Using Architectural Salvage to Create a Link to a Simpler Time

As the world gets more and more complicated many “tasty decorating addicts” are finding unique salvage items recreated into new uses to create a nostalgic link to simpler times! A stair baluster becomes a one of a kind candle holder, a pair of corbels (the more blistery the better) become amazing shelf brackets for

a salvaged piece of fence or barn wood to “make hearts break” at your next dinner party of get together with friends and family. The message here is anyone can go into the widget store and get the same widgets that everyone else has. Why not stretch your creativity (and probably your budget) and hit the local flea market, thrift store, antique store or (if you are lucky enough to have one close by) the “Architectural Salvage Yard”.

Been looking for one of these salvage yards? Let’s explain how to not only find one but find the right one for your taste and budget.

Architectural Salvage Yards are primarily divided into two categories:

1) Salvage yards that also do their own demolition of old buildings. These I call “Primaries”

2) The other type of yard is a buyer and reseller of salvaged items from demolition companies, remodeling home owners, builders, private parties. These I call “Secondaries”.

Within both categories are grades and qualities of salvage yards. Some carry the relatively common items such as old windows, door and hardware and generally are relatively modestly priced. The second type involves impassioned operators who either deconstruct items (sometimes even buying salvage rights for the

demolition) and carefully transport them to their warehouse. Tearing down things is easy. Deconstructing historically significant artifacts without destroying them is labor intensive, highly skilled work. The end product usually commands a price commensurate with the time and effort needed to rescue it from its present location to a new one!

So which type of place should I frequent?

The answer is according to your budget and taste. I intend to focus in future articles on sharing unique design ideas from the “secondary” category. I believe that great design (with no concerns about budget is simply a “search and acquire” game best performed with a internet link and a phone. I prefer to deal with great design ideas that come without a “cardiac arrest” when viewing the price tag!

Each article I publish shall deal broadly with reuse of relatively modest price architectural items that are able to be re-engineered with “medium level tool skills”, tools and the “ever popular” drywall screw and screw gun. You will not need to have a “contractors license” or a “building permit”. Simply a passion for a really great item that reflects your creativity not the “widget stores”!

Here is the design idea #1 in a series of “too cool…reuse ideas” that will be a theme of each article.

Design idea #1-

Materials needed:

Baluster Candle Holder. A baluster is one of the spindles that you find between the upper and lower support railing on a stairwell. Most salvage stores, a good day at the flea market or a building supply

store have new (if you can’t find old) balusters. Old ones are ready to go into production. New ones create a old look with a bottom coat of crackling medium, or a combination of glue mixed with water and a top coat of whatever the finished color should be. 1 piece of 2″x8″ wood approximately18″ long. (scrap cuts of wood are plentiful in home improvement stores or just pick up a 8′ piece (about $6) and save the rest for later.

Tools needed:

One drill. One 3/4″ paddle drill bit. One Phillips head #2 screw head. One small box of course thread 2″ drywall screws. One bottle of wood glue. One 1/8″ drill bit. One hand or power saw.


Step 1- Cut your 2×8 wood piece to desired length based on what your eye tells you the right relationship is in proportion to the height of your baluster.

Step 2- Cut any angles off of your baluster so that it is flat on the top and bottom.

Step 3- Take your paddle bit and cut a a 3/4″ wide (the width of the paddle bit) and 1 ” deep in one end of the baluster. (this is your candle holder opening).

Step 4- Take the other side and put a small amount of wood glue on base of 2×8 where you want the balluster to be attached. Turn the 2×8 upside down and drill a 1/8″ hole from back of 2×8 into the through the 2×8 and into the baluster about 1/2 inch.

Step 5- Screw the baluster to the 2×8 with a 2″ drywall screw and set aside overnight for the wood glue to get good and dry. A wood connection with wood glue when allowed to dry overnight is stronger than the original wood when it is dry.

Step 6- Add any other decorative elements you like to the 2×8 base. Old peices of door hardware, old tools, and any other trinkets that inspire you.

Step 7- Paint as desired.

Step 8- Insert a inspiring candle to opening in baluster.

With a little creativity, basic tools and very modest expense you have created a “unique expression” of your sense of style. And a “truly great” non mass produced, “anti- me too” product to amaze your friends

with your decorating style!

Happiness Is In The Details!

Homes decorated to support desired emotions create happy spaces for joyful living. Today, interior design psychology goes beyond the basic interior design principals by considering the effects of those elements on our senses. Rather than decorating to follow a certain style, choosing specific lighting, patterns, colors, and other elements to support happiness and well-being is considered.

