Design Pros’ Secrets for Finding and Using Reclaimed Materials

When you ask Seattle-based house flippers Lora Lindberg and Debbie Cederlind where to find the best home-restoration materials, they quickly reply in unison, “Craigslist.”

Lindberg and Cederlind of Urban Squirrel Residential Restoration have been flipping houses and using reclaimed materials cleverly since 2010, when they purchased their first renovation house in Everett, WA.

Debbie Cederlind (left) and Lora Lindberg (right), the brilliant design minds behind Urban Squirrel.

Although many people are flipping houses these days, Lindberg and Cederlind take a unique approach: a design-first attitude using reclaimed pieces found anywhere, from Craigslist to salvage yards to the side of the road.

“I think what people really want is character – they want a house that’s unusual,” Cederlind says. “A new tract house in Mississippi looks like a new tract house in Minnesota. People want to add character back in.”

Lindberg adds, “I think a lot of builders are good at construction, but they’re not design people. That’s where we feel we’re different – we’re design people first.”

A creative approach to both flipping and using reclaimed materials involves seeing potential others might overlook – and being willing to undertake a transformation. “Twice now we’ve bought an old, beautiful table with big, curvy gorgeous legs,” recalls Lindberg. “We cut it in half, and then we made double vanities. It makes a pedestal sink, so the two legs are out in the room, and the cut part is against the wall.”

Once an old table, now a one-of-a-kind double vanity.

The duo’s interest and work in renovation started when they met through a church project called Trading Graces. The project entailed a small renovation for a church-nominated family, and an all-volunteer renovation team collaborated on the design and construction. Because the project didn’t have a large budget, the team learned how to maximize their renovation budget with inexpensive, used materials.

With a couple of Trading Graces projects under their tool belts, the pair decided to flip houses, and Urban Squirrel was born.

They’ve now completed 14 flips, and have become true experts on all things renovation. Here, Lindberg and Cederlind offer great advice on finding unique reclaimed materials, the best pieces to look for, and DIY strategies.

Where to find pieces for a renovation

 So, where’s the best place to find renovation materials? The answer is wherever you can find materials that inspire you.

“We have great salvage yards in Seattle, but I know those aren’t available everywhere,” says Lindberg. “If you’re in a smaller city without a salvage yard, try Craigslist. We’ve gotten a lot of things there.”

The duo scored a wooden screen on Craigslist. With a little love and paint, the screen became a pair of charming pantry doors that now lend a pop of character to the clean-lined space.

In addition to Craigslist, the duo suggests trying Etsy for interesting lighting and hardware, as well as eBay and garage sales.

“If you see anything cool or unusual, no matter where it is – on the side of the road, at the garage sale – just say to yourself, ‘What can I do with this?’” Cederlind says.

“Sometimes you have to mull it over for a couple days before you come up with something,” Lindberg notes. “But if it speaks to you, and it’s interesting, it’s worth finding a use for it.”

Before: The duo spotted these rustic tin panels and felt certain they could repurpose them.
After: Once dusty and unloved, the tin panels now make the perfect cozy-chic statement in this entryway.

The best types of reclaimed pieces

When hunting for unique reclaimed materials, Cederlind and Lindberg suggest watching for quality pieces of furniture made of solid wood, such as dressers, which often feature intricate carvings or other unique details..

“One of the pieces we’ve used the most is buffets,” Lindberg says. “We use them for islands in kitchens.”

If you find an interesting piece while you’re out shopping, make sure it fits your home’s style. Although Cederlind and Lindberg don’t call themselves design purists, they say it’s best to avoid a style disconnect. If you have a Tudor home, you probably don’t want to put a bunch of mid-century modern pieces in it.

You also want high-quality pieces. “Avoid it if it’s stinky,” Lindberg says.

Some DIY best practices

An important point to remember when working with reclaimed materials: Gather all your materials before you (or a contractor) start the work.

“Let’s say you’re creating a pantry, and [your contractor] makes a doorway,” explains Lindberg. “It’s going to be impossible to find a door that exactly fits that size. You have to have all your materials first, and then have your contractor fit the doorway accordingly.”

Cederlind and Lindberg discovered the antique windowpane on the left in an architectural salvage yard.
Now serving as an interior window, the old windowpane breathes new life and light into the living room and office.

Before installing any reclaimed pieces, such as an old dresser turned into a vanity, be sure you can safely secure it, including finding the studs when attaching pieces to the walls. You may also have to modify the height of pieces to be functional for their new usage.

Above all else, the best DIY practice is just to try, the duo says.

“With all the amazing tools now, like pancake compressors and air nailers, you’d be surprised at how easy it is,” says Cederlind. “There are so many tutorials on YouTube. If somebody is really interested and wants to learn to do this, they can teach themselves.”

If you aren’t the handiest person in the world, reach out to a local handyperson or contractor. You can easily search for a quality craftsperson, but it’s always best to get recommendations from friends and family, Cederlind and Lindberg advise.

