If it's an antique marble mantel or chandelier dripping with crystals that you're after, visit an architectural salvage yard. But for less glamorous vintage items, such as bi-fold closet doors, bathroom vanities, double-hung windows, and kitchen cabinets, you're better off at a house-part recycling center. One such place is the Green Project store in New Orleans, Louisiana, where perfectly good used—and some new—building materials that might otherwise go in a landfill are sold to the general public for reuse.

These items end up at the Green Project in a few different ways: homeowners donate cast-offs from their renovation projects, contractors bring in new surplus materials from their jobsites, and sometimes people donate entire houses so they can be delicately "deconstructed" by Green Project crew members in order to salvage and resell all their usable parts. Then there's the dumpster diving. "We're shameless about picking things up," explained Reynolds, who, at that very moment, was eyeing a piece of "lovely, old subfloor" just laying on the sidewalk. "It's going in the back of my pickup," he said. And no doubt, somebody, somewhere, at some point, will have a use for it.

Here's a list of house-part thrift stores:

Building 99
Sarasota, Florida

Building Value
Cincinnati, OH; 513-475-6783;
Empowers people with disabilities to become more independent by providing job training in construction and retail.

Build It Green! NYC
Astoria, NY; 718-777-0132;
Funds the Community Environmental Center, which provides home and business owners with solutions for saving energy.

Gorge Rebuild-It Center
Hood River, OR; 541-387-0062;
Supports the Columbia Gorge Earth Center to promote affordable housing and ecological awareness.

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