By Candis Meredith
As much as I love renovating old houses, just like any other job, I’ve had my frustrations with the remodeling and renovation process. One of my biggest pet peeves about the work that Andy and I do is that there’s so much waste. It seems like we always have to buy more materials than we’ll use, and then we have to figure out what to do with it all.
Some contractors and renovators will just throw this stuff out, but I feel like that’s such a giant waste that I can’t make myself do it. I guess that’s why I’m so good at renovating old homes—I just can’t bear to see something beautiful go to waste!
Of course, we can’t just hold onto all of our building material scraps, or we’d run out of storage space and Andy would never forgive me for the mess. So, to keep my husband from going crazy, I’ve come up with a few really great ways to use building material scraps to save money and run a greener business. These have worked really well for us, and I think they could work well for you, too.
Use Old Wood to Build a New Mantel
The Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s gave us some really great houses with a lot of rustic appeal. These homes have a lot of high-quality wood in them, so when one thing needs to be demolished, I always look at it with an eye toward another. So, if we have to rip out wood floors or a wooden staircase, I look at the salvageable wood and think what we can do with it.
Usually, I can only find smaller pieces to turn into rustic details in other parts of the house, but sometimes we get lucky. In fact, I just saw a feature online the other day with a mantel in an Arts and Crafts style home that was made from reclaimed timber from a historic barn. In our case, we’re not going to be reclaiming a lot of wood from other structures that have been demolished, but we could find enough leftover wood to create a really stunning mantel.
Make a Bathroom Vanity Countertop With Leftover Kitchen Countertop Material
This one’s a little bit more straightforward, and not as historic, but it’ll still save you some money. Whenever you have leftover kitchen countertop material, like granite, marble, or quartz, save it for your next renovation. You might not be able to use it for a new kitchen counter or even for the master bath, but it could work well as the countertop for a guest bathroom vanity, which will be smaller than other countertops in the house.
Reuse Old Pulls and Knobs for Drawers and Cabinets
In most of the houses we renovate, we’ll have to pull out the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen and bathrooms. I like to grab the pulls and knobs from these so that we can save them and use them later on for other projects.
But why not reuse them for the same house? If I have a full set, I’ll usually find a way to restore them and use them again in the same house to keep some of its original details intact, but that’s usually not the case. We’ll have some missing pulls or knobs and other hardware that’s gone missing, and it’s almost impossible to find matching hardware. So, we’ll have to replace that stuff with new or antique hardware, and I’ll save what we can restore and use it another house.
These are just a few of the ways that I get creative with building material scraps that I save from our job sites. I’m not able to save and use it all, but I try to get as much use out of our materials as possible. Use these tips and see if you can get some inspiration to do some salvaging of your own.