1920’s bungalow restoration

Craftsman bungalow from 1920s

The Schindler's bungalow-style home

By Mike and Becky Schindler

We bought a 1920’s bungalow years ago here in Broadway Park, Bellingham.  As our restorations continue, we are reminded daily of how valuable The RE Store has been for us through this process.  To date, every room in our home has benefited from the store.

One of our first projects was to replaced several non-vintage closet doors.  We knew that louvered doors were not correct for our period home and we felt very fortunate to find and purchase several doors from The RE Store that fit our spaces appropriately.  Another project was to replace three hot water radiators that had been previously removed from the bathrooms and kitchen.  It was really wonderful to find the perfectly operable vintage radiators and restore that type of heat to three very important spaces in our home.

We have replaced light fixtures, door hardware, wood trim, and screen doors; We have purchased old school bleachers to replace our basement stairs and recycled cabinetry from  Western’s old chemistry lab for our garage work bench ; we even found a wonderful vintage deep sink and small hot water heater for a garage that has been used extensively throughout this remodel and process.

Most recently, we have removed the carpet from our stairway and are planning to strip them and refinish them.  Unfortunately, upon removing the carpet we discovered a broken stair.  What are the chances of finding 5/4 fir with one rounded edge to match those in our staircase? Well, we found the wood at The RE Store!  OF COURSE!!!

We are reminded how valuable you are to our community every time we look around our home.  We thank you for being there for two people who have never restored a home before.  We love our vintage 1920’s bungalow and so appreciate being able to find the materials we need to restore the true character of this wonderful old home.  They do not build them like this anymore.  With The RE Store’s help, this home will still be standing for another 96 years!

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Cheers to History at Fremont Brewing!

Just southeast of Seattle’s infamous Fremont Troll, the bittersweet skunk of fermenting hops wafts from a bright blue warehouse.  Behind the blue walls, you will find Fremont Brewing Company, just barely a year old but quickly making its way to taps across the region.

FounBleacher Board Table and Benchesded by long-time environmental advocates, Sara Nelson and Matt Lincecum, the emerging brewery focuses on locally sourced and organically grown ingredients.  But Fremont Brewing’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop with the contents of their kegs.

Having refurbished their home with RE Store treasures, Sara and Matt looked to the Seattle store for key elements of the brewery’s décor.  “It’s better to reuse than to buy new, plus the materials bring a lot of history”, Sara explained.

RE Store finds accentuate the brewery’s Urban Beer Garden.  Patrons gather at a long banquet table and benches built from bleacher boards salvaged from Ballard High School.  “There is still gum on the bottom,” Sara commented.  Silkscreened t-shirts are stacked in a display reportedly salvaged from a Macy’s.  “It was the color of calamine lotion,” Sara says, “we had to paint it.”  On the walls, artwork by local painter Dan Stuckey hangs in wood framed windows found at the RE Store.  A salvaged playground toy keeps the kids entertained.  Nearby, a commissioned painting of the brewery, painted by Stuckey, includes the unique play toy reflected in the chrome of the brewing equipment.  Sara explains, “We wanted to include the toy because now it’s a special part of our beer garden”.

Antique Wooden CoolerEach salvaged piece has a story, but none compare to the antique wooden cooler stocked full of growlers.  As soon as Matt  found the 1936 cooler, he knew it belonged in their brewery.  But it wasn’t until they talked with RE Store staff about the origin of the piece, that they realized the cooler was more than an attractive centerpiece.

The cooler was salvaged from Pies & Pints, a North Seattle pub and eatery co-founded by Vince Gallapega.  Vince gave Sara her first kiss, circa 1978, in Sacramento, California.   The two crossed paths nearly twenty years later in Seattle and became good friends, sharing a love of good food, good beer, and community.  Sadly, Vince passed away suddenly in 2007.  The antique cooler, now proudly housing handcrafted beers, serves as a relic and an honor to an old friend.

Raise a glass to history at the Fremont Brewing Urban Beer Garden or get a taste of their brew at the RE Store’s Trash Fashion Show on April 17.  Cheers to salvage and re-use!

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Things you never knew about The RE Store #1 – Murphy’s Law and evacuations

evacuation mapThe RE Store in Bellingham has only had to evacuate it’s store for emergency purposes on a few occasions. Most of them have been due to power outages. The RE Store’s Bellingham Safety Manager, Mike Printup was detailing store evacuation protocols for our staff meeting in late February, 2010 when Marj Leone, our field crew manager, recalled a strange and curious mishap that took place over a decade ago.

