Airs & Graces: Zionsville couple turns trash into treasure

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By Renee Larr

Home decorating is a uniquely personal experience for every individual. Tastes, preferences and style all play a role.

Airs & Graces in Zionsville hopes to help taylor one-of-kind finds to fashion homes in the area. The business, owned by Doug and Dawn Rapp, sources local reclaimed items with the intent of getting them back into the hands of the community.

“Airs & Graces was a concept that my wife, who is an interior designer, and I came up with—kind of a collaborative idea,” Doug said.

The Rapps got started sourcing salvage materials accidentally after Doug purchased some architectural letters for friends in the vintage industry.

“It turns out they wanted about 100 of them, and I ended up with about 250 leftover,” he said. “I put a picture up on Facebook, and I started getting a bunch of calls immediately. It all just kind of fell into place.”

The Rapps focus on architectural salvage and reclamation.

“We try and take anything that is old, industrial or vintage and get it back out in the hands of people who appreciate it,” Doug said. “It might be anything from a fireplace mantle to a piece of old science equipment to an architectural letter to an antique train. Things that we find that would normally end up in a landfill somewhere, we try and keep those things out of the landfill and get them back out to people.”

Items are sourced from a variety of places. The Rapps are always on the lookout for the right pieces.

“It can be as simple as taking a look on Craigslist,” Doug said. “Most of it is word of mouth, believe it or not. People who see the types of things that we have and say ‘Oh, I have something similar.’”

Airs & Graces subscribes to a few core values when it comes to business.

“We live by a couple of principles, and the first is it shouldn’t cost more to do the right thing,” Doug said. “When we look at recycling or upscaling, our philosophy is that we want to get things back out to people as cheaply as possible so it’s not cost prohibitive.”

“It never made sense to us that you would have to pay a premium for something that was reclaimed,” he added. “We keep things as low in cost as possible so people will use things more readily. The other (principle) is that we believe that every object has a history to it, and we try and tell that story with every piece that we sell.”

Doug, who soon plans to retire from the military, has plans to involve other veterans in the business.

“We’d like to expand into more partnerships utilizing more veterans. Being a disabled veteran myself, I want to be able to offer jobs and mentoring opportunities to veterans,” Doug said. “We also want a partnership with educational organizations, whether it’s partnering with Zionsville Community Schools to teach children about re-purposing or salvaging or taking care of the environment.”

The name is a play on the phrase “putting on airs and graces.” Doug said his company was meant to be tongue and cheek. They’re not putting on airs and graces with what they are – the self-proclaimed junk dealers of Zionsville.

For more on A&G, visit reclaimedgrace.com.

Meet Doug Rapp

Favorite restaurant: “Three-way tie between Cobblestone Grill, The Friendly Tavern and Salty Cowboy. Oh, and Patrick’s. I like to eat.”

Favorite thing about living in Zionsville: “The incredible people that choose to live here.”

Dream vacation destination: “Everest base camp”

Interesting fact: “I studied art in Italy and Egypt.”

Favorite TV show: “BBC’s ‘Sherlock.’”

Children: Jade, 22, Urban, 17

Pets: German shorthaired pointer named Raiden

Favorite book: “A Man of the People” by Chinua Achebe

Favorite musician: Peter Murphy


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