Home Improvement is even better when you can reuse items in new and unexpected ways.

The Green Life - Adaptive Reuse: Shop Green, Save Green

by Rosa Colucci


June, 10, 2020

Now that most of the Tri-state area has moved to green, it’s time to wrap up some of those home improvement projects that you started while on lockdown. 

As tempting as it is to run to a big-box store or shop online, there is another great resource that you shouldn’t overlook — used or overrun building materials.

There are several places to find quality materials on the cheap. Online marketplaces, including Facebook and Craigslist, are wonderful to find small lots of flooring, a single light fixture, or even some leftover tile that can be used for a backsplash or for tiling an outdoor table. Sometimes items are custom orders and can’t be returned so patience can go a long way here. 

Another really cool place to shop is Construction Junction.  Located in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh, it opened its doors in 1999. Since then, the website says they have kept 57,000 kitchen cabinets, 61,000 plumbing fixtures, and more than 70,000 doors out of landfills!

They have come a long way since then when the only way to find what was there was to browse the warehouse. Now, you can shop online and check out photos. Today, I spotted a vintage Thayer Coggin Viceroy recliner ($500), a cool dropdown sideboard table ($45) that could be swell with a coat of black paint, and a really nice mid-century modern chandelier ($45). 

If you are doing an old house, then this is your place to go for replacement glass doorknobs, old flooring, vintage replacement tiles, and replacement mirrors for vintage fireplace facades. The collection of bannisters, corbels and blocks, and newel posts is second to none. 

As much fun as it is to look online, nothing beats heading down there for a day to shop. You will be inspired by what you can find and make do with. A few years back, I scored the maple floor from a bowling alley. We repurposed it into a one-of-a-kind kitchen island in an old house. Not only did it save a lot of money, it looked amazing. 

While you are at it, look through your own garage, and bring some donations down. Construction Junction takes large donations, such as kitchens and countertops. You must call first and the staff will advise you how to send photos so that they can arrange for the room and intake of the item. 

Construction Junction is open Tues.-Sat., 9a.m – 3 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 


Rosa Colucci is a features writer, color educator, and consultant. She writes a bi-weekly newsletter for The Green Voice. 

Connect with Rosa on her Instagram @rosieshouse.