Design 101: One Good Turn…

“What should I do with my old stuff when I renovate? How can I make my office feel less sterile?” Interior designers deal with these and many other questions every day. This month’s column focuses on small and not so small acts of kindness.

I am in the process of redecorating my house.  What should I do with my old furniture?  It would be a shame to throw perfectly usable items away just because they no longer fit your aesthetic. Donating furniture saves you the time of trying to sell pieces or the hassle of arranging to give them away.  Plus, places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army will come and pick them up for you.
Pro Tip: While the Salvation Army maintains a donation value guide on their website we suggest you speak with your Interior Designer to generate a more accurate valuation for your specific pieces.

What if I’m renovating as opposed to decorating?  Then you are in luck, because while some places will charge you to move your appliances, and some will charge you to dispose of them, try giving Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore a call.  They can come out and take away those heavy appliances and save you money on the front end as well as provide a tax deduction on the back.
Pro Tip: Demolition is not as fun as certain television shows make it seem, and it is certainly not free…but the aforementioned ReStore can uninstall your cabinets and take them away just like the appliances. Check with your specific location to see if they have a “Deconstruction team.”

If I don’t have anything big is there something meaningful I can donate?  Sure is. No doubt you have old towels and blankets. Much like clothing, there is significant demand for these items in charitable circuits. New items are easy to donate and can be used by numerous organizations. Older items that are not as pristine won’t bother our four-legged friends at the SPCA one bit. Either way, your donations will have a new home where they are needed.
Pro Tip:  When looking for replacement pieces we suggest trying cotton towels with a microfiber core. They feel amazing, hold significantly more water, and dry faster than a conventional towel. When replacing blankets, we suggest faux-fur lined cashmere for warmth or backed with synthetic suede for a cooler feel. 

I would like to do something nice, but don’t have anything to donate.  Do you have any other suggestions? We always cook too much food when we have company. If you do as well, and assuming you don’t have food shelter quantities remaining, we suggest sending your guests home with reusable “to go” containers.  It is a small gesture and especially nice for guests who don’t like to cook.
Pro Tip:  Make sure you give them reusable containers. Not only are they more ecologically friendly, but if they are the kind of guests who do enjoy cooking, you can expect to get them back filled with something yummy on the next visit! 

Are there ways to apply these principles to my office?  Absolutely.  We consider hospitality a critical component of our corporate culture.  Anyone who visits our office – client, neighbor, or even employee – is offered a drink and something to eat.  If they have a four legged companion we stock treats for them as well. Additionally when we have older items that we can no longer use they get donated just the same as a residence.
Pro Tip:  It never hurts to make sure that a guest’s blood sugar doesn’t dip too low.  Whether in a long meeting or a short one people who feel better are generally in a better mood and easier to deal with.  We normally suggest chocolate and caffeine, but your brand values may dictate something else.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 37 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at or visit

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