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Reclaimed Kitchen Islands

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Sometimes a kitchen island is the working hub of the cook’s room, including stove and sink, but sometimes it’s just a bit of extra counter space. Islands are a great option for kitchens that aren’t quite big enough to be eat-in. Stick some stools under that counter and call it a day!

I pulled some pretty pictures for y’all. Ok, for me. I’m thinking of putting in an island. To dish out my restaurant deliveries.


Build it from scratch with some reclaimed lumber.


Looks as if the wood counter legs can be tucked away and perhaps counter can swivel on top of other?


Awesome and way too easy. Of course, it need not be an island.

haynes-roberts-8 copy

Yes, those are antique iceboxes being used as the base. Yes, that kitchen is massive.


Lookit. ANYBODY can do this. You don’t need skills. M’kay? And it’s a friggin’ fantastic idea.

Reclaimed Wainscoting Ideas

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Wainscoting breaks up a room and adds dimension to otherwise flat walls. Who says you have to buy wainscoting at your local big box shop or even use “wainscot” at all? There are plenty of materials that can be used to liven up those walls.

Good ole’ reclaimed boards will do the trick. Sure, tongue and groove would be more solid but you gotta work with what you’ve got. If what you’ve got are a bunch of old boards, go for it!


Probably a tedious job, but the end result pays off. These vintage yard sticks are pretty ingenious.


Corrugated metal is THE way to go for an industrial look. Perfect for damp basements where one worries about mold. Rust isn’t as deadly. 😉


Ok, so this wainscoting idea is made from new materials but you get the picture. Let’s say those iron scrolly objects can be any found material. They don’t have to be the same object either. What if each frame included a unique three dimensional object? What if it wasn’t three dimensional at all? Just frame different images or paint techniques? Maps? Collage? The possibilities are endless.

Shutter Fence

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A shutter fence is as easy to build as any stockade fence once the posts and cross rails are installed. The only drawback is that your shutter wood is most likely made for interior use as opposed to pressure treated fence lumber. Do make sure that you prime and paint your shutters with a good few coats of exterior paint so they will last. That is my advice, although I was so eager to get my own shutter fence up that…guess what? I installed it as is. The paint will be peeling in no time. Yay, me! But it’s ok, because it will look even more “reclaimed”.

Shutter doors were purchased for 5 bucks per piece at Eddie Hibbert’s salvage garage. Total came to $20 for the line. They were going to be used as an interior wall initially but I just went with all sheetrock in the end.


Wings Castle Is Now A B&B!

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Ooh, I just came across some suh-weet news. You know the fabulous Wings Castle in Millbrook? Yeah, the quirky fairytale castle built out of reclaimed materials. The one I wanted to buy back when it was for sale a few years ago. No, of course I couldn’t afford it.

But perhaps I can afford to stay the night. Y-ah! It’s now a B&B! The choice of rooms include the tower room or the dungeon in the actual castle or an entire cottage can be rented.

Drawback? No pets and not even kids. They are very strict about cancellations. Also, in keeping with olden days technology of people who live in castles, you cannot book a room online. You must call. A land line! The prices aren’t listed online.

I know, I know, it sounds like a pain in the arse, but that castle is so effin cool! Plus, you can get sloshed at the Millbrook Winery down the road and walk home. What could be better?

Houses and Barns for Relocation

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Maybe I just found my next project. The Husband will kill me! Ever see a great old house and say “Location, location, location sucks”? Well, there are ways around it. Just move the damn house.

Ok, so it’s not that simple. Actually, it may be simple enough for you because someone else would be taking care of all the work. What I should have said is that it’s not that cheap. Movers charge by the mile amongst other things so it’s not like you’ll want to move a house cross-country or even across state lines.

That being said, check out William Gould’s Architectural Preservation site. He’s located in CT. It’s really not thaaat far. There are barns and homes for sale, previously dimantled buildings, rebuilding plans and contractor services all wrapped up in one single website.

Thanks to Old House Web for being so awesome and posting this.

Apartment One

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Open living/dining/kitchen area.

One half of the two family Rockaway house will be liveable by June 1st! As in liveable for normal people, not someone like me who no longer notices lack of switchplates and doorknobs. The self imposed deadline was set for this weekend to take some pictures and start spreading the word. Although it’s ready for it’s close-up, it’s a few days from being ready to show. Show by next weekend? Yeah, probably!!

The entire house will be for sale or rent by the end of this month. I call it a two story bungalow. It’s a cozy (that means small in realtor speak) 2 BR over 1BR, just under 1000 square feet for the whole house. Gotta do some comps and math to come up with prices. The website will get started (but not finished) today.

I’m on a roll baby and it feels good!



Yeah, that toe kick needs to be painted and stove needs backsplash.