On July 2nd, 1999, only 3 weeks after the tragic pipeline explosion that rocked Bellingham, the Georgia-Pacific (G-P) paper mill and chemical refinery on Bellingham’s waterfront had it’s own large explosion. G-P had leaked chlorine gas into downtown Bellingham multiple times over the last 2 decades. A steam generator at the plant burst and injured four G-P employees. The blast blew out windows in downtown. The Old Town Cafe lost all of its large picture windows that faced onto Bellingham Bay and the Georgia-Pacific facility.

Less than a mile away from G-P, The RE Store was still located at it’s former Holly Street site. The sliding front doors were blown off of their tracks by the explosion.

The store manager at the time, Janet Marino, recalls, “The sliding doors flew off their tracks inward and this huge fir school archway that was leaning over the doorway tipped upright, swayed for a minute and came crashing down in the entryway on top of the gumball machine, smashing it.  Nate Moore made an announcement that there had been an explosion on the intercom. I ran through the downstairs shouting ‘there has been an explosion, we are evacuating the building’ and someone knocked on the doors of the bathrooms. We locked the doors and went outside and agreed to go to Alice Panny’s house on F street because it was nearest. We waited until we heard from Carl Weimer (executive director at the time) what had happened, that it was safe and we went back. We weren’t gone for all that long.”

As Murphy’s Law would have it, an elderly man who was very hard of hearing had been using the men’s restroom and had not heard any of the staff’s inquiries for stragglers. The gentleman came to the front doors and found himself locked inside the building.

Janet goes on, “He was a little disoriented, I think, and didn’t know about the explosion or anything else after it.”

In the end, the gentleman was safe, downtown survived another industrial accident, and it became yet another odd tale in The RE Store’s colorful history.

Posted in: Stories about people, Things you never knew about The RE Store

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Reuse and design inspiration

You may have seen some of these examples in our email newsletter in mid 2009 but these are some truly inspirational examples of re-purposed materials.

The Web Ecoist gives us all kinds of out-of-the-box examples of inspiration for furniture.

ApartmentTherapy.com is a great place to find creative ideas and innovations like these top-notch pieces by Rupert Blanchard in the UK. Our very own custom window designer in Bellingham, Nia Sayers, has had her work shown on Apartment Therapy as well!

Check out the creative uses of salvaged materials like a wall that is also shelving made from stainless sinks. Check out their link under the objects menu for the “Sink wall” here

This is what it could look like if you made chairs from 55 gallon drums or shopping carts.

Here is a whole passel of ideas of odd, kitschy, and practical things to do with old drawers, desks, and other almost dead doodads on robojunker.com.

If you can’t pass up that bottled beverage, what else can you do with it other than recycle it? How about building an entire temple out of bottles? Check out the Wat Pa Maha Chedio Kaew temple in Thailand. Talk about daylighting* a structure!
*Daylighting is the use of natural daylight to illuminate the inside of a building.

Posted in: Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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RE Definitions: Bargain jargon

Photo of dictionary definition of wasteThe English language is a mish mash of many languages and one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. It is also great fun to twist and contort for your own purposes. Here are some terms and phrases that spring from the rebounding values of reuse, recycling and waste reduction.

Waste stream
The flow of waste material from source to disposal

Upcycling
Using low-value or ordinary objects to make something extraordinary

Repurposing
Transforming an item from its original purpose into something different

Green Demolition / Deconstruction
A set of techniques that dismantle existing buildings with the purpose of reusing as much of the material as is possible (up to 50 percent or more in some cases). In deconstruction, remaining materials are recycled for reprocessing into new materials (drywall, chip board, mulch, metal, etc). As little as 1-2 percent of a building ends up in the trash. Visit our website’s Green Demolition Deconstruction Services page for links to case studies, photo galleries, and more information about deconstruction.

Obtainium
Any item, found or obtained for free

Closed loop
Waste or byproducts of one process or product is used in making another product. Also known as cradle-to-cradle

Adaptive re-use
A method of preservation where a building retains its signature visual elements, but the structure is used for a purpose other than originally intended

Life cycle costing
An evaluation technique which determines the total cost of acquisition, operation, maintenance, and disposal of items being acquired

Product take-back
A form of extended producer responsibility that requires companies to take back their products after the consumer is ready to replace them or throw them away (Note – this is becoming a prevailing way of doing business with items like appliances, automobiles, etc in European countries.)

Trashion or trash fashion
Utilizing cast-off materials to create clothing and accessory designs. Visit our website’s photo gallery of Trash Fashion highlights from our annual show.

What terms or definitions can you add to our list of reuse and salvage?

