Posts Tagged saving money

A Young RE Store Rockstar builds her own Tiny House of Salvage

Celina's tiny house under constructionThis RE Store Rockstar is one industrious young lady.  Celina Dill, 17, is building her 10’ x 18’ x 14’ high tiny house, on wheels, entirely out of reused and repurposed materials. Inspired by the Tiny House Movement she is ‘unschooling’ herself by diving into all the trades it takes to make a project like this come to life.

She is an obsessed builder right now, with the goal of moving into her cottage in August. Items acquired from The RE Store include: “The Toilet of her Dreams” (really!), which has a 3/4″ tilt on the lid area; her ‘really cool’ front door, which is being refinished as we speak; a window or two, and the latest purchase: French doors. Since Celina’s walls are thinner than the walls the door set came from, they needed to do some tricky Skilsawing of the frame, reducing their width by 1 1/2″. She has also acquired items from Second Use, Earthwise, and Skagit Building Salvage.

I’ll let her words tell the rest of the story, since among her many talents are great story telling and photography.  More about Celina’s Tiny Abode can be found at Many pictures of her project can be seen on these pages.

It seems Celina comes from a long line of industrious folks.  Her dad, Walter Dill, also has a ‘home on wheels’ project in the works – a 1956 Airfloat Land Yacht.  He uses reclaimed materials as well, and found lights for the interior at The RE Store that have yet to found their actual location.

Thanks to both Celina and Walter for inspiring us with their Rockstar Projects!  Do you have a RE Store-inspired project to be proud of?  Please, show off & share your story!

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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PSE’s Re-Energized by Design winners – designing around reuse

Scott and Nia Sayers spent the last six months winning a competition that remodeled their home’s interior, benefitted their family and their professional lives, all while designing around reuse. That contest was Puget Sound Energy’s Re-Energized by Design challenge that pitted six households against each other in a contest that we quote here from the PSE site:

“Re-Energized by Design is a ‘design show’ style competition, where six PSE customers are competing in a series of five room-by-room makeover challenges to combine creative home design with energy efficiency. After each challenge, one contestant is eliminated. PSE provides contestants with a weekly cash allowance, energy-efficient products, and a design coach to help implement stylish energy-efficient home upgrades.”

Designing with reuse - Nia Sayers Window Display - Bubble TubThe Sayers have been designing around reuse for many years. Nia Sayers did window displays at The RE Store in Bellingham in 2008 and 2009. Nia came up with inspiring concepts like a salvaged claw-foot bathtub full of light globes and lightbulbs as bubbles.

Nia Sayers Serving table displayThen there was her outdoor serving table that she built from a table base rescued from the brink of the landfill. Click on the photo thumbnails for full-sized photos. Nia has taught workshops on DIY skills like recovering upholstery and her idea for this project is downloadable here.

Scott Sayers - Chevy Chase - Recycled Arts Show 2013Scott just had pieces in both Bellingham galleries for the 12th Annual Recycled Arts Show. If you missed his perfect rendering of Chevy Chase in negative relief that was cut out of duct tape, the photo doesn’t do it justice. Scott said that for the Re-Energized by Design competition that “The RE Store was our secret weapon.”

When asked about how all of the remodeling of the family’s home wrapped up, Nia said, “We still have some projects to finish up.”

And don’t we all…

Check out the Re-Energized by Design website for all of the stories, more resources for saving money and making a home more efficient. You might pick up some creative and clever ways to improve home interiors and make it more energy-efficient. And learn more about Nia on her site,

Posted in: Green business, RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Video posts, You can do it yourself

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DIY Garden Shed: Extra Space or Special Place

Garden shed in EdmondsSheds and shacks can be a saving grace for home owners, creatives, gardeners, or contemplatives.  Have you considered a small space recently that could give you on-site storage or reprieve from the rat race?

Gaetan Veilleux designed and built himself a sweet little 10×12 garden shed in Edmonds, Washington. His father was a master carpenter/cabinetmaker so Gaetan learned a lot about building growing up, but that was over 30 years ago. He looked to books from the library and the internet to relearn things such as installing windows, hanging a door, and building the roof.

