You will wonder how this could be. I did.
But you can furnish your home, or a room in your home, beautifully, for one-third what it would cost if you bought the same furnishings retail, help provide housing for others who need it and help the planet in the process.
Get out! That’s what I said when I learned how Habitat for Humanity ReStores worked. Folks donate home furnishings and building materials. ReStores resell them at incredibly low prices. Profits go back into the community in the form of decent housing for low-income residents.
I have donated to Habitat ReStores, but I never considered shopping in one. Was I missing out! Three Orlando, Fla., decorators and Steve Thomas, former host of “This Old House” and “Renovation Nation,” recently took on a design challenge.
Using only furniture from local ReStores, they created a showcase room and unveiled it to a disbelieving public. I was invited to help moderate the event. I was dubious about how the room would turn out, but it was all for a good cause, so I played along.
Any homeowner would be proud to have the room – in this case a man’s den – this design team put together. It was classy, warm, harmonious – and cheap!
I asked how they did it. The women all talked at once, but here’s what I think happened. They independently shopped six ReStores. (Habitat operates 780 ReStores throughout the U.S.) They snapped pictures of items they liked and texted them to one another. If they got the thumbs-up, they nabbed the item – a sofa here, a table there, a rug someplace else.
“It was like being on a treasure hunt, but you had to act fast,” said designer Luisa Padilla, “The good stuff goes.”
They delivered the furniture to a ReStore in Casselberry, Fla., where they installed it in a three-sided, 12- by-12-foot showcase room.
Besides adding celebrity pizazz, Thomas and a few handy volunteers assembled a wood floor, put up moldings and did the heavy lifting.
The plan to create a masculine den clicked when decorator Christina Russell seized on a coppery-brown leather, two-seater movie chair with cup holders. Then designer Julie Baker found a set of vintage golf clubs and two framed golf prints that coordinated with the sofa. For $4, Padilla picked up a dart board and embellished it for a focal point.
They pulled the caramel tone from the golf art and sofa for the wall color.
Baker, who owns a furniture store, estimated that if purchased retail, the furnishings would have cost more than $3,000. The team got everything for under $1,000.
Priciest items were the sofa ($225), the entertainment center ($300) and the coffee and side tables ($150 combined). The $200 spent on accessories – the rug, art, silk plants, chess set and golf-props – gave the space its wow.
“This helps the planet, too,” Thomas said. “All this stuff most likely would have wound up in landfills.”
The Habitat mission is “to build a world in which everyone has a decent place to live,” he added. Here are ways you can help make that happen:
Make a donation. Give new or gently used furnishings, including working appliances and building materials, to Habitat ReStores. You get a cleaned-out house and a tax deduction. Habitat picks up large items.
Shop the ReStores. With some patience – you may need to visit several stores more than once – and some imagination, you, too, can score beautiful home furnishings for a third of what they would otherwise cost.
Feel good whether you give to or buy from the ReStores. Proceeds go directly back into your community to provide housing for those who need it. The homes are not handouts. Recipients help build them, then repay Habitat’s interest-free loans.
Become a Habitat volunteer. Help out at a ReStore or connect with a local Habitat to help build homes. Invite your church or school group to pitch in.
Help the planet. ReStores throughout the U.S. and Canada have diverted an estimated 250 million tons of would-be waste from the landfills.
Change lives. “Homes, no matter where they are, change people’s lives,” he said. “How can a family feel safe if they don’t have a door that locks?”
You win. They win. Your house wins. The community wins. The planet wins. Believe me now?
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). marnijameson.com.