A few weeks later, the homemaker showed off the refinished $150 mantel now decorating the brick fireplace in her renovated kitchen. After she sanded the worn piece, its elegant lines emerged from under several coats of paint.
The carved wooden frame hanging above the mantel and the stone tile on the hearth also came from Community Forklift, as did several pieces of furniture in the living room. “This is a way of getting heirlooms without having to inherit things from relatives,” she says.
From the salvaged windows and other recycled elements, she and her husband built a one-room pavilion in a corner of their back yard. “It cost us about $1,500 to complete, compared to the $25,000 that one contractor told us it would take to construct from new materials,” says Derek Liu, 44, a systems engineer.
The type of repurposing practiced by the Lius is growing, as more homeowners look for cost-saving and environmentally friendly ways to renovate. At Community Forklift, sales of salvaged products — from Tiffany-style lamps to toilets — increased from 2011 to 2012 by 46 percent. The eco-conscious home improvement center plans to expand into a nearby 15,800-square-foot warehouse in Prince George’s County in the fall.