Alto couple preserves history 1 nail, board at a time with 'Living Vintage'

JACKSONVILLE (KTRE) - Blogs, Pinterest, salvage yards, and decorating magazines are just some of the places where you learn "vintage" is in.

East Texas News met an Alto couple who believes the trend is much more than a passing craze Friday. The couple, which owns a company called "Living Vintage," was working in a Jacksonville home that is more than 100 years old.

A prominent Cherokee County landowner once lived in the turn-of-the-century house. It must come down. Living Vintage is hired for the home demolition, but no bulldozer for company owners Kim and Mark Gaynor.

"That's definitely not our style," said Mark Gaynor, co-owner of Living Vintage. "We salvage old houses, so we're taking them apart board by board."

As Mark Gaynor removed a board from a wall in the home, he explained, "What I'm doing here is what I call skinning this wall."

The Gaynors give old boards new life. The weathered wood, the beadboard paneling, windows and doors, and all the rest will be building material for new homes with the vintage look.

"You can't get a vintage style with new materials," said Kim Gaynor, co-owner of Living Vintage. "We are selling material to people who are wanting to do the same thing we're wanting to do."

Like the Gaynors, their customers want to design and build environmentally friendly vintage cottages.

"It's a real sense of satisfaction that we're gonna create something that is really special out of it, and we're going to save these old houses from the landfill or a burn pile," Kim Gaynor said.

The Gaynors average up to 80 percent salvage from an entire house.

Everything has potential. From the pine floors …

"They're real easy to refinish, and they'll come out looking gorgeous," Mark Gaynor said.

To the wall boards once covered by cheesecloth wallpaper.

"We would use it exactly as it is now," Mark Gaynor said. "We would finish an interior wall with this."

Living Vintage's owners said sometimes it feels like the walls are speaking to them. In this particular house, it was pretty obvious. Written above where the stove probably was at one time in the home's long history is the phrase, "The way to a man's heart." And above the sink, "A woman's work is never done."

Kim Gaynor can relate. However, as she pulled hundreds of square nails from the old home's vintage boards, she didn't complain. With each yank, she knows she's saving history.

"Because, by the end of the day, you can see what you've accomplished," Kim Gaynor said.

Life is different for this former corporate manager and commercial photographer, but they wouldn't have it any other way. Living Vintage fulfills a dream and will someday provide others their dream home.

Living Vintage is currently seeking a land partner to develop a vintage pocket neighborhood. You can find more information on the company's blog, Facebook page, and Website.

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