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Making Ends Meet by Way of Rubbish

Marc Steiner/Agency New Jersey for The New York Times

Published: June 17, 2009

Consider home-related reality TV shows as an economic barometer: in the fizzy sub-prime era, get-rich programs like A & E’s “Flip This House” and Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” filled the airwaves. Now there are more recession-appropriate shows, among them DIY’s “Operation Salvage,” which follows the Whites, a Barnegat, N.J., family whose members run an architectural salvage business called Recycling the Past and spend their free time on thrifty projects like making dining tables out of scrap wood.

Matt White, who works alongside his brother, Josh, and his father, Steve, took a break from his seven-day workweek to chat.

How do you differentiate between junk and something valuable?

Nothing is junk. But often you get called last minute and have 24 hours to get everything out of a house. You have to focus on the best investment for your time.

Like what?

Old-growth wood, for example. Years ago, chestnut trees were killed in a blight, so the only way to get that wood today is with salvage materials.

Do you salvage big items, too?

We took four 40-foot-tall limestone columns from a nursing college in New Jersey. People say, “Why did you bother with that?” Well, who else has got it? I don’t care if I sell them or not. It makes our yard look great.

Has the recession affected your business?

Things are tight, but people still want to work on their homes. To get a custom door built might run you $500 to $3,000. You can get that from us for maybe $75.

Did you use salvage in your home?

We brought in stained glass from a house in Westchester. The flooring came from a barn in the Shenandoah Valley. The sink is from a house in St. Louis. The countertops are railroad car floorings. Walking around the house, there are so many stories.


More info on Matt White’s show & work.


Host Matt Whites Provides Unique Ways To Add Character And Value To A Home

NEW YORK – May 7, 2009 – Matt White, architectural salvage expert and host of DIY Network’s new series, Operation Salvage finds innovative ways to turn building materials such as rare Indian castle doors, Ancient Greek Pillars and railroad ties from the Australian Outback into some of the coolest furniture and decorative items ever seen. Tune in to see ratty boards become amazing floors, rusty iron transformed into a flat screen TV stand, and doors turned into amazing kitchen cabinets when Operation Salvage premieres on Monday, June 1 at 6 p.m. ET. The series will air every night from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. ET from June 1 – 5.

“I have been recycling materials since I was a kid,” White said. “I credit my father for my love of construction, carpentry, landscaping and re-creating and being able to work with him and my brother on restorations makes the experience of seeing the transformations that much better.”

White is co-owner of Recycling The Past, an architectural salvage shop and family business in Barnegat, N.J. which is housed in two historic homes, circa the 1820s and 1860s. He also refurbished his personal 1851 residence with all salvage items. White and his family use cranes, Bobcats, wrecking balls, hammers and more to tear through abandoned structures hunting for unusual, old objects to restore. At the top of their wish lists are immense Victorian sandstone mantles, 19th-century porticos, tiles, huge walnut doors, antique brick, and claw-foot tubs. When they can’t find these, they turn raw materials into wholly new decorative items

For more information about Matt White, Operation Salvage or DIY Network’s experts, tips and home improvement programs, visit the network’s companion Web site at Members of the media may also obtain additional press materials, talent bios and show images by registering at DIY Network’s online media newsroom. Viewers can also become fans of DIY Network and interact with other home improvement enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers through facebook. DIY Network is available nationwide on DISH Network Ch. 111 and DIRECTV Ch. 230, and additional cable channel designations may be found by checking local listings and


Written by agencynewjersey

06/18/2009 at 12:16 am