Say Yes to Salvaged Wood

By Jennifer Noonan | Updated Dec 14, 2013 1:13 PM

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Photo: Fieldstone Hill Designs

When you enter my neighbor’s house, you are greeted with a warm wall of rustic and variegated wood. Framed in the center is a beautiful photograph of their children. As if that photograph weren’t inviting enough, the wall itself is a work of art. It is simple and elegant. The wood was salvaged from an old barn is one of many unique and personal details gracing their home.

Related: 11 Ways to Use Salvaged Wood

Salvaged wood—also called reclaimed, recycled, vintage, antique or just plain “old and used”—is one of the hottest trends in green design, and interior design in general.

Artists, builders, and regular Joes and Janes have found a zillion ways to use salvaged wood, from barn door dining tables to staircases made entirely of apple crates. The possibilities are limitless. And with a crowd of Pinterest boards dedicated to the topic, almost anyone can upcycle old wood into something useful and beautiful for their home.

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are some more reasons why you should consider salvaged wood for your next DIY project.

Project by Joanne Palmisano Photo Susan Teare

Project by Joanne Palmisano / Photo: Susan Teare

Free or Almost Free. Salvaged wood can be bought at salvage yards and reclamation centers, but it can also be acquired at little or no cost if you’re willing to do a little picking. Old houses, barns pegged for demolition, and even construction dumpsters can yield interesting and worthy raw materials for projects. It’s amazing how even garden variety wooden palettescan be transformed into functional beauty. And many demolition companies or owners of old buildings would be happy to give you a bounty of vintage lumber in exchange for carting it away. It saves them a boatload in waste removal.

Story. Every piece of reclaimed wood has a story of where it came from (an old gymnasium, railroad bed, shipwreck, etc.). Finding out, and later sharing, where the wood has been is half the fun of using it. Each new creation starts with a piece of history already embedded.


Photo: Green Cricket Salvage

Green. Using salvaged wood is an ultimate recycling tactic. It saves “waste” wood from being dumped in landfills, and saves trees from being cut down.

Unique. You can be guaranteed that whatever you create with salvaged wood, there will be nothing else exactly like it. Each piece of wood has its own unique characteristics, which gets transferred to whatever you make with it.

So this new fascination with salvaged wood (considering my current commitment to saving glass jars and tin cans for craft projects) is just one more reason for my husband to worry we’ll end up on an episode of Hoarders someday. But I’m sure he’ll thank me when I unveil my master plan to finish our basement for $0 with wooden palette paneling.


Photo: cdn-designrulz

Don’t miss our gallery 11 Ways to Use Salvaged Wood to see how designers, DIYers, and product manufacturers have already begun using, or reusing, this type of timber.

For more on repurposing, consider:

5 Things to Do with… Vintage Ladders
Great Places to Buy Architectural Salvage
20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage