Salvage style: How to furnish your home from a scrapyard
From floorboards to fireplaces, sinks to sofas, salvage yards offer all you need to furnish a home. Here are six of the best
Ger Thomas from Mac’s Salvage, Inchicore, with a selection of the items on sale. Photograph: Alan Betson
Some of the collectables on sale at Mac’s Salvage, Inchicore. Photograph: Alan Betson
Robin Maharaj at Kilkenny Architectural Salvage and Antiques. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan
Salvage yards have always been fertile hunting grounds for builders, architects and restoration buffs. In the past decade they have become equally popular with homeowners in pursuit of unique interior finds and building supplies at knock-down prices.
“It all kicked off when television shows like Grand Designs started inspiring people to think outside the box. Now everyone wants to use reclaimed materials or upcycled fixtures to add a bit of character to their house,” says Nigel Wilson of Wilsons Yard in Co Down. Wilsons was recently named Best Architectural Salvage Yard UK and Ireland in the 2016 Sustainable Building Awards.
With salvaged bounty so on-trend, these once grim and often treacherous yards of bricks and jumble have upped their retail game dramatically: merchandised warehouses, stylised garden spaces, kitchen showrooms and even restaurants make the whole experience less junkyard challenge than renovator’s rapture.
When it comes to Irish salvage, each yard has its own unique draw. But rest assured: every one of them is packed with vast stocks of reclaimed wood and masonry. Expect to unearth beautiful timber trusses, sleepers, beams and floorboards aplenty, in their original state or restored to perfection.
Not sure where to start? We’ve done the groundwork for you. Here’s our list of Ireland’s very best salvage yards:
Mac’s Salvage Warehouse, Dublin 8
Don’t venture over to Mac’s in Inchicore without your thermals (it’s chilly ) and a pocket full of cash – it’s impossible to leave without buying something.
The ever-expanding business was set up in the 1940s by Charles McGovern, who originally sold scrap metal and rags from his horse and cart. Since the 1980s it has been run by his grandsons, Ed and Greg McGarry.
Mac’s handles liquidation hauls from hotels, public buildings and estate homes. It has aisles full of doors from €30-€60, and windows in wood, PVC and composite finishes from €50-€100. There is every building supply needed for a full fit-out, from sanitary ware starting at €25 to mountains of hardwood flooring from €40-€60 per square yard.
On any given day you might find spiral staircases, retro bookshelves, confession boxes and antique toys. There’s always something to tempt in the bric-a-brac section.
If you’re on the hunt for something specific and can’t find it there and then, a quick word with the helpful owners may yield great rewards in a few months’ time. 01-6792110; macswarehouse.ie
Kilkenny Architect Salvage and Antiques
Sprawled across six acres (2.4 hectares) on the banks of the river Nore, Kilkenny Architect Salvage and Antiques, harks back to a more decadent time, when household and garden items were rendered with artistic flair. It was opened by a former banker, Robin Maharaj, who returned to from the UK to Ireland in 1997 with what he calls “an insatiable appetite for period architecture and sourcing the impossible, after restoring my derelict Victorian pile in London”.
The yard, now almost 20 years in business, has such an immense and impressive remit that is is a main supplier of the Irish Landmark Trust and OPW. You will find an abundance of building materials, from traditional gutters at €4 a foot, to cast-iron gates starting at €500.
“We reproduce the likes of cast-iron Victorian radiators, retailing at €100- €400, as half of the originals don’t actually work once plumed in,” says Maharaj. “This way you don’t compromise on form or function.”
If an old-world bathing experience is what you are after, there are battered baths to be had for €200 or beautifully restored roll tops from upward of €1,000. And for the more modern salvage hunter, there are hip art deco chairs for €60, industrial lighting from €80-€200, plus odd eclectic items, such as 25 different coloured toilets, acquired for a hotel refurb, for €30 each. 056-7764434, eurosalve.com
The Store Yard, Portlaoise, Co Laois
A winner in last year’s Irish Times Best Shops competition, The Store Yard is one cool, eclectic scheme – part salvage yard, part vintage store and part food hall. Think Avoca with reclaimed stock.
It was founded in 2010 by David Keane, a former builder, and his family. Keane says that was “caught the bug, while sourcing for construction projects. I’d attend these fascinating auctions in country homes, antique markets, executor sales and even old sheds, and I just knew I had to bring all these treasures together under one roof”.
Spoils here range from rails of period curtains from €250-€750 a pair, historical carpets and rugs starting at €300, to piles of Provençal shutters (€400 for a set of four). There are rooms full of retro furniture and a dazzling hall of mirrors, with typical art-deco styles costing about €65. There’s taxidermy galore: you can pick up a life-size cheetah for €2,000 or a more modest Irish forest animal for €90.
