As the saying goes, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
On May 1, conservationist Sheila O’Riley of Lenox and Rene Foster will open She-Nae’s Rescued and Renewed Decor for Home and Garden, 311 W. Montgomery St.
She-nae’s will feature a wide range of trendy furniture, home decor, garden art, accessories and clothing made from items that have been reimagined, reinvented or repurposed from previously discarded material.
O’Riley and Foster’s mission is “to lessen the impact on the globe by finding new purposes for old items.”
With their combined talent of craftsman skills, creativity and eye for design, O’Riley and Foster will be making new products out of old ones without using the massive amount of energy, which is required to manufacture new products or process products for recycling.
“Conservation was my career,” said O’Riley, who retired March 29. “The purpose is not just the fun of remaking things, but also saving things from the landfill and farmer’s ditches.”
Foster said the shop has always been a dream of hers, and now that she has been displaced from her job with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, it is a dream fulfilled. Her husband, Rick Foster, is taking leave from his construction business to help.
Like Foster, O’Riley has spent much of her free time salvaging discarded items such as silverware, crystal, glass and porcelain to create garden sculptures, wind chimes, furniture pieces and wall decor out of unlikely objects. Her home features a selection of repurposed and upcycled items such as colorful floursacks and vintage table clothes turned into curtains, bent silverware mounted to the wall to hang coats and whimsical chimes made from strung utensils and colored glass, when hit just right by the sun project colored refractions across her porch.
In addition to the sustainable products at She-nae’s, O’Riley and Foster also offer interior decorating services.
“We’re totally HGTV trained,” said O’Riley with a laugh.
Foster said they will also offer customers the opportunity to bring in their own furniture for a makeover.
“If someone has furniture that will remain the same, but want it sturdied up or refinished, we can do that,” said Foster.
Foster hopes to engage local students, as well.
“Who better to get on board with the green thinking and repurposing?” asked Foster.
O’Riley has also hosted a variety of gardening workshops for kids. The duo will offer do-it-yourself classes in the future.
The warehouse style shop, which will take the place of Foster’s Construction, will have an on-site workshop, where customers can also watch upcycling in action, while they shop.
O’Riley said there is a difference between repurposed and upcycled items.
“Repurposed is taking something that was something else and making it into something different or for a new use,” said O’Riley.
Foster described upcycling as “the same product, same use, just a shinier new look.”
“Some of the stuff will be very useful,” said Foster. “Some will be just for pleasure—junk that someone took and made in to art.”
“We want to try to stay as close to the mission as possible by not getting new material,” said O’Riley.
While hours have not yet been established, She-Nae’s Rescued and Renewed Decor for Home and Garden will open May 1. For additional information email O’Riley at email@example.com or Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org.