Reduce, Reuse and...Retail?

Exploring a treasure-trove of recycled appliances and fixtures of all kinds as options for renovation work.

We do our best. We’re one of those families, you know. We recycle, compost, buy local and organic. We try to keep our footprint small and, I would say, do a fair to middling job of it. When it’s time to buy something new, we try to see if there is a used option out there to keep the reuse wheel moving.

That’s why when it came to buy a new sink for the main bathroom, I suggested we look at a few of the architectural salvage facilities in Seattle. There are three with good reputations, two of which are in the SODO district and one in Ballard. (If you know of any others, let me know!) I opted to try to talk Brett into going to the two downtown because getting him to go to Ballard is like getting him to sit on nails. (For a variety of reasons we will not delve into here.) And to clarify, I really mean two new sinks. There is one in there already; the other is a big gaping hole. I doubted we could find one that matches perfectly.

After a rousing breakfast, we got ourselves and the twins into the car and headed across the bridge where we saw all the Rock and Roller marathoners slugging their way into the city too. (Congrats to all my friends who made it!) The Earthwise Salvage is on 4th Avenue S and is tucked back from the street behind a hot tub store. If you’ve ever wondered what the afterlife for household objects looks like, this is it. The variety alone is staggering. Hundreds upon hundreds of doors and door knobs and light switch plates and tiles and lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! We even found some cedar wood slats that match the ones on our ceiling, should we ever need those replaced.

I was reminded several times by my husband that we were there to look for two sinks and two faucets. Just sinks and faucets, Brandy. Not doors or pendant lamps or street signs. (Yes, street signs.) Or even the very cool looking doorbell chimes I found. We only saw a few bathroom items, including a submarine-yellow claw-footed tub for $650, which I fell completely mad for. At this point, I had to be reminded that our current endeavor is mid-century modern style, NOT pre-war bungalow anymore.

I did find a faucet that I liked and felt mid-century enough for our home:  A simple faucet with cross-handles in great condition for $65. But alas, there was only one. It did help me better define what I was looking for though. Beyond that, we didn’t have much luck and decided to move on to Second Use.

As we were leaving, we saw a sign that said ‘More Sinks This Way’, as if the universe were speaking directly to us. We walked around the corner to find rows upon rows of old toilets and sinks as Hailey exclaimed, ‘This is like toilet wonderland!’ And indeed, it was. The best part was the fun retro colored sinks in pink and blue and yellow. They ran about $20-50 each. We almost walked away with two matching pink sinks, but reason got the best of me. While kitschy and fun, I knew they weren’t the right ones for our bathroom.

We never made it to Second Use because we kept getting lost and Brett kept grumbling. After 20 minutes of trying to find it, we gave up and thought that maybe we should visit Home Depot to get a handle on what sinks and faucets of this ilk retail for new. The home improvement gods continued to conspire against us when we couldn’t find the downtown Home Depot either! We took this (and the very grumpy husband) as a sign and headed home.

With the help of the handy-dandy-no-grumpy-husband internet, we were able to find similar sinks and faucets online. We were looking for a basic 19” round self-rimming sink, which it turns out you can buy new for anywhere from $25 to $100 at Home Depot or Lowes. The faucet is another matter entirely. The model that is a similar but more modern verions of the one I saw at Earthwise is by Grohe at $150 each. Hmmm. That’s about $500 for sinks and faucets that we could have found at salvage for less than $200. 

Perhaps it’s worth trying again to find that other store or making the trek out to Re-Store in Ballard or even trying for Second Use again.  Better bring the GPS next time.

(To read more, visit our site at www.midcenturymodernlove.com)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Elena Velkov July 06, 2011 at 07:54 PM
Hi Brandy, glad you value salvage as much as we do! I'm a Second Use employee who randomly came across your post. Just wanted to give you the heads up that we have an online inventory on our website, with pictures, prices and dimensions-- a huge asset any time you're looking for something specific. It's always best to see things in person, but if you (or Brett) ever feel like saving a trip, it's a good way to go.
Brandy O'Briant July 07, 2011 at 03:13 AM
Thanks for the tip, Kim! I'm going to include that link in my weekend show and tell.
Brandy O'Briant July 07, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Hi Elena...thanks for letting me know that! We will be continuing to look for the best re-usable options and your suggestion will be really helpful. Appreciate the comment!
Brandy O'Briant July 07, 2011 at 03:18 AM
Hi Elena...One more thing. I'd love to interview someone at your shop (maybe you!) about mid-century options to feature on our website. Would you be open to that? Please let me know! I think it would be a great story. Thanks!
Elena Velkov July 07, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Definitely open to that! I'm probably not the best source for you, but I bet I could find someone here to help you out. When you get a chance, send me an e-mail with a few more details, and we can take it from there. elena [@] seconduse.com


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