Vintage Hardware

January 26, 2015

Kevin Berger

Tips

Tips

Cast Iron Chandelier at Architectural Antiques of Indianapolis

Vintage building materials have become quite popular, inspiring online catalog stores producing new “old” materials on a large scale.  We have a plethora of catalogs coming through with companies specializing in this area.  Restoration Hardware is probably the best known.  Other companies such as Pottery Barn are providing products in this line as well, though they are not making this niche their sole product.  The advantages to these reproductions are that they are made from modern materials reducing concerns about possible lead paint and about improper wiring in older electrical fixtures.

If you truly want vintage architectural items, there are firms that specialize in that as well.  Firms such as Doc’s Architectural Salvage & Reclamation Services and Architectural Antiques, both in the Indianapolis area have warehouses full of reclaimed architectural treasures.  These are both large scale salvage operations where you can spend hours browsing through thousands of items.  On a local level, check out the Habitat for Humanity’s Restores.  Locally, there is a Restore in Plymouth in the old Plymouth Lumber building on Walnut Street just southwest of downtown.  In South Bend, the Restore is on South Main Street and is set up much like an old department store.  You can also find the occasional architectural focal point at local antique shops mixed in with furniture and other historic items.

Some things to consider when purchasing vintage or reproduction hardware:

Reproductions:

  • Reproductions are generally of modern quality with good wiring and no lead paint.
  • Reproductions can be purchased in any quantity.
  • Reproductions come packaged for shipping and will be delivered to your door.
  • Reproductions can generally be returned, at least for credit if not for cash back.

Vintage Stained Glass Window installed by Easterday Construction Co., Inc. at the Faith United Methodist Church in Wanatah, Indiana

Vintage Materials:

  • Vintage materials are generally sold as-is with very little background information.
  • Vintage material quantities are generally limited.  They have what they have and won’t be getting more.
  • Vintage materials are FOB the site.  It will be your responsibility to pack and transport them.
  • Vintage materials are generally sold as-is without a return policy.
  • Where electricity is required, vintage wiring is often in poor condition.  The piece may or may not be made so as it can be rewired.
  • Using Vintage materials generally increases labor costs.  Additional care in handling as well as custom sizes add to time required for installation.

Pair of Oak Church Doors at Architectural Antiques of Indianapolis

As a general rule, we recommend using vintage materials as focal points in a design and not as a repeating element.  The considerations listed above necessitate this.  Using light fixtures as an example, if you need 5 and one doesn’t work or gets broken, you can just run back to the store.  These are irreplaceable items.  Using them as a focal point adds character to the room and if something happens to that piece, a different piece can be installed in it’s place without looking out of place.

Adding vintage materials to your design can add whimsy and uniqueness.  Treat them as elements of whimsy and you will have fun finding those pieces that make your home or office unique.  Have fun with them!  But remember… if you fall in love with something you see, it’s best to make that purchase immediately!  While it could be there next year, it could also disappear the next day.  That is part of the fun of browsing these displays.  They are constantly changing.

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