Introduction

Exploring and Discovery

Joshua and Jessica Welcome You to their Blog

Exploring hidden corners of the globe, discovering the unusual, seeing the spectacular and encountering unexpected finds in architectural salvage is our mission. Bringing them home to you is our pleasure.

Through trial and error, we found that the road less traveled is the journey that yields extraordinary treasures. We found each journey, not only generates a mother load of irresistible finds, but also tells a special story.

Sharing Stories

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We hope you follow and enjoy the stories about the treasures we find and the journey it took to get them. Let us know your ideas and thoughts as they’re important to us.

We’ve been asked by many of our customers to tell them about our travels, what we saw, our interaction with the people, the food, and the excitement of the discovery. They want to know about the items they’re buying, where they come from, their history, and how we found them. They want to see photos…lots of photos, and we love to share them. They enjoy taking home the finds and the stories.

So, it seemed obvious… Ta Da… drum roll please…Welcome to our blog.

Our Bloggers, Owners of Tampa Bay Salvage

Josh White

Job Description—Owner, operator and visionary of Tampa Bay Salvage, Palm Harbor Florida

Quote—“I love what I do. It gets me up in the morning and dreaming at night”

Loves best about his work—  Helping people create their own unique special environment for both commercial and residential

What gets the adrenalin pumped—The anticipation of discovering new finds.

Jessica White

Job Description—Co-Owner, Marketing Director, Manager of Tampa Bay Salvage, Palm Harbor Florida

Quote—“Spreading the word about who we are and the fantastic architectural salvage we have.”

Loves best about her work— Meeting the diversity of great people who come to our shop, even from other states.

What get the adrenalin pumped
— Seeing it grow so quickly with custom orders coming in from around the world.

Hungary’s Architectural Salvage

Salvage Finds from Hungary

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Mr. Vite and the Chauffeured Audi

Seems like we predictably arrive at our global destinations, exhausted and incoherent. This time was no different. Of course, on route, we had 4 kids under 10, to drop off at Grandmas in New Jersey. Two of ours and their cousins. Those that have experience 4 boys all under 10, in close quarters, eating candy non-stop, understand.

Touchdown– Ferenc List International Airport. Greeting us outside the baggage area was a figure clothed in black, holding a sign above his head with, “Mr. Vite”. Clever guy that I am, I knew he was there for us. With my best friendly face and enunciating carefully in English, “White? Joshua White, I confirmed? He nodded in the affirmative. Wasting no time, I hurried Jessica and myself into the car. Some place between fatigue and excitement I realized we were being chauffeured in a super luxury class Audi. I had no ideas why we qualified for this hoity-toity perk? But, I decided to enjoy the ride. Jessica slept.

Passing fields of sunflowers everywhere, thirty minutes later, the Audi pulled up to a palatial mega structure. To my surprise the Le Meridien Hotel, which we were expecting to stay at, was now the Ritz Carlton. The reputation of Le Meridien Hotels had peaked my personal and professional curiosity, as Le Meridian is known for their understated, historic elegance. Disappointed, yes, but I’d get over it. After all, ‘whatsasowrong’ with the 4.5 stars Ritz Carlton, and smack dab in UNESCO’s World Heritage district.

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Picasso, A Matter of Taste

While our Hungarian contact was ready to jump into work, we decided to relax for 48 hours, get rid of the jet lag and enjoy some tourist activities. Then, full tilt into work mode.

After a deep sleep, turning over and going back for more, we prepared for town. First stop, the Picasso Exhibition. I’m more a fan of his earlier work, pre 1910, before he became mainstream and entered the cubist movement. It’s my thing, but Jessica is slowly getting into it. I’m into Impressionism to neo-modern. Jess favors Renaissance. Fun to share and stimulating to talk about.


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Finding the Find, Where You Least Expect-A diversion in the dialog—

Speaking of art and painting, not long ago, Jess and I were walking near the beach and passed a large impressive home with a trashcan filled to the brim. Being true to my ‘salvage’ profession, I couldn’t help but snoop around. Poking out the top among the jettison, was part of a frame. I pulled it out. It was industrial in color with an urban theme and signed. I‘m skipping some of the story, but the gist is, the painting was a collectable, painted by the father of Cubist movement in Philadelphia. In fact, the artist, still living confirmed it was his. Salvage can be anywhere. Back to Hungary.

