Nearly 2,000 items can be found at Castle Architecture Salvage in Northampton, many of which can become the centerpiece of a room or simply add a little accent here and there.
Castle, located at 7 Pearl St., opened in the spring of 2017 with a room full of vintage and antique furnishings and decor. Passersby may have noticed a large red London telephone booth or a replica electrical chair by peering in the storefront window, but many of the items within are perfect for remodeling projects.
Store owner Ron Pike has acquired a treasure trove of light fixtures, brass hooks, large church pews and much more from auctions, estate sales, and buildings before they get torn down. Items in the shop can range from $2 to $10,000, Pike said.
“I love searching for these pieces and the stories that come with a lot of the items,” Pike said. He recently acquired a collection of large iron gate elevator doors from the buildings demolished to make way for the MGM Springfield.
On a recent afternoon, the Gazette took a tour of Castle’s vast and eccentric collection with two interior designers — Emily Estes and Amy Woolf — to envision how some of the store’s offerings could become household centerpieces.
When approaching a remodeling project, Woolf said, “You have to start with function about how the spaces are used.” Woolf has a background as a color consultant and said she begins conversations with clients about how colors and the emotions they elicit can drive the shape a room takes.
Estes, who is a registered architect, pointed to a set of light fixtures with a green enamel finish. “They are great for that modern farmhouse look, even the colors are perfect,” she said.
“In newer things, they just don’t make them like they used to,” Estes said. “An enamel finish is extremely expensive and not nearly the quality of a vintage piece so any of these light fixtures are good finds.”
Other items, such as bathroom fixtures and tiles, can establish a project’s color palette and if a client is drawn to a particular item, it is up to an interior designer like Estes or Woolf to create a cohesive language throughout the project.The diva in the room
Woolf has a certain rule when it comes to interior design.
“There should only be one diva in the room,” she said, when it comes to choosing standout items.
As an example, she pointed out a Mustang-red Chambers stove ($1,000) from the 1940s that Woolf envisioned building a kitchen around.
“If they were going to put a stove like this in, it sets a tone,” Woolf said. “It’s kind of a defining piece and it’s a pivot point. Typically, I am in a room often looking for a single pivot point — that one thing that makes their heart beat faster. Whether it’s a particular type of tile or red range or those green vintage lights, everything builds from that single inspiration piece.”
Woolf’s philosophy would be to have everything else in such a kitchen support the Chambers stove and said she would avoid going with a red backsplash. “I want this to be the star,” she said.
She conceded, however, that some clients would want to decorate a room extravagantly with red counter stools, bright cabinets and add lots of colors to go with the red stove.
“If people want that, we try to deliver that, too,” she said.
As an architect, part of Estes’ role is to ensure that all appliances meet building code requirements, and taking a vintage stove such as the Chambers one would mean ensuring that there are the appropriate propane BTU calculations and putting in place necessary structural supports to carry the stove’s weight.
Woolf said that finding a similar one would be approaching commercial grade and would cost in the $50,000 range. “Mere mortals don’t have access to these kinds of gizmos.”Save and splurge
Peeking around boxes of doorknobs, a large drum from Mexico used as a table ($755) made from animal hide, vintage sewing machines ($172), and various glasses, bottles, and vials, there were other items that caught Estes’s and Woolf’s attention.
A large church pew ($250) salvaged from a Conway church damaged during a 2017 tornado might be too large for a home as-is, Estes said, but since the ends are detachable, the pew can be resized to fit almost any home.
There are money-saving purchases to be made as well. Vintage solid brass hooks ($20) that are high quality would be hundreds of dollars if bought new, according to Estes.
Woolf gravitated towards large nautical maps that Pike purchased from the widow of a man who would travel from Maine to Georgia in his tugboat. The collection contains over 300 maps, and “they are just amazing,” Pike said.
Picking from over a dozen rolled-up maps, many of which are etched with the tugboat captain’s handwritten notes, Woolf found a map of her hometown near a Baltimore harbor.
“That makes nice art, especially if there is an emotional connection,” Woolf said, adding that framing the chart of the same waters she used to sail in would make for personal decoration.
When it comes to shopping vintage appliances or home decor, there can be an emotional and personal connection, Woolf said. A mustard-colored rotary telephone ($79) from the 1950s, which is still functioning, is another item that has nostalgic value.
Pike said that he gets many orders from his online website for antique appliances from the West Coast because they are so prevalent in New England.
“You can embrace the past and what you grew up with,” Estes said.
Luis Fieldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.