This past Sunday, November 15th, the Orange County Register featured Renovation Angel on the front page of their Real Estate section. Check it out!
Luxury recycling: If you’re bargain hunting, here’s how to get a designer kitchen at a discount
Jane Levy’s kitchen remodeling project went further than installing a sleek, new stove with a grill, glass-front cabinets, and a refrigerator behind mirrored panels.
Instead of demolishing her old kitchen, she decided to give it something, too – a second act.
The Corona del Mar resident donated her kitchen to an organization that specializes in luxe recycling. The nonprofit company, Renovation Angel, rips out high-end but dated or undesired kitchens and sells the items at a big discount, donating a portion of the proceeds to charity.
“I was thrilled to have it go somewhere where it would do some good,” Levy said of the kitchen that came with the house when she bought it and included a range by La Cornue, the iconic French stove maker.
Based on the East Coast, Renovation Angel is revving up its Orange County presence, deploying workers to upscale communities here and in Los Angeles to dismantle and transport valuable kitchens, bathrooms and architectural elements to its New Jersey warehouse for resale online.
“Orange County is a wonderful market for people who are doing these luxury renovations,” company founder and President Steve Feldman said.
Renovation Angel has formed a marketing partnership with appliance makers Sub-Zero and Wolf to spread the message: Don’t destroy a designer kitchen or haul it off to the dump.
“If you bought a brand new Mercedes and had it delivered to your home, you’d be totally shocked if the dealer took your old Mercedes and threw it out,” he said. “In the kitchen industry, some kitchens are worth more than a 5-year-old Mercedes.”
Feldman, a former disc jockey, spent 18 years in radio before moving into fundraising. He said the idea of demolition donations came to him one day when he saw a sign that read, “demolition in progress” at a 10,000-square-foot Connecticut home that had been built by the Rockefellers.
“I went up the driveway and saw the remains of a once beautiful estate,” Feldman said. “The thought was, ‘There must be amazing items in this mansion. Why not start a donation program to recycle luxury items and earn money for charity?’ The idea was, tremendous waste could be transformed into something good.”
Renovation Angel is the sister of Green Demolition, the name of the website where the donations are sold. Both operate under the nonprofit Recovery Unlimited. As of October, the organization had sold 3,900 kitchens, Feldman said. He said the website has some 17,000 to 35,000 visitors every month. In 2014, the nonprofit took in more than $3 million.
The organization offers “white glove” removal, packing and transport, completing the job in one day and leaving a clean space behind. The donor avoids demolition costs and receives documentation for claiming a tax deduction.
Feldman says donors have included celebrities and high-profile athletes. Actress Edie Falco of “The Sopranos” and “Nurse Jackie” and retired NFL wide receiver Amani Toomer have been among donors touting the organization.
Renovation Angel seeks donations of complete luxury kitchens, including the cabinetry, appliances, countertops, sinks/faucets, islands, pantries and bars. The organization also will accept more current kitchens with midline appliances for recycling if they are large enough and in good condition.
No kitchens are declined right off the bat because of their age, Feldman said.
“It could be 10 years old, 12 years old. It’s really about the condition, the styling, the complete package,” he said.
Feldman said appliances usually sell for 50 percent to 70 percent off list price, and whole kitchens can be sold at a discount of 60 percent to 80 percent, depending on their condition and age.
Jonathan Sparks of Beverly Hills said his kitchen was almost 20 years old when he donated it to Renovation Angel several years ago.
“I was surprised they were willing to come all the way out here,” said Sparks. Renovation Angel has yet to set up a West Coast warehouse.
A corporate pilot who has developed properties in the past, Sparks likes the donation vs. demolition concept. He said he’s seen plenty of old kitchens that “with a little carpentry skill,” could save another homeowner substantial costs.
“Sometimes the kitchen is in such bad shape and so old there’s no end user for it,” Sparks said. “But oftentimes it’s dated from the perspective of resale, but it’s still serviceable for someone who doesn’t want to pay the full retail price for a new kitchen.”
Feldman is a recovering addict, and some of the charities that get help from Renovation Angel are involved in addiction recovery. Others focus on at-risk youths, creating jobs and other social causes.
Renovation Angel recently partnered with FOCUS, a charity dedicated to combating poverty across the U.S., with an Orange County center in Westminster, said Cristina Fard, Renovation Angel’s spokeswoman, who lives in Aliso Viejo.
Her mother, interior designer Gina Fard, also does outreach on behalf of Renovation Angel in Orange County.
“I’m so excited to share this,” Gina Fard said. “I’ve had so many projects where I’ve had to watch these $200,000 kitchens with Sub-Zeros and Wolfs and Mieles … I’ve seen a lot of it just dumped. I’m cringing inside when I’m seeing this.”
Not all shoppers are bargain hunters.
When Maria Parisi’s house in Mendham, N.J., was destroyed by a fire in 2010, the mother of four had to act quickly to put a new home together for her family. That’s when she discovered the Green Demolition store.
“For us, it was a godsend,” she said. “We had nothing. We had to start from scratch.”
Parisi fell so in love with the solid walnut kitchen cabinets she found at Green Demolition that she wound up designing her new kitchen around them.
More purchases followed.
“When Steve had a bunch of toilets come in, he would let us know there were toilet donations or vanity donations. We bought 10 toilets from him, maybe 4 bathrooms from him … literally, my house is Renovation Angel.”
She figures she’s saved about $200,000 buying from the organization.
“You might not need everything, or you might need to order a couple more pieces (from a retailer) to make it perfect for your space,” she said. “You just have to have a really open mind and be flexible, and you can get beautiful, beautiful things.”