Archive for November, 2012

Economical RE-design Made Possible with Salvage Cabinets

by RE Store Rockstar and customer, Kathleen, of Lily-Max Design

A couple approached me when they were thinking about putting their home on the market.  They knew there was a lot to do to get it ready for sale and wanted to stretch that budget as far as possible, so they hired me to re-design their home to make it more appealing to potential buyers.  As most of us know, the kitchen can either make or break a sale.  We wanted to make it shine, without having to gut it or break the bank.

We replaced the counters and splurged on a mosaic glass tile backsplash, but kept all of the existing cabinets and repainted them with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  This worked so well, as all we needed to do was clean and wipe on a little deglosser/liquid sandpaper, then paint.  Once cured, we sealed them with water-based Polycrylic in a satin finish.

We found two mismatched base cabinets at The RE Store in Bellingham and used them to create a prep/baking area for the empty space near the refrigerator.  One cabinet has two drawers with cabinets below and a cool pull-out shelf inside, the other has lots of drawer space – perfect for utensils, oven mitts, etc.  They were both in a wood finish that had seen better days.  We removed their tops, put them together, added some base trim and painted them the same as the existing cabinets.  We then added a butcher block top for the counter, a shelf made from reclaimed wood, and new hardware.  We were able to add much needed storage and a prep area for very little money (around $120 total).

Nice economical re-design great re-use, Kathleen!  You can find out more about Lily-Max Design at

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project

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Moving Mountains and Salvaging at Sea – Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

The RE Store’s Seattle field crew braved the high seas, perilous mountain heights, and speeding trains this November to bring home the goods. Granted, those high seas were on Lake Union, the perilous mountains were made from Plaster of Paris, and that speeding train was actually a scale model. Regardless of the actual danger, those of us on the field crew were in unfamiliar territory as we completed our first ever boat and train pickup (okay, model train and dingy pickup).

From the top of the Smith Tower, to a Chase Bank vault, to a Stephen King movie set near Magnuson Park, the field crew gets to salvage some pretty interesting buildings and places. But we’re not all salvage all the time. In fact, The RE Store offers free residential and commercial pickup services across Western Washington. This means that those of us on the field crew spend half of our time picking up donations of reusable building materials. So, we were only half surprised when the first work order of the day simply read “boat” with an address and time.

Well, it was a boat alright; still floating and everything. Unfazed, we hauled her out of Lake Union and onto dry land. In this case, dry land was a narrow dock covered in metal cleats, ropes and other obstacles. Normally, we would rely upon our trusty furniture dolly, Wheelie Dan, to move such an item. Unfortunately, the dock was impassable this way. Fret not dear reader, for the field crew is gifted with almost, but not quite, superhuman abilities. With our powers combined, we managed to manhandle the eight foot dingy down the dock, up the gangway, and across the parking lot to Fuso the truck.

While the field crew has loaded countless oversized, odd-sized, and even fun-sized items onto Fuso, a boat was indeed a first. Normally, we use our space age aluminum incline plane, also known as a ramp, to load the trucks. However, it would have blocked traffic in the busy parking lot. Therefore, we opted to load the dingy the old fashioned way (the donor was kind enough to help, too). As always, we observed proper lifting techniques and even followed Feng Shui principles to orient the dingy properly once it was on board Fuso.

After unloading at our Ballard retail store, it was time to move some mountains and a train or two. To be specific, a working N scale train layout. Of course, this was not the only thing on our list; we just happened to save it during the course of salvaging a house. Luckily, the handmade train layout, complete with a detailed plaster mountain range and tunnel, was quite manageable. It took just two of us to get it up the ramp and onto the truck. In addition to the train layout, the RE Store netted an electric range, dishwasher, numerous pieces of furniture, solid fir doors, and pounds and pounds of great door hardware, drawer pulls, and cabinet knobs.

While the RE Store makes every effort to save reusable building materials from the waste stream, we sometimes stretch that definition provided that an item can be re-purposed. That said, a dingy can be reused as a dingy of course, or as a planter, a shed roof, or many other wondrous things. And who wouldn’t want a model train to go with their dingy?

Things like lift gates would have made these jobs easier on our field crew – help by donating to our Truck Fund so that we can Keep On Rolling and salvaging great materials and fun objects like this. 

