Perennial St. Louis Teaches Residents to Reuse, Repurpose and Redecorate

If you’re anything like me, you salivate over Pottery Barn catalogs, imagining how awesome a new armoire would look in your bedroom. That IKEA commercial where the room transforms from one cool theme to another? It's decorating porn.

Then you realize juice boxes and daycare have eaten away any crumbs of your decorating budget. But what if you can curb your designer craving with one-of-a-kind pieces at an affordable cost – all while helping the environment at the same time?

A new organization in town, Perennial St. Louis, is offering educational programming in creative reuse to help residents restyle their homes by transforming broken junk into incredible home décor. Through their workshops, you can learn DIY step-by-step techniques for creating pieces that will have your friends buzzing.

If the thought of repurposing doesn’t strike you as fashionable, guess again. Said Jenny Murphy, founder and executive director of Perennial, “The biggest misconception that most of us learn from America’s culture of consumption is that we need to have the latest style or product and that buying used, reusing or repurposing is a sign of being not ‘with it’ or not having the means to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ This is totally bonkers!”

“Especially in our current economic state, people are beginning to value, once again, characteristics such as resourcefulness, consciousness and responsibility. Not only do people not need the newest product, but it’s likely they will be praised for their creativity and uniqueness for making something innovative with their own two hands. DIY is the new high design!”

A vision transformed into reality

Murphy first fostered the idea for Perennial four years ago as an art student at Washington University. By October 2010, she made the decision to fully develop and grow the organization. Today, Murphy and her staff host a variety of DIY workshops and events, all priced affordably and open to the public, at various locations around town.

The classes are incredibly diverse – in one, you can learn the secrets to repairing and refinishing a retro piece of furniture you discovered on a dumpster dive. In another, you’ll transform items you may already have at home, such as a wool sweater or dishware, into usable holiday gifts. Perennial provides the materials for each class, including furniture and household goods rescued from the alleys of St. Louis.

While repurposing furnishings is great for the environment, your home and your budget, it also provides a unique way to instill the value of sustainability in your kids.

“Making things together helps us connect with one another and learn more about the people in our lives as you both express your individual creativity and problem-solve together,” explained Murphy. “Not only that, but teaching our kids the skills they need to be self-sufficient – even if it’s as simple as repairing a wobble in a chair leg – are such important lessons to pass on. They will be active with their bodies and minds and view their personal creativity and skills as powerful tools to live healthy and sustainable lives.”

Raising funds through Lost + F(o)und

On Thursday, October 6th, Perennial will kick off its first public fundraiser, Lost + F(o)und: Drink, Donate + Discover DIY Sustainable Design. Held at Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar, 1004 Locust in St. Louis, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Lost + F(o)und will introduce those new to repurposing to the organization and help raise money for Perennial’s eventual studio/workshop which will host classes on site and house all of the organization’s amazing finds.

During Lost + F(o)und, a county fair-style event, you can watch demonstrations on repurposing, create your own drink coaster from old bike tubing, and listen to music provided by Green Strum, a group of folk musicians who perform on upcycled instruments. In addition, check out and bid on furniture designed by local artists and designers for Perennial’s Re-Design Challenge.

Tickets can be ordered for $10 in advance, or purchased for $15 at the door. For more information on Perennial or Lost + F(ound), visit www.perennialstl.org.

By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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