Though it doesn’t pertain to salvaging a traditional building material, such as a door or cabinets, Second Use wanted to take a moment to highlight a terrific salvage story by one of our customers.

Julie Caviezel and her family have designed and moved into a five-bedroom house in Gig Harbor. As she worked to fill up the newly acquired space, she right away turned to all things old. Sifting through Craigslist’s free section one day, she came across an old piano. Because pianos are so difficult and expensive to transport, many people leave them behind when they move, and the new tenants or landlords end up giving the pianos away for free. Even though the piano was covered in spider webs and had significant water damage, Caviezel saw past the years of neglect and fell in love with what the piano could become.

To salvage the piano, she called a piano expert named Dan Skelley. He took one look at the piano and told her it belonged in a landfill. “I told him, ‘That’s a horrible thing to say!’” Caviezel says. Upon further examination, Skelley again told her his first opinion stood. Still, Caviezel encouraged him to tune it and talk later. After a couple hours of working on the piano, the two sat down, and Skelley played “Nocturne” by Chopin. Caviezel remarks that it was the most beautiful song she’d heard. She was moved to tears. Skelley stopped playing and said, “I was wrong.”

Caviezel couldn’t have been happier. “I just look at this piano that is a beautiful work of art, and it breaks my heart that it was abandoned and forgotten. These [old items] have a soul, almost. I really feel like that. I think it’s important to stay connected to the past.”

Connected is the operative word. When Caviezel looked through the bench’s sheet music, she found an old music book stamped with her high school’s music department—Washington High School in Kirkland. “I just feel like I’m connected to the piano, somehow,” Caviezel says.

As for the beautiful piano, Caviezel has sanded it down by hand to get to its original mahogany. She primed it, painted it a matte black with turquoise accents, and roughed it up. She would have preferred to restore the piece to its original form, but with the extensive water damage, it made more sense to give it a more funky, rustic look. It’s sure to be a conversation piece in her home, in addition to now having the ability to make beautiful music.

As for Skelley, he and Caviezel are actually considering going into business together, and they are starting their second piano project this week. If you would like to talk to Caviezel about fixing up an old piano or restoring pieces in general, she’s happy to chat. Contact her atjuliecaviezel@hotmail.com.

Posted 12/7/2011