David Pogue Finds A Renovation Angel

To the rest of the world, David Pogue is a tech guru. He’s a writer (Yahoo, New York Times, Scientific American), TV correspondent (“CBS News Sunday Morning,” PBS “Nova Science Now”) and author (“Missing Manual” series, “Pogue’s Basics”) who has won 3 Emmy awards, 2 Webbys and a Loeb for journalism.

To Westporters, he’s a neighbor.

Which means he worries about the same things you and I do: traffic. How his kids do in school. His kitchen renovation project.

Here — because David Pogue is a neighbor, friend and “06880” fan — is his exclusive story about one part of that kitchen remodel:

When we decided to renovate our aging kitchen, one of my greatest stresses was: What happens to the old kitchen?

David Pogue’s kitchen, before renovation.

For most Fairfield County residents, I’d imagine the answer is, “it winds up in the landfill.” Occasionally, “Habitat for Humanity will take a few items.”

But I’m here to tell you about an amazing alternative that I wish everybody knew: Renovation Angel.

Our kitchen designer told us about this outfit. To be frank, it sounded too good to be true. Listen to this business model:

* They dismantle and haul away your old kitchen for free. You’re saved the cost of the demolition, disposal fees, dumpster rental, and so on.

* They give you a huge tax deduction.

* They then resell your entire kitchen, both online and at their huge showroom in New Jersey. All of it: cabinets, countertops, appliances, lights, chairs —whatever you can part with. Other people who are renovating their kitchens get luxury stuff for a fraction of its usual price.

* The best part: Renovation Angel then gives the proceeds to charity. They donate to programs for addiction recovery, at-risk children, job training, and social entrepreneurship.

David Pogue, wondering how to renovate his kitchen and help the world.

To me, this seemed like a win-win-win-win-win. You win (free demo and the tax writeoff); the planet wins (nothing thrown away); your kitchen’s buyer wins (saves a fortune); Renovation Angel wins (employs 135 people); and, of course, the charities win.

I decided to try it. I sent them photos; they sent a guy out to measure. They asked when we wanted them to show up, and recommended that we have the water and gas disconnected when they arrived. That was it.

Oh — except for the part where they said that our nearly 20-year-old kitchen would earn us a $40,000 tax deduction! Unbelievable.

And so last week they showed up on schedule with a big truck and a 4-man, fully insured crew. Board by board, piece by piece, they dismantled our kitchen, protecting each piece as they loaded it into the truck. They worked nonstop for 4 hours, treated each piece like an heirloom, and left the place spotless. (Incredibly, ours was their 2nd kitchen of the day.)

Almost done!

Renovation Angel is the brainchild of Steve Feldman, who credits a drug addiction recovery program with saving his life when he was a teenager. About 12 years ago, he saw a 10,000-square-foot house in Greenwich being demolished — and watched all the fine marble, custom cabinetry and expensive appliances get tossed into a dumpster. That was the inspiration for Renovation Angel.

Now, a dozen years later, he’s recycled 5,000 kitchens, donated $2.2 million to charity, and kept 30 million pounds of stuff out of landfills.

The kitchen, after Angel Renovation got done. (Photos/David Pogue)

The experience for us was joyous, effortless and thrilling — not words you usually associate with home renovation. Seems like Westport is a national hub of nice kitchens and kitchen renovation. So I can’t help myself in trying to spread the word!

As I said, David Pogue may be world famous, but he has typical Westport/1st world problems. Like, how will he and his family eat while their new kitchen is being installed?

Click below for David’s great time-lapse video of the entire Renovation Angel project:

 

 

23 responses to “David Pogue Finds A Renovation Angel

  1. Karl Taylor

    Another win, win situation where everyone comes out ahead. I’d be a bit skeptical about trying to get a $40,000 tax deduction for donating the old kitchen. The IRS would probably not be too receptive, but stranger things have happened.

    • Actually, the tax deduction is the real deal. Renovation Angel actually sends an appraiser to make sure that the paperwork is all up to snuff.

      • Karl Taylor

        …as I said, stranger things have happened. Most IRS agents would eat this one up, (Reference to “eat this up” was unintended.) (but it fits).

