The time-worn way of zipping up a house when you tire of the look is to redecorate — move the furniture around, replace the curtains, or change the paint colors.

Why not approach it from a different angle and add some unusual architectural elements? There are a myriad of online sources available to purchase new pilasters, columns, doors, fireplace surrounds, mantels, etc. They are all fine but without professionally distressing them they still look, well . . . . new. There is nothing like vintage items to bring depth and layers to a house. An architectural salvage yard is just the ticket to find that one-of-a-kind feature that stands apart and tells a story.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit three such establishments in New England. If you desire quirky architectural object d’art, the eye candy that these places provide is almost better than a trip to a museum. And, even better, you can buy the stuff you fall in love with. Try that at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre. Most of the objects have been removed from houses that are to be torn down or remodeled. Re-purposing them for another life keeps beautiful things out of the landfill and is “green” to boot. You will feel down right self righteous bringing home one of these treasures to grace your home.

Here are a few items that you will never find duplicated by a neighbor who shops at Target.

“Warm Ye in Friendship” mantel detail

Classical beefcake


“Dark Shadows” doors

Curvaceous corbel

Corinthian kitsch

Electric blue

Links to some New England salvage yards:  Restoration Resources, Nor’East Architectural Salvage, and Architectural Salvage, Inc.

Click on any photo to enlarge.