**Guest Post by Patty Millar**

I’m a huge fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ show “Fixer Upper” – one might go so far as to say I’m addicted to it – so please remember that as you keep on reading. In fact, I’m such a fan that just this past October 2017, I pooled resources with 6 friends and booked a stay at the newest addition to the Magnolia Moguls’ endeavors: the grand, turn-of-the-century Hillcrest Estate vacation home in Waco, TX. What a thrill to see the fruits of Joanna’s on point designs and Chip’s physical labors in person with my own eyes and actually have the opportunity to walk through and touch! The experience was truly more than my friends and I dreamed it would be. We enjoyed exploring every inch of the house, noting with delight Joanna’s masterful touches and promising we would incorporate similar strategies into our homes. We also marveled at the expert craftsmanship that Chip clearly brought to the project and daydreamed when we could do similar renovations to our houses. Everything from the flow of the home, to the paint colors and wallpaper (dare I say that 9-letter word?), to YES, the shiplap on walls and ceilings…it is brilliantly done.

As smitten as I as I am with this couple and their ventures, and as much as I appreciate the apparently magical transformation that occurs every week on their show, I have been having reticent thoughts about the process that is portrayed week in and week out, especially with regards to Chip’s famous Demo Day. Magnolia Market is filled to the brim with products which memorialize Chip and his love (and fans’ love) of this day: https://shop.magnoliamarket.com/products/demoday-shirt. There is a lot of sledgehammering and smashing going on, taking down walls to open up spaces. So many folks seem to fantasize about the day when they too can be that person armed with the tools of destruction, swinging with all their might taking out everything in their path with punishing completeness. I must admit…it could be fairly therapeutic as energies are focused with purpose in a controlled and “approved” setting – to get rid of the old and allow for new growth to begin. But it also begs the questions: Couldn’t the “old” be repurposed? Couldn’t the “old” be refinished? Couldn’t the “old” be “new” just by making some changes (new paint or hardware) or couldn’t it be “new” for someone else who has less?

As our landfills are brimming and our earth’s resources are being depleted at a seemingly ever-growing speed, I am finding myself thinking more and more about what I can do to help reverse this trend. As a Realtor® I have the unique opportunity to talk with clients as both buyers and sellers. The buyers are trying to envision themselves in a new house and many times voice the desire to gut this or that because the style just doesn’t match their style. Sellers are debating what updates to make prior to putting their house on the market, maybe to include a kitchen or bath renovation, and talk about getting rid of this or that. Don’t get me wrong – remodeling and updating are both valid activities and ones that I will continue to talk about with my clients. For my buyers it can help make a house feel like a home and for my sellers it can increase their return on investment. That’s good stuff!

So what do I do differently? How do I make a difference? As a Realtor® I encourage my clients to help our planet by salvaging those very serviceable oak cabinets and vanities versus having their contractor destroy them on Demo Day. I provide contractor quotes for painting those same cabinets versus replacing them which many times is the simple touch that is needed to bring them visually up to date. I make the case to buyers that the kitchen may not need to be “gutted” – the cabinets are just 10 years old; the appliances, though white vs stainless steel, are top-of-the-line and only a few years old; the laminate counters are neutral in color, are incredibly durable and will go with any color scheme they choose. Give the kitchen a chance to grow on you (they, after all, are really not so bad, Charlie Brown). By waiting, folks may discover that actually they like what they have (imagine that!), they save money by not having to replace everything, AND they are saving our planet’s limited resources. Now we’re talking!

Sometimes changes really are worthwhile and needed, and when that is the case, I encourage my clients to salvage what can be salvaged and donate to local places like Hyattsville’s Community Forklift: http://communityforklift.org/about-us/who-we-are/ or to Habitat for Humanity: http://habitatmm.org/ which has several ReStore locations in our metro area. Both of these are exceptional organizations who are working hard to save our planet while helping others. Community Forklift has on their website that 30%-40% of our nation’s waste is due to building materials. Surely we can all work on that! Not only is Community Forklift an excellent place to recycle, it provides a fabulous platform for reusing. This in turn reduces our need to mass produce more and more “new” items – a huge drain on our planet’s resources. My family and I like to go “hodge podging” there just for fun! I promise that you will not regret going to check out their inventory, nor donating to the cause. Head there around lunch or dinner time and you can also find another hidden gem close by – one of my family’s favorite watering holes – Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery and General Store: http://www.franklinsbrewery.com/. Hyattsville has so much to offer its residents and is a great place to live (and I’ll happily help you find a home there…just give me a call!).

Demo Day. It has its place, especially on Chip and JoJo’s “Fixer Upper”. But maybe – just maybe – we can all band together and take this movement to the next level. With your support I can pitch to and land my idea with HGTV for their biggest home show yet: Recycle Renos. I think Joanna Gaines is already on board with her habit of shopping at antique stores for furniture and decor pieces, giving new life to old and used items. I know she’s going to be a little busy with Baby Gaines soon, but I think she’ll consider working with me. Interested too? Check out the EPA’s website: https://www.epa.gov/recycle. We got this, People!

— Patty Millar