The psychology of design includes the understanding of both physical and psychological effects and reactions. For example, knowledge of the psychological effects of color and how it can be used in a home make-over can ensure a room uplifts, calms, or energizes. Or, we all know that a trickling waterfall not only looks nice, but it also relaxes those nearby. Did you know that certain lighting makes you feel irritable while other lighting decisions bring you comfort? Are you aware that undulating patterns uplift the spirit while some geometric patterns cause anxiety? Our reaction to design elements leads to our psychological response. It is these responses that can help you choose interior design elements to bring out your emotional support in your home decorating. You can encourage happiness based on the way your senses – vision, hearing, touch, smell, and even taste – react to interior design details.

Here are some things to consider when decorating for the senses:

  • Ask yourself how you need to feel in a room. Do you want to feel calmness and serenity, or feel awakened and energized?
  • Learn about lighting. This is an extremely important factor in residential design. Poor or inappropriate lighting will help determine how well your room functions, and if it used for the purpose in mind.
  • Use colors appropriate to the natural setting, lighting, and desired emotional response. Color psychology is the most important tool in design. It can make or break the mood you want to create in a room.
  • Think about reactions to patterns already in the room and add harmonious patterns to those. Make sure they are the right scale and type. Patterns are proven to make people happy, but do avoid large patterns larger than your palm as they interfere with people in the room, and create a “busy” look.
  • Choose comfort over pretense. Just because a sofa looks great, does not mean that it will provide seating comfort.
  • Choose some design ideas for your pleasure as well as individual needs. Design spaces to give you and others comfort, reassurance, and merriment. Keep family and guests in mind.

Once you understand how your home decorating choices influence your emotions, you can follow your own inspiration. Remember that home decoration is not a permanent state because our rooms and homes evolve as our lives change. Choose home improvements and furnishings for productivity and happiness. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Enjoy the process and focus on your goal of creating a home that is pleasurable to you. Design happy spaces!

Making A Smaller Space Feel Big

If you live in New York, you know the wisdom of making a smaller space feel bigger. Where real estate properties are at a high premium and apartments are the living space of choice, you have to figure out how to get the most for your dollar. The basic tricks to expanding the feel of a small room are color and lighting. Anything that brings natural light in and connects the room to the great outdoors will make it feel airier. To give that light room to roam and bounce around, choose accessories and furnishings that bounce light. Colors that are light and pale will keep the room from having a claustrophobic feel to it. Think vertical instead of horizontal to bring the eye up to the ceiling instead of across to the lack of space. Remove clutter and keep things organized while available.


If you have a big picture window in the room, this will really add to the dimension of the room. Take full advantage of this by allowing the light to come in with light color drapes. If you are trying to decorate a small bathroom, you can add tube lighting or a skylight. Let that light bounce around a bit with furnishings in light colors and tables with glass tops. Wicker furniture also gives the light room to travel through its crannies. Add a big mirror on one wall to bring the outdoors in and amplify the look of the room.


Don’t set up heavy wallpapers or dark colors in a very small room. These tend to box it in. Instead opt for light color and wallpapers. Paint the trim a whiter shade than the walls to make the room appear bigger. Add touches of color with accents like throw pillows or artwork.

Going Vertical

Think up and not down for a smaller room. Anything that pulls the eye can help the room appear much more spacious. Tall thin bookcases are a good option. Change out your electronic equipment to the thinner taller versions with flat screens and thin speakers. Layer and stagger shelving on the walls to have more storage space while widening the walls. Put down area carpets with diagonal designs to widen the space visually.


Try to get rid of any clutter in the rooms. If you don’t need an item, remove it completely. Less is more in small rooms. Accessories should be kept to a minimum with several but few good pieces. Your furniture should also be organized to keep a free flow of traffic within and around the room. If you can’t do this without making the room look tiny, push the furniture against the walls and make the center space large. Speaking of furniture, it should not be too large for the room. Try to buy furniture that is sized for a smaller room to avoid making your entire design layout look cramped. Add storage boxes where needed or take off doors to closets and add decorative boxes as storage units. This can sometimes open a room considerably while adding a touch of design flair.

PALETTE – See it if you must, but don’t watch it alone.

Clogged Drain reluctantly presents a High Definition sound production in colour.

Now, in the time honoured tradition of Hollis Frampton, Michael Snow and Kenneth Anger, comes an adventure for interested parties only.

Not since Andy Warhol’s SLEEP has the screen exploded with such frivolous nonsense.

Thrill to the music of Sergei Rachmaninov’s ISLE OF THE DEAD!


Playing Pictures Project: Stephens Hoye Quartet

Live performance at the Andy Warhol Museum on December 4th, 2015 by members of CAPA Antithesis, interpreting original graphic scores by Pittsburgh CAPA Art students.

Artwork by Ashanté Stephens-Hoye
Performed by Riley Wolynn, Jenna Skufca, Jarod Rodgers, Michael Frontz