Small changes can make a big difference: Consider replacing standard doorknobs with beautiful glass versions, such as this one from Queen City Salvage, 4750 Brighton Blvd., Denver, (303) 296-0925, architectural-artifacts.com
Searching for the best way to restore authenticity to your home? Visit salvage warehouses, such as Denver’s Architectural Salvage, Inc., 5001 N. Colorado Blvd, (303) 321-0200, salvagelady.com, for distinctive pieces.If you’re dreaming of installing stained glass windows from an old church in your home or giving your bathroom that extra touch of elegance with an antique pedestal sing and classic claw-foot tub, you’re not alone. Across the country (and especially here in Colorado), architectural salvage yards, flea markets and antique shops are making these once daunting tasks quite simple. Reusing old materials in new contexts not only preserves elements of our history but is good for our communities and our planet.
Before you head out for a day of treasure-hunting, identify your home’s architectural style with a virtual field trip to the Colorado Historical Society’s Office of Archeology and Preservation’s website: coloradohistory-oahp.org. Here, you’ll find more than 30 architectural styles (Art Deco, Craftsman, Italianate and Pueblo Revival among them) and architectural forms (bungalow, foursquare, split-level, for example). The site’s numerous photographs help visitors match their homes to specific styles.
Once you’ve identified your home’s architectural style, have fun scouring salvage yards, either in person or online. Unless you plan to open your home for historic tours or want to apply to the State Preservation Officer (coloradohistory-oahp.org) for Historic Preservation Certification, don’t overwhelm yourself by replacing all of the new with the old. Your modern kitchen can provide a gallery-like setting for an antique pot rack, porcelain farm sink or Hoosier cabinet (the predecessor of the modern “fitted” kitchen cabinet).
You can opt for big changes, such as framing a doorway with antique molding or laying reclaimed wood-plank flooring, or subtle ones, such as replacing standard hardware with antique hooks, latches or knobs.
Most antique shops sell architectural elements, but if you want to find a good variety or specific type of object, look to a dealer specializing in architectural antiques.
In and around Denver, the A-list includes Architectural Salvage, Inc., (303) 321-0200, salvagelady.com, Eron Johnson Antiques, (303) 777-8700, eronjohnsonantiques.com, Queen City Salvage, (303) 296-0925, architectural-artifacts.com and Belcour, (303) 765-5151, belcour.net (specializes in antique fireplace surrounds).
Other excellent Colorado sources for salvaged building and restoration materials are non-profit warehouses and salvage yards such as the Habitat for Humanity ReStores (locations all over Colorado, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Durango and Gypsum; habitat.org, search for the ReStore Directory) and ReSource, the brainchild of Boulder’s Center for Resource Conservation (Boulder and Fort Collins; resourceyard.org). Both of these organizations accept tax-deductible donations of building materials, fixtures and architectural antiques from deconstructed or demolished buildings, and offer them for public sale in retail settings. These community salvage programs may be the ultimate good karma option—reducing landfill waste by reusing building materials and fixtures while supporting excellent non-profit programs that directly benefit your community.
And the best part? Knowing that you had twice the fun and paid half the price for your new historic sink, door handle or wood flooring than you would have for its modern counterpart at the home supply megastore.
For a comprehensive, annually updated listing of salvage sources, look at Architectural Salvage News' Antique Salvage Directory, available at architecturalsalvagedirectory.com.
Think of it as CraigsList for salvaged architectural antiques. Since 1999, salvageweb.com has offered a free online arena called "The Exchange" for private buying and selling of salvaged materials.