Gaetan’s wife, Deborah Binder, helped source some of the materials like finding roofing materials through Freecycle and Craigslist. Deborah revitalized the dutch door, also known as a stable door or a half door, that she found at The RE Store in Ballard. The door restoration required that she learn how to cut glass and reglaze the multi-paned upper half of the door. The shed also has a Velux skylight (Oooo… fancy!) that the couple bought from a local window and door store. It was out of the box and had been used as a showroom demo.  They scored it for 75% off the list price. The windows came from The RE Store as well.

The shingles were a fun find for Deborah. She writes:

Gaetan in his shed's dutch doorway

“I had been watching a house being built in Edmonds on my daily dog walking strolls.  For months I saw a huge pile of shingles on pallets sitting in the front yard. As the grass grew taller and the house seemed finished I wondered what the builder was going to do with all the shingles.  I called the number on the sign posted in the front yard and reached the site manager.  He said I could take as many of the shingles as I wanted for FREE. So I took them all.   When I priced them out I realized that I saved at least $500. We have a small amount left that we plan to use on another project.  The shingles were pre-painted blue, but we plan to paint the shed this coming Spring (2013) to match our house.”

Check out The RE Store’s guide to designing your own little shed with this free pdf download: Extra Space or a Special Place

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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Fire Fighter Forcible Entry Training With Reclaimed Doors

Fire fighter forcible entry training photoThe Bellingham Fire Department was established in 1904. Their well-seasoned department supports fire fighter training for many of the districts in Whatcom County Washington. Annual “Forcible Entry Training” uses props to simulate locked buildings that the crews must break into, in case a fire requires rescue access to the inside of a building.

The Bellingham Fire Department uses salvaged materials from The RE Store and Overhead Door Company to help reduce costs in their training exercises. It also makes good sense to utilize already used doors that will be destroyed anyways in the training exercises. Watch these brave and highly regarded men and women in the following video as they keep themselves fit and ready for the next emergency.

If your community group or business needs materials, The RE Store welcomes your requests for building materials, gift certificates for fundraising events and other in-kind support.

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry, Video posts, Why blog about The RE Store?

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One man’s junk is another man’s musical instrument

Guest post by Doug Banner

Doug Banners instruments on display

Doug Banners instruments on display at The RE Store in Bellingham

I am always surprised at how often people tell me that they are not artistic or creative. In our culture you must have exhibited in a gallery or performed to be called an artist. I play at playing music and music keeps me sane or at least as sane as I can be in this sometimes-crazy world. I am therefore a musician and so are you. Your heart keeps great time. Music is a great way to come together in community and share joy. I have played with people in Japan, Thailand, and China where our only common language was music and everybody had a great time.

In making instruments from recycled and repurposed materials I achieve several goals:

  1. I take stuff out of the trash stream. My wife laughs when I wont let her throw out old salad bowls and wooden spoons.
  2. I make instruments that sound good, are relatively easy to learn to play, and are affordable. Many people shy away from learning to play music because cheap instruments usually sound bad and good instruments are too expensive.
  3. I have fun creating usable art for public consumption. If it’s not fun, why do it, Right?
Doug Banner's Satori flutes

Doug Banner’s Satori flutes     Photo by John D’Onofrio

The RE Store is my primary source for materials and I draw my inspiration and design ideas from indigenous instruments from around the world. I spend a fair amount of time in the plastic pipe section. My didgeridoos are the least expensive and easiest to make and the most difficult to play. They’re made from 1.5” to 2” PVC pipe. I have heard $100.00 didgeridoos that don’t sound as good. My Santori Flutes, modeled after Native American Love Flutes, are made from ¾” PVC. I add wooden mouthpieces turned from wood I find in the scraps bin. The great thing about the Satori flutes is that they are indestructible. Throw one in your backpack and you’ve got music in the wilderness. Practice 15 minutes a day and you’ll be sounding pretty good in just a month. The Fujara, a Slovakian overtone flute, is both difficult to make and difficult to play but it’s so odd that just having one will draw attention.

I am always looking for 1” x 12” boards and door skins or thin paneling to build box drums known as a Cajon (sounds like ka-hone), tongue drums, or anything else I am inspired to try. I also use paneling and large plastic drainpipe to build great sounding conga drums. Reclaiming wood is a lot of fun for me. The instruments seem to have a special feel to them. It’s almost like the wood is saying, “Thanks for not throwing me in the fire.”