Impressions of Budapest – Is the Danube Really Blue?

The beauty of Budapest is indisputable. Clean, historic, grand, and very aesthetic. The Danube which flows through 10 countries, graces the waterfront and yes, it is blue and other colors as well, depending on the geography.Breathtaking bridge engineering, stunning architecture, and park design, all contribute to this memorable city. However magnificent, our attention was riveted on facades and architectural elements: doors, windows, friezes, gates, railings…the suspense mounting on what salvage treasures would reveal themselves to us in this great city.

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Street Encounters

Jessica finds it easy to start a conversation with anyone. Shortly before our Hungary trip, she met an enthusiastic young woman on face book, whose goal and passion is to study opera. She keeps herself afloat by bartending, with aspirations to go to Julliard. The conversation continued in person when we met her at a cozy bar she recommended. After a few glasses of Hungarian wine, she was coaxed into singing. While your computer speakers may not be top of the line Bose, you’ll get the flavor of this talented lady in the video below.

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Trending Concepts and Creative Twists

The camaraderie among us was very enjoyable, the bar’s décor intriguing. Designers took a diversity of salvage and made it work, plus added new twists in contemporary furniture design that I hadn’t seen. They integrated diverse styles which melded harmoniously–– a different look, not yet seen in the US. I made visual and mental notes.

We’re always on the look-out for trending concepts and creative twists—In Hungary we saw these in shops, restaurants, high end offices, coffee houses and spas. Armed with inspiration, we brought back sketches and photos to tantalize and engage our customers.

Discovering the Loot

Good contacts—fair prices and outstanding product availability are golden.

All three points are required to not disappoint our clientele. Add to that, limited time to make the catch. We love the adventure and the challenge!  (May I add, most of the time!).

With noses of a bloodhound, off to the “find” we went. Some of the “loot” was from surrounding countries as well as Hungary. Not unusual. In Europe, where countries’ boarders are contiguous and open, objects from other countries always turn up in the find. Stash from this trip included items from Slovakia, Serbia, France, and Romania.

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“Salvage”…the New Kid on the Block

What makes salvage so attractive? With strong interest in the salvage market, buyers are looking for items that tell stories and add pizazz. While antiques; historic, refined and often times scarce will never go out of fashion, it’s time for “Salvage”…the new kid on the block.

Add weathered carved door, a gate, in their natural state, to a home, restaurant or even office. Results, the wow factor. Utilitarian and sizzle, salvage brings interior decor to life. It creates an ambiance that the forward thinking, architects, designers and independent buyers love. Salvage could be referred to as antiques on steroids.

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On the Hunt for Idiosyncratic Finds

Our trip yielded wooden work benches, a wine press, wine barrels, windows, facades, keystones, architectural pieces, plumbing items, utilitarian kitchen and bathroom items, fixtures, iron gates, fencing, earthenware, an ox cart , a motor cycle from WW2, buggy, (no horse) and more.

Being a kitchen and bath lover, I sometimes see an item I have to have. I know 1% of people visiting our shop would not entertain buying it, but it’s a ‘gotta have’. Surprisingly, that 1% walks in and wants it.

Jessica on the other hand, can spot a find a mile away and know it will walk out of the shop before it arrives. Her blue eyes spot the unique–a cross from 1852, nice find. It was a grave marker cross with names on it and an 1830’s rare stained glass piece, of Peter being arrested, found in the dirt beneath her sandals, (really true).

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An Ending Worthy of Comment

Near the end of our trip, after an intense buying day, we were enjoying a glass of wine or more at a popular bar called ‘Szimpla’. It’s an old industrial warehouse, catering to old and young alike– packed. The open airy space was imaginatively designed with super interesting salvage.

Sitting not far from us was a large solid looking man, arm wrestling with patrons. Before I knew it, Jessica, finishing up her second glass was up and approaching him for a challenge. Of course he let her win. The crowd applauded.

