Chicago craftswoman transforms trashed antique furniture into treasured family heirlooms

ByJordan Arseneau Localish logo
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Chicago craftswoman transforms trashed furniture into heirlooms
EMBED <>More Videos

Alyssa Clark gained over 50K followers on Instagram by refurbishing furniture found next to dumpsters in Chicago alleys.

CHICAGO -- When the weather is mild, it's not unusual to see craftswoman Alyssa Clark getting in and out of her vehicle to rescue abandoned wooden antiques from Chicago alleyways.

"The more you drive around Chicago, the more opportunities you see for furniture just lying out waiting for the garbage truck," said Clark.

Clark's business, Reworked Home, is focused on refinishing and rehabilitating furniture by commission and selling found pieces that are often saved from alleys. The garage at her home in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood is filled with side tables, chairs, cabinets, dressers, and other antiques once destined for a landfill.

"I've become a bit of a furniture hoarder in addition to a furniture refinisher because I just can't leave these things behind when I see them," said Clark. "If it is picked up by me, it has the opportunity to live another life."

Clark says her followers on Instagram love to see how discarded furniture comes back to life while in her care. She said her own medical challenges are symbolic of the damaged antiques she's converted into new uses.

"I have an autoimmune disease and it does make this work difficult," said Clark. "But just like one of my furniture pieces, I'm still of use. I can still do these things and I have to do them differently."

Coming from the world of marketing and consulting, Clark said she became a craftswoman by learning from her grandfather, father, and uncle's home improvement projects as well as YouTube tutorials. She describes her grandfather, Richard Gebka, as the original do-it-yourself craftsman.

"I love to think about how the work that I'm doing would make him happy," said Clark.

Her Instagram page has grown to over 50K followers and her videos sometimes receive millions of views. Some of her most popular reels include a medical cabinet remade into bathroom storage and a vintage tv converted into a bar.

"I really consider it like adult 'show and tell,'" said Clark. "Everyone responds on Instagram, 'I can't believe they left that out, I can't believe they got rid of that.'"

To see more of Clark's creations, find her on Instagram at @reworkedhome.