Ultimately, a great renovation project is about taking risks and creating a design that you love.

“Be brave. Most people are intimidated or timid about trying things – even paint,” Lindberg says. “But you can always repaint!”

See how Lindberg and Cederlind used reclaimed materials to create a cozy home office while renovating an abandoned 1920s Craftsman home:


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Design Pros’ Secrets for Finding and Using Reclaimed Materials was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home


Benefits of Using Goats to Maintain Your Yard

Instead of counting sheep at night, you envision two cute little goats keeping your lawn beautifully trimmed while you relax with a cold one. That seems like the ideal situation and use for these adorable animals. But it’s not realistic because what goats will do to your grass would be more like a nightmare. Sometimes they refuse to eat certain stalks leaving an uneven trim. Plus, they clear out spots for resting by pawing all the way to the dirt. The end result is not pretty. However, goats do very well at eliminating overgrown vegetation.


Goat Closeup


Unless you already have a menagerie of farm animals already, you may want to rent goats to help you control your excess brush and weeds. This is what you need to know.

How Many Goats Will I Need?

The number you need largely depends on the size of the area you want munched. Some say three goats per acre, but if you rent the Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf variety, they are smaller and you’ll need more of them. One benefit of the smaller goats is they can get into locations that the larger ones can’t.


Goat Herd


How Does It Work?

Contact a goat rental company and ask them to come out, assess your needs and give you an estimate. Then, you can sit back and relax. These organic weed whackers will get rid of blackberries, thistles and any vegetation with stickers. They have a natural immunity to thorns. If you want to replace your lawn with a garden or hardscaping, goats can help with that, too.


Goat Eating Vegetation


4 Considerations for Using Goats

1. Eco-Friendly

Goats Grazing

Goats don’t spread noxious chemicals that can be harmful to pets or people. These animals don’t pollute and they fertilize as they work. You know that natural ingredients make up the healthy manure they leave behind.

2. Less Expensive Than Humans

Goats run much cheaper than the man power and machines needed to do the same type of clearing. If you decide to purchase one or two, then you’ll redeem your costs fairly quickly.

3. Good for Steep Hillsides

Goats on Hillside

Goats actually like foraging on abrupt slopes, making them the better choice than a human. Our physique isn’t cut out to work while standing at a slant for long periods of time.

4. Will Eat the Good Stuff

When placed in a residential yard, the goats will surely clear the brush and brambles. But, they will also devour flowers, berries and small trees. That’s why you need someone there, like the owner of the goat rental company, who can guide these mammals to only eat what you want gone.

To Complete the Job

More than likely you’ll need to a brush-clearing service to clean up what the goats fail to eat. Check with the goat renter to see if he supplies that kind of assistance.

Do you need help with a landscaping project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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Benefits of Using Goats to Maintain Your Yard was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

8 Beautiful Home Projects Using Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood can be recovered from a wide variety of sources, but it most frequently comes from timber framing and decking used in old barns, factories, and warehouses. Some tell-tale signs of reclaimed wood include nail holes, manufacturer stamps, and markings. Other unique qualities, like variation and depth of color or unusual patterning, can be a result of it being stored in vessels like wine barrels, beer casks, and other containers.

Additionally, reclaimed timber is usually cut from strong, mature trees (unlike the younger, weaker trees used today for lumber), and is less prone to splitting. Because of these aspects, many designers choose to use reclaimed wood rather than virgin timber in their projects.

Here are eight different projects that incorporate reclaimed wood in distinct ways.

Ceiling turned to walls

Salvaged wood from multiple origins come together in this project in Buenos Aires by architects Teresa Sarmiento and Nicolas Tovo. They designed the home for their own family with the intention of celebrating recycled materials-floor boards of repurposed Brazilian pine and wall boards from the ceiling of a tenement in a local Buenos Aires neighborhood. The boards were cut down to size and oriented vertically to bring the eye upward to a clerestory window and small white beams.

Photo by Cristóbal Palma.

Repurposed staircase

A small, efficient home in Seattle designed by SHED Architecture & Design incorporated wood on the exterior and interior of the home, and even used salvaged wood from the residence that had previously stood on the site. Although the 100-year-old bungalow was demolished, the treads of one of its staircases were repurposed in the new home as a modern, open-riser stair that lets in light from the windows beyond.

Photo by SHED Architecture + Design.

Entryway elegance

Even a few pieces of salvaged lumber can have a big impact. This entryway in a Brooklyn townhouse, renovated by Bangia Agostinho Architecture, reused hemlock fir joists from the existing building structure as casework around the main entry door. The trim has a simple, modern profile, ensuring that it makes a contemporary statement. In the entryway is another repurposed piece of wood that was charred in a fire more than 100 years ago. It has since been painted and repainted – creating a unique patina and texture – and transformed into a bench.

Photo by Pia Ulin.

