Northwest Renovation Magazine

A Home Improvement Magazine

I am ostensibly rebuilding my deck at the moment. In reality, however, I’m remodeling my back yard.
I will have a new and bigger deck, plus new paths, new fence, a patio for my containers, and more. It’s a ginormous project. And, I’m trying to use primarily salvaged materials. I like the low-impact feeling and look I get from using salvage and I love the challenge of turning salvage into a beautiful space.

If you don’t know, I have purchased about 30,000 pounds of salvaged metal from the pulp and paper mill in Albany currently under demo, which is making up a lot of my deck. However, there are many more things I need/want. Lately I was on a hunt for a piece of salvaged granite or remnant stone for a buffet top. I really like the idea of a gravestone — legitimately obtained — but haven’t been able to find one. So I hit Craigslist.

I have found other things on Craigslist before, but those were targeted non-house searches. For example, I needed a number of trench coats for a group of gals going as flashers on Halloween. Craigslist to the rescue! Stuff like that. But I had not searched for remodeling items. I had heard about the incredible finds that were possible, but I had not investigated.

Boy, have I been missing out! I found a decent amount of granite and stone, and ended up taking a trip to Hillsboro one Saturday morning to check out a 7′ x 5′ piece of leftover granite owned by a really nice couple. I bought it.

When I got home, the first thing I did was get back on Craigslist. I could not believe the amazing remodeling inventory on the site. I am hooked. Craigslist shopping is low impact; other than the gas spent driving to Hillsboro, my granite excursion had, in effect, reduced waste. My mind keeps getting stuck on this. I like it.

I find that a very good way to work on remodeling a room or area is to start accumulating the needed pieces over time. I buy items as I find them, but it’s also smart to buy if you find what you want at a good price, or before the color is discontinued, or piece by piece so you don’t go into debt.

When my inventory reaches critical mass for a project, I get started. I sometimes hear that people are concerned about buying before the project is started because they’re afraid of changing their minds. Here’s the deal. When I have changed my mind, I have always been able to sell the excess inventory, usually to friends.

If I needed to remodel a bathroom, I would probably be buying a claw foot tub right now. I found a super-cool one for on Craigslist for $300, and a second one for $500 (that price included a water heater). There were two mirrors I noted to go with the tub — one a large Bombay Company mirror for $79. Not really my style, but I found an alternative: a modern, industrial type medicine cabinet from Pottery Barn, originally $300, now selling for $80. I like the contrast of the industrial style versus the old claw foot tub. I also found a primitive-style bath cabinet, but that’s not me. The point is that there’s endless inventory out there! Who knew? Everyone but me, apparently.

I found light fixtures, an Aquasource stainless steel double sink, and a salad bar for my theoretical kitchen. And a vintage stove for $50 — discounted because one burner didn’t work. Even with refinishing and repair costs, that’s a deal. I think the stainless steel sink is wrong with the stove, so I’ll probably keep looking for a sink.

I’m really stuck on a salad bar. It’s a restaurant salad bar for $1,500. I don’t usually eat at salad bars, but for some reason the idea of having one on my deck appeals. I will definitely go back and visit Craigslist.

I hear there are support groups for people like me.

Ranchel is an accountant who offsets the practicality of her day job with extravagant and outrageous remodeling projects, often involving massive amounts of scrap metal. Check out her adventures at her blog at

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