Experts Vintage Sourcebook

Restaurant designers are creating fabulous spaces with salvaged and vintage pieces, using everything from Thai wooden railroad ties to 1960s Sputnik-style lamps.
Vinegar Hill House
Vinegar Hill House’s designer, Sam Buffa, turned reclaimed wood into tables and old bleachers into banquettes. Photo courtesy of Josh Farley.

Vintage meets eco-conscious in the designs of some of the best (and best-looking) new restaurants around the country. Tables are made from reclaimed old-growth wood, for instance, or lighting fixtures are salvaged from a landmark hotel. For many designers, the goal is to create a space that feels personal and one-of-a-kind. “I like the sense of authenticity that reclaimed and vintage pieces provide,” says Shawn Hausman, who filled Butcher and Singer in Philadelphia with everything from armchairs from a 1960s cruise ship to white resin floor lamps from Miami Beach’s neo-baroque Eden Roc hotel. Here, four designers share their favorite vintage and salvage sources.

Vinegar Hill House

Courtesy of Ingalls Photo

Vinegar Hill House • Brooklyn, New York

Co-owner and designer Sam Buffa was inspired by the neighborhood’s industrial heyday in the 1800s.

Chair Up Retro-looking bentwood chairs ($125;

Grand Brass Lamp Parts For fixing flea-market finds (

Olde Good Things Reclaimed wood that Buffa turned into tables (from $650;

Recycling The Past Bleacher boards used for banquettes ($3.50 per linear ft;

Secondhand Rose Vintage wallpaper from the 1940s (from $100 per double roll;

Van Dyke’s Restorers Cast-iron shelf brackets ($13 a pair;

Butcher and Singer

Courtesy of Starr Restaurants

Butcher and Singer • Philadelphia

“We wanted to reference everything from classic steak houses to old Hollywood nightclubs,” says designer Shawn Hausman.

Architectural Artifacts The bull’s head from Uruguay ($5,000) and griffin water spout ($165;

Glo Mid Century Modern The Sputnik-style chandelier ($3,750) and gold-leafed fixture ($3,775; 305-758-2727 or

Magnolia Gastropub

© Jennifer Yin/Eater SF

Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery • San Francisco

“The space was built in 1903 and was once a pharmacy,” says owner Dave McLean, who kept the medicine drawers by the bar.

The Wooden Duck The bar and tables, made from salvaged old-growth Douglas fir (from $1,900;

The Sink Factory The cast-iron bathroom sink (from $600;

Urban Belly

Courtesy of Yasmina Cadiz

Urbanbelly • Chicago

“We wanted to mix color and minimalism, to be eco but understated,” says designer Yvonne Cadiz-Kim, chef Bill Kim’s wife.

The Golden Triangle Tables made from 200-year-old elm wood salvaged from a house in China ($8,500), stacked stools from scraps of weathered Thai teak ($350) and benches from Thai rosewood railroad ties ($2,200;

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PUBLISHED August 2009