Accent wall and headboard

In a project in Quebec, Canada, a 1924 building was renovated by Bourgeois Lechasseur Architects. The renovation sought to modernize the apartment while preserving the historical elements – in particular, reusing wooden boards that were salvaged during demolition. The unfinished boards act as a rustic, earthy accent wall and headboard, while the surrounding white walls and crisp bed linens keep the room contemporary.

Photo by Adrien Williams.

From flooring to doors

This loft in Brooklyn, New York, used almost all reclaimed, recycled, or diseased wood for everything from the flooring – salvaged from a barn constructed in the 1800s in the Allegheny Mountains in Ohio – to the doors, which were saved from a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. Shelving, walls, and ceilings throughout the apartment are covered with wood that came from butternut trees in a blighted forest in Vermont, where worm infestations created intricate, unique patterns in the diseased wood. Although the apartment is located in New York, the different pieces of lumber inside come from all over the country.

Photo by Kevin Cooley.

Structural elements and beyond

Different types of reclaimed wood, each from different sources, steal the show in this residence in the Scottish countryside by Glasgow-based architect Andrew McAvoy of Assembly Architecture. Thick, deep oak beams were reclaimed and reused for structural elements, while the maple flooring was salvaged from an old school in the nearby rural village of Aberdeen. The reclaimed wood was a critical contributor to the goal of sustainability in the home.

Photo by Andrew Meredith.

Posts and beams

As barns become obsolete, they become fruitful sources of salvaged wood, like this house in the Catskills in Bovina, New York. Architect Kimberly Peck designed a home for a Norwegian couple that was looking for the perfect mix of warm, Scandinavian design and mid-century modern. The wood boards on the walls and the posts and beams are all reclaimed, but from different sources. The structural elements were recycled from a barn built in 1840, and the reclaimed planks on the walls were stained with a gray wash to match the other wood.

Photo by Torkil Stavdal.

A fine library

High ceilings and natural light prevent this small library that’s clad in reclaimed wood from feeling overwhelming or oppressive. The wood, a salvaged spotted gum, is a durable wood that’s native to Australia and is often used in structural, exterior, and interior applications. It ranges from a deep, reddish tone to a much lighter, almost yellow-white color. The library was part of a renovation of a family residence by Melbourne-based architects Andrew Maynard and Mark Austin of Andrew Maynard Architects.

Photo by Peter Bennetts.

This article was written by Kate Reggev and originally appeared on Dwell.  Check out more of their content on



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8 Beautiful Home Projects Using Reclaimed Wood was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Choosing (and Using) the Most Rewarding Credit Card

In the market for a new credit card with miles, cash or points? It’s a good time to be looking for a rewards card. Post-recession, the marketplace has become ultra-competitive, and as credit card companies fight harder to earn a place in our wallets, they’re offering richer rewards.

For example, BP just launched a new rewards program that offers three different options for consumers to save up to 25 cents per gallon on their fuel purchases. And Capital One just rolled out a new program that offers users of its Quicksilver card 20-percent cash back on all charges for Uber through April 2016.

Sound enticing? Here are a few things to consider before you jump into the rewards arena.

Know whether you qualify

To be approved for a rewards card, you generally need good or excellent credit, with a score around 720 or higher (out of a possible 850). If your score is lower, you may not be approved for a card, or the rewards will be smaller.

Align rewards with your interests

Cards that give you cash back are still the most popular rewards cards, but if you’re trying to do a better job budgeting, you might want to consider a card that offers points toward shopping at your favorite grocery store, or points that will fill your gas tank.

Is traveling more your thing? Then an airline miles reward card might make more sense. The choice is a personal one that revolves around your spending habits.

Assess the offerings

There are lots of credit card comparison sites to choose from. Try one like or is also useful — you can see what other cardholders have to say about the card(s) you are interested in.

Beware the pitfalls

One common pitfall is earning limits. They may be monthly, quarterly or annually. These earning limits may be assigned to certain spending categories or across the board.

Rotating categories are another thing to look out for. For example, you may be able to earn 5-percent cash back in popular categories, but those categories might change each quarter. Does your spending align with these categories? Furthermore, you may have to ‘opt in’ to earn that rate each quarter.

There’s also the issue of redemption versatility. What can you redeem your rewards for? Do you get a good value on your redemptions? Rewards are only as good as what you get for earning them. And if you’re paying an annual fee (often around $ 100 per year), consider whether the cost of this fee is worth the rewards you’ll earn.

Stay on top of your spending

Accumulating points can be addicting, and you may even justify your spending with the fact that you’re getting something in return. Remember: you’re still spending a lot of money to collect those rewards. Are your purchases justified? Don’t lose your perspective when it comes to collecting rewards.

And by all means, understand that no amount of credit card rewards makes carrying a balance month to month a good deal, particularly since reward cards generally have higher interest rates than standard credit cards.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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Choosing (and Using) the Most Rewarding Credit Card was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home