before and after

before & after: salvaged-wood wall

by Kate Pruitt

I don’t think I will ever tire of the salvaged-wood wall trend happening right now. How could I? There’s something visual happening with the texture of the varied wood boards and the dimensionality of these walls that is just very appealing, and I don’t think that will go away any time soon. Sarah’s wall is a particularly good example of the incredible impact these walls can have. I love the mix of stained, painted and raw wood pieces — truly stunning. Nice job, Sarah! — Kate

Read more about Sarah’s salvaged-wood wall after the jump!


Time: three days

Cost: $130

Basic Steps: After saving and six years and searching for the perfect blank slate on which to play out our quirky design ideas, my husband and I found this house in Dallas, TX, three months ago. The pros were that the design hadn’t been touched in a good 30 years, but it was a nightmare of olive green, black lacquered fixtures and mirrored walls. In the time since the closing, we’ve ripped out false walls, scraped off six layers of wallpaper and painted everything Behr Ultra Pure White. Apart from hanging our art collection, this wall is the first design project we put into motion.

Last Thursday afternoon, we went to our local salvage yard, put on our gloves and began pulling boards from the 15-foot-high racks of salvaged wood. After work on Friday, we laid out all of the pieces (some siding, some barn wood, some wainscot and a lot of pieces from a deconstructed high-school gym floor. You can see the colors from the school insignia in the green, black, red and coral stripes throughout) outside on our back patio and began working out how they’d fit together visually and geometrically. Some pieces were 2.5 inches wide, some were 4.25 inches, some were 9 inches and the rest fell randomly in-between.

On Saturday morning at 9 am, we started building up from the bottom, using a pneumatic/air compressor nail gun to affix the pieces in a horizontal pattern. (A chop saw was essential to cut the lengths; a jigsaw allowed us to cut holes for the outlets.) We were done by 5 pm, at which point we did a cannonball into the pool to celebrate. DIYers considering creating something like this will want to make sure they have the right tools (I can’t imagine trying to actually hammer all those nails or cut the lengths with a hand saw) and a helper. We are lucky here in Dallas to have a couple really great salvage yards where we could find the wood all in one go, but if you don’t, be patient and start collecting piece by piece. Of course, humor and a good sense of 10th-grade geometry doesn’t hurt. — Sarah

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  • Just beautiful! I’m inspired. Can I ask where the great bench came from? Or did you make that too?

  • i love the wall. any chance we could see another picture? one take from further back to see how it meets other walls in the room?

  • A-freakin-mazing. Projects like this are so daunting to me though. Mostly because of the use of power tools. And 10th grade geometry. X.x

  • Beautiful! I was expecting a wall of muted browns (which would have also been lovely, just not awe-worthy).

  • Hey Tracy!

    I’ve added the one process shot that Sarah sent to show a bit of how the wood meets the other walls in the room. I hope this helps!

  • I’d be a little concerned about lead-based paint on any salvaged wood, or even old painted furniture. (The EPA enacted updated lead paint laws back in 2010, concerning houses built before 1978; work has to be performed by a certified contractor.) Inexpensive lead testing kits can be bought at hardware stores or the big-box home stores.

    Just a thought :-)

  • It takes FOREVER to load your new website design and I’m visiting much less often as a result. Is there any way you can address this problem? I would think other readers would be visiting less often as well. I have a new computer and it’s not the problem. I load other websites without any delays. Here’s hoping.

  • Awesome! It looks like you could hide a secret door, safe, or other compartment in this wall. Love the texture! I bet it would look great in all darkened, weathered wood, as well.

  • I love the big bold colours here. Although I am curious how it looks from the side as you mentioned there were a variety of thicknesses of wood?

  • sarah – i am a fellow dallas-ite and new home as well. we are considering doing a salvaged wood wall ourselves & just finished making a salvage wood desk. we got our wood from orr-reed & i assume you probably hit them up as well. what other salvage yards would you recommend? absolutely gorgeous wall, great tips too! thank you!

  • Sarah,
    Questions for you: Did you have to treat the wood or do anything special to it to make sure there were no bugs or termites in it? Also – did you just nail them into the wall or did you nail them into the studs (or use anchors at any point)?

    Love this project and I think it just looks amazing! PS – Love the jumping in the pool afterwards – what a great way to celebrate!!

  • Hey! I actually do live in Dallas, which Salvage yard did you go to, or do you recommend???

  • +1 to Sara – I’m in Dallas, where is this salvage yard?? Amazing job!!

  • Hi, folks! Thanks for all of your kind words. First of all, for the Dallasites, we found all of the wood at Orr-Reed. If you’re willing to dig, you can find great wood treasures there. My other favorite resource is the Architectural Salvage Warehouse on Empire Central near Harry Hines.

    Regarding treatment or sealing: We neither sealed nor pretreated any of the wood. Luckily for us, it was all free from termites (and we know, from experience, the signs to look for).

