Let’s Go Shopping at The Habitat ReStore!

by Katy on September 2, 2012 · 28 comments

Despite my moniker of “Non-Consumer Advocate,” I do still shop. I have two growing teenage sons, enjoy decor, occasionally buy myself clothing and live in a 1914 fixer-upper that’s far from fixered-uppered. (That is the correct past tense, right?) But needing project supplies doesn’t mean that our only options lie within the walls of a big box store.

Luckily, there are many options for used and leftover building supplies, such as the Portland Habitat Restore. (We also have the Rebuilding Center, but since that is Portland specific, I’ll be focusing on a national resource.) Not only do your dollars support the Habitat for Humanity non-profit, but the new and used furniture, appliances and building supplies are a great bargain.

Supporting an awesome charity + keeping building supplies from the landfill + great bargains = Happy Non-Consumer Advocate!

I even bought my matches-my-unique-banister shoe shelf at the ReStore.

See? I’m happy.

Ooh . . .  that’s actually not a great photo of me. It harks back to my elementary school pictures, which always looked like this:

My first stop at the Restore was the furniture section. My almost 17-year-old son needs a larger dresser, as his extensive T-shirt collection no longer fits into the drawers. (I guess I could have anticipated this, as his dresser is the same one we used for his changing table.)

Unfortunately, the top drawer sagged on the left hand side. (A.K.A. D.D.S. or “Droopy Drawer Syndrome.”) At $45, it was not worth the work to fix it up.

My next stop was the lighting section, where I came across this vintage midcentury sconce. I really enjoyed its curly-Q vibe, and could totally envision how cute it would look painted a bright yellow, purple, apple green or black, And at $8, the price was right. However, I have no need for a sconce, so I left it there for someone else.

There was enough unfashionable shiny brass to go around. But for someone willing to break out a can of spray paint, the possibilities are endless.

I was sorely tempted to bring home this $25 midcentury chandelier. I’ve been wanting to replace our somewhat fussy dining room fixture for awhile, and could see this being a groovy solution. A little paint and some rewiring would put us on a one-way street to a Mad Men-esque look. Unfortunately, my husband’s response was:

“Uchh, that’s hideous.”

I always like to peruse the paint aisles, which are super organized and crazy cheap. I want to repaint my younger son’s room, as the ivy green color was a poor choice for north-facing room in Oregon. (Cave-like would not be an understatement.) I wasn’t in the mood to make any solid color decisions, so I just window shopped.

I did almost buy this quart-size can of zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint in a pretty light sage green, but held off since we have a can of almost the same thing in the basement.

All cupboards were 50% off, which brought the price on this $45 mission style cupboard down to $22.50. This sucker was solid wood and g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s! Someone could easily refashion it into a bedside or end table. And the storage within? Fab.

This cabinet got me thinking about the $1 (!) Habitat Restore cabinets that John and Sherry of Young House Love upcycled into an awesome custom desk. Their cleverness is a constant inspiration.

I’m not exactly in the market for a new front door, but this one still caught my attention. I think it was $25, but I know it was perfection.

I almost went home with this sexy beast, and could totally see how crisp a backsplash would look with this tile. Of course, it’s actually possible to work in a kitchen without a backsplash, (shh . . . don’t tell HGTV!) so I shunned his advances.

Even though he was cheap.

I was also tempted by this $85 roll of orange Marmoleum. My kitchen floor is refinished pine, which at this point is so gauged and pitted up that it resembles an old timey saloon. I love vintage linoleum rugs, and wonder whether there’s a way to make a facsimile using Marmoleum that would lie flat and not trip us up.

The one thing that called my name was this roll of carpet. I have been keeping an eye out for a bedroom rug, and I really liked this pattern and color. It would easy to have some binding sewn around the edges, and I could get exactly the size I want. However, I would end up paying for way more carpet than I need, so I slowly walked away.

See how pretty the pattern is?

In the end I walked out empty handed, but not for a lack of great temptation. Man, is that store fantastic!

Do you shop at your local Habitat ReStore? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen September 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm

As far as I know my town does not have this store. However, I do see leftover building/project materials offered on the town’s Freecycle site.


