Move Over Mechanics: Interior Decorators Are Grabbing Up Salvage Yard Car Parts

Posted on: 4 August 2016


Vintage, rustic and industrial-looking auto parts are being scooped up by home designers and creative DIYers who are turning every auto part imaginable into works of art, furniture and other useful and decorative items.

You might wonder how artists and tinkerers think up all of their amazing auto-parts ideas, but you can do the same thing with some insight and imagination -- and a trip to your local auto parts salvage yard.

Things you'll need at the yard

Bring along a mechanical friend with tools when you go check out the gearhead-worthy decor possibilities in the vehicle scrap lot. Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding the perfect fat chrome bumper and having no socket wrenches or screwdrivers to remove it from the car. A friend who has even a basic knowledge of cars and a tool set will be invaluable in helping you dismantle and bring home your treasures.

Collect car parts in a vehicle you don't mind getting dirty, or protect your vehicle if you do mind a mess. Car parts are greasy and grimy and will leave awful marks on carpet and upholstery before they are cleaned up for use as decor. Place heavy plastic sheeting or tarps in your trunk before setting any car parts inside. Borrow a friend's pickup truck if possible.

Wear a set of thick work gloves in the scrap yard to protect your hands when examining and carrying sharp metal parts. Also bring baby wipes or some other method of cleaning your hands after sorting through the vehicle-parts offerings. This will keep grease from staining your clothes, steering wheel and vehicle interior.

Start with the simple things

If you want to add some garage decor to your home, start with simple projects. Used tires and tire rims are easy to source and to work with, because they're not too heavy or large for most people to handle. Remember the suppleness and strength of the materials in the tires and tire rims as you imagine ways to use them around your home.

The soft, flexible tires make great planters, seats and sink enclosures. They can be painted in any color to match house trim or to stand out more boldly. Think of areas in your garden where you need borders or soft rubber cushioning and make up your own solutions with tires.

Sturdy, heavy-duty tire rims can also be used for a variety of furnishings including as table or seating bases. A wheel rim is often made of steel and can be modified to be used as a fire pit, stacked and welded with other rims to create a pot-bellied stove, or painted and hung up to use as a hose reel.

Salvage a dream car with a project

If you've always wanted a certain vehicle, find one in a salvage yard that's half gone due to a wreck or storm damage. You only need the front end of a car to make an awesome desk. The front ends of trains, buses and trams also make great fireplaces, while gutted muscle car front ends are being converted into retro BBQ grills.

A wrecked dream car with a decent rear end can become a loveseat or a backyard swing. Pull out leather or vinyl seats to make a breakfast booth or man-cave lounger.

Car hoods are being hung up as headboards, and old pickup truck beds are becoming the bases of actual beds. It's even possible to use the bottom half of a sports car as the base of a pool table

Study articles and DIY guides written by people who have recycled and re-purposed salvaged used car parts to get inspiration and technical know-how for your own unique auto decor. Check back at the scrap yard often as they receive new shipments of cars on a regular basis. Let the vehicles themselves give you fresh ideas on how to incorporate their individual character and components into your home or office environment.