    When affixing the pieces to the wall, we did try to shoot the nails into a stud, but the weight of the wood is supported quite well by the boards below it, so you’re really just keeping it from falling forward. The boards are not weight-bearing, so I don’t believe anchors are necessary.

    Finally, the bench/coffee table. Yes, we did make that, too. It’s the piece (besides the wall) that we’re most proud of. We purchased the unfinished slab of wood from a sawmill when we lived in Princeton, NJ. We carried it around for a few years trying to figure out what to do with it. Finally, last fall, we bought the legs from IKEA and finished it with one coat of clear satin polyurethane, which really brought out the grain.

    The mirror is from Again & Again in Dallas. Fabulous consignment shop!

    Thanks again so much for your encouragement. Creating this wall was an act of love and persistence fueled by peanut butter and Tim Tam cookies.

    p.s. Lead paint is only a problem if you plan on ingesting it, which we do not.

  • this is so amazing!! i would have been worried about how the floor would look with the wall, but it looks really great.

  • This is beautiful. Obviously the result of a great deal of hard work and ingenuity. I wish though that I had a better sense of the home this wall exists within. As it is presented I’m evaluating it as a project and not as a design element within the context of a home. Nothing wrong with that, but it is a limitation. It feels harder to personally determine whether it’s a successful project for the space.

  • I love/hate it. Not into wood walls at all, and kind of think it’s a monstrosity. But then I look again, and it’s so well put together and creative, and I really like the coloured bits. Kind of like you might think opera is awful, but you can still see that Pavarotti is an amazing singer. Well done, both for gathering all the wood, and for the execution.

  • It’s lovely!! They do this a lot on the Antonio Project – he’s always doing something with reclaimed wood on the walls.

  • Whoah! That’s intense & Awesome… Before reading I thought that would take a long time to finish, but after reading it seemed to be a lot quicker than I thought! They did such a great job & had lots of patience, I’m sure! :)

  • WOW! This is the coolest thing Ive seen in a long while! I was dinning at a Restaurant here in town, just a week ago and was admiring their wall and even in the ladies restroom too! and now VIOLA! You’ve done it! I am 2 hours North of Dallas and I am so going to do this! Im a professional Photographer and I think it would make a great wall for my studio, for backgrounds. Thanks for sharing Sarah! Hugs!

  • Ok, kitchen backsplash problem SOLVED! thank you i love it. we live just down the road from a salvage yard. woo hoo!

  • I think this is fantastic! All of your hard work and effort paid off, and the finished products is just spectacular. Way to go!

  • Fantastic! Love all the colors and various widths. Very cool. We have a salvaged barn wood entry similar to this (on a much smaller scale) in our tiny house, but this gives me courage to try it larger and with painted scraps. Neat-o!

  • Really lovely.
    I wonder if you could give us a close up shot….so much of the excitement about wood walls like these are the texture effects. Also…where does the ‘sarah’s wall link go?

  • It is really stunning. an amazing work of art..so cute and perfect choice of materials. i salute you for this great job.

  • That is fanf’intastic! Had an idea like this for awhile but sadly live in a rental. Have a different/similar idea in mind though that will at least get me my salvaged wood fix.

  • WOW! I absolutely LOVE this! Looks amazing! I am SO going to do this! However we live in AL so we are going to try to round up some wood destroyed from the tornadoes that just came through! a little piece of history too : )

  • I love the look but all I can think of is the dust and care needed. I suppose you can gently vacuum it but doesn’t collect all sorts of dust and dirt?

  • I’m in school design so this one made me light up as I read about you salvaging wood from an old high school gym floor. Such a great way to repurpose and create a stunning feature wall.

  • Amazing! I live in Dallas and am going to Orr Reed tomorrow!!! Thanks for sharing…I want to start a design blog and you really inspire me!

  • Your project inspired my latest project. I built a headboard out of re-claimed lumber and paint. I will try to post a picture somehow.
    Thanks for being inspiring!

  • How did you move the outlet forward and re-install in the thick wall? Is there a kind of outlet box for this?

    I’m also interested how you dealt with the varied thicknesses in wood. Did it play a part in the selection of the pieces of wood?

    Thanks so very much!

  • Bonjour,sur quel suport les bout de bois sont il fixer? C’est très beau je voudrais bien réaliser le mème merci

  • We already have our wood and plan to work on this job this weekend but How would you work around a baseboard and crown molding? The wood will go on Sheetrock and will be thicker than than the molding.

  • Love this wall! We are starting to plan our own accent wall and I was curious of how you guys planned out the varying widths and lengths. Did you cut before you started putting it out on your patio? Or what order did you do things in?

  • I love this! Do you mind if I ask for your “great Dallas salvage yard” locations? I recently purchased my first home in Dallas and am looking for some inexpensive decorating projects where I get a lot of bang for my buck, creating a wall like this would be perfect.