Salvage and vintage stores provide a rich source for fixtures if you want a retro look.
Looking for the perfect Victorian
tiles for your
bathroom? How about an original Arts and
light fixture for your front porch or a Mid-Cen
light fixture for
your dining room? We decided to visit a few architectural salvage stores to
find out what is happening in the world of recycling. Have such items become harder to find? Is there a shift in demand or a change in
Our first stop was Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley, CA where we
spoke with manager Steve Smith, an expert on period hardware, antiques and
do you see in used building materials and antiques?
Baby boomers are downsizing, 20 and 30- somethings don’t
shop retail, so demand is down but the real shift is from older styles to
Mid-Century Modern. Everyone wants
What are people looking for these days?
Younger people tend to look for small pieces such as a
smaller piece of art, an
interesting piece of wood or a tabletop project. People are gutting Victorians and making them modern. They want clean lines,
Mid-Century furniture and Mid-Century fixtures.
We stock as much Mid-Century as possible but it’s hard to
get. During WWII production of
housewares came to a virtual halt. The
Mid-Century period after the war was brief and things from the 50s were not
made to last. Other trends are affecting demand as well. There is a shift to more rental properties rather
than “nice” personal spaces. Millennials are pushing back on starting families. All these factors are affecting demand.
Where does Ohmega get their items?
Remodeling, moving or estate sales.
bring in things from other areas such as bringing Mid-Century from LA to
The recycle market is all regional because shipping
housewares between markets is too expensive.
As a result, we buy everything locally.
Victorian details popular?
stock tile from the late Victorian era, the 1890s,
Art deco and Art Nouveau periods. Anything
with color and texture is in demand. A good example is Batchelder’s beautiful Arts and Crafts tile.
the most popular items and why?
Furniture from all periods, couches, lights, light shades, pendant
lights, including some fixtures originally designed for gas lighting. Also popular are bathtubs, clawfoot tubs and
corner tubs from 1900 to 1960. Original bathtubs
are in demands as they were made from cast iron and porcelain and are more
valuable than modern reproduction tubs made from fiberglass.
Mid-Century furniture is the most popular but hard to get.
Our next visit was to Omega
Lighting Design where we spoke with Bella Callahan, a long time
employee and lighting expert.
Bella concurred with the high demand for Mid-Century design. In response, Omega Lighting designs and
makes their own Mid-Century lighting including Sputnik lighting (see above) and other sleek
and modern light fixtures. Additionally,
Omega stocks everything from period door hardware to cabinet and bath hardware including
a very cool Mid-Century kitchen in miniature.
Our last stop was to Metro
Lighting where we spoke with Lawrence Grown. Lawrence created Metro along with his wife, Christa Rybczynski. Metro creates
and sells Mid-Century lighting such as branch chandeliers, orbit pendants and
chandeliers and other Mid-Century light fixtures including an interesting
Beehive table lamp.
According to Christa, Metro is finding a shift toward modern
LED lights that have replaced filament bulbs. This new technology gives lighting a Mid Century look but uses about
1/10th of the energy of traditional bulbs. There are
now a wide variety of LED bulbs available which work with a wide array of light
Visiting an architectural salvage store can be
an exciting trip to another era and is often full of surprises and
discoveries. It is a great way to find
the best of yester- year and to find new uses for beautiful designs.