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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Trash becomes treasure with help from local artist

Chase Morris focuses on sustainability by selling up-cycled home decor through her online business The Homebodi

<p>Chase Morris, 25, a Gainesville resident and DIY content creator applies transfers to an antique sewing machine drawer to repurpose into a planter on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. </p>

Chase Morris, 25, a Gainesville resident and DIY content creator applies transfers to an antique sewing machine drawer to repurpose into a planter on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, at least according to Chase Morris. She repurposes old furniture that would otherwise end up in the dumpster, giving these old fixtures new lives.

The local artist promotes sustainability, inspiring people to “Get Crafty Bestie” and repurpose old furniture instead of throwing it away.

Morris, 25, is a Gainesville resident, born and raised, who created her online business The Homebodi in August 2020. The business sells upcycled home decor with a focus on sustainability. It also pairs with businesses like Vintage Furniture Paint, a woman-owned business based out of Jacksonville, Florida, and Re-design With Prima, where Morris carries DIY supplies such as paint and sticker transfers designed for furniture.

The Homebodi not only carries upcycled home decor items and DIY supplies, but it also carries other things like stickers and tote bags and offers services like home makeovers. Morris said most of the makeover work is through online consultations where clients request help with color palettes or design ideas for their projects. 

The passion for upcycling began when Morris was 18 years old. Her mother created an auction for a friend who got into a car accident and aimed to raise funds for her hospital stay while in recovery. At the time, her mom recently started woodworking, and together, they created home decor for the auction. They raised money for a month, and from there, the craft took off.

One of Morris’ greatest inspirations is her mom, and The Homebodi’s idea originated from using leftover inventory from her mother’s previous business.

“My mom owned a repurposed furniture business, The Material Muse, in Gainesville for four years, and COVID unfortunately shut down her store,” Morris said. “I had the idea of designing the website and carrying the paint and sticker transfers she had started. I also run the shipping and inventory. So, I kind of took what she had started and switched directions while being online since the pandemic was happening.”

Morris said “it was really scary” to create a business during the pandemic, especially since her mother’s business closed due to the economic turmoil. 

“During the peak of the pandemic, it was hard because people may not have had the extra funds to spend on luxuries,” she said.

But Morris is hopeful about the future of her business.

“Now that things are kind of improving and people are more comfortable being at home, it seems people are willing to spend on luxuries and their personal space again,” she said.

Enjoying the comfort of home is what the business’ name is all about, according to Morris. She said the name came to her and her mother because they’re both introverts and work from home. They wanted the brand to give the impression that it’s OK to be at home, and personalizing your space is worth the time and effort. 

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When it comes to personalization, Morris said her favorite pieces to revamp are large statement items including TV consoles, desks and dressers. 

“If I had to pick one item, I’d choose to revamp a dresser because I think people have the most fun in their bedrooms,” she said. “It’s a place to themselves and reflects a lot about who they are.”

Morris noticed people tend to throw away items because they outgrow or don’t like something about the product– things that could be “easily changed” such as its color or design. When she was 20 years old and lived in student housing, she noticed her peers filling the dumpster with things that had the potential to be recycled instead of discarded. 

“It’s much less expensive to change something about a product than to go to a big corporation, buy something that will last a year and then throw it out,” she said.

For the past seven years, almost everything in Morris’ home is secondhand and painted. She said most of what she upcycles is gifted to her by family or found at thrift stores. She occasionally finds herself checking local dumpsters or curb-picking to find items.

“You’d be surprised how much solid wood, good furniture and things I’ve found that people just throw out,” she said. 

Morris said her average customer is between the age of 30 to 55. She thinks she attracts an older market because younger people tend to rent spaces they can’t change. 

But since attending local markets like The Florida Vintage Market, she’s attracted a younger group from about 18 to 25 years old. At markets, she sells her canvas paintings, which usually depict abstract faces, bodies and plants. She also sells vintage clothes and other repurposed items including furniture. 

“I just want to show people, especially my age group, that you don’t have to throw things away. You can recycle and reuse them.” 

More information on The Homebodi’s shop can be found on Instagram or through its website


Contact Karter at knancy@alliagtor.org. Follow her on Twitter @writtenbykarter1.

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