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Shipman Design
Participating designer Mary Jo Shipman will unveil her showroom composed of re-worked ReStore furniture at the VIP Preview Party. Courtesy Shipman Design Group

Founded in 1987, Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity (CFHFH) completed their first habitat home in 1989. The private, nonprofit Christian housing ministry has been assisting families purchase habitat homes since. With plenty of help from volunteers, they build quality homes and sell them at no profit. Offering interest-free mortgages, CFHFH are able to help low-income families purchase and sustain their homes.

Shipman Design

Participating designer Mary Jo Shipman will unveil her showroom composed of re-worked ReStore furniture at the VIP Preview Party. Courtesy Shipman Design Group

This Friday, April 25th, will mark the inaugural CFHFH’s Upscale Resale Designer Challenge, which will showcase over 20 interior designers’ talent and work. Serving as a fundraiser for the organization, the event will take place at the Schwartz Center at downtown’s Cape Fear Community College.

CFHFH  also runs two ReStores locally, which helps fund their building projects. With one on North Market Street and the other off Thirs Street, downtown, they take in furniture, appliances and other household goods that are donated by the public. Then they clean up the items and sell them back to the public.

ReStore manager Brent Byers developed the  Upscale Resale Design Challeneg to highlight creative ideas for repurposing furniture and various items found in the home. The challenge asks local participating designers to take pieces of ReStore’s furniture and transform them into chic, innovative creation, which will occupy a 10’ by 10’ showroom. After the winning display is crowned on Friday, the items will be sold with profits benefitting the local Habitat chapter.

“We hope to raise, at this event alone, $15,000, and that will help us to build a habitat house,” Kitty Yerkes, development director of CFHFH, tells. “That is about half of the cost [to build one home]. Habitat homeowners assume a mortgage, they’re not just given their house.”

The two-day fundraiser is set to kick off on Friday with a VIP preview party. There the designers’ spaces will be revealed, and “Best Interior Design” will be awarded. The grand prize winner will receive $500. Friday’s VIP preview party also will include wine, beer and heavy hors d’oeuvre.

Saturday will be open to the public, and all pieces used in the challenge will be on show and for sale. Food and beverages also will be available for purchase.

Judging the challenge will be a host of locals ready to put their discerning eyes to the test: Rhonda Bellamy, executive director if the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County and former board member of the CFHFH; Randy Aldridge, emcee at WWAY for “Your Hometown Show” and interior designer; and Lou Anne Liverman who writes home features for Wrightsville Beach Magazine.  “They were chosen because we think they will recognize the creativity required from the designers to repurpose the items that are in their dinette,” Yerkes states.

The challenge began in January. Competing designers ransacked the ReStore, grabbing an array of items that they aimed to use in their spaces. Over the past few months they have been busy re-furbishing, re-wiring and decorating their procured furnishings.

One of competing designers, Morgan Aldridge, of Emerywood Ave., has been working in the business for seven years now. She formerly worked for designer Norma Kamali. Aldridge and learned of the CFHFH challenge from local media. By participating she hopes to spread the word about the project.

“[The ReStore] is not just a great place to donate, but an excellent place to find beautiful pieces, unexpected items, and decor that can easily be repurposed,” Aldridge states.

She plans to use bright, unexpected colors balanced with neutrals. Aldridge aims to cultivate a whimsical space for cocktails and dinner. “It’s all about the creativity of one’s eye and seeing what could become,” she tells.

Also competing will be Mary Jo Shipman of Shipman Design Group. Having worked as an interior designer for seven years and even securing a semi-finalist spot in the third season of HGTV’s “Design Star,”Shipman’s ready to put her skills to good use. Shipman wanted to get involved with this challenge because she believes in the work CFHFH does for the community, and regards it as one of, if not the best charities in Wilmington.

“Providing housing at low to no interest for hard-working individuals who otherwise may never own a home, and preparing that homeowner by offering training in finance and home maintenance is just such a complete, successful package,” she says. “What is more important than having a home to recharge and reconnect with family?”

Without giving too much away Shipman hints that her style for the space will reflect a master bedroom of Hollywood regency. “It’s theatrical, elegant and ready for its close-up,” Shipman details. “We are creating a huge dramatic headboard out of a product that no one would believe could be transformed in this way!”

Other designers include a group of students from Cape Fear Community College While raising funds for the CFHFH is the main objective of this challenge, the nonprofit hopes to increase awareness for their ReStores.

Tickets can be purchased on their website at



Upscale Resale Designer Challenge Fundraiser

CFCC Schwartz Center
601 N. Front St.
VIP Preview Party
Friday, April 25th, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Admission: $30
General Public Sale
Sat., April 26th, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: $5; Kids: Free

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