Back to the Future

Going “salvage chic” with Timeless Materials

Wandering through the Timeless Materials barn is like going back in time. Or being on a movie set in the golden age of Hollywood. Or strolling through a carnival fun house. Heck, it’s all of the above!

For fans of architecture, vintage furniture or those just rummaging around for a conversation piece for a new home, this Ontario, Canada, salvage shop is a wonderland.

Long before reusing was cool and salvage chic was, well, chic, Ken Kieswetter knew it was the right thing to do. “Growing up,” says Timeless Materials general manager Steve Menzie, “Ken was taught to never throw anything away.” You might think it ironic, then, that he went on to set up an eponymous demolition business. But Kieswetter quickly saw the link between planning for the new and rescuing the old. And so it was that Timeless Materials was born.

More than two decades later, with reusing and recycling a must, and the trend towards using vintage pieces and structures en vogue, the salvage shop is more popular than ever. Plus, it’s helped divert 70,000 tons of materials from landfill.

The most popular purchases? According to Menzie, customer’s are after fireplace mantels, reclaimed flooring, remilled timbers and tables (especially harvest style). And corporate customers come calling, too: Timeless Materials has done custom work for MAC cosmetics, Roots and Starbucks, to name a few.

Still, there are those days when something more unusual is requested.

There was the year Kieswetter and the gang built an entire barn out of reclaimed materials and shipped it to Australia for the film The Recruit (starring Al Pacino, Colin Farrell and Bridget Moynahan). Another barn was bought by a proud grandfather who wanted to set up a petting zoo for his grandkids.

Never fear, there are still plenty of interesting items on offer. There are six-foot-long granite sylphs; a giant rod from an old ship, a hand-carved cherry staircase from a Quebec convent; the entire entranceway from the Queen’s Hotel in Owen Sound, Ontario; fir flooring stained red with wine and the inflatable structure formerly used by the Kitchener Rangers hockey team. Even the barn that houses the Waterloo location of Timeless Materials was rescued by Kieswetter — it was a building slated for demolition!

“Sometimes, there’s a story behind the salvage,” says Menzie. “Just ask!”