The old singer sewing machine base trick. A favorite of mine.


Long, narrow bedroom in the back of the house. I want to work a little magic on those plain, white doors if I get the time.


Kitchen area before.


Living room during demo.

Code Pink Curb Alert

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Attention! Checklist Home Services has posted a curb alert for a pink bathroom. Check out that fabulous double sink vanity including two pink sinks. But wait, that’s not all! If you act now, they will throw in that awesome pink toilet.

Alls ya need to do is comment as to why you want the pieces on the Checklist blog and it can be yours for free. And yes, you can even use their services to install.

Located in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. Good luck!


Better than Faux

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It takes skills or money to hire people with said skills to create a faux aged plaster effect on the walls. But lookey what I uncovered the other day. Yes, it’s the real deal well preserved under wallpaper and skimcoat.

Is it taking just as long to painstakingly scrap down the wall? Yes. But hear me out, man. Cost: Time. Materials: Just a clear polyurethane to seal up that toxic lead paint I’m releasing into the air.

This is just a single, small wall at the top of the stairs. Nobody will ever notice it but I’m taking great pleasure in the process anyway.

Well, They DID Recycle!

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I didn’t come up with the name “Reclaimed Home” for nothing. I love salvaging old materials and restoring neglected homes that were once full of life. Yesterday I was reminded why I torture myself with endless renovations.

You may look at the photo above and say “Meh, it’s a rotten old sign.” Indeed, you would be correct, but this find had me jumping up and down. I discovered it as I took up the rotten bathroom floor. (We’ll chat more about that later.) The previous owners or someone before them used it as subflooring. The writing was not facing up so I didn’t know it was there until I actually started taking up the floor.


Unfortunately, the sign is in bad shape as the bathtub and toilet were leaking for years causing rot all the way through to the joists. Yes, the hole in the second photo was what the bathroom fixtures were sitting on. At any given time, someone could have ended up in the kitchen below while bathing or taking a dump. BTW, this is NOT the first old house I found such rot. Live in an old home? Pray they did the right thing when “renovating” as they often just cover things up. Enjoy your bath.

Anyway, back to the cool find. It seems to be more than one sign because I see “Library” and I also see “Club”. Actually, I’m guessing that perhaps they were the destination signs on the boardwalk? Anyone have a clue?

Whatever the case, even though they crumble in my hands, they will most definitely stay with the house as part of the reclaiming process. Right now, I’m thinking of embedding the edges in a plaster or concrete wall.

But it was nice to see that folks were reusing salvaged material even back then!


Love Letter Counter

Shopping Re-Stores

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After having hit every Habitat Restore in the Tri-State area and beyond, I’ve come to a conclusion. Ready for it? They suck. No they don’t. But perhaps they aren’t worth the travel time and expense.

Here’s the thing. Local used building material shops are a great thing. You can hit them everyday and they may or may not have new inventory, but what have you got to lose? Traveling to multiple second hand shops miles away because you want to build green is the antithesis of green building.

Case in point. Yesterday I hit two Restores in Westchester. The Mount Vernon one was pretty good. The SOLD $600 fridge mocked me as I walked in the door. I so would have grabbed that. Also, check out the pinball machine that I wouldn’t have bought anyway. That was already sold too.

All that was left was crap. Meh. So, I hit the one in New Rochelle. That was just like a Salvation Army with clothing and small housewares. Determined not to let my shopping day end without a purchase, I set off to the Danbury shop. It was ok, but nothing for me. Well since I was up there, I went to Newburgh’s Restore where I found sconces for $5 that the woman didn’t want to take down for me. U Might Find It, a favorite antiques shop, didn’t have anything I needed either.

So, the day ended with an empty tank of gas and an empty car. I used a tank of gas in an attempt to salvage a few pieces of material. Doesn’t make sense.

Don’t get me wrong. Habitat Restores ARE a great resource for materials. If I was focused on the next project, I would be collecting electrical and plumbing supplies when I see them so I don’t have to purchase those new, but I’m not much of a multi-tasker. Restores are great for windows, doors and toilets, but the lovely antique details are more readily found at proper architectural salvage shops.

So my choice today is to buy inexpensive yucky Home Depot tile for the bathrooms or spend money I don’t have on nice tile. Decisions. Decisions.

Reclaimed Pine Flooring

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They all doubted me. The pine sub floor covered in paint, paper and tar could never be a finished floor, said they. Well, I had faith in Desmond the Floor Guy. Called him to look at it. “Sure, no problem.” said he. The day his guys came over and saw the work ahead of them, they screamed that I needed a new floor. Well, the distressed look may not be everyone’s taste and areas had to be patched but behold the beauty of my new/old floors!

Desmond Harmon has been installing and refinishing wood floors for over a quarter of a century. He’s been doing my floors for 18 of those years now. So long, that I still have a pager number for him. His cell is 917-642-2752.