Linda from Mass September 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I have never heard of the Habitat store. I’ll need to see if there is one in my area.

You must have been reading my mind because I want a bank of shelves for the back wall of my closet and I was wondering how I could do that while not buying anything new. I was thinking of reclaimed wood. In the meantime, I was thinking about a yucky metal shelving unit that is in my garage. I went to some yard sales this weekend looking for shelving units. Nothing yet, but you have me thinking!


Margaret September 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm

There is one in Mass! It’s in Lawrence. I think it is fairly new. Which is shocking considering how many old homes there are here!



Reuth September 3, 2012 at 5:08 am

There’s also one in Charlestown, RI, which might be more convenient for you depending on what part of MA you live in.


Linda from Mass September 3, 2012 at 6:48 am

I went on the site and found one in Carver, MA. I will need to check it out!


Cheryl Breuer September 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Yes, I love this store. Madison now has two locations, even! I’ve purchased flooring tile, doors, fixtures, and lots of other goodies here. It’s been a while since I popped in for a browse. Thanks for the reminder.


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares September 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I’m on my neighborhood association’s board. We have a Dumpster day where neighbors can throw away anything they want into one of 12 giant Dumpsters. The amount of construction materials pitched is absolutely sickening. For next year, I really, really want to push the board to have a Habitat ReStore truck in the parking lot for people to donate their construction materials, as I think that’s filling probably 5 of the Dumpsters. It killed me to see people tossing a roll of perfectly good linoleum, doors upon doors, unused windows, boxes of nails, shingles, tools, sinks, and toilets. I would love to rescue it all, but I’m just one person and hadn’t the means to do so.


Sofia September 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm

ReStore and the Rebuilding Center are my 2 favorite places to go for building materials. I have tiled the floor of 3 of my bathrooms with ReStore tiles. The bathroom sinks and cabinets I got at the Rebuilding Center. I also got a 3 sided fireplace for just $100 and it works! I wish I was able to post pictures of my projects….


Katy September 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Wow, that’s great! I can post them on the blog under “Fabulous Frugal Finds” if you want to send them my way.



chris September 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

we always run into our local re store even when we’re not looking for something specific; we’ve gotten some amazing buys there, especially when we first purchased our house – it makes me feel good knowing we’re reusing something and that all the proceeds are going to habitat for humanity; this place certainly lets you stretch that dollar until it’s screaming bloody murder !


Lou Rodriguez September 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Absolutely! We haven’t been in a few years since we haven’t purchased anything for the house in that time, but it’s an amazing place – A Goodwill for homes if you will. Our store is in downtown Fort Lauderdale and as you can imagine, stays pretty busy.

I have to tell you Katy, to see you share your story without a care in the world and irregardless of who peeks in to see, is an inspiration to me personally and let’s me know I have done the right thing. I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks for sharing 🙂


Another Rebecca September 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm

My greatest frugal finds ever have come from ReStore! My ultimate one was a find of over 100 linear feet of 10 inch high hard wood trim someone stupid had ripped out of a house that was from the 1870’s. Just like our house. Looking every bit its gorgeous 140 years old, I brought it home for 25cents a linear foot. Sanded and painted, it virtually matches the original trim we have in our home, and replaced some nasty 1970’s trim a previous owner installed. We saved THOUSANDS! We could never have afforded to have custom trim made, which would be the only other way to get old style trim like this.

We also currently have in our home from ReStore : a cast iron kitchen sink, a white bathroom sink, master bedroom carpeting, playroom closet shelving, 1890’s era door to replace one that was missing in our home, multiple shelves in every closet, repainted cabinets in our laundry room, and multiple pieces of door/window/cabinet hardware.


Marianne September 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Does your son wear all the shirts or is he collecting them? If he is just collecting, a tshirts quilt is a rad idea to display them all either on the bed or on the wall. Or he could be like my older brother who use to just buy new boxers and tshirts when he didn’t want to do laundry. 😉


Katy September 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm

He wears them all.



