Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 25, 2013

Savvy homeowners turn to used materials to spark up their abodes

BY CYMBRE FOSTER Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The solid maple doors in Del and Diane Knapp’s Traverse City home look like they’ve always been there. Truth is, they were a lucky find on a treasure hunt of sorts.

The Knapps bought their decades-old house three years ago, and decided to renovate it based both on their lifestyle and with the idea of maintaining its historic integrity.

They removed walls to open the living area, reused what was in the house, and hunted for used building materials to create a unique and inviting living space.

“When we put the house back together we wanted to find pieces that were from the same time period of our home,” said Diane Knapp, who suspects their home was built in the 1920s or ‘30s.

The search took them to area resale stores chock full of used building materials and supplies — from used sinks and light fixtures to hinges and hardwood floors.

One place they frequented: Odom Reusable Building Materials, a full-service salvage, deconstruction and retail building materials operation. Odom’s takes materials from commercial and institutional jobs and resells them.

Odom’s 9th Annual Used Materials Home Tour, set for April 7, will showcase creative and innovative ways that reusable materials have been incorporated in area five homes, including the Knapps’.

Del, who is a contractor with Blue Chip Builders, also reused a brick chimney in the basement.

“It’s that old brick that you see downtown Traverse City and he sliced it and created an accent wall in the kitchen,” said Diane.

The couple transformed an old dresser into a unique bathroom vanity cabinet and the living room is anchored with a mantle they found at Odom.

Del also transformed old tin ceiling tiles and vintage doorknobs into a coat rack that hangs in the entry. A vintage claw foot tub from Odom is a bathroom centerpiece.

Diane said their search was enjoyable and also offered environmental perks.

“The whole process is pretty cool,” she said. “People may not realize the quality of what they’ll find out there like our maple doors. And it can’t be any greener doing this. We’re keeping this stuff out of the landfills.”

The April 7 tour includes James Kudlack’s home near Elberta in Benzie County. His passion for collecting and reusing materials morphed into five buildings, what he calls his labors of love.

“Four of the five buildings were basically made bit-by-bit and pile-by-pile,” he said. “I have an eye for building materials, antiques, garage sale finds, things free on the side of the road and places like Odom’s.”

Kudlack said he would like others to know just how cheaply beautiful and unique dwellings can be built. “These are all quality, finished with drywall with hardwood floors,” he said.

Tour sites will include homes located in Traverse City, Onekama, and Benzie County, as well as at the Odom location where a used material solar heat collector and other used items will be on display.

“I look forward to this event each year and being able to see the creative ways that people have reused materials,” said owner Bruce Odom.

Tickets are $10 per-participant for a choice of a guided or self-guided tour. Reservations are required.

Participants in the guided tour will car pool from the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market at 10:45 a.m.

Those interested in a self-guided tour should make reservations prior to the day of the event and stop by Odom at 5555 Brentwood Ave N. in Grawn to obtain tour information before or on the day of the event. Homes will be open for tours between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

For reservations contact Rachel Pulcifer at or at 989-573-2604.