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Why I rehab - and why you should too

As they say so often on Shark Tank, millennials are notorious for supporting things in e-commerce with a call to action, specifically when it comes to social and environmental impact. We want to make the world a better place. That’s why many are Vegan, always carrying reusable water bottles, renting the Runway, and supporting brands like Tom’s and Bombas who offer buy-one-give-one incentives. You can even blame us for those stupid paper straws that last five seconds in your drink and bags we now have to pay for at the grocery store (which sometimes despite the point, are still plastic). Yet, we still struggle with one area no one’s even aware enough of to recognize; construction.

The first time I went dumpster diving for reclaimed wood, I was summoned to the garage of the house that was being demo’d. A construction worker explained to me that the owner had died and his son just “wanted everything gone.” There were boxes of vinyl, wooden milk crates, bookcases, rocking chairs, all from the 1940’s and all scheduled to join the wood I’d just salvaged from the dumpster on the street. The worker seemed almost horrified as he explained to me the son’s refusal to even go through what his father had housed for so many years, and I could physically feel the weight of his guilt lighten up as I agreed to haul several of the items back to my apartment. I was grateful someone had valued these treasures enough to try and rescue them and little did I know at the time, that single experience would leave a lasting impression on me enough to alter the course of my life.

When you’re a working actor in Los Angeles, you find a lot of creative ways to make money in between jobs; bottle service, catering, Rodan and Fields pyramid scheme… Few girls ever venture into the world of construction. I guess you could say I was drawn to the tangible control it offered in stark contrast to the one aspect of my career I found the most difficult to surrender to. I love being able to have something to show for the hours of work I put in and, if I’m being honest, I loved the bragging rights it gave me as well. I love being able to show guys I know how to use power tools and lift heavy things with or without their help - especially as a petite female. While my sense of control and feminism were behind my drive for sure, the biggest propelling force was my desire to make what was old and forgotten, beautiful and new again.

Refinishing those pieces from the old man’s garage not only made me feel purposeful, it opened my eyes to a greater good I’d unknowingly began contributing to. I wasn’t adding to piles of junk taking up space on the planet (which in turn only create a demand for new things to be manufactured), I was physically preventing “waste” from unnecessarily ending up in our landfills. The fact I was simultaneously preserving history and offering unique items to people who’d otherwise all have the same things from Wayfair was only a bonus.

Refinishing furniture is an interesting process, kind of like detailing a car. You come to know a piece's curves, its blemishes, its character, its story, and you get a sense of the destiny it wants to fulfill. The energy of its neglect is felt as much as its gratitude for being all shiny and new again, and every time it makes me wonder why more people don’t just take the time to value and nurture things.

We’re an Instagram society obsessed with superiority and beauty. We want the latest and the best if only to compete with ourselves who are dressed as our peers. As much as we want to make the world a better place, this hungry obsession of ours directly conflicts with that desire. We're quick to throw away what no longer looks good, stylish, or current. We give up on what's broken instead of learning how to fix it. Old houses are thought of as "gross" and "problematic", making them less sought after than new builds or resulting in their being torn down to build “better” ones. Building codes are even designed to make a city more money than they are to instill actual safety - at least in California.

Time and money are of course other factors I’m not negating, but how many businesses even offer restorative services to where it’s thought of as an option? I wonder how many of my next-door neighbors know that instead of buying a new sink fixture they can simply powder coat things to change the finish instead? Without that knowledge goes the demand and craftsmanship becomes a dying art form with tradesmen being replaced by machines. I can’t even tell you how much trouble I’ve had finding an upholsterer for a client of mine recently.

If HGTV has shown us anything, it’s that people love a make over. People want it for themselves - it’s just not seemingly easy, quick, affordable, or readily available to us. I’ve spent my last five years in between jobs and a pandemic learning exactly this, not to mention new skills like carpentry, dry wall, tile laying, tile making, rehabbing, design, and from the looks of it, soon to be upholstering as well! It’s become my passion with a cause that’s given me purpose, a husband, and a budding company I’m excited to extend to others.

If you can’t use our services, maybe you can find something you love on our new online store we soft launched earlier this month. Rheir Finds offers unique, second hand and rehabbed items for your home, filled with story and purpose. If you want to make your home stand out from others and minimize waste in the process, this is your opportunity. And, if you don’t find anything, perhaps you’ll be inspired enough to make something you love with what you already have.

My Grandma once told me the hardest part of getting older was feeling she didn’t have purpose and that old people were too often cast aside and disregarded. It’s something that always stuck with me and that I can’t help but find a correlation to in what I do every day now, with older things. So, if I leave you with anything it’s this: value what’s aged. It has far more to offer us than anything else in this world, and much more than we’ll ever truly realize before it’s gone. People don’t last forever, but with our help their stories and cherished things can.


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