Tag Archives: antique mantels

Reminiscing

Returning to work last week, we flipped our calendars to the new year and began our annual tradition of “tidying up” the showroom. In between assisting customers, answering phone calls and returning emails, we attempted to do a little house cleaning behind the front counter. It was during this process that we pulled out a drawer of old photos. One by one, as each photo was pulled from the drawer, we began reminiscing about how far this small, family owned business has come. 2017 will celebrate Southern Accents 48th year in business!

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

 

This year will mark 17 years since Garlan, Jr. returned home to take over the business for his Dad, Garlan, Sr., who founded Southern Accents in 1969. There have been many changes over the years. The showroom itself got an unexpected facelift in 2011 after surviving a horrific day of dangerous tornados that ripped apart Cullman’s downtown area. While Southern Accents online presence was established in 2000, the last few years we have garnered a social media following that numbers in the tens of thousands. In recent years we have expanded our business to include reclaimed wood and have ventured into designing and creating event staging. But, as the business continues to grow and expand in new and exciting areas that were unimaginable 48 years ago, many things remain the same. We have not lost our love and passion for architectural antiques. That love, passed from father to son, is still the core of our business.

As we continued to filter through old photos, we laughed at how much the faces have changed. But in the background of each photo, beautiful architectural relics can be seen. Claw foot tubs, heavily carved doors and mantels, glistening chandeliers, stained glass windows… the same quality of antique relics that started this business 48 years ago still exists today. The only difference is that the relics, along with ourselves, are all a little older!


The “What” of What We Salvage

A question we are often asked regarding our salvage projects is, “What all do you salvage from a house?” To answer that question… We will salvage any architectural element from a structure that can be safely removed in good enough condition that we believe can be reused or repurposed. Architectural elements can include any or all of the following: doors and accompanying hardware, door frames with trim, crown molding, wainscoting, fireplace mantels, sinks, tubs, light fixtures, wood flooring, floor joists, baseboards, wood walls, wood beams, newel posts, stairways and railings, decorative wood trim, decorative tile, ceiling medallions, porch posts and columns, windows, garden gates, iron fencing and at times brick and stone.

Quite often, before we can begin a new salvage project, the first thing we do is remove items from the house that have been left behind. Most often these are small items or furniture that have been stored away in the attic. Once these items have been removed, the real work begins. When salvaging a house, we basically “deconstruct” it. The first elements that we remove are typically the last elements that were installed in the house such as interior doors, mantels, bath and light fixtures. Once these items are removed, we then begin pulling the wood. We start at the top of multi level structures and work our way down. The last items taken are structural elements such as wood beams, columns, and posts.

Most often the property owner will schedule a demolition company to come in right behind us. If we are salvaging brick or stone from the structure, we will often coordinate those efforts with the demolition crew.

We are typically given a set amount of time to save what we can. At times we may only have a single day! Several years ago we were given the opportunity to salvage wood from a house that was scheduled for demolition. We worked hard for a full day pulling as much wood as we could. We arrived on day two to continue our efforts only to discover that the fire department had already set the structure ablaze! Once we begin a new project we work as efficiently as possible to ensure that we are able to save as many elements as possible.

We believe our work here at Southern Accents is truly preserving our history through salvage. We’ve recently added items to our New Arrivals page that were saved during phase I of our latest salvage project. In the coming days, we will be returning for phase II. Make sure you are following along with us on our social media accounts as we continue what will be our largest salvage project to date!

Here are a few of our latest finds!

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

 

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

 

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques


Greenville Salvage Mission

Southern Accents latest salvage mission took us to Greenville, Alabama to this fantastic 1890’s house. The house, which has been vacant for a few years, featured some of the very best craftsmanship that we have seen to date. Amongst the dust, chippy paint, and attic full of bats, were splendid columns topped with spectacular plaster ionic capitals, tiled fireplaces with white oak and mahogany mantels, cast iron surrounds, large solid wood doors and diamond paned windows just waiting to be rescued! And the wood… from the sky blue bead board on the porch ceiling to the magnificent heart pine flooring, the wood that lay in this house was simply amazing!

