Inside The Industry: Restoration

Reclaimed Diva

When Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, it changed the course of thousands, perhaps millions, of lives. Simone Bruni’s career in event planning washed away with the storm, and the self-starter found demolition in its wake. Since founding Demo Diva eleven years ago, Bruni has overseen the demolition company’s rapid growth in Greater New Orleans and the surrounding region. While growing in size, the company has also expanded its scope beyond demolition and into salvage, dismantling, and distribution of antique pine flooring.

After years of selling salvaged wood floors, beams, and floor joists to buyers who could then manufacture reclaimed pine flooring, Bruni was presented with an opportunity to purchase a local manufacturer’s wood mill. Shortly thereafter, Demo Diva won the contract to demolish the abandoned Lakeview School on Milne Boulevard, a century-old, craftsman-style building that yielded over 200,000 board feet of antique pine.  

“It was a learning curve at first, but it’s now something that I’m incredibly passionate about,” says Bruni. “We were always salvaging architectural elements, but we weren’t prepared to be dismantlers or incentivized to do so. Now, however, we’re truly a part of preserving New Orleans history and putting that history back under our feet,” she says.

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With the ability to create and restore antique pine, Demo Diva is working on demolition projects across the country to salvage the centuries-old wooden floors and beams from former plants, mills, schools, and other buildings.

“I love this new aspect of demolition. When I walk into the wood mill and smell the scent of a 300-year-old tree, it’s poetic. Just beautiful,” says Bruni.
 In addition to expanding its services, Demo Diva is currently strategizing plans to expand its brand outside of New Orleans.


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