Some of us are old enough to remember a time when a house having “new” everything and anything was cause to flag down neighbors for show and tell. Grandma’s wavy windows, askew doors and dimple-y mantle were out-out-out, and if replaced they would end up forgotten in the town dump.
If you HAD to recycle materials like barn wood and architectural pieces from dismantled homes and industrial buildings, it was because you were thrifty and practical. There was a time you could conceivably build an entire “new-to-you” house from discarded materials. Remember, this was the time when formica, Naugahyde and linoleum were King.
Thankfully, as with all things “fashion”, old is new again and we’ve woken up to the fact that old doors, window frames, mantels, pillars or corbels are the one-of-a-kind touches that can infuse a home with character and a sense of history.
Corbels used as shelf brackets, a fireplace mantle added to a simple wall, old beams on a kitchen ceiling, window frames propped on a shelf, or simply replacing or propping up old doors on walls that need a bit of visual interest, all soften a home’s edges and up your cozy factor by 1000%.
So… Once you’ve decided to shop vintage salvage, your best tool is your phone (and a tape measure). Bring pictures of the rooms you are interested in enhancing and have measurements of the space you are working with handy. Nothing breaks a heart faster than realizing that what looked PERFECT in the shop, is either much too large or too small for the space available. Trust me, crying about it won’t help it fit any better. I have this on good authority.
Don’t be afraid of a little patina, worn and weathered can be a wonderful contrast; the texture that the many layers of paint can provide is something that is almost impossible to recreate without investing some serious time with how-to tutorials. However, do be mindful to hang anything that’s extra chippy away from any surfaces that come in contact with food. Paint chips are no one’s preferred dietary supplement.
To recap: Pull that car over when you see a chippy window, mantle, column or door. There may be no such thing as too much character in a home. Shop with pictures of the rooms and walls you want to enhance and keep those measurements handy. Curate a home with confidence and you’ll create history of your own.