  2. Mary Condon

    Excellent story! Win/win for homeowner and “Renovation Angel.”
    Thanks, Dan. Mary Condon

  3. This is fabulous! What an awesome find.

  4. Mark Yurkiw

    15 years ago I had to renovate a very old kitchen in a very, very old barn here in Westport. Fortunately I stumbled across Renovation Angel when they were located right here on the Westport/Norwalk border. I was very pleased to put together a fabulous kitchen for a minuscule fraction of the cost. Kudo’s to a sustainable business model! Most importantly for me I felt great about recycling these lux items. I was aghast at the beautiful kitchen materials and luxury appliances that people threw away! What does this say about our privileged lives here in Westport when they take our trash and make millions of dollars… and offer tax deductions. Thankfully it all goes to the ones that need it most.

  5. I think the old kitchen was beautiful. I’d love to see a photo of the one that replaced it.

    • Sharon Paulsen

      Ditto!

      Would be fun to see a follow up vid of the “after”, with a time lapse of the new installation.

    • Way ahead of you! I’ve been creating a time-lapse of the installation of the new kitchen… I’ll find some way to post it when it’s all done in mid-August. (4 hours to dismantle… 6 weeks to replace!)

  6. Michael Calise

    It is nothing short of amazing that people build these spectacular kitchens that are incredibly functional and then go out to eat. For my part I’d rather be in my Grandmother’s kitchen where no one gave a thought to the cabinets or appliances but at that old kitchen table we enjoyed world class food meal after meal!

  7. N Lord Martin

    Their store (green demolitions) used to have a location in Norwalk. Shame it closed, but the Jersey store is worth a trip if you’re in the area. They have some high end donated new stuff too.

  8. Bonnie Bradley

    I feel the same nostalgia that Mike describes but that world is long gone. Insofar as house renovation or tear-downs, the waste of perfectly good materials and pressure on landfill sites is incredible. This story is sweet! Gertrude Heyn’s beautiful home in Owenoke, which my parents bought in the 60s (and in which I never lived) was a sad example – neglected, trashed and carted to landfill, although I believe a garden club was permitted to save and take away some plants – a great decision by someone in charge. Renovation Angels certainly seems like a sane and sensible solution toward a sustainable world. We need more of this and these positive ideas.

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

      As I read the article I had the same thoughts that Bonnie had about Mrs. Heyn’s house. Also the same thoughts as Mike had remembering my grandmother’s kitchen and my Mom’s. That said Renovation Angel sounds like a win win situation.

  9. As the survivor of multiple kitchen renovations over the years, I’m thrilled to learn about this — for all the reasons that David mentioned. Every architect and builder should know about Renovation Angels.

  10. Jennifer Mehok

    That’s amazing – thank you for sharing!! I will spread the word as well whenever I hear of someone wanting to remodel their kitchen and will absolutely call Renovation Angels when it comes time to do mine.

  11. If you need to replace a high end kitchen with a more modern high end kitchen…this is certainly the way to go. Good information and again…David Pogue is always on the cutting edge of something smart, creative and innovative!

  12. Richard Jaffe

    I donated my kitchen to Renovation Angel two years ago. I paid the accredited appraiser they recommended, and got a tax deduction (IRS Form 8283) for the market value of the contributed items. Everything worked as Dan describes. I would use them again.

  13. Cathy Walsh

    I wish I would have known this 2 weeks ago and $3000 later.

  14. Erik Ostbye

    What a great idea!!!

  15. Sharon Paulsen

    I really enjoyed this whole thing … Dan’s write-up, Pogue’s video, the exposure to this awesome and smart business model!

    My kitchen, before renovation (which my DH and I custom crafted, built, finished and installed all on our own … long story with awesome results), was a 1950’s white metal cabinetry “blast from the past”. It was actually a General Electric brand of cabinets. Can’t vouch for the aqua laminate boomerang patterned counter tops, but they surely were … ahem, vintage.

    We carefully removed all the metal cabinets, and created a tool and paint storage area in our basement with them. Perfect, because they were metal, and also because they were indestructible (8 years later, and they are still amazing and functional).

    We also made our own concrete countertops, which was a huge challenge as well, but worth the efforts. (Not easy, like one would see on HGTV, lol. Gotta research it first, big time, and also have a lot of good power tools at your disposal).

    Can’t imagine those cabinets would have been worth much to the Angels company, but we were glad to repurpose them right in our own place!

    Anyway, really appreciate this article and info!

    • John Hooper

      Thanks D & D the post was very timely for me. My wife called yesterday, they came out today and plan to remove our kitchen next week. What a great idea. The tax deduction is nice but saving the demo cost and dumpster is even nicer.

  16. Nancy Austin

    Another great story! Thanks for sharing and the info. Kudos to you and David! And to Renovation Angel!

  17. Carissa Baker

    What a wonderful idea! Must say I thought his kitchen was gorgeous. Didn’t look out of date to me.