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Bali 2: Déjà Vu and Reclaimed Glass

Bali 2: Déjà vu and Reclaimed Glass

Back on land we ran into a shop owner selling reclaimed polished glass. Beautiful, rich in color, quasi natural and when viewed at different angles almost kaleidoscope like… what a product! I chuckled to myself and took a quick trip down memory lane. My family was producing these 15-20 years ago and now it’s being reinvented. One never knows when or what markets will pop up and where. Of course we bought all he had. We know what our customers love.

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Spotting the Treasures

Having a business such as ours, demands quick but solid decision making. Jess and I are a team and compliment each other—we have the same agenda, different styles. Jess has a great eye, she sees things I don’t and she knows that piece will go and it does…..like lightening. She’s the queen when it comes to one of a kind finds. I have more of a practical nature, knowing quality and pricing and can bargain well.

Operating with no middleman, allows us that extra margin of investing power­­–– buying right so our clients benefit and so do we.

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Bali Wood, the Best on the Planet

There are tremendous amount of trees, literally everywhere. Whatever they are doing it is eco friendly, albeit not without challenges to expansion. The variety of wood is extensive. Perfect conditions for growing… anything can grow. The wood grains from the tropical trees are finer, the wood denser, resistant to rot and decay and are less likely to warp and bend.

The slabs are huge and we’re already sold out –Some of these slabs come 200ft tall trees, and could be 1,000 to 2,000 years old. They are felled by storms, soil erosion and other natural phenomena. These beautiful woods are the best available in the world today.

The Bali wood business is a family industry, everybody works, its a family  affair, from sales to production and has been for generations—There is no high tech machine, pressed wood or short cuts. Its pegs and dowels. The furniture is built, not “put” together, it’s top notch at a price that is more than equitable.

For my friends, those that want to know more about the different wood, check out the information provided at the end, which was found on the internet.

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Wow, the Taste of Off the Tree Coconut Water

The Balinese people we dealt with love Americans, are smart, respectful, warm, and laid back island people. They have a passion for craftsmanship and a love of beauty and genuinely appreciated the admiration we showed for their products. That’s when they took us to see the real gems in the “back room”!

We were always asked and served refreshments. Picked moments from serving, a coconut would appear with the cool, delicious coconut water inside. Ambrosia! It was not unusual to be given gifts including special ones for our two boys. What a way to do business and its part of the culture!

We are happy to introduce our customers to this market, where we guarantee they will find a treasure to enjoy. Bali, we will be back!

The only draw back and I stress the only, is, it is a 22 hour plane ride from Florida. Oh well what’s a little sacrifice!

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Quick Primer on Types of Wood

To give our readers a better description of a few of the tropical woods we encountered, we have included a brief list below. Thank you internet!

Albesia Wood

For colorfully painted folk art style carvings that do not need a lot of carved detail the carver will choose albesia wood. Albesia is a sustainably grown soft wood perfect for this type of carving as it is easy to grow in Bali’s rich organic soil. These fast growing trees are ready to harvest with in 5 years.

Suar Wood

Suar Wood or monkey pod is a type of mahogany. This wood is also sustainably grown in Indonesia. The heart of the wood is darker than the outer layer, creating an interesting two-toned grain. This wood is known for it’s tight, inter-locking fibers that are resistant to cracking, making this wood the perfect choice for larger, thicker carvings.

Teak Wood

Teak has been and continues to be highly desirable. Due to deforestation world wide it now demands a higher market price. Teak is a large, deciduous tree that occurs in mixed hardwood forests. It has small, fragrant white flowers. Teak is one of the most sustainable types of wood. It is one of the hardest, strongest and most durable of natural wood

Frangipani Wood

Frangipani, known for it’s beautiful fragrant flowers is often used by Balinese Master Carvers  for fine art carvings due to its tight fine grain.. The wood will often be chosen by the artist from trees in their own gardens, based on age and unique shape of the wood. Carvings made from Frangipani are one of a kind, as the artist will envision the form with in the wood.

Hibiscus Wood

The color is white with gray heartwood, the darker heartwood  makes for distinctive two-tone pieces. As the wood ages, the gray wood develops a greenish patina , which can create a very distinct look. This wood is usually left the natural color to be polished to a very smooth satin finish. Often the choice for Master Balinese Carvers to sculpt unique one of a kind and detailed fine art carvings.

