Stories of Creative Reuse, DIY Guides & More

Salvaged materials make interesting architectural statement pieces – Wascha Studios

Stephanie Wascha of Wascha Studios enjoys projects that satisfy her architectural and artistic curiosity – and if they have a sustainability component, all the better. We especially love her projects that incorporate salvaged materials — like her recent projects creating a sink out of a piece of broken concrete pulled from Seattle Viaduct rubble, and a fireplace surround from rusted steel plates used for big trucks driving over mud.

sink and viaduct

Wascha Studios worked with the Seattle concrete fabricator, Modrock, to acquire a chunk of the Seattle Viaduct and turn the top half of it into a polished concrete bathroom sink. The edges are left raw and the base is blackened steel resembling some of the steel re-bar found in other pieces.

fireplace room and close up

Huge backhoes driving around a junk yard in Pacific NW muddy winters will inevitably sink right in and get stuck if they aren’t driving on huge pieces of steel. Wascha Studios worked with Seattle fabricator, Decorative Metal Arts, to collect some of the old rusted steel plates and re-purpose them for use on a contemporary residential fireplace.

Sometimes strange and unexpected things can create an amazingly unique architectural feature for you to enjoy every single day!

Do you have similar projects that use salvage materials?  From the big gestures to the small details – we love to see them all and see the new chapters of salvaged and reused materials’ lives. Send us your pics — and inspire others!  bray [at]

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Reuse People’s National Contest – congrats to our local winners!

It was a tough group of projects to choose from, but we have 2 category winners and a runner-up for our entries to the national level of The Reuse People’s 2015 contest. Thanks to all that entered — and congrats to:

  • Construction & Remodeling Category Winner: Julie Clinton & Clint Boushey for their sauna/guest house building where just about every material was salvaged or repurposed materials – from framing, windows and siding to all the the interior details (top pic).
  • Art & Furniture Category Winner: Wayne Chaudiere – who built his Good Tillage table from discarded plow parts and salvaged glass (bottom left). 
  • Runner up: John Harris and his desk made from a salvaged office door and transom window along with old framing and trim (bottom right).

winners TRP contest

These three will be entered into the national contest – winners will be announced no later than January 15th, 2016. Stay tuned — and good luck to our local winners!

Posted in: Stories about people

Leave a Comment (0) →

Many salvage details make a home

An office building originally built in 1912 for the Gooding Shingle and Saw Mill has slowly been made into a home since 2006 by its current owners — with a lot of patience and many trips over the years for parts and materials at The RE Store. Salvage items from The RE Store listed below:


A) Storm sash in place for old double hung window—enough for all the windows collected from the store over the years.
B) Computer work station. 1″ CVG fir top, solid oak cabinet, refinished.
C) Workshop storage cabinet, from WWU chemistry labs. 1 3/4″ maple bench top rescued from dumpster at Whatcom Middle School when they converted the wood shop to a computer room.
D) Double swinging doors.
E) Claw foot tub, refinished along with beveled tongue & groove red cedar paneling.
F) Light duty Dayton table saw.
G) Hemlock ceiling—beveled and tongue & groove milled on table saw.
H) Slate blackboard and CVG fir frame and chalk rail.
I) Stairway with 1″ CVG fir treads came in two pieces from a South Hill home. Oak hand rail also salvaged. Balustrade from re-used straight grained old growth fir. Cedar stanchion, 45 rings per inch, beach-combed from Cherry Point.

Do you have similar projects that use salvage materials?  From the big gestures to the small details – we love to see them all and see the new chapters of our materials’ lives. Send us your pics — and inspire others!  bray [at]



Posted in: Stories about stuff

Leave a Comment (0) →

Shine Brite – the lite brite of reclaimed materials

By Rose Lathrop, Green Building & Smart Growth Manager with Sustainable Connections

For the last few years I have picked one project that I think is ridiculous and fun and try to make it happen. I focus on interactive and sustainable projects. Last year it was an Advice Booth made from recycled pallets and doors from The RE Store. I have dreamed of building this giant lite brite for years. The key was figuring out what the pegs would be made of. I was brainstorming at the Sustainable Connections office and someone suggested plastic water bottles. That was the ‘ah-ha’ moment.

shine brite

The 8’ x 8’ giant lite brite was constructed out of nearly all reclaimed and recycled materials (lights excluded). Using three hollow core doors, door jams and other odds and ends found at The RE Store, I constructed the light box and used over 350 500ml water bottles filled with colored water to create the pegs. Instead of a static white light, I used RGB LED light strips that change color, fade, flash, and is reactive to music. This adds a new dimension to the 1980’s tiny version.

I am happy to report finding that many water bottles wasn’t super easy. I found a couple of good sources and now that I am mostly done collecting them, I can go back to those places and suggest alternatives to those DAMN WATER BOTTLES! Hotels, sporting events/workout gyms, and construction sites were the biggest offenders and contributors.

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

Leave a Comment (2) →

“I like to make things from old stuff, the crustier the better.”