I find my greatest limitations to creating and playing instruments is my own imagination and my willingness to try new things. My bamboo Zither is an example. I didn’t know how to play it or even if it would sound good, but I gave it a shot. It worked and sounds great. I am sure more of those are on the way. Even if it sounds trite, you don’t know what you can do until you try.

~ Doug Banner

You can view Doug’s musical instruments on display in the Meridian windows at The RE Store in Bellingham through August, 2012.

Doug Banner is a professional storyteller and multimedia artist that plays music weekly with the Monkey Puzzle Orchestra. He also uses many of my instruments in his storytelling performances and can be found online at

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Recycled art and trash fashion, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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Creative reuse and shocking mermaids at 9 Blue Salon

High angle shot of 9 Blue Salon's piano and stylist stations

9 Blue Salon's style comes entirely from reclaimed materials

Barret Lizza bootstrapped the start up of his hair salon in Bellingham, alone, on an extremely small budget, in less than a month.  He signed the lease for “9 Blue Salon” around Christmas of 2011 and spent a crazy month on non-stop remodeling madness, by himself, hauling all of the materials on top of his 1996 Ford Escort. With his limited funds, he had to build the space almost entirely with salvaged materials.

Barret described why, “I wanted to have a salon that was affordable, because I was tired of everyone charging so much. And I wanted something different from the look of all those salons that look like a fashion runway. Being creative is a lot better than buying a bunch of new stuff anyways.”

Style didn’t come without peril, though. Barrett explains, “One of the chandeliers has these great mermaids on it. It was from an old mansion in Seattle.  I was up on the ladder, all alone, using a pulley system I rigged up like an Egyptian or something and I shocked myself on the bronze fixture, trying to keep it suspended while attaching it.”

Low angle shot of 9 Blue Salon with lighting, cabinets and more

Low angle shot of 9 Blue Salon with lighting, cabinets and more

Reclaimed materials were used throughout the space. Old doors were hung with used mirrors for the stylist stations. Rollabouts for the stations were made from salvaged cabinets with drawers that he put wheels put on. Then a fire extinguisher was repurposed into a towel holder and old rusty car jacks were made into a shelf. He gave each station has its own mailbox for communications with the independently contracted stylists, made from old mailboxes from an apartment complex. Shelving, beams, paint, and lighting were all found at The RE Store or pulled out of his house or barn. Barrett picked up a used piano from Big Brothers Big Sisters, who didn’t want it anymore.

Barrett talked about his road blocks, “Money was the biggest challenge. I did the whole thing with $1500.00. Lifting and hanging stuff by myself was a bit tricky. I don’t think a lot of people could see what I was seeing so I had to do a lot of it by myself. I tore out the existing acoustic tile ceiling and the fluorescent lighting, getting some trade credit when I took those in to The RE Store. That helped me buy more materials like the big reclaimed beams. They (the beams) were affordable. It was little parts that were the most expensive. The screws and hangers cost a lot of money.”

Lizza continues to vision on other projects like 9 Blue Laboratories, a music recording studio and arts space for himself. If it proves to be anything like the salon, it will inspire any artist or creative type who enters.

Watch his rather epic commercial here to catch some more glimpses of 9 Blue Salon and its once more decor.

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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A Piece of History Gets a New Life at The Mighty House

Salvaged cabinet set from the The RE Store is just one many great  re-purposed items at Mighty House

Mighty House Construction Co-Founders, Doug and Laura Elfline found themselves expecting twins in 2006, and quickly realized that their “postage stamp-sized” place in Georgetown was not going to fit the needs as the family was about to double in size.  So they bought a modest house in West Seattle that was originally built in 1980 – but in need of some extensive work before being prepared to bring the twins home.  They hadn’t planned on a kitchen model right away, but right as they were putting an offer on the house in West Seattle, a client of Doug’s had a visit to The RE Store noticing an amazing set of cabinets that our field crew was loading off the truck – she called Doug to say “Do you have a client in need of some cabinets?  You have to go to The RE Store and check these out”.  Before they had even closed on the house, much less measured or had any plans in place, they purchased this set of custom plywood cabinets.

The Kraft & Posie House

Our field crew remembers the job where they cabinets came from quite well – we pulled the whole cabinet set (original and the well matched custom plywood set) from the Kraft & Posie House, a historical registry home on E Prospect on Capitol Hill.


