Habitat ReStores, with their eclectic mix of furniture, home goods and off-the-beaten path items, are taking on a new role: The perfect hands-on classroom for interior design students.
This past summer, the Habitat ReStore in Beaverton welcomed a partnership with Heritage School of Interior Design in Portland that not only gives students practical experience in styling rooms, but also showcases the creative mix of furniture, home goods, decor and more at ReStores.
Equally important is the exposure it gives students to the environmental benefits of working with re-used and re-purposed furniture, which is important to Stephanie Thornton Plymale, owner and CEO of Heritage.
“Reusing, repurposing, designing green is such a focus for our school and such a big part of what we teach,” said Plymale, herself a frequent ReStore shopper. “They have so much there, and the prices are incredible. It’s just a great resource for designers.”
Students in the program are tasked with designing using available items and creating two or more living spaces within a defined area.
“They will section off a part of the space at Restore, and the students will create tiny houses using everything that they have, and they’re beautiful,” Plymale said. The finished rooms are left on display for one week and then items are available for purchase by ReStore shoppers, who can draw design ideas and shop from the assembled spaces.
There’s another reason Plymale likes shopping at ReStores. It’s important to her that the proceeds from the sale of items support Habitat’s work to ensure everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.
“Everything that Habitat does for helping create homes is really close to my heart,” Plymale said. “Because I lived homeless most of my childhood, and in foster care, and so creating a home and creating a sanctuary and a place for people is so important.”
Plymale has written in-depth about the trauma of her childhood, along with that of her mother, in her memoir, “American Daughter,” published in 2021.
Jocelyn Matics, ReStores retail marketing and communications manager, said the stores are a great asset not only for interior designers, but also for professional stagers, who need furniture and home furnishings for short periods, with little to no wear incurred in the process. When the furniture is no longer needed, it can be donated to ReStores — by delivery or pickup — for sale in stores or online.
Matics is hoping the partnership with Heritage will spur similar arrangements with designers at other ReStore locations. ReStore operates three stores in Gresham, Portland, and Beaverton. All proceeds go to support Habitat for Humanity Portland Region.
“We’re building really good awareness to a new group of interior designers by getting them in the store,” Matics said. “We want the ReStore to be a good resource for them as they then go into their interior design careers, whether that is by shopping at the ReStore or knowing what type of items we accept for donation and how easy it is.”
The nature of ReStore’s inventory — stocked with donations from homes throughout the Portland region — means the stores are always filled with an eclectic mix of styles.
“You can find the true styles,” Matics said. “If your client really loves a certain style, you can find midcentury modern, or real teak Danish furniture, or items from the ’70s.”
Shoppers at the Beaverton store get a bonus from Heritage’s work, too.
“Seeing it styled really helps us sell items, too, because it helps people who maybe don’t have that eye be able to envision how it could look in their home.” Matics said. “And now they’ve seen it recreated in the ReStore for a price they can actually afford.”
Plymale said the exercise for her students shows that you don’t have to have a lot of space, or a lot of money, to create a beautiful home.
“The spaces that they create, using everything the ReStore has, are so livable,” Plymale said. “You don’t have to have a huge space to have a beautiful home. You can make any space beautiful. Anything that you have you can be creative with. That’s what we love to do with the ReStore.”