AUSTIN, RECLAIMED.

by Megan Renart of Renard Parish (that’s a True Blood joke, y’all!)

This is Dom.

Dominick Luciano

Dom is the kind of friend that everyone wants: If he hasn’t been the best man in almost every wedding he’s invited to, he’s at least in the wedding party. Need someone to grab the other end of the heaviest piece of furniture you have left in your UHaul at midnight on a Tuesday? Call Dom. Want to bring a friend along to an awkward holiday work party and have him charm every female supervisor so that he’s voted Employee of the Month by the end of the night? Bring Dom.

Last summer, his girlfriend Juliette created a Dom-centric Austin Chronicle for his birthday, and it was filled to the brim with contributions—everyone was more than happy to offer kind, funny, and clever words about him.

In addition to exceling at being a friend, he’s a crack whiz at corporate-y, business-y stuff, and he’s an incredibly talented artist. He has a disturbingly good way—no matter where he is—of spotting an object your eyes would glaze over, seeing its potential, and knowing exactly what steps to take to bring it to his envisioned end result.

When he bought his house several years ago, he furnished it with these beautiful, conversation-starting pieces. “Wow!” I would exclaim, standing with wide eyes in front of his stone fireplace whose interior featured a weathered glass window pane backlit by lights and clearly came from an antique store for $250. “Where did you get this?”

“The salvage yard,” he’d look up and say, before bending his head back down over whatever vegetables he was chopping for dinner. This happened over and over.

It was like fiddling with a Rubik’s cube for hours and finally handing it over to an expert for assistance, and after a few seconds he hands it back, completed, but instead of a cube, it’s a shipping pallet from HEB that’s been refinished and now hangs on the wall as a shelf.

Yes. A shipping pallet. Dom found this at HEB, asked politely, took it home, sanded it down, stained it & added lacquer for shine, and now it holds pictures and other beloved items.

And this is Mary.

Mary Daniels

Mary moved to Austin two years ago from Florence, where she led tourists across its many bridges and cobblestone streets by bicycle. And that’s how she heard about Austin.

“I really liked what these cyclists were saying about their city; how proud they were,” she says. “So I moved here without knowing anybody or much else about Austin.”

Mary is a jaw-droppingly good painter.

The texture on this kills me. Doesn’t Bob’s hair look like it’s protruding from the canvas?

See that guitar over there on the right? From Goodwill. It was hollowed out, and then Mary painted a spotlight that beams down on the silhouette of musician (Bob Dylan) on the bottom. Eee gads, that’s gorgeous. And inventive. (Also: note the skateboard on the shelf with a vista painted on the back.)

Together, Dom and Mary are Reclaimed Austin. They restore forgotten furniture pieces from the past and transform them into beautiful, functional pieces for the home. “We pride ourselves on our green approach to restoration and we believe good design can be affordable,” says Dom.

I want this! Made with river brush from the greenbelt: Cedar, oak and ash sticks cut in 2-3 inch cross-sections. Add a convex mirror et voila!

This old TV cart was in rough shape: it had torn-up particle board inserts and faux wood paneling tape lining all the sides. Dom removed the tape, used a steel brush to eliminate some minor rust, and added 4 coats of metallic paint. He then took solid wood slats from a salvaged mattress box spring, and stained and sealed them for the final polished look.

Dom and Mary’s motto? Where rescued pieces become inspired designs.

And this is how my disgusting TV stand that was a bookshelf from Target and perilously close to being thrown out was transformed into one of my favorite pieces.

Just look at this repulsiveness. (I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you.)

This bookshelf is living in Barf City.

Wires snaking out from the shelves, slashes of different paint on the corners, a sadly outdated TV, and a box filled with even more wires and random accouterment from around my house that I haven’t found a place for yet.

It is an eyesore, and does not reflect the way the rest of my space is decorated. I would describe this area as “vomitous”.

As I was fixing the bookshelf with a withering stare and planning on tossing it off my balcony, Dom called from the salvage yard, demanding its measurements. He found this beautiful flooring, you see, and decided it would be affixed to the trim of the bookshelf.

It cost four dollars.

Mary and Dom arrived with a basket full of power tools and immediately started sanding the varnish off of the top, then began cutting the wood with a jigsaw.

Next, furniture glue. “Use the snake method: apply glue in this shape to avoid bubbles. Because bubbles in glue are a disaster,” warns Dom menacingly as he sits inside my bookshelf and concerned neighbors peek through their blinds.

I like to call this method “Mustard on a Hot Dog” instead.

Then, drillin’ n’ holdin’.

And now, paint.

(Small backstory: I had intended to paint one accent wall in my apartment. But I couldn’t settle on one I was fully on board with, so I wound up with a cluttered collection of tiny blue and grey sample jars. Last week I decided I would paint each square of cinderblock a different sample color, just because.)

So we took a few of these colors and decided that the brightest blue would be applied on the inside, with a silver-grey shade on the top and sides, and a muted grey-blue adorning the new trim.

We painted like this: la la la la la la la.

A little clear varnish later, some staging with some clear IKEA placemats, random liquor bottles and wine glasses, my sorry TV, and. . .we have a winner.

You must pretend this TV is a flat screen. You must…for the children.

It’s the first thing you see when entering my place, which is why, when we finished, I left and came back in several times in a row. And maybe clapped.

And we lived happily ever after.

The number of items they’ve transformed is astonishing, considering that this is not their day job and they only started a few months ago. In fact, Reclaimed Austin was actually created while Dom and Mary were at work. They would often come in each morning, hold out their iPhones and swipe through images of side projects they completed the night before.

“Both of us make stuff for our own houses and friends…that’s how it all started,” says Dom. “We don’t have a lot of money to spend to furnish our places. I redid my dining room chairs, and Mary loved them, and so she showed me a wall of pallets that she hung up on her wall. We started sharing our creative ideas.”

Picked up at a salvage yard.

Made from old reclaimed siding from an old SE Austin bungalow.

The W.E.S.T. art tour was the decisive factor: they both agreed, after expressing admiration for the other’s work for so long, that it was time to pull the trigger and show some pieces. Every night after work and every weekend leading up to the tour, they would scour salvage yards, thrift stores, and bulk trash pick up for potential items. A couple bucks for paint here and there, and a little elbow grease there, there, and there, and they had a gallery.

34 of their 40 pieces were sold that weekend.

Reclaimed Austin.

Different strengths have never complemented each other so perfectly: “Mary brings a more artistic sense to the pieces with her talent, and I can do carpentry, so it’s a good collaboration,” says Dom.

I would agree.

Check them out on Facebook to see what they’re working on next: facebook.com/ReclaimedAustin