When you absolutely, positively must have a specific 1870s Russell & Erwin bronze doorknob for your meticulous historic renovation project, who you gonna call?
For homeowners, one unintended result of spring cleaning is what to do next with your space. You’ve cleaned out the closet and can finally close the closet door properly, but said door is a hollow-core one you’ve been meaning to replace for years. You’ve tossed the expired toiletries, but the bathroom itself needs a makeover.
Architectural salvage shops are an underused resource for New Yorkers looking to replace broken balusters or add some period-appropriate details to their homes. Check out these great online and offline resources for salvaged goods, including places to find big-ticket items and sources for small replacement pieces. Happy hunting!
One of the preeminent sources for architects and interior designers looking for period-appropriate design, Urban Archaeology offers a wide array of lighting, tile and bathroom furnishings. The business grew out of founder Gil Shapiro’s decades-long passion for architectural salvage. Today, Urban Archaeology offer both new designs and historic finds. Think high end and hyper-curated rather than a few gems amid boxes of junk.
Olde Good Things
You never know what you’ll find at Olde Good Things, and that’s part of the fun. With three locations in Manhattan, the stores carry furniture, decor, altered antiques and straight up salvage. The collection from the Waldorf Astoria includes everything from polished brass bathroom hooks to an Art Deco medicine cabinet, meaning there’s something for minor upgrades and major overhauls.
A non-profit working to reduce waste, Big Reuse prevents salvaged and surplus building supplies, appliances and furniture from ending up in the landfill. Think items like a stunningly affordable marble Kohler double vanity and maple kitchen cabinets that would work well for a small space. The Brooklyn-based store is also a great spot to find deeply-discounted, high-end appliances. Brands like Viking, Miele and LG get snapped up quickly, so you’ve got to be both patient and vigilant. Keep an eye on Big Reuse’s Instagram feed for new inventory.
With numerous locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, Housing Works’ thrift stores help fund life-saving services to low income and homeless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. High turnover means you have to move fast if you find something you love. Come armed with maximum dimensions for a couch, for example, or the width of the mantle for which you’re trying to source a piece of art.
Chairish is kind of like Craigslist—if the only people listing on Craigslist were interior designers, antiques dealers and design aficionados. This isn’t to say Craigslist doesn’t have gems, but Chairish does the work for you. The site pre-screens each item—no Ikea, no La-Z-Boy in sight—and coordinates shipping if you can’t pick up in person. Plus, Chairish allows returns. For big pieces of furniture, the search by city feature is key, but home accessories and art need not be local.
A mix of antiques and reproductions, Historic Houseparts is an amazing resource for upgradin a thing you don’t know the proper name for but whose presence drives you nuts. Perhaps your heating registers could add a touch of elegance instead of acting as an eyesore? Based in Rochester, N.Y., but with an extension online selection, Historic Houseparts also offers resources for quick fixes. Reasonably priced Colonial revival cabinet knobs will give a bland kitchen a sense of history, while an extensive list of cleaning and restoration supplies will spiff up countertops that have seen better days but aren’t going to be replaced anytime soon.
Recycling The Past
Located 90 miles outside New York City near the South Jersey Shore, architectural salvage specialist Recycling the Past is worth a day trip. Those looking for something different will marvel at the aircraft, nautical and industrial salvage, all ripe for repurposing. They store also stocks well-priced reclaimed oak flooring, a nice selection of reproductions and some truly exquisite doors. The pieces from the iconic Doris Duke estate, salvaged before it was torn down, are worth seeing even if you don’t have room for the late tobacco heiress’s elaborate, early-1800s pine mantel.
And don’t forget…
So you’ve found the most beautiful antique doorknob but want a matching set for the whole apartment? You just might be able to find it on eBay. The sheer volume of items can be overwhelming, but searching by material, style and/or maker will help you identify exactly what you need. Also, don’t be afraid to set a saved search (and subscribe to email updates) for an item that’s harder to locate. When it does pop up, whether in a few days, weeks or months from now, you’ll be the first to know.
For a more curated selection that emphasizes handcrafted and vintage items, you will want to shop Etsy. Searching for a decorative pediment will lead you to a seller who has a beautiful brass door handle, a set from Providential Tile Works takes you to a shop with an Art Nouveau wrought iron floor lamp, etc. You can also limit search results to your area for bulkier items.