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Salvage, thrift shops offer sustainable decor with a story

By Katherine Roth

Associated Press

Two of the hottest trends in home decor are sustainability and authenticity. No wonder architectural salvage shops are busy.

Homeowners love features that come with a story, says Rich Ellis, publisher of Architectural Salvage and Antique Lumber News.

“When you can point to your floor and say it came from an old shoe factory in Connecticut, for example, that’s a big attraction,” he says.

There are between 500 and 700 architectural salvage businesses across the country, and business has been good, he says.

“It’s about both history and sustainability,” says Madeline Beauchamp of Olde Good Things, one of the oldest architectural salvage businesses in the country, with one shop in Los Angeles, two retail warehouses in Scranton, Pennsylvania, three stores in New York City and a flagship store to open soon in Midtown Manhattan.

Lorna Aragon, home editor at Martha Stewart Living, says people are looking for quality and “want their homes to be original. And of course the whole ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ aspect of things plays into it as well.”

While some items are sold just as found when they were salvaged from renovation sites, others have been modified for home use. There are Paris street lamps reconfigured as large pendant lamps to hang above kitchen islands or in loft apartments, and window frames from historical buildings like New York City’s Domino sugar factory or Flatiron building, now fitted with mirrors to be hung on walls. Tin ceiling tiles from old New York buildings are also sometimes fitted with mirrors, or framed and hung as is, says Beauchamp.

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