The 1890's house in Greenville, Alabama contained some of the finest workmanship that we've ever seen.

The 1890’s house in Greenville, Alabama contained some of the finest workmanship that we’ve ever seen.

Every salvage mission that we embark on is different from the one before. Old houses especially seem to speak to us, each one in it’s own unique voice, as if it has a story to tell. Upon entering this house, each of our team members felt a sense of peace. This particular house gave off a “happy” vibe. While salvaging the property, we had the opportunity to visit with two sisters who grew up in the house. As they walked with us through each room, they fondly shared with us some of their memories. They remembered moving in to the house as young children. Their parents had reached an agreement with the owner, an elderly widower who needed someone to assist in taking care of him. The couple and their four young daughters lived in the three bedroom one bath house and, in return, they cared for the owner until his death. Not having any family to leave the house to, the owner sold the property to the family for $10 before his passing.

This beautiful house is one that we would have loved to see restored.

This beautiful house is one that we would have loved to see restored.

Southern Accents mission is to rescue, restore, and repurpose architectural elements of historical significance. It is never our goal to destroy a property. We only come on the scene once a building has been scheduled for demolition by the property owner. This house is one that we would love to have seen restored. We are, however, thankful to have been given the opportunity to salvage all the beautiful architectural elements from this house before it was taken down. In our continued preservation efforts, we are documenting this salvage mission. We pictured this property before beginning any salvage efforts. We also had our in-house architect take measurements, draw blueprints and are currently researching for more history and information on the property. We will be taking all of this information and publishing it on our website and blog as well as keeping a printed copy in our showroom. This is our way of ensuring that information on this magnificent house is available for future generations to enjoy, just as the items salvaged from this house will be enjoyed for many years by their new owners.

The heart pine wood flooring throughout this house was gorgeous.

The heart pine wood flooring throughout this house was gorgeous.

Please visit our New Arrivals page to view many of the remaining items salvaged from this house.

These spectacular interior columns are topped with plaster ionic capitals

These spectacular interior columns are topped with plaster ionic capitals

The wrap around porch showcased more columns topped with plaster ionic capitals and a gorgeous sky blue painted porch ceiling.

The wrap around porch showcased more columns topped with plaster ionic capitals and a gorgeous sky blue painted porch ceiling.

This spectacular white oak mantel was one of five that we salvaged from the Greenville house.

This spectacular white oak mantel was one of five that we salvaged from the Greenville house.

Tin spire salvaged from the top of the Greenville house.

Tin spire salvaged from the top of the Greenville house.

Written by: Lisa Jones


Frosty, Philly, & Fortuitous Finds!

Southern Accents Architectural AntiquesThe second week of February was a very interesting week for Southern Accents! The prior week Garlan traveled north to Philadelphia on a buying trip… apparently a truckload of beautiful Architectural Antiques was not the only thing he brought home! North Alabama was turned in to a winter wonderland last week as we experienced two rounds of winter precipitation… a sight we very rarely see down south. While the beautiful white powder kept most of us at home for several days, we stayed busy posting all of the fantastic new finds from Philly to our New Arrivals page. If you haven’t visited our website lately, here’s a peek at just a few of our latest additions!

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

View all of the items shown above and many, many more by visiting our Website or our showroom in Cullman, Alabama. Give us a call at 877 737-0554 to inquire on these and other unique architectural antiques and salvaged finds!


To Paint or Not To Paint?

A frequent topic of conversation among our customers is the question of whether it is ever ok to paint a piece of antique wood furniture or architectural piece. There are several arguments that can be made in favor of painting, as well as taking a hands off approach, to leave a piece in its original stained condition.

If your piece is a collector item and/or you are concerned about retaining the value, then you may want to take a hands off approach where painting is concerned. Most collectors want the finish of an item to be as close to the original as possible. If the original finish happens to be painted, the time worn patina not only adds character to the piece, but could also add value if it is original. Resist the temptation to add a fresh coat of paint or lacquer before you consult with an expert so that your hard work does not take away from its value.

