Divine Re-Designs Repurposes Trash into Treasure
Thursday, January 18, 2018
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Derrek and Andrea Plattenburg never intended to open a “repurposing store.”
“Divine Re-Designs is sort of a happy accident,” Andrea said.
The couple started out “flipping houses,” buying run down homes, restoring and reselling them. But their remodeling increasingly took a creative turn, taking an old vanity from a bathroom and using it as a kitchen island for instance.
“We hate to waste anything,” Andrea insisted. They started making furniture from “the leftovers” and their repertoire quickly expanded into “reimagining” whatever crossed their path. Doors became hall trees and corner cabinets; bottles became lamps; barrel hoops became overhead light fixtures while the barrels became sinks; headboards became the backs of loveseats; windows became tables; ladders became towel racks and shelves.
Sometimes customers fail to recognize the original item. One woman mistook a wooden ironing board for a sled, in its new life repurposed as a table.
“Everything is one of a kind,” Andrea stressed. “We use what we have on hand.”
Located in old downtown Decherd at 100 East Main St., across from the historic Powell’s Hardware building, Divine Re-Designs occupies what was the pool hall for many generations of Decherd folks. A backroom serves as a workshop where the Plattenburgs craft their wares. The showroom floor is decorated with the hand and foot prints of their two daughters, ages eight and 12, while the ceiling is tin salvaged from an old barn in Jump Off.
Andrea was born and raised in Sewanee and refers to herself as a “Sewaneean,” although the couple has lived in Winchester for the past seven years. After 26 years as a maintenance superintendant at Nissan, Derrek resigned for a new career restoring old houses, following in the footsteps of his father who was likewise a skilled carpenter.
The Plattenburg’s point to Divine Re-Designs as a cornerstone in the “bring back old downtown Decherd” initiative. Andrea serves on the downtown Decherd committee composed of business owners appointed by the mayor. The committee pursues grant opportunities. Decherd recently made a $15,000 matching contribution for flowerpots, benches, and like amenities to make historic downtown more “aesthetically pleasing.”
Area residents frequently bring doors and other mementos from their childhood homes wanting the Plattenburgs to create something they can cherish as a legacy and pass down to future generations.
The Plattenburgs are open to bartering if folks see something they like. People invite them to visit their old barn or shed to scavenger for “trash into treasure” possibilities. “Sometimes we put things on the floor ‘as is’ if it’s a particularly cool item,” Andrea said.
Divine Re-Designs also features consignments from a few area artisans whose creations are appropriate to the theme: pressed glass bottles re-imagined as serving trays, handmade wooden fishing lures, and a local blacksmith’s crafts. The commission charged artisans is low. “We want to support local artisans, and their wares diversify our offerings,” Andrea explained.
“We felt led to do this,” she said commenting on the name Divine Re-Designs and how the career change to restoring old houses led to a business opportunity neither one of them ever imagined—“We’re border line hoarders. The difference is things get to move on.”
Divine Re-Designs opened its doors in December 2016. “We have a heavy traffic flow, a lot of regular customers,” Andrea noted speaking to the store’s success. In addition to individuals, several area businesses decorate with Divine Re-Designs creations. Branchwater Distillery in downtown Winchester features a Divine Re-Designs’ hall tree fashioned from an old door, railroad nails, and whiskey barrel lid. The minnow basket light fixtures at Lakeside Veterinary Clinic in Estill Springs are Divine Re-Designs creations.
“People are tired of mass produced items. They want something unique with character. But Divine Re-Designs isn’t just for rich people,” Andrea was quick to point out. “We’re committed to keeping prices affordable.”
Divine Re-Designs is open Thursday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or, according to Andrea, “until people stop coming.”