There is something utterly enchanting about walking into a modern home that has been enhanced by pieces of architectural salvage, or up-cycled furniture. The combination of old and new is so aesthetically pleasing, like anything in life there is poetry in contrast. Solid wooden furniture comes to life against white walls, as if they need a blank canvas against which to shine. Wood is actually pretty impressive against any backdrop, as long as its fresh and modern. Granny’s paisley brown wallpaper never did an antique armoire any favours. But whilst salvage-chic can be very chic, it can also be very salvage, and the hard part is finding the balance. A manky, smelly, damp piece of rotting furniture is not salvage-chic just because you found it at your local dump, or on the street. Up-cycling or decorating with salvage is all about seeing potential, and that’s the thing with potential, its tricky: you think you see it, you are pretty sure its there, but you never know for sure until you put it to the test, and then many times it just evaporates before your very eyes, and all you’re left with is the shards of a broken dream.
So visually speaking, how do you get it right? What separates manky from marvellous? Grotty from gorgeous? Firstly, choose a piece that can be brought back to life with relative ease. A clean, some touch ups or a new coat of paint usually does wonders for neglected furniture. Secondly, go for the thing that will make the most statement in the space that you have. One wow-piece looks much better than a collection of dusty, neglected, semi-broken furniture. Spend your money on a single wow, not a multitude of mediocre. Here are some inspirations:
This cement pillar brings gorgeous detail, and a little sense of grandeur to an otherwise plain (but beautiful) kitchen.
This could have been an archway in a grande maison, but it makes the most exquisite headboard. And the look is so easy to achieve.
This salvaged picture rail is so simple yet so so effective. The detailing looks gorgeous against the white wall, the lead-lined windows plus the crystal light suspended with a chunky chain brings a number of textures into play. The effect is outstanding.
Reclaimed wooden beams are just perfect in this super mod kitchen. Sleek cabinets, polished cement floor, exposed metal flute, exposed brickwork, industrial window frame, reclaimed pillar and to top it all off a super shiny mirror ball light! There is so much going on here, but it just works!
And of course, go big or go home. Putting a whole entire pediment above your bathroom door takes vision and gumption thats for sure, but the effect is so sublimely elegant. This simple white interior leaves the stage open for the magnificent architectural pediment to shine.
Ok, so that was for salvagers who dream big and have the means and space to bring those dreams to life. But you don’t have to pilfer a stately home to get in on the salvage action, there are more manageable ways to inject some old old into your mod mod. Get clever with your salvage. Use doors as tables, screens as shutters, mirrors as frames, windows as doors, you get the idea.
A pillar that became a hatstand. Inspired!
These old doors were turned into a railing. The chocolate colour of the doors and the walnut colour of the floors is a lovely combination of old and new.
These window frames wouldn’t look amiss in an art deco Parisian loft, but they also look fabulous as a headboard. The vintage linen duvet cover, and luxurious throw combined with the brass floor lamp is like a textural crescendo.
Have a screen cut in half, and use them as indoor shutters. These green shutters bring a wonderful sense of the exotic to an otherwise simple interior. I’m thinking Indian colonial villa, or tropical hideaway in Mexico.
Oh how I love this! Steel framed windows repurposed as shower doors. They carry through the industrial aesthetic of this bathroom, but also bring a little vintage elegance, thereby softening the space.
The doors of this antique Indian linen cupboard were fitted with glass making it the perfect place to display vintage china. The contrast of the faded green cupboard against the marble floor, the modern minimalist kitchen, the warm wood of the kitchen island, and the industrial pulley light work well to create an interesting kitchen space.
Everyone wants a mantelpiece but not everyone can have a fireplace. Hang a mantel anyway! Look at the ornate detailing on the mantel contrasted with the straight simple lines of the wood cladding on the walls.
Pretty fabulous right? But before you rush out to buy barn doors or a portico for your studio flat, remember that the point, and really the goal of decorating with salvage is to be clever. Big is not always best, and you need to be sympathetic to your space. Here are some brilliant and simple ways to use salvage to pep up your pad, regardless of square footage.
Use a salvaged window as a picture frame. It looks great propped against a wall.
Use wooden railings as an office organiser to separate letters, papers and cards. Use vintage glass jars to hold pencils or other office supplies, and watch the wood and the glass sing together in harmony!
Use old weathered crates as shelves. Hang them on the wall at different heights, or use them as under table storage.
Use simple pine or oak cladding in your child’s playroom, and cut out a skyline from the tops of the planks.
Why have normal shelf brackets when you can have these salvaged beauties? Wood painted white and wood left natural is a winning combination.
Turn salvage finds into lights! This also works well with vintage graters, giant glass cookie jars and jelly moulds.
Paint vintage kitchen utensils and muffin pans a bright colour, and transform your kitchen from worn to retro.
Now grab that wad of cash from your hubby’s wallet, don your haggling hat, and go bag yourself a salvage bargain! Just remember to look for potential, be sensitive to your space, and go for statement over stock. Happy salvaging!
Images via here
Words from the heart.