Posted in: Notes From the Field, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store

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The Evolution of a Slab into a Shed of Salvage Inspiration

by RE Store Rockstar and customer, Karen Anderson

The slab for this shed has had many lives before becoming the foundation for this latest project.  It had been a dog kennel, held a rabbit hutch for awhile, and finally, it was an area for a chicken coop.  The dog moved inside permanently – she was way too much a part of the family to spend time in a kennel!  The rabbit was sweet but found a little girl to love her more than my rambunctious boys.  We loved the fresh chicken eggs and how cute the little ladies were, but they also found a new home with a sweet, older immigrant, who promised to give them a good home.

After the chickens left, the kennel sat empty for a few years, until Eric decided that he could use a tool and lawn mower shed.  Frankly, I think he just didn’t want to bust up the concrete slab.  I didn’t see the need for the shed, but decided that if I was going to look out my main living area at it, it was going to be stylish.  I’d gotten the door from The RE Store when we’d done some remodeling a number of years ago.  It is from Garfield High School, and I like to think it was graced by former students Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee. MLK, Jr. spoke there, and I wonder if he may have walked through it too.  It ended up not working for the house, and sat much like the poor rabbit my children had ignored.  It grew mildewy and dingy – out of sight and out of mind. But when the shed project came along, I knew the door would have to be a part of the project. (The moral of that anecdote is that if something at The RE Store speaks to you, get it!  You’ll find a place for it).

I’m very proud of our funky, little shed.  As the shingles were all leftovers, they couldn’t complete the entire siding.  I’m glad it turned out that way because I think the metal siding gives an eclectic and more “architectural” look. Other building materials include leftover lumber and OSB.  I also think the way the pieces of lumber don’t “match” gives the shed an interesting, organic look.

New items include the flashing, the “barn door” hardware and the windows.  The windows! I love their “orbi-ness”.  They were made by a local glass artist, Marcus Knowles, who is also a teacher that I got to know when he was teaching as a long-term substitute at my children’s school.  The windows are multiple glass layers thick with copper foil fused between them in the kiln.  They have a strong depth to them, and depending on the light and my mood, they remind me of planets or salmon eggs.  At any rate, I’m very happy Marc was willing to take the project on because I think they turned out beautiful. I was a little taken aback by the price of the new “barn door” hardware, although I do like the look of it.  Since building the shed, I’ve seen a couple of great examples on the internet of people re-purposing sliding closet door hardware for this purpose, both indoors and out.  (I bet you can find it regularly at The RE Store in the extensive closet door section)

I considered taking a picture of the interior of the shed.  It’s completely unfinished, but thought maybe a peek at the “bones” would be helpful to somebody.  But, alas, the shed that I didn’t think was necessary, is already packed full of stuff – mostly my “junk” mind you – and just one lawn mower and a few tools.

Happy building – remember the 3 Rs, and live in peace.

Thanks so much to Karen for this guest post and a great story of an inspiring little shed! 

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about stuff

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Trucks Keep The RE Store Rolling – and Spreading the Word of Salvage

We introduced you to our truck fleet a few weeks ago here on our blog, connecting you to our trusty flock – Lily, Herman, Blue, Possum, Fuso and Clutch. They are at the root of what we do here at The RE Store, giving us the ability to stock the stores with great stuff, and fulfilling our mission of keeping useable materials out of the landfill.  Besides their main ‘day jobs’ of previewing and picking up materials from close to 2000 job sites each year that they bring to the stores, they also help us with all sorts of other outreach tasks allowing us to spread the word of our mission beyond the stores:

  • Getting our inspiring displays to the many trade shows and educational community events that we participate in – such as our annual Flower & Garden show garden display (above, top left), and countless community festivals
  • Transporting recycled art materials and recycled art pieces as a part of our Recycled Arts Show (above, bottom right)
  • Bringing raw materials to schools and festivals for folks to get creative with ‘junk’ at our Art Station (above, bottom middle)
  • Hauling trash from our annual beach clean up events partnered up with the North Sound Bay Keeper (above, bottom left) – creating art out of trash on these occasions
  • Supporting meaningful events that our parent organization, RE Sources, puts on with keynote speakers like Denis Hayes, Bill McKibben, and Daniel Kammen
  • Dressing up for parades, including winning the Mayors Award in the 2006 Bellingham Ski-to-Sea Grand Parade (above, top right)

Thanks to Lily, Herman, Blue, Possum, Fuso and Clutch for selflessly helping us keep spreading the Word of Salvage!

Posted in: Recycled art and trash fashion, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store

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