Archive of ‘My Books’ category

Tips on picking wood and furniture for that next home project

Seeing the Forest through the Trees, Some tips on picking eco-friendly wood for that next home project.

Here are stacks of gorgeous reclaimed wood at Mason Brothers Architectural Salvage Shop.

Are you building a home, adding a floor or purchasing a table? Well you don’t have to give up being environmentally friendly just because you need wood, a slow-growing renewable resource, for the project. Instead follow a few of the tips below and you can leave your environmental guilt at the (salvaged) door. Have fun! My best, Joanne

The coffee table is built from reclaimed wood from an old weaving loom.

Think Antique, Second-hand Furniture, Custom Made:

Furniture is obviously big part of wood industry. Even upholstered furniture needs wood for framing. Going the route of antique pieces, furniture made from old wood, or second-hand furniture prevents the need of using new wood. Or consider having a piece made out of reclaimed wood, for example, my coffee table is made from an old weaving loom. Many local woodworkers will make custom pieces. You can ask one of your local salvage shops or reclaimed wood centers for a list of names of carpenters who work with reclaimed materials. For second-hand furniture you can easily find it at your local furniture consignment shop, antique shop, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill or even online on Craigslist or Front Porch Forum. or or do a search for locally made furniture with reclaimed wood. You’ll be surprised what is available to you.


All the cabinets in this kitchen are from reclaimed Douglas Fir from the old Port Authority Building in Portland, Oregon built by Cabinet Maker George Ramos.

All the cabinets in this kitchen are from reclaimed Douglas Fir from the old Port Authority Building in Portland, Oregon built by Cabinet Maker George Ramos.

Consider Recycled and Salvaged Wood:

Reclaimed wood can be anything from 2 x 4’s just taken down from a recent house to vintage 1880s floorboards.. Old wood, doors, and other wood-salvaged materials not only keep you from using new wood but it also keeps these products out of our overflowing landfills. My island top is made from 1880’s Douglas fir that was from a railroad building. Wood is as different as your designs are, so choose wisely…thicker wood for island tops, thinner wood for wall paneling, tongue and groove for flooring…etc.


The floors are local cherry wood from a certified forest and the table is a vintage Stickley dining set. Both great examples of new and reclaimed wood.

Shop Local:

When purchasing wood for a building or other projects consider local first. Purchasing your wood from a sustainable managed local forest, whether or not it is certified, is good for the forest, the watershed, the community. A forest that is managed correctly, following sound forestry practices, will have an environmental impact far greater than simply good management of the trees themselves. A well managed, and/or a certified forest, will positively impact area watersheds, for example. Added bonus of buying local wood?  Transportation needs go down, which is also good for the environment.


Here I am, looking for salvaged wood for a mantel project.

Here I am, looking for salvaged wood for a mantel project at the rebuild center in my town.


When you shopping online, at a larger retail store, or you if are not sure about your local forests’ sustainability practices, always look for certification. There are many types of certification. One of the most credible forest certification programs is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It is an independent, international nonprofit organization that sets a strict environmental and social standard for sustainable forest management. Their website,, gives you information about their organization and places to find local FSC products and services. Look for their logo or ask for FSC certified wood.


Even the smallest pieces of wood don’t have to go to waste. This gorgeous cutting board made from a variety of reclaimed wood species took the artisan a couple of weeks to make.

Rethinking Design Can Mean Less Waste:

Most woods have a variety of grades. Knowing which grade creates the least waste can help save wood and lower your costs. Number one common (sometimes called third grade, or rustic wood) cherry, for instance, is a more basic grade of wood with more knots and color variation, then for example, clear or first grade, which is free from most visible defects and discolorations.  Each wood has variations in their grading system, grain and cut, so take a few minutes to learn about the wood you want.  But no matter which wood you choose, opting for a more “perfect” wood will result in more waste. Remember, that older salvaged wood is from a natural forest where the growth rings are tighter which makes the wood much harder than wood that is grown faster in a managed forest…so even when it is a softwood – if it is from an older tree – it can be very hard…get to know your options and your woods.


reclaimed wood comes in all shapes and sizes. These old porch posts have a new lease on live as farm house table legs at the Mad River Barn.

