Introduction

a coat rack made from a salvaged antique column
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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Columns are a bedrock of traditional architecture. Used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as graceful supports for porches and porticos, they help define the style of a place. The sum of three parts—a capital, a shaft, and a base—columns can be fancy, with a fluted body and scrolled volutes on top, or simple and smooth, with a stacked-ring crown.

The earliest columns were carved from stone to match the great temples and monuments they adorned, but most American ones from the past century or so are made of wood, just like our more humble homes.

Because columns were typically used in multiples, you can often find matching ones at salvage yards today. This allows repurposers like me to reuse a series as porch supports, but it also expands our options for creative projects. A row of columns in a great room, for instance, allows you to define different activity zones without erecting walls or blocking views.

If you find only one column, don't fret. You can slice it in half lengthwise. For my reuse project, I kept a single column whole. Fitted with shapely brass hooks and standing about 6 feet tall on a new plinth base, it's the perfect coat tree. I love how the fluted shaft and the egg-and-dart molding on the capital add a touch of formality to what's an otherwise casual entryway. To learn how to make your own coat tree out of a salvaged column, keep reading.
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    Tools List

    • carpenter's pencil
      Pencil
    • multi-bit screwdriver
      Screwdriver
    • paintbrush
      Paintbrush
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • combination square
      Combination square

    Shopping List

    Wood column

    6 coat hooks with screws

    Circular wood plaque

    Three open-ended boxes
    (8-, 10- and 12-inch square)

    Wood screws

    Painter's tape

    Wood glue

    Paint (small sample pot)

    1 quart clear acrylic polyurethane