while in use. Either way, attached to a salvaged cabinet door like this makes them a unique and appropriate piece of wall decor for a foyer or entryway.

Salvaged Sink Planter

vintage sink as a planter

Image credit: House of Hawthornes.

Candy colored bathroom fixtures such as sinks, tubs, and tiles are a sight to behold. Kids today can’t fathom the idea of washing their hands in a pink, blue, or mint green sink. Which makes finding these washroom relics at architectural salvage stores so special. And look how charming one of those old sinks looks as an outside planter?

Window Frames

Framed doilies as shabby chic wall decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

An empty window frame holds nothing and everything all at once. And by “everything”, I mean upcycle potential. In this case, screen was added in order to display some treasured doilies for wall decor. So much better than hiding those doilies away in a drawer somewhere, right?

Organizing with Architectural Salvage

wooden necklace holder with vintage thread spools

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Reclaimed wood is another favorite form of architectural salvage. From DIY stenciled signs to new pieces of furniture, there are any number of ways to reuse those weathered planks. And in this case, a piece of old barn wood was repurposed (with wooden spools) into a delightful necklace rack.

Seasonal Salvage Projects

craft idea for vintage hardware

Image credit: Petticoat Junktion.

Door hinges and other hardware have all sorts of crafting potential, and this upcycled Christmas tree is a perfect example of that. Not only is the project charming and simple to make, but hunting for the right hardware pieces is spectacularly fun.

Illuminating Ideas

Firefly lantern with a brass light as upcycled lighting

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Outdated brass light fixtures are a pretty common sight at thrift stores like Habitat ReStore. And while you may not want one hanging in your foyer anymore, they can be “enlightened” into something contemporary and fun. Inspired by fireflies, this upcycled project can turn your backyard into a magical wonderland with just a little crafty TLC.

Fun with Fence Pickets

upcycle idea for fence pickets

Image credit: My Repurposed Life.

Fence pickets are another type of reclaimed wood that is ideal for DIY projects. That classic picket shape is iconic and played an important role in the traditional American Dream. But fences that are salvaged from burn piles and landfills are also ideal for upcycling. Isn’t this DIY coat rack a great way to create decor that is wonderfully functional, as well?

Upcycled Porch Balusters

upcycled architectural salvage as a farmhouse lamp

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Balusters are similar to stair spindles, but are typically more robust and originated from a wooden rail along a front porch. And with the right drill bit, they can be transformed into statement lamps like this.

Architectural Salvage as Display Frames

How to display a vintage quilt in an antique window as a quilt frame

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A cutter quilt, or one that’s so damaged that it can’t be used on a bed anymore, may still have salvageable parts worth saving. And what better way to display a piece than behind an antique window like this? This display idea has tremendous vintage charm and is a beautiful way to show off a sentimental keepsake.

Flaunting a Faucet

Galvanized bucket planter

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

A salvaged faucet or spigot is such a fun thing to add to a planter, isn’t it? And you don’t need any plumbing skills to do it! Of course, in this specific planter, the moss roses eventually overtook it later than same summer. By August, you couldn’t even see my fancy faucet addition. But it was still worth the DIY effort, though.

Organizers from Shutters

crafting with shutters

Image credit: My Repurposed Life.

Shutters (and Louver doors, for that matter) are a common sight at architectural salvage stores and some thrift shops, too. And while there are a lot of ways to repurpose them, this DIY magazine holder is one of my favorites. It’s such an ingenious way to keep your periodicals tidy while upcycling something that’s easy to source.

Bookends with Architectural Salvage

Farmhouse bookends

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Plain bookends from the thrift store got a fabulous makeover courtesy of these salvaged finials. I’m not even sure how these finials were originally used- maybe a stair railing or decorative fence post? Either way, they were the perfect addition to these one-of-a-kind bookends.

Gingerbread Trim Reimagined

Architectural wall art from porch brackets

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Corner brackets or gingerbread trim come together -literally!- to form a most unique piece of decor with this upcycle idea. There are plenty of other ways to upcycle these pieces (shelf holders come to mind), but this decorative medallion is truly a unique conversation starter for any home.

Rosettes on the Wall

Guest bath before changing out the shower curtain

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

There are a lot of names for these pieces: rosettes, bullseyes, wood plinths. They were originally part of door frames and window trims in older homes, but are small enough to simply display in a grouping like this. All you need to do is add a sawtooth hanger to the back and that’s it.

Curious Cloche

plant cloche from a geometric pendant light

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Another brass light fixture, another way to repurpose it. And in this example, its geometric design is on full display as a decorative cloche for a faux potted plant. Such a fun way to incorporate some architectural salvage in your decor, and you can easily personalize it to your own tastes and even seasons/holidays, too.

Ornamental Moulding

salvaged trim as a key holder

Image credit: Pillar Box Blue.

A piece of decorative moulding or wood trim has all kinds of character and charm. Which makes it an extra special form of salvaged or reclaimed wood meant to be upcycled. In this example, a piece was turned into key hooks that look like a little slice of main street. And it even includes some repurposed old nails, as well.

Botanical Prints on Display

Botanical decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Vintage botanical prints have become quite trendy as wall decor in recent years. Which means there are ample opportunities to find unique ways to frame them for display. And yes, that means that a salvaged window is absolutely perfect for this task, and boosts the vintage charm at the same time.

Upcycle Ideas for Architectural Salvage

what is architectural salvage

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

The closest thing we have to time travel is a visit to an architectural salvage store. Filled with fascinating relics of lifetimes gone by, it’s a fabulous way to simultaneously see the past while envisioning the future. But the question is, what kind of salvage upcycle project will you work on first?

Craft on!


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architectural salvage projects and upcycle ideas

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.

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