Upcycling, defined by the Oxford dictionary, is “to reuse in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original,” has been something of a buzzword in the last few years. Upcycling is a way to create unique items, such as furniture, to resell or to decorate your own home for a fraction of the price of the same type of designer goods.

Here in the Mid-Ohio Valley, upcycling is making a difference in the lives of the people who live right here. Hosted by Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a nonprofit shop whose proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Ohio Valley, and sponsored by Woodcraft, ReStore’s ReDesign contest gives residents of the MOV the opportunity to create a piece that will either end up being offered at the Habitat’s Destination Design auction or for sale in ReStore after the event concludes.

A semi-finalist entry in this year’s ReStore ReDesign Challenge.

Destination Design is in its seventh year and includes offerings from many local businesses to be bid on, including four of the submissions for the ReDesign Contest. The ReDesign contest, now in its third year as part of the fundraiser, received eight entries from local participants. Of those eight pieces, two were chosen by a panel of judges made up of members of the local art community to continue to the Destination Design event.

The third pick goes to the auction courtesy of the judging panel designated by the contest sponsor, Woodcraft. The fourth redesigned item is the people’s choice. That means that until close of business on Thursday, October 17th, any patron has the opportunity to vote for their favorite redesign. By donating cash in the corresponding tubes, visitors to ReStore can choose which item they would like to see go on to the Destination Design event to be auctioned off. The three pieces with the highest bid will receive prizes as well. Those pieces not chosen for the event will be available for purchase at the Restore in the days following Destination Design.

Ben Bradley, ReStore Director, could not pick a favorite piece from this year’s submissions; however, he did say that each year the quality of the designs has gone up and up. Though the original pieces do not have to be bought from ReStore to be redesigned, any item donated back for the contest is eligible to have the cost reimbursed to the buyer under certain criteria.

Robin Stewart, one of the guiding forces behind the entire Destination Design event, offered a little background on the history of the auction and how the ReDesign submissions go right back into the community. Habitat for Humanity is currently working on three houses in the Mid-Ohio Valley that they hope to have finished by winter. The proceeds from the event, in addition to cash donations from patrons who vote in-store go toward much-needed supplies to construct those homes. The support for the homeowners does not stop when the house is built either. To be part of the program, Habitat for Humanity also offers continuing education to the new homeowners on budgeting, financial management, and basic home repair.

A semi-finalist entry, going to the Destination Design Auction.

Both Robin and Ben talked animatedly about the pieces and the wonderful contribution the contest and auction make to the Habitat for Humanity mission, and Ben summed up the entire ReDesign Contest idea perfectly saying “I love to see these items that no longer serve their original function brought back to life in a new way to meet today’s needs.”

A cupcake stand made from upcycled picture frames and woodwork.
An upcycling dining table with inlaid candle holders.

Community members can view all of the entries at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore shop in Vienna through Thursday evening!