DIY Architectural Salvage Shelf

by | DIY, Home

Without a doubt, architectural salvage is the number one thing I look for when I’m vintage hunting!  You can find a lot more about my vintage hunting lists and favorite places to look HERE and HERE.  I use it all throughout our home and I love all the character it adds.  In fact, one of my audience questions for the month of April is how to add character to a builder-grade home.

#1 TIP: Add Architectural Salvage!!!

Old doors, corbels in door openings, reclaimed wood, chippy door headers…all things that you can find (with some patience!) and add so much character to any home!

Back in January, we gave our girls’ room a mini-makeover, trading out their blush and pink accessories for some light blue options they chose.  When I came across this gorgeous, chippy architectural salvage piece with the light blue and gray tones, I just knew we had to try and make it work in their room!

It ended up being the perfect addition to their space, giving it just a bit of an “older girl” look, a space to display a few special items, added a touch of their color, and added a lot of character!  Since I know they are going to want to change things around, I keep the basics of the room more neutral.  But I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to add such a pretty statement piece to their room!

There’s the why and what!  Here’s the how:

How to Turn Architectural Salvage Into a Shelf


This piece makes the perfect shelf because of the wide ledge (about 8 inches) and the corbel-like supports.  Here’s how we did it:

  • We placed the shelf on the wall for placement (making sure it was level). We put small pencil marks on the wall at the two upper corners to mark the location.
  • We then ran painters tape the width of the shelf four inches below the corner marks. You could use more or less than 4 inches depending on the size of the piece.
  • With the tape still on the wall, we located the studs & marked them with a little hole through the tape. A stud finder is helpful here!
  • Once we took the tape down, we installed heavy screws into the wall at the marks in the step above. Leaving about half an inch of the screw exposed makes it much easier to hang later!
  • We then fastened the tape to the back of the shelf (four inches below the top edge). Using the small holes to mark the studs, we screwed in two D-rings to the back of the shelf.
Salvage Shelf Pic (2)
Salvage Shelf Pic (3)
  • Once the hard work was done, we added some decorative gold hooks to the face of the salvage.
  • Finally, we carefully hung the shelf on the wall by lining up the D-rings with the screws.

How to Style Your Architectural Salvage Shelf


This piece was a great opportunity for some cute hooks for the girls’ nice hats and jackets.  I found these antiqued brass hooks for such an inexpensive price.  However, the screws were too long for the salvage piece.  So we used shorter screws that we had on hand and I turned them to antique gold in just a quick minute with an antique gold paint pen.

I wanted the hook styling to be casual and functional.  Payton loves to wear this jacket a lot and I love how it adds another shade of the lighter blue tones to their room as well!  I paired it with a vintage straw hat that I picked up at a market and with Addy’s monogrammed hat from Easter last year.  Little personal touches that add some whimsy to the space!

On top of the shelf, I added the following items:

  • Vintage mirror
  • Vintage gold frame
  • Vintage light blue and light green books
  • Vintage brass bunny
  • One trophy for each of the girls’
  • Small plaque from Payton’s “Camper of the Year” award

We haven’t had a good place to display some of these special pieces in their room, so I was really happy about adding these!  They have a lot more trophies, but we chose a couple of the smaller ones (and not the bright red or bright blue ones!).  It’s nice to have a little of these reminders of hard work out on display in kids’ spaces!

I am still on the hunt for a nice art piece to put up on the shelf, but for now, the mirror does a great job of keeping things bright by bouncing around a little light.  The gold frame helps tie in the antique gold hooks and a few other gold accessories in their room.  Of course, I always love vintage books too!  They are a perfect way to add a touch of color into a room.  I always look for these at thrift stores, flea markets, and antique malls!  The girls’ picked these books out and I love the touch of color they add here!

This vintage brass bunny is a fun way to keep the room “young” and ties in with the vintage bunny chandelier.  I thought the girls’ might say they wanted to get rid of  the chandelier when we were redoing things, but they still love it and so I’ll leave it up as long as I can!  I really do love how just the simple brass bunny connects with the chandelier and adds a common theme…without being a thematic room! 

Kids’ spaces are common places to have themes, which isn’t all bad, for sure!  It can be challenging to bring their chosen themes into a space in subtle ways, and mix-and-match vintage items definitely help a room feel curated over time rather than bought all at once from the same aisle of a big-box store!

I layered the mirror and frame against the wall and added the book stacks in front.  By setting the brass bunny in front of the mirror, it doubles the statement and helps it stand out more!  I balanced out the book stack and bunny with the girls’ trophies for a personal touch.

While I see this being a space where they switch things out from time to time, I love that the overall look of the architectural salvage piece will add character and charm, no matter how they style the top!  It will also be a fun spot for some seasonal touches!

Where Can I Buy Architectural Salvage?


You can find some of my favorite online architectural pieces below.  These are one-of-a-kind finds, but always worth the investment!  Whether in small touches like candlesticks or huge wall décor, architectural salvage will add so much to your home!

I look for salvage pieces at vintage markets, boutique home décor shops, flea markets, and antique malls.  You may even get lucky with an occasional thrift store find!  And then there are really great online options as well.  Many online vendors offer free shipping, so you can still get a great piece shipped to you for a reasonable price!

I can’t wait to see the what, why, how, and where for YOUR next architectural salvage piece!




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