Posted in: Reference and resources, Transforming the building industry

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New and Better: Utilizing The RE Store for residential remodeling contracting

Bob Penny helps The RE Store install windows in it's Bellingham facility

Bob Penny helps The RE Store install windows in it's Bellingham facility

by Bob Penny
Hawk Meadow Homecraft
small contractor in Bellingham

Something that has bothered me for many years is the infrequency with which local contractors utilize The RE Store to create win-win arrangements for their remodeling clients.  Hopefully what follows can inspire and promote this incredible local resource, and

illustrate some of the various strategies to bring The RE Store in as a helpful partner for contractors and clients.

I offered a $200 gift certificate for my services at a silent auction, with the proceeds to benefit The RE Store. The couple who won the bidding

used the certificate to get an initial price reduction off of a multi-faceted remodel for an older home they had recently purchased in Bellingham’s Lettered Streets neighborhood.  They presented to me a project with a variety of options.  Floors needed to be refinished, windows cabinets and doors replaced, a porch floor needed to be rebuilt, framing needed to be changed – the list went on.  It was a multi-faceted list, and certainly not all of the items would make the inevitable budget cutting process.

How should the project be approached?  What factors could help determine the cost effectiveness of various elements under consideration?

I wrote a comprehensive proposal that broke out all the costs involved for each item on the list.  Included was the cost of removing,

hauling away, and disposing of an entire set of perfectly good, but medium quality, kitchen cabinets and half a dozen newer, but not stylistically correct, interior doors.  In the contract I inserted a clause allowing for a further $300 price reduction

if The RE Store choose to remove these materials.  The RE Store sent a field crew leader to the house to preview the materials, and agreed to do the work.  The work proceeded quickly and efficiently.  Within four hours the entire set of cabinets and all the doors were gone – I had done no physical work and had expended little organizational time.  The rooms were

left clean and neat, the plumbing items to remain and be reinstalled left neatly collected together.
For making this “donation” of materials to a registered non-profit the owners were given two options – receive a tax-deductible receipt, or a trade credit at the store.  They elected for the trade credit, worth $183.  Additionally, The RE Store

had the right salvaged tongue and groove flooring to help patch damaged areas of the house’s floors.  There was enough to do the whole front porch floor.  The porch floor had been initially eliminated from the project because of cost – new fir flooring is extremely expensive.  But The RE Store material was about half the price of new.  And with a further $183 price reduction it was a steal.

Another benefit was to the environment.  I always insert a statement in my contract that enumerates any old growth materials to be used in the project, and recommends alternatives.  The biggest old growth item in this project was the porch floor.  But now all that material could be had without cutting any new trees.  Additionally, the elimination of the porch from the project had reduced my potential for earnings and profit.  Reintroducing this item back into the project at a reduced cost gave that earning potential back to me, at a savings to the clients.

A final tally of benefits from this participation with The RE Store:

The RE Store received:
A $200 donation from the auction
A half day of salvage work

Over $1,250 worth of highly attractive sales items for the showroom
An additional sale of about $750 of flooring

The client received:
A price reduction of $200 on the project

Another price reduction of $300 on the project
A tax-deductible receipt from The RE Store for their $200 bid donation
A savings of about $1000 on a purchase of flooring over new prices
An additional credit of $183 on the flooring purchase

I, the contractor, received:
A job that keeps me busy and employed for over two months
A satisfied client who could provide good references for future work
A portion of the work done without hardly any effort by me

A portion of the project eliminated by the budget reintroduced to the project

The Earth receives:
The continued existence of one huge old growth Douglas Fir tree.

~ Another win-win-win-win situation, courtesy of your friends at The RE Store.

Learn more about Bob Penny and Hawk Meadow Homecraft

Posted in: Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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What is this blog about anyways?

garage full of building materials and tools

Is it junk or is it treasure? It all depends on the lens.

We admit it – we are junkies. We love junk – and by junk we mean stuff that someone doesn’t want anymore. It is trash or leftovers to them. More specifically, we love high-quality junk that you can use to build, remodel, adorn, beautify and upgrade any sort of structure or landscaped area with. Junk is a term of endearment that some of us use to describe the river of used building supplies that is our passion and livelihood.

We love it: your junk, your neighbors junk, your uncle’s junk, our contractor cousin’s junk. We want it and we want to help you get some quality junk for yourself.

Junk always has a story of where it came from, what it was used for, what else it was transformed into, and why. Those stories can have a lot of fascinating, odd, and quirky details that would be lost to the incinerator, the tub grinder or the landfill without people like us. Are you a junkie too?

Tell us your story. Tell us about how you have taken something you got at The RE Store, added some of your own scrounged or found junk, and made something useful, beautiful, or provocative with.

Posted in: Why blog about The RE Store?

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