Lately I’ve been obsessed with blogs like Daily Danny and Design*Sponge that teach you how to recreate a flea market find into a stunning interior-decorating masterpiece. Just check out some of these and you’ll be riproaring and ready to head to the flea market too.
Problem is when I’m at the thrift store, consignment shop, or what have you, I don’t see these “finds.” Sure, I see them, but I must not really see them, or I’d see the potential. You see?
The solution: I’ve put together a guideline that’ll help me spot these makeovers-waiting-to-happen. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Find your shop. From garage sales to estate sales to even rental furniture outlets, there are lots of places to purchase pre-owned merchandise. But it’s not likely that all of these locations will suit your fancy. For some, the mere thought of the crowd and rows and rows of vendors at a flea market is enough to make them shudder. A rental furniture outlet’s quiet warehouse of no longer rentable furniture might make more sense. And if you hate the thought of bargaining at an estate sale, perhaps an online auction is more up your alley.
2. Educate yourself. If you’re in the market for a new dining room table, consult furniture stores to see what a new version goes for, and then check out Craigslist, eBay, or GoAntiques to learn the going-rate of used pieces and see what’s available. (Online shops are often a great place to start not only because they’re informative but also because listings are typically posted by the owner, cutting out the middleman and lowering the price.)
3. Dress Appropriately. In this case, think jeans and a t-shirt. If you go too dressy, you’ll be uncomfortable and a seller might increase his price because he thinks you can afford more. (It’s sad—but true!)
4. Get there early and come back late. At flea markets, auctions, and other day sales, the true bargains are often gone by the time 9 a.m. rolls around, so if you want to spot a true find, go early. Prices are often steeper in the morning, however, so be sure to check back later in the evening when the seller’s only choice is to sell it or haul it home.
5. Inspect. Think you’ve found a steal? Examine it from top to bottom before buying. Although it’s unlikely you’ll find a piece of furniture in mint condition, be sure the damage is something you’re able to repair affordably.
6. Don’t limit yourself. Although in your head you know you need a TV stand, the piece of furniture you purchase doesn’t necessarily have to be a TV stand. Perhaps you repurpose an antique chair or end table to fit your needs instead. Make a list ahead of time of everything you need. When you spot something you think you like, consult your list to see where it could potentially work.
7. Avoid electronics. With the exception of lamps, which can easily be rewired, avoid anything fueled by electricity—unless you have the know-how to repair it.
8. Get inspired. Scour magazines, websites, and books for ideas. Home Envy has some great advice, as does the DIY Network. Flea Market Finds & How to Restore Them ($7.98) and Flea Market Style ($20.90) are both filled with tips and tricks on decorating with “found” objects. And, of course, it never hurts to look around you. Restaurants, shops, and others’ homes are fantastic motivators.
Let me know how it goes! And I’ll be sure to post any furniture makeovers of my own.
The Home Know-It-All