Today’s post will be short on words and long on pictures–you’re welcome :).
My delightful brother Luke and sister-in-law Dimitra are in town and I was trying to think of a new place to take them when it hit me — Materials Unlimited! Luke rehabs historic houses and vintage furniture as a hobby, and I knew this architectural salvage mecca would tickle his fancy.
Materials Unlimited has been around a loooong time. My parents used to shop there in the 70s. At that time, the store was in a warehouse in an industrial area. When that building was destroyed by a nearby warehouse fire, they relocated to a historic building in downtown Ypsilanti (pronounced “IP-suh-LAN-tee” for you out-of-towners). It’s the perfect building to showcase their fantastic wares.
Even the basement stairway is beautiful.
The company salvages fixtures, furnishings, and trim from historic properties and refurbishes them as needed. Walking through the show rooms is like taking a walk back in history. Most items are labeled with a date of manufacture and often a location. Sometimes there are even pictures of the original setting. The store also sells supplies to repair vintage furnishings and you can order modern versions of old classics like claw-footed tubs if you’d like.
Their collection has lots of gorgeous Arts and Crafts and Art Deco furniture and trims. We bought our mantel from them when we built our current house in 2003. It’s one of those small investments that can have such an impact on a room…it knocks off the sharp new edges, adds warmth and character. We had bookshelves and cabinets built to match its style. There are also many other design periods represented in the showroom, but I always zero in on my favorites.
Need hardware for your vintage home or desk? They have tons, carefully sorted. Doorknobs, pulleys, hinges, you name it, they’ve got it…old doors, sinks, cast iron tubs, faucets, grates.
I always appreciate attention to detail. Even the signage at this store is packajectic! That’s a Smith family word (a family of 12 kids develops its own lexicon) that cannot easily be defined but this lettering is a great example:
I’ve saved the best for last. THE LIGHT FIXTURES are to DIE FOR! So many unique, beautiful pendants, chandeliers and sconces. Whatever you seek, they have it–glass and metals in all shapes, colors, sizes, and patinas. I have a friend with a gorgeous vintage chandelier over her dining table that I’ve threatened to steal on more than one occasion. I really should just buy my own at Materials Unlimited…but like a kid in a candy shop, I have a hard time making a decision.
Can you blame me?
One more featured beauty before I leave you to peruse the gallery below… the beautifully restored Michigan Theater is a favorite Ann Arbor landmark. It seems like people paid more attention to beautiful design in the past. I hope someone finds a similarly spectacular home for these gorgeous Art Deco theater lights.
PS: FYI regarding prices…you don’t go to a specialized store like this for bargains, but I have to say their prices are quite reasonable. Considering the quality of materials, the knowledge of the sales staff, and the carefully curated collection, this store is a Midwest Gem. I have been to plenty of antique stores all over the country that charge more for so much less.