Reclaimed wood has recently become a huge trend within rustic and farmhouse-style homes. I always loved my grandparents’ house, which had beams from railroad ties and a mantel from an old cabin. When I built my own home in Georgia, I found beautiful pieces of wood in my grandfather’s workshop that I was happy to incorporate. Adding these details is easier than you might think! Most projects can be completed in a day, and a nail gun can get the job done. All of the hardware is easily found online and at home-improvement stores. Read on to learn how to become a salvaged-wood design expert.
Where to source salvaged wood
Not everyone has a treasure trove of materials, but there are many places to find salvaged wood. Pallets can be used in a variety of ways and are easy to find online and from local businesses. Architectural salvage stores, Etsy, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace are all great resources. Property owners often sell (or give away) barn wood in order to remove it, but some may ask you to disassemble it. Either way, make sure you look for bugs and nails before using any salvaged wood.
This is the easiest way to incorporate salvaged wood, especially if you have uniform pieces. In my home, I used a live-edge piece of red oak for a shelf with simple black brackets. I also made an outdoor counter under my kitchen window with a thick piece for additional bar seating.
“With more time in the kitchen and a newfound love of display-worthy handmade items, we are finding that clients still really love open shelving,” says Christi Barbour of Barbour Spangle, a North Carolina–based design studio. “The use of reclaimed wood is the perfect way to incorporate some natural texture and warmth.”
Because of the fragile nature of the wood, it’s best not to overload the shelf—so think about what spaces would work best. Find the right bracket, like an L-shaped matte black or brass one. Floating shelves are another option, depending on the quality of the wood. Mark your desired spot with a pencil and use a level to make sure they’re even before drilling into the studs.
Turns out you don’t have to be a woodworker to build your own furniture. Gordon Cortez, owner of the Atlanta-based furniture company Lamon Luther, recommends sticking with traditional hardwoods like oak, maple, and hickory for indoor furniture. He adds, “Antique heart pine is another great option often used in reclaimed wood furniture.”
Smaller pieces can become side tables and coffee tables, especially live-edge slabs. I even took the butcher block from a previous home and added hairpin legs to make a coffee table. Keep in mind that some wood will need sealing.
Shiplap has had a moment in the past few years. It involves long planks of grooved wood lined up against a wall, usually horizontally. But it’s not the only way to add detail to your otherwise basic wall. As Barbour explains, “while using wood in our homes is nothing new, we are enjoying using it in fresh ways such as tambour and reeded applications on walls and cabinetry.”
Tambour allows for thin slats of wood to be laid alongside each other for an interesting texture. This is a good option if you are dealing with smaller pieces. Pallet walls are also popular, since you don’t need all pieces to be uniform. Experiment with different patterns, like herringbone. Depending on the size, they can be applied to the wall with wood glue or nails.
Even if your home doesn’t architecturally require beams, they can add visual interest. Solid wood can be very heavy to install but you can also wrap or assemble a hollow beam instead, which works for both flat and vaulted ceilings. Mount a standard board, into which the salvaged beam can be drilled for support.
A reclaimed wood mantel can make your space look older, even if it’s a new build. It doesn’t have to be perfectly rectangular but will need to be deeper than what you might use for other projects, typically about eight inches. Measure and mark your desired location with painter’s tape first.
If your wall is sheetrock, find the studs to determine where you’ll need to hang it or use toggle bolts. A floating mantel bracket can easily be found online and can withstand heavy weight. Drilling into brick requires more care and bolts. Once you have it installed, don’t load up the mantel for a few days to make sure it’s sturdy.