I started decorating at age 11, when I decided my room would look awesome with velvet drapes hanging in the window, long strands of hippy beads swaying in the doorway and the walls covered in movie star posters, all backlit with lava lamps, after all it was the 70’s and hippy chic was still in. At age 25, I was a poor wife and mother with 3 very active kids and wanted beautiful things I couldn’t afford. Shortly thereafter I discovered flea markets and estate sales, and by age 30, I was hooked.
Years ago you could drive through a nice neighborhood for lovely old things thrown to the curb, like a chest of drawers that had seen better days and begged for a new coat of paint. Now days those finds are few and far between. It seems everyone is using their old stuff or selling it on Craigslist.
Every once in a while I still get lucky and find a tattered piece with good bones in need of a face lift sitting by the road with the words free written on cardboard next to it. Not long ago I was traveling down a familiar country road when I spied a sadly abandoned old desk by the road still wet from the rain the night before. This little lady, I call Doris, was left in the gutter like yesterday’s trash. I couldn’t believe someone had discarded this stylish beauty so I quickly loaded her in my truck and sped off down the road to my studio. This girl had definitely seen better days but I love the old Art Deco style and knew her rustic charm could be fab again.
Some of the veneered top was gone so I embraced her loss and painted it leaving what was left of the veneer to show thru and give it a chippy chic look. The top is painted in my favorite agave blue and the rest of the red paint with black handles was just spruced up a bit. She isn’t perfect but she’s solid and her drawers slide in and out just fine.
My favorite freebie was an old sewing mannequin dropped off at the dock of a goodwill loading dock. Yes I admit I unloaded my donations and then quickly took one for myself. I’m not proud of that moment but what can I say -I got caught up in the thought of how fabulous she would look in the corner of my Studio. How’s that for a blog confession?
You can still occasionally get a good deal at an antique store or outdoor fleamarket but I think the best deals are had at some of the out of the way, poorly attended, estate sales. You can pick up some real treasures if you’re lucky enough and your timing is good.
Keep an eye out for sales in your area on Craigslist or Estatesales.net or simply slam on your brakes and turn quickly to follow the sign saying “estate sale ahead” whenever you are lucky enough to come upon one during your travels.
There is something very satisfying about finding that old gem, hiding behind a broken handle and layers of peeling paint, to take home and breath new life with the stroke of a paint brush. These old pieces have a story to tell and they quickly add warmth and charm that makes your house a home.
For part two of this lesson, go here; lessons in flea market style, the hunt, part two