Where to Find Old Doors and Windows for a Decorating Project

Q: My husband and I purchased a summer home in desperate need of TLC. I’ve decided to go for that “rustic-chic country home” look that’s all the rage.

I’m also after a few old doors and windows to place throughout the home and garden for decorative purposes. Where can I find them? I want the real deal, not reproductions, but also want to stay within a budget.

A: Sounds like fun — what a great, green idea to place a few decorative doors and windows around your new summer place for that faux ramshackle country house look — a beautifully weathered window frame repurposed as a wall hanging beats a cheesy “pastoral landscape” print any day. The same goes for antique doors reborn as dining room tables, bed headboards and garden trellises. Architectural salvage pieces offer so much more character and countrified charm than something that you’d pick up at, let’s say, Ethan Allen. Plus, you’re saving these pieces from possibly entering landfills or sitting around unloved and unwanted in a demolition yard until they slowly waste away.

To start, I wouldn’t look much further than the actual home since it sounds like you guys will be doing some renovating. If you’re removing any doors and windows from the place, see if you can creatively upcycle them and incorporate them into the home’s décor. If they don’t match the countrified aesthetic you’re going for, feel free to scratch, bang, stain and drill to give the pieces that desired weathered look or the perfect patina as they say in the antiques business. eHow has a few helpful tips on how to artificially weather wood.

If you don’t plan on removing any fixtures like doors and windows or don’t have the time or skill for DIY wood weatherization projects, don’t fret, you can find antique doors and windows plenty of places without spending too much. For starters, hit up local salvage yards, thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales ... no need to dive into any Dumpsters. Habitat for Humanity's ReStore is another great source of inexpensive, cast-off construction materials. eBay and Craiglist’s for sale and for free sections are also worth perusing.

A fantastic, new-ish resource for salvaged home materials is Dwell’s Lost and Found Map, a crowd-sourced map of architectural salvage hotspots across the country. Old House Web also offers an excellent, comprehensive directory of architectural salvage businesses with special listings dedicated to doors and windows. And I’m not sure if there are any in your neck of the woods, but the barn store trend, where antiques and vintage home furnishing dealers set up shop in old barns is the hot new thing ... or at least it is in the Washington, D.C., area.

Hope this helps you start your architectural salvage mission. Feel free to send along photos of your new summer retreat once it’s all decorated with antique doors and windows and you’re settled in. Is it on a lake? In that event, an invite would be more than welcome, too. My schedule is wide open. Good luck.