Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
By Anna Lothson
Staff Reporter, Wednesday Journal
Oak Park natives Anne and Douglas Dowd got married, bought a new condo, and did what most couples check off next — new furniture on a newlywed budget.
They soon discovered finding pieces that fit their price and style was problematic. But Anne’s design background coupled with her husband’s business experience gave them the match needed to solve their dilemma and soon help their friends and neighbors do the same. On Saturday, Aug. 31, the couple will debut Refind Home into the Hemingway Business District at 139 S. Oak Park Ave.
“There are so many green home stores and antique stores in the area but nothing is focused on being made locally or made for home furnishings,” Anne Dowd said. “That was our inspiration.”
The new furniture store will encompasses a vintage and modern look they desired, but with an eco-friendly touch. This also means finding items from Chicago and the Midwest, and the rest from as close as possible to keep a low carbon footprint.
“We wanted to combine the look of modern, upscale with vintage 1950s and 1960s furniture,” Anne Dowd said. “And we wanted to be eco-friendly conscious.”
The challenge of going green and vintage was challenging, but this helped create the store’s overall mission.
“It’s more of a lifestyle store,” she said, which is specifically geared toward people who seek products that embrace their six major concepts: local, sustainable, affordable, luxe modern, mid-century modern and eco-friendly. The couple also hopes to help others find what they did in their own home.
“I wanted to create something that was beautiful,” she said. “It combines colors and it translates to one design from another.”
Choosing Oak Park to set up shop was easy since both grew up here and moved back after living out east. They searched around and realized home was the only place to open Refind Home. It will also feel like Oak Park, she said.
“This isn’t going to be a stuffy design boutique from the city. This will definitely be an Oak Park shop where people can come and feel comfortable and ask questions.”
Most the products in the store come from within the U.S., with a few items, like handmade rugs from India made with eco-friendly dyes, being the exception. She stressed no items are from China, and fair-trade products remain a priority in their products.
The furniture offered at Refind Home will be an eclectic mix of mid-century modern and modern; some is previously owned, while others items are new. But old in this case means reducing, reusing, recycling and reclaiming items. That’s also done in an environmentally-friendly manner. Reclaimed, for example, means turning items like an old French door into a one-of-a-kind coffee table.
“We use as little process as possible bringing it back to life,” Anne Dowd said. “We spruce it up but we try to keep as little waste in the process in making it beautiful again.”
Most importantly, when customers walk in they’ll know the store follows a sustainable theme even as its in-house items like bags and tags that are made from 100 percent recycled content, CFL and LEF light bulbs, reusable canvas totes, and options to email receipts instead of printing them.
“We want to make sure that we’ve done our homework,” Dowd stressed. “We do the research so [customers] don’t have to.”
Opening day at Refind Home starts at 11 a.m., Aug. 31, with a ribbon cutting. To learn more about the owners and the store, visit refindhome.us. Products will be live online the day the store opens.