Reclaimed wood comes in all shapes and sizes. These old porch posts have a new lease on life as farm house table legs at the Mad River Barn.

Avoid the Endangered List:

Teak and mahogany from old growth forests in Brazil or Indonesia are places that suffer from over-forestation that not only devastate the forests but the communities around them as well. With the number of sustainable wood and non-wood options, there is no need to continue to support over-forested woods.  If you must use Teak, make sure it is reclaimed or certified.  These same types of wood, from certified managed forests, can be just fine to purchase. This is where certification is important — do not use a tropical or exotic wood that are not certified. And stay away from endangered forests.

Never Judge a Piece of Wood by It’s Cover

I always tell folks to never turn their backs on ugly reclaimed wood — because there is a swan underneath all that grim and years of oxidation. If you are looking for wood — bring a piece of sand paper with you and a water bottle. That way you can sand a bit of the top off and then moisten (to get the feel of what it will look like with polyurethane, shellac or a wax sealer on it.)

Here is what the wood looked like before we made sliding barn doors out of it.


Here is the design project “after” the wood was sanded and cleaned and sealed. Mad River Barn design project.

Demand Action:

First and foremost, get involved. If you (or even your community) are building, remodeling or purchasing lots of wood, do it with a conscious decision to choose the right kind by following the above guidelines.  Also, avoid pressure treated, or chemical treated wood, much of the inexpensive wood (including particleboard), contain toxic substances that can off gas and are not good for you or the planet. Encourage your retailers to carry wood from well-managed forests. Remember, it is all about supply and demand. If you demand protected, well managed forests, then you’ll get them.

Salvage Secrets and Salvage Secrets Design & Décor.

Salvage Secrets and Salvage Secrets Design & Décor. Internationally acclaimed books by Joanne Palmisano, Photography by Susan Teare.

For more information about wood, designs and other great ways to decorate using reclaimed wood and other earth-friendly ideas, I hope you check out my books, Salvage Secrets and Salvage Secrets Design & Décor.





Research…Getting Ready for Round Top, Texas

Packing up, pages from my books, my walking vintage Frye’s and my custom made vintage fabric, ToTem handbag, that I can sling over my shoulder.

I love research, I mean if I didn’t I would not have been able to write two books, that’s for sure. So as I prepare to do a book signing at Marburger Farm Antique Show at Round Top, Texas, I want to make sure I get all my ducks in a row for the extra time I have for SHOPPING! I’m going to spend Wednesday shopping and Thursday morning, 9 to noon is my book signing (hope you drop by). I’ll also be raffling off some cool stuff!

Photo by Meghana Gandi, Full Article, Huffington Post

According to an article from The Huffington Post, Round Top, is the best antique fair in the world! “Touted as the largest antiques fair in the United States, the event, which has been around since the 1960s, attracts more than 2,000 vendors who descend upon a 25-mile stretch of Highway 237 from Burton to LaGrange.”

Yikes, I don’t think I gave myself enough time to check it out! Next year…

The Howdy is the program for the Marburger Farm Antique Show. Here is just one of the many pages…

But for those of us who love more than antiques, will be thrilled, because the show has everything…antiques, vintage, retro, modern, crafts, architectural salvage pieces, repurposed materials, and flea market goodies. A cornucopia of beautifully displayed salvage goodness! At Marburger Farm, where I’ll be this time, they have a program called the Howdy, which lists all the dealers, where they are and gives helpful tips and information to all who visit.

Joanne shopping at vintage fair

I always try and wear a hat, that covers my face but isn’t cumbersome, when I’m at shows, fairs and flea markets.

So what am I going to bring, water, cash, checkbook (some dealers don’t take credit cards) and a great attitude! Looking at the maps (which I love by the way) I have found where I want to stop for food, where I can ship stuff and how I can get some WIFI, since I hear reception can be spotty. I’ll check the weather in advance and bring the sunblock (I am coming from Vermont, where the lake is still frozen over) and a jacket I can wrap around my waist if need be. I’m bringing along my sisters as well, more hands to carry stuff (but don’t tell them that).