Where unfinished floor meets finished






Again? Before.


And after.



Salvage Shopping Spree

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Wanna see what I’ve been buying with my tight, tight budget? This is shopping week as I’m banished from the house during floor week. Tuesday I stayed local in Brooklyn. Yesterday I hit New Jersey and today I’m trekking Upstate.

The marble bathroom countertop will fit a copper sink I have in the basement. I just need to find a base. Guarantee that the faucet will cost more than the entire set up. Marble piece purchased at Eddie’s for the sick low price of $25 when these things normally go for $80-$125. He has more, but I’m special, so don’t even THINK about getting it for that price.


The medicine cabinet is very similar to the one I got from Checklist Home Service, only it needs more work. Like stripping….arrrghhh! Anyway, 30 bucks at Vaccaro’s.


The Jersey trip started out at Appliance Warehouse on Rt. 17 North in Paramus. Miles of used appliances and yet nothing for me. I’m beginning to think it only makes sense to buy used when it’s high end because that’s where the savings are. New low end appliances that look good aren’t that much more expensive than second hand.

I lucked out with my upstairs kitchen tile at the Habitat Re-Store in Wayne. They had some great stuff and I probably found my cabinets there also but will have to return for them as I couldn’t fit them in my car. We’re talking $30-$40 for a row of base cabinets. The tiles? I’ll be tiling my entire kitchen for $25.

I should also mention that I finally stopped by Green Demolitions. The place is massive and wildly impressive. Again, it’s out of my price range as this house has to be affordable for the buyer but if you are looking for your own home, it’s well worth the trip! They do carry mostly new materials and I’d say it’s about 80% high end with good deals to be had.

Reclaimed in Miami

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What do you think of when you think of Florida? Me? I think of those senior developments as seen on Seinfeld because that’s where my mother is. Or some other horrible developments. Or McMansions. But at least one woman in Miami has devoted herself to saving an old house.

Sally purchased a 1924 Spanish Colonial Revival in Coconut Grove that had been derelict for years. Her blog, “This Old Coconut Grove” has some incredible before and after shots. Love to see inspiration coming from this neck of the woods beach!

Check out some of the “afters” and then shoot on over to her blog to find out where she obtained her salvaged pieces.

Tear Down in Rye

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Last week found me dismantling a house that was not my own. I spied a tear down on Craigslist while searching for salvaged materials. The entire 1920’s beauty has to come down to make way for a brand new monstrosity. Although most of the great stuff has been taken, there’s still plenty left.

My interest was the door and window trim. That can become pricey if buying new because you’re talking about an entire house priced per board ft. The antique salvaged molding usually needs quite a bit of stripping and repair. Plus, where are you gonna find an entire matching house? So, with a bit of extra work and a trip to Westchester, I’m getting my molding for a few bucks.

The over $2m house was renovated recently so there isn’t a ton of original details. What’s there is in perfect condition and it’s all high end, whether it’s new or old. The kitchen was being dismantled while I was there and I’d say it was definitely upwards of $75k. Who knows what the resale price was but I’m sure the buyer got a bargain.

I’m going back tomorrow for more molding and some doors.

So, what else is left? Doors with glass knobs are $75. There are some French doors and exterior left as well. Windows, crown molding, wainscoting (newer), maybe one built in is left, shingles, bannister, bathtub. Once the building starts coming down, there will be plenty of lumber. The wood floors throughout are in perfect shape. It’s a shame that they will be destroyed if pried up, but I wonder if sections were cut out, could they be placed together like tile? Just trying to think of a way to save them.

If you’re in need of any of this stuff, come have a look! It’s a tragedy that the house will be knocked down, but at least we can do our part to keep it alive elsewhere.

Is Salvage Overdone?

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Of course I don’t really believe that recycling old building materials can ever go out of style. It’s just that….I’m having difficulty finding my own materials this time around!

I’ve been hitting up the usual suspects religiously and have come up with bupkas. Build it Green’s inventory in both Brooklyn and Queens is low. Shite, in fact. Vaccaro’s has some decent stuff, but none of it worked for me in regards to this reno. I only found some louver doors at Eddie’s to make a wall out of. He told me that a lot of new restaurants and bars come by to shop.

Which brings me to the point that every new restaurant opening in Brooklyn is decorated with salvaged materials.

Enough already! Leave some for me.

Oh, even Upstate was a bust. Hoffman’s Barn was packed when I was there on Saturday. No lie. Totally Hipsterville. WTF?

I used to do well on Craigslist too. Now? Nah.

The good news is that I’ll be exploring new places to shop this week or next. I’ll head over to CT, NJ and PA.

So take that, people stealing my reclaimed thunder!

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