For shoppers who want to “go green,” save money and still create the “wow” factor when updating their homes, the growing relationship between Habitat for Humanity and Interior Redesign Industry Specialists could not have come at a better time.
The idea of working together developed last year between the National Capital Area chapter of IRIS and Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, which operates ReStores in Chantilly and Alexandria, Virginia. Recognizing that both organizations promote reuse, recycling and repurposing, the two teamed up to exhibit at the 2010 Home Show at the nearby Dulles Expo Center.
“We completed two rooms for our area’s home show last year: An urban-chic loft room and a British Colonial/West Indies-inspired master bedroom suite,” said Bridgett Wilson, publicity chair of the National Capital Area Chapter of IRIS. The spectacular results can be viewed at ReDesign with ReStore on Facebook.
The exhibit raised awareness of Habitat and its 700 ReStores around the country that sell new and gently-used donated goods at a fraction of retail prices. ReStores carry furniture, appliances, building materials, countertops, windows, paint, shutters, doors, art, mirrors and just about anything else one puts in or outside a house.
IRIS members specialize in interior redesign, a decorating philosophy based on established design principles. Redesigners combine their training and knowledge with a homeowner’s existing furnishings to create beautifully decorated rooms.
When working with ReStores, IRIS members showcase how creative a homeowner can get in reusing and repurposing items acquired during a “treasure hunt” through a ReStore.
Wilson recalls one of her favorite examples of repurposing items from the ReStore: “I love how we turned old lighting fixtures into lanterns, which are incredibly trendy right now. We took the wiring out of old light fixtures, painted the metal, left in the glass and put candles inside. We made lanterns for very little money. I made two for myself; they are on my front step now.”
At the upcoming 2011 Capital Home Show at the Dulles Expo Center, September 23–25, IRIS and Habitat will showcase a “beach-inspired Cape Cod cottage,” Wilson said. “We are featuring a dining/family room space and have found some wonderful tables, chairs and flooring at the Chantilly ReStore. Our northeastern beach retreat room has begun!”
Wilson is confident the room will attract and amaze the shoppers and browsers who patronize the Home Show. And it will introduce IRIS, Habitat and ReStores to thousands of people who are interested in home beautification and improvements.
For those who live in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, IRIS and Habitat are offering two seminars at the ReStores in Alexandria and Chantilly. “The goal is to have weekends where several redesigners demonstrate creative uses of items in the ReStore and answer customer questions,” Wilson said. “The ReStores inspire us,” she added, “and we are creating a plan for other IRIS chapters to follow suit and work with Habitat ReStores in their areas.”
IRIS, Wilson said, “is committed to giving back. Habitat and ReStores allow us to give back in an organized fashion throughout the country. Part of our business model is to reduce, reuse and recycle. We encourage people to look at their furnishings in a different way for a natural fit.”
Jenny Pitts, marketing and communications manager for Habitat in Northern Virginia, said the relationship with IRIS works very well for the 7-year-old ReStore in Alexandria and the 2-year-old ReStore in Chantilly.
“The IRIS members are very enthusiastic and bring positive energy to our stores. We expect to get the press interested in the relationship and attract a wider clientele to our ReStores. We have a ton of new items coming to our ReStores every day, and we’re excited about seeing how IRIS volunteers transform those items,” Pitts said.
Pitts added that traffic has steadily increased in ReStores this year, and she attributes this to an interest in environmental stewardship and good bargain hunting. “We attract everyone from the long-term homeowner to the college kid in transition,” she said. “With IRIS, we’re letting people know of the amazing opportunity to donate, shop and volunteer at our ReStores, all toward helping Habitat and partner families build homes and stronger communities.”
For more information about Habitat for Humanity ReStores, visit Material Donations .
Lurma Rackley is a manager of resource development communications for Habitat for Humanity International, based in Atlanta, Georgia.