It will come as no surprise that I am a big fan of This Old House; the television show, the magazine, and the web site. The current issue (Jan./Feb. 2012) of my magazine subscription put forth a question: How have YOU used salvaged architectural details in your home?
In 2008, I bought a Pig’s Ear to renovate in Charleston, SC that we call The Bungalow. Although this 50 year old house had not been condemned, it should have been. The roof leaked, the heated and cooling system had been abandoned, there were plumbing leaks, the electrical system was a mess, floors were caving in, there were serious structural issues, and without question it was the ugliest and worst home on the street.
|The Bungalow - After|
After I addressed all the major issues, I had one minor matter that was solved with a salvaged architectural item. My task: a space within the heart of the home needed some natural light. The solution: replace window panes in the home’s original picture window with equivalently sized mirrors and mount it on an interior wall to create the illusion and feel of a window. I understand that this is not an overly original idea. However, I will take credit for carefully removing the window during demolition and then storing (and moving) it safely throughout the two year renovation until I needed it.
This mirrored pictured window not only added natural light into this part of the house, but it brought charm and an element of craftsmanship that was not costly or time consuming. Since I salvaged the home’s original picture window my cost for the frame was $0. It took a couple hours to safely remove the glass panes, a little time for two coats of paint on the frame, and two or three more hours to buy and install the twenty 11” x 14” mirrors which I bought from a glass shop for $3.50 apiece (although I had quotes for twice that).
When renovating a house, I always make an effort to redesign it to feel bigger than its actual square footage. The Bungalow was one of these homes and the mirrored pictured window helped to make this feeling come about. The wooden frame made it look like an authentic window and the mirrors created an effect of openness and light that felt real as well. Most people (but not all) weren’t fooled and knew what the mirrored frame detail actually was, but what made it so gratifying for me was that it created something necessary and at the same time special because I was able to repurpose part of the original house and incorporate it within the interior that was all (except for the wood floors) new.
|Picture Window with Mirrors Installed|