As Doug and Laura like to say, “It is a modest house, but a Mighty House” in that it is their home and gave birth to their sustainable building company, as well as being a showcase for smaller green shifts that have big impacts.  Mighty House Construction’s mission is to offer innovative, sustainable building solutions at an outstanding value.  Doug, a 3rd generation contractor and Laura, a green building junkie, believe you don’t need radical changes to make a radical shift in your home – and their house is a great example of just that.

You can check out the house this weekend at the NW EcoBuilding Guild’s 2012 Green Home Tour.  The RE Store will be at the Expo event at Green Depot on Saturday (April 21st) and at Mighty House (April 22nd).  More info on the Expo and Tour can be found here: or find the tour guide in the back of  Natural Awakenings Magazine.

Check out Mighty House Construction and their top 10 tips for sustainable living on their website:

Posted in: Green business, RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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How to build a bookshelf from reclaimed cabinet doors – video

Eberhard Eichner of The RE Store’s REvision Division walks you through the process of designing and building two different styles of freestanding bookshelves. Eberhard covers fastening with easy screw and plug construction. Learn ways make your bookshelf solid and fit against walls with base trim or windows.

Learn more about the REvision Division, view the furniture line photo gallery and check out our other do-it-yourself videos on our main website.

Posted in: Video posts, You can do it yourself

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Used Door Rewards And Aligned Design

Door project photo - before installation

Paul and Alaine's dining room before the installation of the doors

The residents of Bellingham, Washington are passionate about using the most of what one has, while having less of an impact on the environment around them. Paul Haskins and Alaine Borgias, owners of the successful Adventures NW magazine, know firsthand about choosing options that conserve both resources and money. These native Bellingham folk live in a Victorian-style home, so more contemporary home accessories were not an option for them.

Paul and Alaine ran into a predicament when they realized they needed a set of doors that would allow them to grill outside more easily, but these doors needed to match the look of their older home. Haskins explains, “We were big on cooking outside, but did not have an easy way to access the barbecue without going through three doors or through rooms, which we didn’t want to be bringing food through. And it couldn’t be just any old door, as we wanted to keep in line with our Victorian home’s design.”

Door installation project - after

The newly installed double doors kept with the Victorian style of the house

Haskins said how his wife, Alaine, found an “almost perfect set of doors with frame and hardware at The RE Store,” where there is a large selection of used doors in a variety of styles, some of which match the older homes in the neighborhoods surrounding the store. The two talked and eventually figured that the set was perfect for their home – the only flaw was they did not have enough room to store the doors in the garage because of too many finds already from The RE Store in there. This project had to be put on, as what Haskins called it, “fast track.”

Thanks to their hard work, now Paul and Alaine are able to enjoy barbecuing year-round with a set of doors that fits in with the look of their Victorian home. Paul recalls that “it’s been a sort of joke how family or people who have been to the house regularly have walked past them numerous times before they finally say, ‘Oh my god, you have doors!’ We couldn’t have done it without The RE Store!”

Haskins figures that he ended up spending more money on just the trim of the doors than the actual doors. It pays to be green and use sustainable building products while keeping with the design elements of historic homes.

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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Making Beautiful Use of Scrap Wood – a RE Store Rockstar Headboard

Jenn's Headboard in Progress

Jenn Anderson was in need of a headboard for her bed, and wanted to find an inexpensive and creative  way to build something for herself.  She saw a chair made of scrap wood in a shop in Ballard that was her initial inspiration. Only having a chop saw to use for this project informed her design idea as well, knowing that she could only make short cuts.  She found the plywood backing on the side of the road in for free, and bought 2 2×4’s new to make the frame.  She then headed to The RE Store for the small pieces of various woods including pine, bamboo, and mahogany bits – making it about 80-85% reclaimed material!

Jenn's Headboard in Bedroom

This was her first big carpentry project to tackle, and she felt like she learned a lot in the process – only having one snafu when she was mounting the boarder pieces (which she thinks were probably too hard for the type of screw she was using).  Other than needing to figure out how to brace it to the wall, she is very happy to have the new furniture piece in her home – something low cost that she created!

Do you have a RE Store-inspired project to be proud of?  Please, show off & share your story!

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project

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