How This Maker Salvages Wood From The West Coast


Meet The Maker

Preston Browning, Salvage Works

As owner of Salvage Works in Portland, Preston Browning’s pieces are known for an aesthetic that is especially warm and rich with history. He has more than 30 years of experience in the business of giving new life to wood that would otherwise be destroyed or lost. Browning and his team traverse the West Coast in search of beautiful but abandoned structures for repurposing (one of his most memorable salvages is an original Oregon Trail homestead). Once the Salvage Works team gets the green light to disassemble an old barn or granary, the wood is hand-sorted and kiln-dried in their workshop before being remade into paneling, shelves or furniture. Most recognized perhaps are their “wow walls” installed at local favorites like Coava Coffee Roasters and Bollywood Theater, among other projects, such as Capitol Bar (above). Here, Browning gives us a peek into his process and inspiration.

On the evolving Portland design scene: We’re seeing more of a creative mix of rustic and modern elements–looks with bright colors and clean lines that still maintain a natural and cozy feeling. Given our climate and the seasons in the Northwest, we crave warmth in our interiors.

Inspiration of the moment: The wood that really has me intrigued is blue pine. It has incredible coloring–light yellow and blue tones–in wavy organic lines. Our clients are using it for shelves, shiplap wall cladding and mantelpieces. We can’t get enough of it!

What makes a piece of wood really special? Each piece of wood tells a story, from when it was milled to how it weathered over the last 100 years. The history of the piece creates its unique character. We tell the story of the wood through our One Barn, One Build initiative, which captures the history of each barn, the story of the family who built it and what was grown there. We work with an archivist to track down as much information as possible, then take gorgeous pictures, and share that with our customers.

On the future of Salvage Works: We’ve seen more and more customers visiting us from out of the area, and we’re also looking forward to increasing our visibility in Seattle, the Bay Area and Los Angeles.