Another argument for retaining the original finish on a piece would be if it is a piece of historical significance. Any item that has a documented history should be kept in its original condition if at all possible. Even if the piece is damaged, restoring the damage usually will not increase the value.

Birdseye Maple Mantel -  circa 1890 from the Bruner house in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Birdseye Maple Mantel – circa 1890 from the Bruner house in Little Rock, Arkansas.

We would also not recommend painting rare and exotic woods such as birdseye maple, curly pine and burl walnut, to name a few. The grain patterns of these woods are exquisite and rare. Covering them with paint, in our opinion, is a crime. We recently rescued a mantel that was covered with several layers of white paint. We decided to strip the paint from this mantel and were so glad that we did. What we discovered is that the wood beneath all that paint was birdseye maple. This discovery drastically increased the value of this historical piece. We were also thrilled to be able to uncover and expose the natural beauty of this rare wood.

An argument in favor of paint is if your antique piece is one that you will keep and use in your home and retaining the value is not a concern. The finish may become more of an issue of personal style and coordinating your treasure with your homes décor. If the original finish does not fit the color or style of your room, painting can be a viable option. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, while the worn finish and imperfections of an antique piece might be prized by some, others might see it as an eyesore. While some collectors and purist would argue that it is never ok to paint an antique, the bottom line is that if you are the owner and the one living with the piece, you need to be happy with it. A nice coat of paint can give a needed face lift to a weathered door or add interest to a time worn dining room table.

Written By: Lisa Jones

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS

If you are considering painting your antique piece, we recommend looking at the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®. This paint is easy to work with and requires little to no surface preparation. It can be used on just about any surface so its use is not limited to wood items. Various techniques can be used with the Chalk Paint® that will give your piece an old or antique look… or bring out the natural wood grain. This paint is available from our friend Teresa at Vintage West. If you are within driving distance of Cullman, Alabama, we highly recommend checking out Teresa’s Chalk Paint® classes!

Another product that we highly recommend for stained or natural wood pieces is Briwax. Briwax is a unique blend of beeswax and carnauba wax that naturally cleans, stains, and polishes. It is available in clear and nine wood tones from Southern Accents. We do not recommend using oils. Oil can soak into the open grain of wood and over a period of time can turn it black. Natural wax however will help restore the finish and is preferred by collectors and most craftsmen.


The Life Of A Mantel – Behind The Paint

When we were first contacted regarding our interest in salvaging the two 1890 houses in Little Rock, Arkansas that were scheduled for demolition, we marveled at the pictures sent to us. The exterior pictures would have been enough to catch our eye. The interior pictures are what produced a jaw dropping reaction among our team. The pictures revealed some of the most beautiful architectural pieces we have seen in our 54 years of business. The pictures that garnered the strongest reaction from us were the mantels… all seven of them! Beautiful, majestic, carved mantels, each one framing elegant tile sets. Several of the mantels were purchased on location, so we only returned to Cullman with four, one of which was a painted mantel. Being painted, the wood grain was covered. We weren’t expecting to find a surprise ‘behind the paint’. We immediately sent the mantel to our wood shop to have the paint stripped off and to our surprise and great delight we discovered that underneath all the old paint was an exquisite mantel made of birdseye maple. This mantel quickly moved to the top of our favorite item list!

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

Birdseye mantel in the strip tank.

We only see an artifact made from birdseye maple about once a year. It is a rare wood not commonly seen in antique items except in high quality pieces. Back when all furniture was made by hand, birdseye maple was only used by the most skilled artisans. It was a rather difficult wood to work with. The fine threads of the wood would easily catch and tear the grain. Because of this, items made from birdseye were extremely labor intensive. Many sawmills when faced with a run of birdseye would cut and use it as firewood! Today modern tools are available that make working with this stunning wood much easier.

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

The mantel top in the strip tank. The natural beauty of the wood showing as the old paint dissolves.