Bev, the owner of Bel Sole, is a salvager as well, and has transformed this home into a beautiful B&B. I can’t wait to see it!

Thankfully, I’ve book at room at cute B&B, less than 10 minutes away, Bel Sole, so I’ll be well rested and fortified for a second day of treasure hunting.

Here are some other folks articles about what to know about visiting Round Top. Hope to see you there!  My best, Joanne

Rachel Ashwell’s Tips

Country Living Magazine’s Guide to Round Top

The Vintage Round Top Best Tips


Combo Deals…Interior Design Book Set Holiday Discount Offer

You think only chain fast-food restaurants have combo deals? It’s not true! I’m happy to announce, the publisher of my books, W.W. Norton (New York/London) has a great holiday offer. They are offering over 30% off if you buy the Salvage Secrets 2-book set with the DISCOUNT CODE…SALVAGEX2

When you go to BUY Books and Check Out  type in the special discount code in the check out section. The discount will show up once you ordered.

Salvage Secrets Books Joanne Palmisano

(yes, it is snowing on the books and yes, that is my potted holiday tree)

If you know someone who loves looking through interior design books, flea market magazines, DIY projects and antique, salvage & vintage design decor ideas-they will love this holiday book package gift offer! 

Architectural Digest, Apartment Therapy, HGTV, and many, many more magazines, online sites and top newspapers have loved the books!

The total for both books will be only $52.00 (+ ship). Easy Holiday Gift Idea for the Interior Design Book Lover on your List.

Thanks! Happy Holidays Joanne




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13 Before and After DIY’s!

Just got back from the Country Living Fair in Atlanta and had a blast giving three presentations! What I loved were the audible gasps at the Before and Afters! So in honor of the amazing folks who came to the presentations and bought books (sold out!) here are 13 Before and Afters (and links) including a very easy Halloween one you can do. Thanks for following. Enjoy! Joanne 

Loved doing this DIY NETWORK project — Upcycling an Old Dresser. You’ll find the step by step very easy!


One of the DIY NETWORK Videos I was telling you about! 8-part series. This one was about How to Build a Farmerhouse Dining Table.


Another awesome DIY! How to Turn an Old Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity. DIY NETWORK Video Here…


LOVED this interior design project for a small inn, restaurant and pub in Vermont. The Mad River Barn is a very popular place. Hope you get to visit it!

The lobby at the Mad River Barn. We used old doors to face the front of the counter and the rest of the left-over ladder for the magazine rack…

Instant change for a piece of remnant rug! Easy DIY to make a striped area rug. Check out the step by step on DIY NETWORK.

This was quite a transformation. The light fixtures are made with real turkey feeders and the vanity is made from salvaged piping and wood. Mad River Barn Project.

Light up your walkway for Halloween! One of my favorite EASY DIY’s I’ve done for DIY NETWORK! Make Your Own. :)

Salvage Secrets Design & Decor has about a dozen DIY’s in it — this is one of them :) Old kitchen cabinet turned into a coffee table — so simple and affordable, you’ll love making it!

This room is filled with Salvage Design! This one of the DIY NETWORK videos, Designing with Salvage, Redoing Your Fireplace.

Office Credenza’s are not a thing of the past — they are perfect for a RETRO looking home bar! Would you like that shaken or stirred? Thanks Apartment Therapy for having this be a before and after on your site.

Transform an old picture frame into a chalkboard list! Another fun DIY NETWORK project :)

Love how popular these budget friendly armchair slipcover redo project is — who would have thunk it :) Painter’s tarp and some spray adhesive is how you start it…the rest of the instructions are here…


Columbus, OHIO…the Country Living Fair!

If you’re in or near Columbus, Ohio this weekend, September 11, 12, 13…come by the Country Living Fair. I’m presenting on Friday and Saturday-- with over 130 photos (combined) of salvage design, vintage decor and DIY projects! I’ll also be signing my books — Salvage Secrets and Salvage Secrets Design & Decor. This is an amazing event filled with great vendors and special guests! Yes…that’s a picture of me in between Danny Seo and the Beekman Boys — No pressure there :)  See you at the Fair!

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