By Jeff Toye
Some time back I caught a Greenspiration Home blog about the reclaimed mantle that Trish Holder used in the original Greenspiration Home. The article struck a cord with me because Trish said this mantle, which her husband worked hours to restore, has since become one of her favorite interior features in her home. I totally identified with that feeling, so when she asked to hear from others who had successfully incorporated reclaimed elements into their home, I proudly raised my hand.
I have been a remodeling contractor in Northern New Jersey for three decades. Not only do I use reclaimed building materials in my own home, I also encourage my clients to use reclaimed items whenever feasible. There’s nothing like the touch of character that a reclaimed piece brings to a new or even an old home.
My own home is far from new. In fact, it was built in the late 1700’s, so the materials that I select for it (from flooring to door knobs) are also historic. I even have a garden shed that is made from 99% reclaimed items.
But let me give you the full tour….
A walk from my driveway to my front door reveals the following: Shutters made from reclaimed cedar decking, front entry porch with reclaimed heart pine flooring (still needs finishing), a porch ceiling made of yellow pine bead board, a suspended swing made from cedar trim scraps, and finally a reclaimed 7’ tall front entry door.
Once inside you’ll find wide plank pumpkin pine flooring that is mostly original to the home but patched with reclaimed material where needed. An American chestnut handrail, balustrade and newel post salvaged from an 1800’s era farmhouse leads the way to the second floor. A small downstairs hallway is flanked with wainscot paneling, reclaimed from a 1920’s era craftsman style home. And all over the home you will find an eclectic collection of glass doorknobs salvaged from homes built in the late 1800’s.
Out the back door and onto a screened in porch that just happens to overlook one of the best trout rivers in the state, you will find rustic tongue and groove wall and ceiling cladding, reclaimed from a factory in New York State.
Although it sounds like a jumbled collection of miss-matched items, I think the pictures reveal a home that is not only inviting, but also charming. I’m quite proud of how it has all come together and I would encourage everyone to at least consider using reclaimed items wherever practical. You might just find that it makes your house more of a home.
Finally, don’t forget that what no longer fits into your lifestyle could be just the thing that another homeowner is looking for. I frequently donate materials to Habitat for Humanity, which resells usable home items to help fund housing projects for families in need. I am proud to say that my contributions, along with the contributions of others have helped to fund 20 Habitat for Humanity homes in New Jersey last year.
Jeff Toye is the author and is the owner of Promethean Remodeling, LLC in Hackettstown, NJ. He is a Certified Green Professional and a Certified Graduate Remodeler. He has been in the remodeling business for 33 years.