Crocodile Wood

Crocodile or Satin, a hard wood, is it called so because of the nubby outer bark that resembles a crocodile skin. Inside reveals a creamy white colored wood, which looks like ivory when it is waxed and polished. Balinese artist will use this wood for carvings that are more detailed and higher in quality.

Bali 1: Cockeyed Romantic

Bali

Cockeyed Romantic

It’s true, we fell in love. Call us romantic, call us naïve or foolish, but we had thoughts, dangerous ones, ––trade in the business and mortgage, for a more gentle and simpler way of life–– in Bali. Coming to my senses and my real life obligations, practicality seized me. I realized we were in Bali for business.  My dear wife Jessica and awesome partner, continued day dreaming, at least for a while.

1-20160327_164702Business and Pleasure Mix Well in Beautiful Bali

Jess and I consider this one of our best trips ever. The quest to find “the hidden gems” was exciting, with our bounty far exceeding our expectations.

In fact our newly purchased inventory was walking out of the door before it even arrived at our Palm Harbor warehouse.

Bali accommodations were very comfortable and priced extremely fair. A nice, clean place with private pool is $15 to $20 per day.

Jess and I are working at being the seasoned travelers, which we love, but our palette is more provincial when it comes to food. Truth be said, we ate at the same place every day. The innkeepers got to know our peculiar preference for minimally seasoned food and kindly provided it.  We’re working at waking up our taste buds!

The Bali people really care and respect the buyer. They want our business and in many ways are advanced in commerce, making it a pleasure to do business with them.

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Scooter Phobia

The mode of transport is definitely the scooter. Traffic is ridiculous. Hundreds, no thousands of them pack the roads. There may be traffic police, but we never saw them. If there were rules of the road, they weren’t evident, except, make a move and do it fast. Scooter drivers come out of nowhere, everywhere. Terrifying.

Jess was the far better driver.  I knew people would look at us and it was disturbing to my male psyche, but staying alive won out. I slapped the keys into Jess’s hand and jumped on the back. I was intimidated, but not Jess.

As the scooter passenger, I realized, if you moved too fast, as in driving a car, and did not feel the wind, you’d loose the story and lush beauty that is Bali, and that’s the wonder of the scooter and rational for being a scooter passenger—amen.

Soaring Cliffs and Sacred Temples

 After a good first night rest and being way too excited to sleep more, we jumped on our scooter. With Jess at the stern, off we went to absorb Bali. The winding road with verdant rice field panoramas were taking us to the famous Uluwatu Temple.

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 The Uluwatu Temple is spectacular! Overlooking the Indian Ocean, built centuries ago, 250 feet above sea level and on the edge of a cliff—a heart thumper. A stone stairway leads to the top. The tourist challenge besides the enormous amount of steps is the width of the stair. Built hundreds of years ago, people had smaller feet, especially the Balinese. Vitamin built Americans have large feet, which don’t fit comfortably on their stairs, giving one the insecure feeling of toppling over at any moment, It’s intensified on the way down. Brave tourists that we are, we forged ahead.

Evidently, a movie with Julia Roberts, “Eat, Pray, Love” was filmed here some years back. Spotting American tourists, must be the trigger for locals to start chanting, Julia Roberts, Julia Roberts. Who knows, maybe it’s a code we have yet to decipher!

BTW, the magnificence of detailed carving is evident in the temple architecture and its embellishment. The same style continues to be produced in their crafts today.

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Monkey Business

Hundreds of monkeys roam along the path outside the temple. The monkeys lie in wait to get glasses, earrings, anything sparkly from tourists, including snacks. Out of the blue, one jumped on my back wanting a free ride. Pretending to be brave, and suppressing a loud scream, I dislodged him and came off looking like Bruce Lee. I was cool, my wife proud.

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Boats that no Longer Float

I love the water and fishing, so it’s not unusual for me to hang around the beach watching the fishermen come and go and ask questions. That’s how I found out the ultimate in Bali recycling. Once their long tailed boats, made from teak, mango and other hardwoods are retired, they are recycled into furniture——tables chairs, chests, benches, bars—The festive tropical colors weathered by time and conditions, form a patchwork-like design, very pleasing to the eye, contemporary and with an island charm.  Unique and only found in Bali.