Add to that a vintage clothing concession, a French furniture wing, a period lighting collection, walls of antique crates and travel trunks, and it’s easy to see why set designers from Hollywood flock to Portlaoise to loot the lot.
Better yet, Tynan’s restaurant is situated in the centre of it all, the perfect pit-stop for farmhouse soup and rosemary bread while you contemplate how you could possibly live with yourself without buying those antique brass ship lights – a bargain, needless to say, at €250 a pair. 057-8680088; thestoreyard.ie
Wilsons Yard, Dromore, Co Down
Wilsons is a go-to destination for interior designers looking for bespoke finishes for bar, restaurant and hotel revamps.
Owner Nigel Wilson and his family, who have been trading since the 1980s, take a hands-on approach to client’s projects and endeavour to help out with all elements, be it design, sourcing or joinery. They also keep the creatives coming by responding rapidly to interior design trends with regular international sourcing trips.
“Everyone wants the industrial look right now,” says Wilson, “so we’ve been over buying stock from old factories and army barracks in Romania, Pennsylvania and Hungry.”
The trips have yielded impressive industrial-era light fittings, which start at €100-€500, and well-hewn work tables (they’d be the quite the dinner party talking point), which retail for about €400.
Another smart strategy at Wilsons is mocked-up timber samples to show how a piece of dirty-looking parquet (about €35-€60 per square yard), may look once it’s been polished up. The yard also offers a full custom carpentry service and provides an inspiring showroom of bespoke kitchens starting at €10,000, made from materials such rare African oak or old tea chests.
Lastly, a cute coffee shop and outside area teeming with garden gems make it well worth the detour. 048-92692304; wilsonsyard.com
Bailey Gibson Salvage Yard, Oranmore, Co Galway
A counterpart to the infamous Old Bailey Gibson Yard in Dolphin’s Barn, this new addition to Oranmore is brimming with bonkers finds. It was opened almost by accident by two builders, Jason and Ger Fitzgerald, who had inadvertently collected salvaged goods and building materials in their gardens for more than 30 years.
“One day a friend in the salvage trade said we’d enough stock to open up our own place. And with no other yards in the west of Ireland, it seemed like a good bet,” says Fitzgerald. Six months on, Bailey Gibson boasts a decent masonry arm and a large timber yard (most of the wood reclaimed from old Dutch windmills), with solid flooring from €15-€50.
The yard’s main draw is the assortment of unusual furnishings. Think retro tables made with concrete and timber (€150- €500), gilded statues of Indian deities (€400), and even a pair of gigantic gold hands from Egypt (yours for €2,000).
For something really different, there is an entire 1890s Welsh courtroom for sale, replete with chesterfield leather chairs, English oak tables, pews and desks, stained-glass windows and panelled walls. It would all make for quite the dining room scheme, providing you have the €300,000 to pay for it. 091-792016; baileygibson.ie
Architectural Salvage, Kingswood Cross, Dublin 22
A quick glance around the Architectural Salvage yard and you’d be forgiven for thinking owner Nile O’Rourke had pillaged the entire outdoor contents of a grand old estate such as Powerscourt and carted it back to the Naas Road.
O’Rourke and his father Gerry have spent the past 20 years sourcing stock from magnificent estates and auction houses all over Europe, to ensure there is always something to excite their customers. These include the late Tony Ryan, who kitted out much of the Village at Lyons complex from here, and set designers looking for the perfect fountain for a period drama such as Downton Abbey.
The variety of products and the price points here are vast – a cute gargoyle for €80 or a limestone gazebo for €30,000; a cast-iron bench for €300 or a marble maiden for €3,500. Don’t worry if you’re not in the market for al fresco adornment: O’Rourke has plenty of practical interiors offerings, such as cast iron stoves (€275- €550) or ornate fireplaces from as little as €200. There are good bargains in the bathroom section, with marble showers, stone sinks and baths starting at €50.
Or, for the last word in decadent bathing, you could blow the budget and take home a polished, roll-top, copper tub for €1,600. 01-4595492
Irish salvage: what’s hot . . .
Coloured sanitary ware
Timber cladding for walls
Vintage tan leather anything
Packaging crates and trunks Industrial era fixtures
Roof corbels for table stands
Iron friezes as wall art
. . . and what’s not
Hey-diddly Irish curios
Church furniture and fittings
Vintage bar stools
Big wall clocks
Formal dining room pieces