Creative team brings new life to tornado debris

Published: Monday, March 11, 2013 11:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 8:30 a.m. CDT
(CNA photo by SARAH BROWN)
Crew members film a do-it-yourself segment for HGTV's reality makeover show "West End Salvage." "West End Salvage" airs 7 p.m. Thursdays on HGTV.

DES MOINES — There is a saying, beauty comes from chaos.

This is especially true of Creston’s 2012 tornado. Not only did it bring an entire community together, but demolished trees and buildings have found new life thanks to West End Architectural Salvage in Des Moines.

A slab of Creston

On a recent tour of West End Architectural Salvage, brothers Joe and Hal Davis were quick to point out a large oak dining set made from a slab of oak from the Creston area.

According to Hal, everything in their four-story shop is purchased by him, Joe or one of their private pickers.

West End Architectural Salvage Owner Don Short said wood sourced from southwest Iowa was brought to them through a man who was contracted to do milling in the area.

“If he gets a piece that is a really nice, long slab, I’ll buy it,” said Short.

Joe Davis said much of the wood brought from Creston after the tornado was made into table tops, bar tops or coffee tables.

About the shop

West End Architectural Salvage, 22 Ninth St., Des Moines, is owned by Short — a former resident of Marshalltown and owner of Taylor’s Maid Rite Restaurant said the store came to be as a result of a successful garage sale.

“I always used to restore old homes as a hobby and often collected stuff,” said Short.

Seven years ago, Short and his crew tore down two houses on Grand Avenue in Des Moines and salvaged much of the original parts.

“I had a lot of stuff left over so we did a two week tag sale,” said Short. “And that’s how this started.”

Hal said the team is at the forefront of the up-cycling phenomenon.

“We try to stay abreast to what that is,” said Davis.

West End Architectural Salvage boasts more than 50,000 square feet of everything from custom and vintage furniture pieces to original stained glass, tin panels, doors, light fixtures and antique décor.

The brick building, which has been stripped down to expose a more industrial look of exposed beams and pipe fittings, is organized into sections, which makes it easier for customers to find what they are looking for.

The store front, which has a café, also serves as an event space hosting approximately 15 events a month.

“On Saturday, we’ll have 60 gals in here for a baby shower and later that night a hundred people here for a wedding reception. It’s a little crazy.”

Lights, camera, action!

Not only are shoppers encouraged to show up and buy décor for their own homes, they might even catch some filming of the HGTV show of a similar name, West End Salvage.

The show, which airs 7 p.m. Thursdays, is a makeover show featuring the West End crew redesigning rooms for homeowners. Each makeover includes salvaged items and custom pieces selected and redesigned by Hal and Don Davis and their chosen pickers and antique dealers.

“Since we first aired, business has grown,” said Hal.

Wandering through the store, Craig and Cathy Hinderaker of Guthrie Center carefully examined the collection of vintage finds and collectibles.

“It takes about an hour to get here,” said Cathy. “We have seen the show and thought, while we are in Des Moines, we have to visit.”

As the Hinderackers shopped, crews filmed do-it-yourself segments for the website.

On growing

If you have ever caught the show, the crew at West End Architectural Salvage is really that busy, however, they love what they do and it shows.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” said Joe.

Whether in the middle of a project or between takes, Joe and Hal will stop to assist a customer or talk about their process with enthusiasm.

“You just have to learn to leave your work at work,” said Hal. “But of course we are here all the time.”

Short said it was very flattering to be part of a TV show, but the reality is a little more daunting.

Explore the West End

Customers can explore all four stories of the West End warehouse at, visit the store front, which stands on the corner of Ninth Avenue and 22nd Street in Des Moines, or watch the show on HGTV 7 p.m. Thursdays.

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