We met the families who are responsible for making the items. We got to know them and they found out more about us, including showing photos of the kids and dog.  Generations live together; they are very family oriented and spiritual, which they incorporate into their daily life. So, it’s no longer impersonal, but very real and personal. It’s a dimension that adds richness and pleasure to our lives, it’s real.

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Josh Saves a Turtle

Looking at the clear aquamarine water compelled me to go fishing. My wife knows my love for this and the sweet lady that she is, encouraged me to book a ½ day fishing excursion, even thought she gets sea sick and in tranquil water. Being on Indian Ocean was breathtaking, the fishing not so much.  On board was a large turtle, destined to be dinner. I could see my wife’s face and read her mind. Call me the ugly American if you have to, but I hoisted the turtle back into the water to live another day. It was worth it seeing her eyes sparkle. The turtle winked, then swam away.

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Sri Lanka 1: They Love Americans

Sri Lanka

They Love Americans

Landing in Sri Lanka, Jessica and I were greeted with (in Ayubūvan), “May you live long.” The greeting was warm and friendly from people who genuinely like Americans, even though there are not many who visit this tropical island in the Indian Ocean…yet!

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Colombo to Kalutara

Dog tired, but filled with excitement, we drove from the airport to Colombo. The main city was filled with bustling and lively crowded streets, along with a multi ethnic populace of Hindu, Buddhism and Muslim culture. This history dates to over 3,000 years back. The sights and sounds were exotic with a mixture of modern life and colonial ruin. The English and Dutch architecture is still very much evident, and quite impressive.

Exhausted, we found our way to the guest house in Kalutara and fell asleep without dinner. Invigorated and ravishingly hungry, we were awaken the next morning with smells of one of the most delicious and memorable breakfasts––traditional Sri Lankan pancakes made from local, fresh coconut milk and rice flour. Soon after, we met up with our trusted guide, colleague, and friend, Aroush who is a native Sri Lankan, now living in Florida. Off we went into the Sri Lankan back country!

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Temples and Elephant Orphanages

There was so much to do, experience, and absorb. Our travels took us to the southwestern tip of the island, Galle, a major city. It had magnificent Dutch-colonial buildings and beaches. Kandy was the next stop with marveled us with its ministries, temples, elephant orphanage, and lakes. We forged onto Sigiriya next. Its unforgettable ruins of an ancient civilization, sitting on top of a rocky outcrop, with vertical walls that soar nearly above the clouds were breathtaking. We were in another universe, discovering magnificent salvage finds along the way.

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Sri Lanka 2: The Craft of Tranquil

Sri Lanka

The Craft of Tranquil

I have always loved hand carving, the tradition passed down from generation to generation. It was particularly special to witness fathers teaching their sons the trade of carving gorgeous woods. Master carvers accompanied by their apprentices were in every village we visited. Here, in Sri Lanka, they take their time and produce wonders for the eye and for touch. They are truly masters of their trade. They frequently carve what they see, like elephants and designs from nature. Statues of a tranquil Buddha or scenes of fisherman and wildlife are also recurring themes. This is all by hand, no power tools––the detail is miraculous.

Carver’s Art

In several cases we saw woodworkers carving large blocks of mahogany, indigenous to Sri Lanka. This particular species mahogany grows no place else on the planet. One block was a series of elephants and foliage. The artisan was into it already for 4 days and he had a long way to go— meticulous work–– fascinating to observe… it was a work of art.

Tuk tuk Anyone

Jessica, my wife, and I love traveling and meeting people.

We met a man we connected with immediately, he’s a tuk tuk driver––called a tuk tuk because of the sound the vehicle makes. His motorized vehicle is a tiny, covered 3 wheeler, which is kind of like a taxi over here. It’s the easiest way to get around. They’ll take you to the jewelry store, craft stores, restaurants, anywhere. If you buy, they get a commission. It’s a way of doing business and helps get everyone involved. We clicked right away. He enjoyed fishing and so do I.

