Create Wood Wall Art from Salvaged Pieces

Create Wood Wall Art from Salvaged Pieces

Embracing the Beauty of Imperfection

I’ve always had a soft spot for reclaimed and salvaged materials. There’s just something about the story they hold – the wear and tear, the nail holes, the unique character that comes with age. So when I had the opportunity to help design a reclaimed wood wall for a local chocolate shop, I jumped at the chance. Little did I know that this project would inspire me to bring that same rustic charm into my own home.

Fleurir Hand Grown Chocolates: A Reclaimed Dream

It all started a few years back when the talented couple behind Ashley & Roberts Streamlined Bohemian asked me to lend a hand in designing their new Georgetown chocolate shop, Fleurir Hand Grown Chocolates. The goal was to create a space that was both clean and rustic, a perfect reflection of the shop’s ethos.

The couple’s parents had graciously provided leftover wood flooring previously reclaimed from a Southern tobacco factory, and the rest of the pieces came from the mismatched flooring bins at Community Forklifts for a mere 25 cents each. With these salvaged treasures in hand, we set out to turn the plain walls into a true work of art.

Unlike a traditional wood accent wall, we decided to treat this as more of an art installation, playing up the randomness and haphazard nature of the reclaimed materials. Some planks were longer than others, spilling over the edges, creating a captivating visual contrast. The beauty of a reclaimed wood wall, I learned, is that it can achieve a variety of looks and feelings depending on the assembly process, layout, and type of wood used.

My Basement Transformation

After helping the Fleurir team bring their vision to life, I couldn’t help but feel a little envious. You see, a few years ago, a tragic sewer backup had forced us to overhaul our basement, and the once cozy yet dated space had been lacking warmth ever since. That’s when I decided the stairwell, visible from the main floor, would be the perfect spot to add a reclaimed wood accent wall.

I wanted the wood to tie in with the surrounding painted walls more subtly, so I opted to paint some of the salvaged planks rather than using them in their raw form. This allowed me to incorporate hues that would complement the existing color scheme. Of course, if you prefer the look of raw, natural wood, you can certainly skip this step.

Gathering the Essentials

Before we dive into the step-by-step process, let’s talk about the materials you’ll need for this project:

  • Reclaimed tongue-and-groove flooring (check salvage yards, Craigslist, or Freecycle)
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Chop saw or handsaw and miter
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Drill or nail gun
  • Screws or nails (if using a nail gun)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Sander (optional)
  • Wet rag (optional)

Getting Started

Whether you’re painting the wood or leaving it raw, the first step is to locate the studs in your wall using a stud finder. Mark them with a pencil or chalk – these will be your anchor points for securing the wood planks.

Next, it’s time to start laying the foundation. Screw or nail the bottom plank into the studs. Don’t worry about securing every single plank – the tongue-and-groove design will help keep the rest in place.

I alternated the number of planks per level to create a more varied, interesting look – some levels had one plank, others had three or even six. In my opinion, this random placement is what gives the wall its unique charm.

Painting the Planks (Optional)

If you’ve opted to paint some of the planks, now’s the time to do it. I experimented with a variety of shades, even going so far as to wipe off some of the paint with a wet rag to achieve a more distressed, vintage-inspired look.

The key is to use paint colors that complement the surrounding wall hues – this helps the wood blend in seamlessly with the rest of the space.

Placing the Planks

As you start adding the next plank, use a piece of scrap wood as a buffer to tap it gently into place. This prevents you from denting the wall or damaging the wood itself. If you need to readjust a plank once it’s in the groove, simply place another scrap piece of wood on top and give it a gentle tap.

Remember to use a level periodically to ensure your planks are staying straight, as the nature of reclaimed lumber can sometimes lead to warping.

Embracing the Imperfections

One of the things I love most about this project is the fact that it celebrates imperfection. The natural flaws and character of the reclaimed wood are what make it so special. Just like a beloved quilt, the beauty lies in the variety of textures, colors, and patterns that come together to create something truly unique.

As you work, embrace those little quirks and irregularities. They’re what give your wall its personality and make it a true reflection of your style. And if you happen to run into any challenges along the way, don’t stress – that’s all part of the process.

A Labor of Love

In both the Fleurir project and my own basement transformation, we got lucky that the planks fit the wall height perfectly. But as you get close to the top, be sure to measure to see if you’ll need to saw any of the pieces in half to achieve the right fit.

Remember, this is a great project for people who love texture and who embrace imperfection. The natural flaws and variations in the reclaimed wood are what give it so much character. And the best part? It’s a relatively quick and easy project that doesn’t require a lot of advance planning.

So, if you’re looking to add a touch of rustic charm to your home, why not give this reclaimed wood wall art a try? Gather your salvaged materials, embrace your inner artist, and get ready to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that you’ll enjoy for years to come. Who knows, you might even find yourself inspired to take on more timber building and woodworking projects in the future!


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