Regular shopping at The RE Store, Laurel Hair’s life-long love of salvage began with her dad taking her and her sister to garage sales when she was a kid. She loves to browse salvage stores for treasures and making new things out of old things – a few of which she is sharing with us below (in Laurel’s words): 

Laurel Hair projects

1) Fireplace gate hanging — the gate with original hinges is from my fiancés’ parents’ old house. He grew up in the house in Kirkland, and I took some items before it was sold and torn down, not knowing what I was going to do with them. Once we moved into our new house, I saw on a TV show the idea of using a piece of gate as a wall hanging, and spiffed it up, mainly wire brushed it. My son had given me the rusty sign as a gift a while ago, which I thought was a good compliment.

2) Wall hangings for the bedroom (one shown here) — I had found the turquoise old gate pieces at a garage sale a couple of years earlier. I decided to hang them on our wall, cut one down to size so they matched, and left the old hinges on them. I found some old farm pictures that I framed with old looking frames at Michaels that happened to have a great turquoise rim, and attached those to the gate.

3) Map wall hanging – my fiancé likes maps. We had one of the San Juans, so I stained it to make it look old, pieced together some old cedar fence pieces, and then added some old hinges and a few other rusty items. The ring was a piece from my fiancé’s cabin in Cle Elum off an old post. The metal piece I bought at a salvage store, and the other pieces were found at a junk fair in Ellensburg. I then cut the map into pieces and decoupaged to the wood.

4)  Christmas trees – again, I saw a different version of this idea somewhere as a wall hanging, and for Christmas gifts I decided to make smaller ones on stands out of old molding we had, old wooden rulers I found at garage sales, and pieces of driftwood. I cut the stars out of a piece of galvanized metal HVAC piping that I had lying around.

5) Christmas balls – I saw this idea at an antique store, and made my own frame out of old cedar I had collected, then added some old screen, and the balls. I can put other things on it for other holidays.

Thanks to Laurel for sharing her projects! Have your own before & after projects you’d like to show off?  Send us your pics!  bray [at]

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

Leave a Comment (0) →

Celebrate community, country and delicious craft beer – all for a great cause!

Coaster for DaleThis Fourth of July, from 6 to 10 p.m., join in the fun at the Yes We, CAN! Canned Craft Beer Festival to celebrate community, country and delicious craft beer – all for a great cause. Held on the 1400 block of W Holly St in Bellingham (outside of Elizabeth Station, beer retailer and taproom), this event will feature more than 40 breweries, cideries, and meaderies. There will be music from Bluegrass and Americana-stomp bands Polecat and Wild Rabbit, live performances from the Bellingham Circus Guild, RE Store games for the kids, street food, and one of the best views of the fireworks show in town. Tickets are only $20 in advance ($25 at the door), and admission includes 3 drink tickets. Kids 14 and under get in free.

The RE Store is hosting this family-friendly 4th of July festival because we care about waste and recycling. This event is about changing consumer perception of canned beer, and raising awareness around packaging choices. Aluminum cans, when recycled, are a superior packaging option for beer – one of the most largely consumed products in America. Aluminum cans contain a higher percentage of recycled materials, require fewer fossil fuels in the recycling process and transportation, and are infinitely recyclable. We want shoppers to think more carefully about the source and destination of the packaging their goods come in. And we want to have fun while doing it.

RE Sources & The RE Store are responsible for the adoption of curbside recycling in the state of Washington thirty years ago. The RE Store was founded ten years later to divert the #1 source of landfill waste into a usable or recyclable commodity. It’s part of who we are to constantly think of new ways to conserve more, reuse more, and recycle more. This festival is about getting people to stop and think – the container around that beer you’re drinking? – it matters.

Buy tickets online at or around Bellingham at the Community Food Co-ops, Kulshan Brewery, Elizabeth Station or The RE Store. For more information, visit

Or, volunteer for free admission! We need over 150 fun-loving helpers to make this event a success. Volunteers receive free admission (which includes three tickets for 5.5 oz beer tastings, root beer floats, or food and entrance to a great concert), a RE Store t shirt, and a perk packet of discounts and gift certificates to businesses around town (Backcountry Essentials, Aslan, Kulshan, Nuu-muu, The RE Store and more!). Get in free, have a ball, and help RE Sources continue to protect and empower our community. Register now! If you have questions, contact Jen Castaldo, jencastal[at], or call (360) 961.1957.

All proceeds benefit RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. Thanks so much to our sponsors: Alcoa, RDS, Bellingham Tap Trail, Puget Sound Benefits, KISM, The Adam Vwich Agency, Nuu-muu, Community Food Co-op, Ball Corp, Kulshan Brewery, Aslan Brewery, Muds to Suds, NW Recycling, Rice Insurance, Johnson Team Real Estate, Backcountry Essentials, Boundary Bay Brewery, Mt Baker Experience, Bellingham Herald, Village Books and Elizabeth Station.


