It's often the most satisfying part of a home renovation show: watching the contractor lift a hammer high above her head and smash it down into the old cabinetry, beginning the demo process. But, if you're embarking on a kitchen renovation and new cabinets are on the menu, you may want to think twice before smashing your old ones to bits.
"You can actually donate used kitchen cabinets to many different organizations," says designer Jean Stoffer, who recently led the renovation of House Beautiful Editorial
Director Jo Saltz's kitchen. As Stoffer prepared to design new cabinetry from her own Stoffer Home line to perfectly fit the Saltz family's needs, she coordinated with Habitat for Humanity to arrange for the family's old cabinets—which were perfectly lovely but a bit dated—to be picked up for use in one of the nonprofit's future homes or for sale in one of their ReStores.
"Jo's previous cabinets were very high quality when they were put in, but there wasn't a kitchen designer involved," explains Stoffer. One drawer, for instance, didn't open due to the stove jutting out. "The cabinets were really well-made and I was sad to see them go," adds Saltz. "So we called Habitat for Humanity." The nonprofit arranged for pickup of the Saltz's cabinets, which they will sell in one of their ReStores, where profits benefit the organization's efforts to provide affordable homes across the country.
It's a process that's familiar to Raleigh designer MA Allen, who also worked with Habitat for Humanity to donate her home's cabinets to the organization's Wake County ReStore before renovating the kitchen of her family's new home.
Baltimore designer Laura Hodges is another designer advocate for donating whatever is possible—a concept that fits in with her mission to design in the most sustainable way possible. The designer urges homeowners undergoing a renovation to do research on organizations in their area that will accept used cabinetry, countertops, and home items. "People think Goodwill is just for clothes, but it will take in more than that," she says.
In addition to big nonprofits like Habitat and Goodwill, different towns and cities likely have local organizations that would love your donations. Do some research on housing nonprofits near you and give them a call to gauge interest. "In my city, there's a place called The Loading Dock that takes building materials, AC units, pretty much everything," Hodges shares. Another option? Reach out to interior designers, who may be working on pro-bono or nonprofit projects (like Kelly Finley, of Joy Street Design, who sourced donations to outfit a women's shelter as part of her Joy Street Initiative).
Ultimately, donating is a win-win: You get beautiful new cabinetry and someone else gets cabinetry that's new to them. You know what they say about one man's trash...
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