Airy Kitchens Takes On the Upcycle Challenge

Each year, over 45,000 visitors explore the exhibitors and features at the Philly Home Show.

For the past six years, Habitat for Humanity has invited designers to take part in their Upcycle Challenge. To promote sustainable design practices, the possibilities in reusing second-hand materials, and Habitat’s work to support communities in need, the Upcycle Challenge welcomes designers to imagine how to transform something old into something new and useful.

Each participant is limited to a $50 budget to be used at Restore, Habitat’s second-hand retail store that supports the organization’s work of building, weatherizing, and repairing homes.

Photo: Airy Kitchens Owner, Sean Lewis

Sean Lewis, Owner of Airy Kitchen, a “design driven firm that helps home owners create spaces that they will love,” and his team selected a used window and revamped it into an outdoor grill cart that would be the envy of any sunny day cookout.

Because the window was aluminum, Lewis knew that it could withstand higher temperatures and as fate had it he found a discarded charcoal grill on the curb one day when he was driving home.

This challenge does not just call attention to Habitat’s work but also the potential for designers to consider the possibilities of upcycling in building and design.

For Lewis, not only does upcycling pose the opportunity for him to be more sustainable, but he has also found that second-hand materials and vintage finds can create the kind of character that a lot of homeowners are looking for.

But upcycling has its challenges. Lewis said that it is possible to find a lot of materials second-hand, but to increase the amount of upcycled materials in a project, the homeowner needs to remain flexible — regarding the project’s concept, timeline, and budget.

When the opportunity presents itself, Lewis and his team enjoy the challenge of incorporating upcycling into their designs. He also welcomes DIY-ers to see upcycling, and the wealth of resources at stores like Restore, as a challenge to finish those home projects that haven’t moved from the do-it list.


To learn more about SBN Member Airy Kitchens, click here.

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