  • Cans are impervious to the damaging effects of light and they are hermetically sealed leaving little air space inside, preventing oxygen from damaging the beer. Cans have an aqueous polymer liner that locks in flavor and keeps the beer from coming in contact with aluminum.
  • Cans are 100-percent recyclable and made up of more recycled content than glass or plastic. They do not break, and crush easily making them easier to recycle — and can be recycled indefinitely. They are lighter and use less packaging material, requiring less fuel to ship.
  • Cans do not break, so they’re safer than glass, and they are lighter and more compact for packing in coolers, and in-and-out of outdoors. They chill quicker too.


Posted in: Stories about people

Leave a Comment (0) →

REframing the Sustainable Office Certification program

wwu os logoWestern Washington University’s Office of Sustainability is committed to renewable energy and waste reduction, incorporating sustainability into many areas of campus operations and academics. Their Sustainable Office Certification program rewards offices on campus that have taken the extra efforts to operate sustainably — daily practices that reduce energy and materials consumption, impacts and waste. And now, after going through the certification process they are rewarded with a RE Vision Division framed certificate. “Prior to our partnership with The RE Store’s RE Vision Division we were purchasing mass-market frames, and while they looked nice, it wasn’t ‘walking the talk’ as well as we would like. We love that we can have something made with custom materials and created by a local artisan” says Campus Conservation & Sustainable Transportation Program Manager, Carol Berry.

FullSizeRender (37)It has been a great partnership for RE Vision Division as well. Projects like frames are a perfect use for furniture remnants and trim shorts, allowing us to save these things more and more from the landfill. Using a miterless frame detail (think window or door frames, examples left) allows for a quicker production, while using contrasting yet complimenting wood and stain combinations allows for unique and individualized frames. Eberhard Eichner, the RE Vision Division Designer/Builder who started this project, found this style of frame symbolic for the awards, since they are recognizing achievements of environmental responsibility — i.e. opening doors to new ways and looking out windows to set our sights on.

We are so appreciative of partners like the Office of Sustainability for their role in the community as well as helping us expand and perform the core mission of diverting, inspiring and educating through the RE Vision Division program. Thanks so much to Carol Berry, the Office of Sustainability and all the offices participating in the program thus far!

Want to find out more about how to make your own miterless frames? Download the pdf here:
miterless frames tutorial


Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

Leave a Comment (0) →

Welcoming David Spangler to our RE Vision Division team!

FullSizeRender (36)We are excited to announce a new designer/builder has joined the RE Vision Division team! David Spangler grew up in Port Townsend, WA, where he was surrounded by local history, Queen Anne buildings, and antiques. He was also exposed to the woodshop early on by his wood working father, who made furniture and toys. As children, David and his brother were always on the hunt for found objects for use in their play. In his early twenties, David started creating miniature architectural buildings from found objects (examples, below right), branching out later to build several larger wall hanging architectural art pieces from salvaged building materials.


davids miniatures

A Bellingham resident since 1988, David found his way to The RE Store in 1995 and has been working for us, off and on, ever since. In 1998, he fabricated a series of little repurposed bookshelves from salvaged materials, then moved on to start an earth friendly debris hauling business that ran for over seven years. His dreams of rethinking unwanted building materials continued to brew.

Returning to work for The RE Store in 2006, and still interested in finding new life for low value discarded materials, David implemented The RE Store’s successful furniture repair program in December of 2013 that continues today. Ever excited about upcycling, and the creation, design, and building of products based off of unwanted materials, he joined the Revision Division team in February, 2015, where his varied expertise is helping us grow this program.

Check out our RE Vision Division showroom to see our latest repurposed and upcycled furnishings, or come get ideas and ask questions about your own projects – and give David  a warm welcome to the RE Vision Division team!

Posted in: Stories about people

Leave a Comment (0) →

A cart of the community


We love it when great partnerships happen. When it is with our local business neighbors — even better. This vendor cart was a team effort built by Eberhard of our RE Vision Division and Bikesport owner, Andy, during a skill-building workshop last summer – sponsored by Transition Whatcom and showcasing salvage and portability for vendors to sell their wares. The cart was showcased around The RE Store for a spell and then found a permanent home at GOODS Produce stand. In exchange for the cart, GOODS owner, Cory, gave us store credit — which we are using to fill our greenhouse with a few starts and do some landscaping around our building. Thanks to our community of neighbors doing great things — and for this full-circle exchange!

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

Leave a Comment (0) →

Salvage statistics to be proud of

salvage stats field crew collage

The RE Store’s field crew in action on a recent salvage project


We’ve calculated the total tonnage of building materials and furnishings that we salvaged from being needlessly wasted in 2014. Here’s what our crews lifted in and out of the trucks and the store last year:

  • 3,532,836 pounds of merchandise was sold for reuse (1766 tons)
  • Just over 24 tons of cardboard was recycled
  • Just under 24 tons of metal was recycled
  • Roughly 11 tons of porcelain was recycled
  • Leaving roughly 11 tons of material being thrown out that could not be reused or recycled

We couldn’t do this without your donations, and you thinking of salvage first when purchasing building materials and furnishings. Thanks to all of you for your part in helping us keep usable materials out of the landfill!

Posted in: Stories about stuff

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 17 12345...»
Stay in the loop with our latest workshops, events, DIY tips, and more Get it now