Win Win

There is a joy in what we do, but, it is dedicated work. Our prime objective is finding amazing things that our customers want, at prices that are affordable. We really do go that extra mile (no pun intended), discovering items that can’t be found anywhere else. Every piece we buy, we enjoy. We buy them because they are neat, cool, and always come with a story…a slice of history. There’s no third party in what we do.

We go off the beaten track. We go direct. We do all the planning, preparation for shipping, paperwork, and fumigation of containers….the whole enchilada.

 

Sri Lanka 3: The Prize

Sri Lanka

The Prize

In addition to the hand carved items we found, we brought back astoundingly beautiful wooden slabs. These came from giant trees, which were naturally fallen. Nature toppled them, not the chain saw. These trees when sliced were found to be up to 8,000 to 10,000 years old. Astounding isn’t it? The wood grain is resplendent––simply exquisite.

We’re making some extraordinary tables—4’ wide and almost 20’ long. Sri Lanka wood craftsmen are busy making coffee tables, side tables, conference, and dining tables for us. The tables made out of the wood we find, is a story unto itself.

Sri Lanka is host to many tropical hardwoods seen nowhere else and quite unheard of in most instances. Take Black Mara, for example. It is a scarce and highly prized tree found at the edge of forests and takes on a golden luster when polished.

 

Then there is Spalted Tamarind; a beautiful exotic wood often found lying on the forest floor. The rotting effect on Tamarind creates the spalted look that varies from piece to piece.

I had no idea what “spalted’ meant, so thought I would include its definition, compliments of Mr. Webster.

Spalted ; adjective–– (of wood) containing blackish irregular lines as a result of fungal decay, and sometimes used to produce a decorative surface The lines also can be pink to gray and even a variety of colors in the same piece of wood.

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Fresh and Delish

Our travels took us through lush verdant jungles with scents of vanilla and cinnamon. Aroush took a side road as we were traveling. Excitedly, he shouted over the noise of the jeep, that he wanted to show us something.

Soon, we found ourselves in a dense jungle, with cobra holes all over the ground. In front of us was a scene too magical to be real. A stand of tropical fruit trees, too many to count, all laden with ripe, lush fruit– an abundance of delectable mangoes, guava, coconut, passion fruit, sapodilla. Sapodilla is a flavorful fruit that tastes like a pear with brown sugar. There were so many others I had never heard of. We stuffed ourselves silly with the sweet juicy fruit.

Joy of Laughter

Along the rutted dirt road, near the fruit trees was a car, packed with kids, 15 or more doing the same thing we were, having an “off the tree” snack of pure deliciousness.

Jessica, who kids love, immediately made friends with all of them, or should I say Jessica and her cell phone. The kids were wildly enthusiastic, taking photos of each other under Jessica’s direction. On the way back to our seaside lodging at beautiful Kalutara, Jessica remarked more than once, how full of life and happiness these kids were.

Sri Lanka 4: Spectacular Finds

Sri Lanka

Spectacular Finds

I love the colonial architecture. Sri Lanka has it well represented by the English, Dutch, and Portuguese. The Europeans came over and influenced the whole country. The architectural monuments are spectacular and the architectural salvage– divine!

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Among our unique finds and major conversation piece is a striking earthenware tub, from 1905. I’ve never seen a freestanding model like this. The tub isn’t stamped but probably was brought over from England at the turn of the century. A wealthy European most likely brought it over, as this item, is something only the rich or super rich would have had.

The Sri Lankans are tearing down the old. We’re buying these salvage treasures (their history) and bringing them back. Our inventory is new (old) and exciting thanks to Sri Lanka: doors, paneling, windows, lattice, antiques. All one of a kind, never to be duplicated.

We hope you are as excited as we are about our Sri Lanka “finds.” In the world of architectural scavenge; these are some of the best of the best. As far as the wood slabs, they are super rare.

We value the friendships we made in Sri Lanka and the treasures they have allowed us to take with us to share with others. We carefully choose the people we will do business with to ensure we work with those we trust, respect, and those that practice a green approach to the environment.

Everybody should visit Sri Lanka to experience these gentle, artistic people who genuinely greet you with, “May you live long” (in Ayubūvan).