The ReUse People reduces the solid waste stream and changes the way the built environment is renewed by salvaging building materials and distributing them for reuse.
Lessons in Creativity
When I first started working with TRP, I thought I was pretty green. I recycled, I conserved energy, I conserved water. At the time, I usually shopped at Home Depot or Target. On the few occasions I ventured into antique stores, I found furniture I liked, but between the higher price tags and uncertainty as to how to incorporate the pieces into my home, there just wasn’t enough interest to make me buy anything.
After opening the Pacoima warehouse, I met a very interesting woman, Patty Knapp, who is VERY green, and VERY talented at finding new ways to use old things.
The first time Patty came into the warehouse, we were receiving a shipment containing a number of eclectic items. When I came across two 8-foot long curved fence pieces, I groaned. Not because they weren’t interesting (they were), but because I could see it would take a really special application for those pieces to work in a person’s house. Patty must have heard me groaning. She looked at the curved fencing, and said excitedly, “I think these are going to work!” She ran home, measured, and called me back. “Hold them for me. I want them!” She told me that her neighbor had cut down the foliage between her house and his, and she needed fencing to restore a bit of privacy. The section where he removed the foliage also served as the outside fence of her chicken yard, so it was important to cover the area, but she did not want to build a new fence. The two fence pieces she found at my warehouse were just short of the space she needed to cover, so she spaced them out, put a ladder for her chickens in the middle, and it looks wonderful. And now she and her chickens have privacy.
Patty became a regular after that. She was so thrilled about finding the fence pieces that she kept coming back, checking over every new shipment. We started talking about what she needed, so that I could look out for things that would work for her. On one of her trips, Patty found a leaded glass window that was just gorgeous. I asked if she was replacing an existing window, and she said, “Nope. I’m gonna hang it in my hall.” I really could not envision it. Even after she explained how she was going to do it, I still thought (sorry, Patty!) that it was going to look awkward and out of place. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Patty’s house was built in 1965. Like many homes from that era, it has double front doors that open into a wide hall or entry way. The wall separating the entry way from the dining room was a short wall, and the builders added decorative spindles every foot. When Patty moved into the house, the spindles were painted brown. She HATED them. So, Patty, being Patty, got out her saw and cut the non-supporting spindles out. The window she bought from TRP happened to be the perfect size for the wall, giving a nice, decorative touch, and without the dated look of the old spindles.
Patty kept asking for doors. Not nice interior ones, but barn doors that she could hang outside. “Patty, this is Los Angeles. We don’t GET a lot of barn doors here,” I kept telling her. Of course, that’s when I received a shipment from San Diego that had, yes, barn doors on it. Patty was ecstatic. She studied them thoughtfully. Before I knew it, we were loading them up in her truck, and away she went. The next time she came back, she told me that she had hung them on a freestanding raised patio structure; the doors formed a wall, enclosing the under area of the patio. She had painted the cross bars a wonderful reddish brown to match the patio, punched out the original plastic windows and nailed reclaimed windows over the existing window holes, giving the doors a wonderful textured look.
We are still looking for more doors to replace existing doors inside the patio. In the meantime, Patty comes in every week, and brings friends to shop. I like to walk with them and listen to Patty’s ideas for what she would do with many of the pieces I have. She has a wonderful sense of vision, and a way of thinking outside the box to reuse the reclaimed pieces. And nearly everything inside and outside her house is reclaimed. Now it has become a bit of a game, looking at pieces we receive, and trying to come up with creative ways to use them. I don’t think I’ll ever be as creative as Patty, but I do feel like I’ve learned a lot.