Holly September 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Alas, much like your Goodwill in much better than ours, your Restore I can tell is about 100X better than the one in my hometown. My sister and I went and the quality of the items there was awful. Broken, stained, old junk that I couldn’t imagine even taking off the street for free. There were a couple nice carpets (one of which I couldn’t even tell if it was for sale or decorating the place – there was no tag on it) and some of the tile was nice, but that was about it.


AnnW September 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Buy the carpet, get it bound and then bind the excess and sell it on Craig’s List. That is an interesting pattern and seems very Portland-like. Ann


Nancy September 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Well Katy, I have never been to the Habitat Restore here in Portland, but someday I hope to get there. However I have been working on a great project. As you know we have alot of gray days here in the winter and I wanted to perk up some of my furniture. I had a $9 credit at Fred Meyers, coupled with the senior discount (hey I am only 57 but I still get it!) and paint was on sale. I got a gallon of white semi gloss and am painting a small bookshelf, an old ugly brown nightstand, a double shelf side table, a small wall shelf, a quilt hanger and touching up the legs on a drop leaf dining table. All of these furniture pieces were given to me at one time or another, so the cost was nothing. The paint was $6.25 so I am getting 6 bright shiny new pieces of furniture to cheer up my house in the coming gray Portland days. Gotta love it!! Well back to painting…


Heather September 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I drive past that very ReStore 3 times a week and you’ve inspired me to finally stop. I’m very excited!


Mr. Everyday Dollar September 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Habitat ReStore will be my go-to place when I move from my condo into a house eventually. I plan to buy a fixer-upper and slowly get it fixer-uppered. I want it to have a shabby chic feel, with at least one secret bookcase door, and I think ReStore will greatly help accomplish that vibe.


Jan September 3, 2012 at 3:18 am

I’ve seen the sign for the ReStore here in Pittsburgh PA but didn’t know what it was. Now I’ll have to stop in and see what it’s like! Thanks Katy for your constant inspiration.


Katy September 3, 2012 at 6:23 am

Thanks, hooray for Pittsburgh! My father grew up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood and I have visited the city countless times.

I *love* Pittsburgh!



Mel H September 3, 2012 at 6:32 am

We have one at the end our street! I give my kid $4 and she comes home with presents for everyone! 10 cent glasses, a free bin… She really has learned the value of a quarter and what it can buy… Not to mention the really neat items she finds. Now we just have to learn you don’t need to buy everything you see.


Shannon September 3, 2012 at 6:43 am

I’m so glad you posted his—I have several gallons of unused paint, plus a few odds and ends from last years remodeling project, and now I know where to take them!


Rachel C September 3, 2012 at 7:42 am

I got beautiful new Armstrong vinyl to re-do my bathroom floor – with enough left over to re-do it again (in a few years). Small bathroom – big piece of vinyl.


marie September 3, 2012 at 7:59 am

I miss the Portland one. The one in Longview Wa isn’t as organized or cost effective.
The last time we went to the portland store, I found a chandelier, not priced that would be perfect for replacing my old cheapy gold one. It wasn’t priced, asked the girl ,she said make me an offer. I got it for $40. Next time we went to home depot, There it was!!!! Retail price $239 who hoo!!!! 5 years later I still love it.


John September 3, 2012 at 8:10 am

Love the Restore we have in our town. Go there regularly. They recently had plants (bushes, trees, etc.) for sale and it was exactly what the backyard needed. My wife was happy with the selection (our son wasn’t since he has to do her planting!).

Like you, we peruse the lights. My wife has done the painting routine on lights and it is amazing what some simple flat black paint can do.

Need an office chair? Our store often has them and at $5-10 for a good condition one that is a deal!


Paula in the UP September 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm

We have a Restore again just like your Goodwill ours is on a much smaller scale. There are some decent finds there, we’ve donated mostly. I find a lot of their prices are high. I did find silver door knobs for $2 a piece, but when I got them home they wouldn’t work with our doors, so I donated them back, luckily we only have 4 doors that I wanted to change out the knobs on so not a major financial loss.


Sunny September 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

My husband and I love Habitat ReStore! We used old hardback books with twine as our centerpieces for our wedding. We managed to get around 40 books for $.25 each. We also picked up a few picture frames there for about $.50/each that we made into chalkboards for our cake, food, and gift tables.


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