No one really knows for sure how or why this pattern occurs in the wood grain. It is found in several species of wood but is most commonly seen in hard maple. The very distinctive pattern resembles tiny, swirling eyes that disrupt the smooth lines of the grain, somewhat reminiscent of a burl but not quite the same. Could the cause of this phenomenon be some tiny pecking birds deforming the wood grain or possibly an infectious fungus or insect? Perhaps it is the result of a genetic mutation. The exact cause is irrelevant. One doesn’t need to understand the reason to appreciate the sheer beauty of this magnificent wood!

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques

Birdseye mantel, stripped of the old paint, waiting for the final cleaning

The stripping process on this mantel is complete. It is now awaiting it’s final cleaning. The original beveled glass mirrors will be reinstalled and the mantel will take it’s place in our showroom. This birdseye mantel is currently for sale and can be viewed online by Clicking Here. We can’t wait to discover who the lucky new owner will be, but when the time comes this is one of those rare pieces that we will be sad to see leave our showroom.

Birdseye mantel before it was removed from the 1890 Bruner  house in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Birdseye mantel before it was removed from the 1890 Bruner house in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Written by: Lisa Jones

Edited by: Garlan Gudger, Jr.


Arkansas Salvage Project – Picture Gallery

Salvaging historical artifacts from these two 1890 Victorian houses in Arkansas has been an exciting challenge. The architectural pieces that we are rescuing are true works of art. These photos were taken upon our arrival in Arkansas. Please enjoy.

1890 Brunner House - Arkansas - February 2013

Brunner House – February 2013

Plaque from Natural Registry of Historic Places - 1890 Brunner House in Arkansas

Plaque from Natural Registry of Historic Places

Beautiful tile set and fireplace front from 1890 Victorian house

Beautiful tile set and fireplace front

Carved, solid wood mantel from 1890 Victorian House

Carved, solid wood mantel

Tile set and fireplace front from 1890 Victorian House

Tile set and fireplace front

Solid wood mirrored mantel

Solid wood mirrored mantel

Beautiful 1890 Victorian house

Beautiful 1890 Victorian house

1890 Victorian House - Arkansas

Side view

1890 Victorian House - Arkansas

Beautiful trim work and finial

Tripp Gudger on the front porch - 1890 Victorian House - Arkansas

Tripp Gudger on the front porch – 1890 Victorian House – Arkansas

Tile set and fireplace front are some of the most beautiful we've ever seen

Tile set and fireplace front are some of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen

Solid wood, mirrored mantel with side columns

Solid wood, mirrored mantel with side columns

6' pocket door from 1890 Victorian house

6′ pocket door

More pocket doors

More pocket doors

Yet another gorgeous tile set and fireplace front  fron 1890 Victorian house

Yet another gorgeous tile set and fireplace front

Impressive solid wood carved mantel

Impressive solid wood carved mantel

Solid wood staircase from 1890 Victorian house

Solid wood staircase

Beautiful newel posts from 1890 Victorian house

Beautiful newel posts


Mantel Press!

We love to see our architectural antique pieces featured in magazines. Sitting in our showroom, we can visualize the potential beauty of every antique piece that we acquire. It is something extra special to see one of our pieces fully restored and all dressed up for a special photo shoot! Currently there is a mantel that was purchased from our showroom that is enjoying a feature in two magazines; the Winter 2013 issue of Freshstyle magazine as well as the January/February 2013 issue of Southern Lady Magazine.

freshstyle-mantel2

Both magazines feature this beautiful mantel in a Colonial setting. A wash of bookcase paint mixed with water was applied to a blue base coat to give the mantel an aged patina.

southernladyjan13-mantel2

Another beautiful mantel purchased from Southern Accents can be seen in the “Creative Ways with Holiday Fireplaces” feature in the November/December 2012 issue of Southern Lady Magazine. This stained mantel which features side columns, hand carved detailing and a beveled mirror can be found on page 49.

southernladydec12-mantel

If you are looking for the perfect mantel to dress up your fireplace we have a showroom and warehouse full of potential candidates! Many are completely restored while others just need a little tender loving care. You’ll find a large variety of sizes and styles in both full and half mantels. Give us a call or visit our showroom in person or online at www.sa1969.com.

 


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