How this Santa Cruz-Based Couple Upcycles Wood into Art

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Inspired by a zero waste philosophy, Alibi Interiors reclaims salvaged wood to make handcrafted home goods. Photos and Interview by Tara Rock.

When I first met Paige and Chris, I knew right away we would be friends. They had a great energy—the type of people you want to surround yourself with. Together, they founded Alibi Interiors, a fully sustainable company that reclaims and repurposes old wood.

Their roots began humbly and organically: Chris worked as a paramedic and taught paramedicine for six years. Paige has a BFA in Interior Architecture and worked at a small design firm and managed a retail shop where she directed visual displays and merchandising. After two years of casually building frames and furniture as a hobby, they both quit their jobs to put all their energy towards their passion: Alibi Interiors. Seven years later, they continue to expand, inspire, and hunt for discarded wood.

Original Universal

On him: Original Universal in Black. On her: the Original Universal in Burnt Olive/Jaffa Orange.

Alibi Interiors in Santa Cruz

What I especially love about them is how they’ve blended sustainability in their personal and work life so beautifully. You see it in their everyday lives— in each wood piece they create, the garden in their backyard, and the community they’re a part of.

I caught up with them while we were visiting Santa Cruz and got to see their handcrafted process and chat a little more about their business and lifestyle.

Tell us about yourselves and what a typical day looks like. What makes you happy?

PAIGE: Hello, my name is Paige and my husband is Chris. We were both born and raised in Aptos, (a small coastal town in Santa Cruz county) California. Our days start with coffee and tea, always. Then, we load up wood from our yard and transport it to our warehouse. Chris takes the morning shift to cut materials and build products, while I tend to our baby.

I typically come in to work in our office in the afternoon. We’re both home and spending time in our garden with our child by the late afternoon, or going for a walk in the redwoods or along the beach. Work makes us happy! Spending time outdoors also makes us happy. Road trips, time spent with family, dining out, a good bottle of wine—these things also make us happy.

Original Universal

Chris and Paige reclaim any and all found wood and make it beautiful and purposeful again.  Paige wears the Original Universal in Burnt Olive/Jaffa Orange. 

Alibi Interiors

Tell us a little bit about your process. 

PAIGE: We reclaim any and all found wood because we can make it beautiful again. We hunt for material locally and bring it to our warehouse where we clean it up: nails are pulled, boards are wire brushed, and we discard anything with paint or bugs. The boards are then cut down to different moulding for our three styles of picture frames (or for our trays, shadow boxes, or other home decor items).

They are cut again, then stapled together to make the frame. We cut and clean all of our own glass, which gets placed in each frame, along with the backing of the frame that we brand our logo onto. Once assembled, flexible tabs and hangers are put on the frame and they are stored in our product room. The process of our custom furniture is similar. We are always on the lookout for really special stuff. The boards are typically planed and sanded, then glued together to make a table or bench. Our furniture is a creative process that takes a skilled eye to complete!

Original Universal

On him: Original Universal in Black. On her: the Original Universal in Burnt Olive/Jaffa Orange.

You run a fully sustainable establishment. Why do you think sustainability is important?

PAIGE: For so many reasons! One reason is environmental quality. The health of our community is deeply important to us. For that we need clean air, natural resources, and a non-toxic environment. If each community can do their part to reduce the amount of waste they produce, we can act as a whole. Unfortunately, I don’t know how realistic that is, but we do continue to reduce our own carbon footprint whenever possible to keep up the health of our little community, hoping to spark sustainability inspiration in others.

How do you apply sustainability values into your personal life?

PAIGE: While we strive to use every ounce of material we acquire, whatever is left (and only after it has been recycled 3+ times over) meets its end as kindling for our fireplace or as mulch in our garden. Our business is very integrated into our personal lives. We conserve water at home, shop at our local farmer’s market and bring our own bags. We limit our single use plastic by using beeswax wraps, glass jars and buying in bulk. We shop for a lot of our clothing and home decor items at second hand stores or estate sales.

Alibi Interiors

How does nature inspire you and your business? How do you connect to nature?

PAIGE: Nature is magnificent, simply beautiful. I think our business is inspired by the idea of creating simply beautiful pieces. When using reclaimed wood, nature has done most of the work for us already.

Tell us about your community. What are some ways you support one another? 

PAIGE: We work directly with amazing artists and small business owners. We all depend on each other’s help to showcase each other’s talents. We do this through social media content, first Fridays events, holiday craft fairs, and placing each other’s products in our homes and offices.

I think more than ever, supporting small businesses has become so important. Small businesses provide opportunities for entrepreneurs. They create meaningful jobs that employ happier people. They foster local economies, keeping money close to home while supporting neighborhoods and communities. It feels good to support each other!

Santa Cruz redwoods

Inspired by natural textures, Paige and Chris explore the trails nearby their home in Aptos, California.

Original Universal

“Teva sandals are ultra comfy! They are the perfect choice for our nature walks through the streams and forest behind our home. They are also the best for beach walks with our son.” Paige wears the Original Universal in Burnt Olive/Jaffa Orange.

What advice would you give to other people who might want to start a sustainable business? 

PAIGE: Our advice would be to start small and slowly build. Don’t allow yourself to take on more than what seems feasible. And most importantly, enjoy the process.

I think it’s important to recognize that sustainability achievements are about progress, not perfection. What are some ways you would encourage others to make small changes without feeling overwhelmed? 

PAIGE: We encourage others to consume less and be more thoughtful with the purchases they make.

Original Universal sandals

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