What goes around certainly comes around for Chris and Yvonne Johnson, and in the best ways possible.
The husband-and-wife team behind Marietta-based design/build firm Reclaimed Karma takes a sustainable approach to their home improvement projects, often using reclaimed wood, antique furniture and other sustainable sources to create beautiful, new spaces.
“We really felt like we wanted to make sure people knew that we believe in karma, and especially good karma, so that they know that whatever we do, we’re going to make it right,” Yvonne said. “And because we do dabble in the reclaim space, it’s a way of bringing things back around full circle, to bring good karma by being sustainable and making use of things with a history.”
If the karma couple looks familiar, it’s for good reason.
“Reclaimed Reno” has aired several times on the DIY Network, with the pilot featuring the Johnsons renovating a local Marietta family’s home with reclaimed items and plenty of custom work.
The show followed the couple as they renovated the house in just the course of two weeks, but Yvonne said she and Chris worked with the couple for another month just to make sure everything was the way the family wanted it, and in good shape, too.
“You hear these horror stories where people are on home renovation shows and then, when the crew leaves, the homeowners are left with this house that looks pretty but the construction is a nightmare. We definitely did not want that to happen. While the crew just moves on to the next project, this is our community and this is our business, so we wanted to bring good karma and make sure everyone was happy,” Yvonne said.
The couple said they have their fair share of the wild stories one might expect to come from knocking on random people’s doors for their “trash” or lumber.
“We would go to these lumberyards or drive by places in the middle of nowhere and see a bunch of pallets or something and Chris would say, ‘You knock,’” Yvonne said, with a laugh. “And this guy would come out with no teeth. And he’s looking at us like, ‘What is going on?’ And we’re looking at him like, ‘Oh, this is strange.’ But they’re such great people, when you get to know them.”
“We’ve had a lot of experiences like that,” Chris added. “It teaches you a lot about people, both of the stereotype we had and one he probably had about me, too. But when you get down to it, get past that, they’ll start talking to you and offer you a beer and just want to talk to you about what they’ve got going on.”
Chris himself might be familiar to those who have been in Marietta for a while. He graduated from Marietta High School in 1998 and played fullback for the football team, for which he received the coveted “Be Somebody” award from his coaches.
Yvonne and Chris moved their family to Marietta eight years ago, in a home that Chris said he could only dream of owning after growing up in a small apartment off of Powder Springs Road.
“It’s in the Dunleith neighborhood, and I remember walking through that community to go see friends who lived there, that I played football with at school. I remember, growing up in a two bedroom apartment, just thinking, ‘One day, I’m going to live in a neighborhood like this,’” Chris said.
Chris said the home was for sale for a while, but offers kept falling through because the investors were doing a terrible flip to the house. He would stand outside the house, pray for it to be theirs and manifest seeing his family in the home.
“My son was getting ready for high school and I knew I wanted him to go to Marietta like me. ‘Be Somebody!” Chris said.
But Yvonne wasn’t so keen on the idea at the time.
“We were living in Smyrna and he practically had to drag me, but it was the best thing that could have ever happened to us,” she said.
And it did. His manifestations were realized when they found themselves the new owners in the Dunleith neighborhood he once visited. But the home still needed a lot of help. The couple hired a contractor from the neighborhood who said he could renovate their entire kitchen for $4,800, with Chris’ help. Chris was working in sales at the time and Yvonne in marketing, but Chris was handy with his side business of building furniture and creating custom pieces for friends.
“We were idiots for hiring him,” Chris said. “He’s riding to the house with someone else, showing up with brand new tools that he’s pulling out of new bags, arriving at 10, leaving at 2, it just ended up being a complete mess.”
“The house was tore up from the floor up,” Yvonne added. Soon, they found themselves with the contractor and their $4,800 gone, and much work to be done.
So Chris decided to learn from some of his construction friends, as well as “YouTube University,” to finish the project himself. Thus, Reclaimed Karma began.
Today, the couple said they have to pick and choose the projects they accept because their business has boomed. The pandemic actually helped them in some ways, as people began finally tackling the renovation projects they’d been putting off for so long. They’ve redone kitchens, bathrooms, work spaces, and even created the 8x10-feet, 400-pound door inside Two Birds Taphouse on the Marietta Square from reclaimed materials. Yvonne said she is more of the CFO of the company, while Chris does a lot of the design, labor and “big picture” work.
The couple is also recording online tutorials for Home Depot and has many other viewer-based projects in the works - signs that they are also enjoying good karma.
“That $4,800 is the best money we ever could have spent and lost,” Yvonne said. “It changed our lives forever and, if we saw him walking on the street, we’d tell him ‘thank you’ because we never would have found our callings without that experience.”