Upcycling Furniture into Art
Artist, Psychologist, Licensed Behavior Specialist, mother, wife, and ReStore shopper are just a few titles that describe Lilliana Didovic. Since 2015, Lilliana has been a regular shopper at Habitat Philadelphia’s ReStore on Washington Avenue. Lilliana purchases new and used furniture to transform them into one-of-a-kind pieces of upcycled art.
Lilliana lives only a few blocks from the ReStore in South Philadelphia with her husband Joseph and their son Gordan. Originally from Bosnia, the family moved to the U.S. in 1992 to find refuge from the Bosnian War.
The Didovics have lived in various parts of Philadelphia, including Northeast and West Philly. Through the years, Gordan faced serious health concerns and often spent extended time at the hospital. When Gordan was in an induced coma after a traecheostomy procedure, Lilliana asked her husband to bring paints to ease her mind as she waited anxiously with Gordan. Lilliana began painting in 2005 and continued to develop her art over the years, often next to her son’s bed at home.
Lilliana and her family eventually moved to South Philadelphia in 2015. One day, one of Gordan’s at-home nurses introduced Lilliana to Habitat Philadelphia’s ReStore which had just relocated and opened on Washington Avenue. When she visited the store with her husband, she was inspired by the unique pieces of furniture she found and had the idea to paint designs on them to make them different. This was the start of her journey of painting and upcycling furniture.
Over the years, Lilliana has collected and upcycled numerous pieces of furniture and every single one is uniquely different.
When choosing furniture for each new project, Lilliana looks for pieces with unique qualities and wood material for her to paint on. Since she works full-time as a Behavioral Specialist and takes care of Gordan, the process in completing one project is long. However, her husband Joseph pitches in by sanding and cleaning up the pieces before she paints. Nearly all the furniture she’s painted as well as canvases and frames for her other artwork, are from the ReStore.
In 2020, Lilliana won the Philly Home Show Upcycle Challenge and donated the prize money back to the ReStore. “I didn’t have to think twice about it because I always like to support [the ReStore], because I always feel supported by them”, explained Lilliana.
As a longtime shopper and friend to the ReStore, Lilliana shares about the staff members and volunteers she often interacts with, “They’re just very nice and pleasant people. I like them all. Chris and Angie, the managers, are so welcoming every time—we always have conversations when I visit.” Lilliana can recognize many of the staff members and volunteers and says, “we [Joseph and I] have been going for years and it’s very nice [to see] people investing their time.”
“I am a person who always believes that things happen for a reason.”
Lilliana considers that if she hadn’t moved to South Philly, all of this might have never happened. She probably wouldn’t be painting furniture like this and wouldn’t have met the people she has along the way.
“Sometimes you are just motivated to do certain things at certain times and places, so I always say, ‘things happen for a reason.’”
When asked what home means to her, Lilliana replied, “Home is everything. Habitat’s mission to provide homes for people in need is really amazing and very human. You’re giving someone motivation for life.”
Just as painting and making art have brought so much into her life; Lilliana believes that anyone can tap into their creative side and make a difference in something. She encourages people to go and express themselves through used furniture, objects, etc. and see what you can do with it.
To find your own inspiration, visit our ReStore in South Philadelphia.