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Most savvy bargain decorators know that there are treasures to be found at flea markets. Knowing that treasures are to be found and knowing what to look for are two very different things. Here is our list of top picks to keep your eyes open for when browsing a flea market.
Fabric: Vintage fabrics can be plentiful at flea markets. Look for unique patterns to give your home a custom flair. Use the fabric to make throw pillows, bedding, chair pads or draperies. Be sure to examine the entire piece of fabric before purchasing to make sure there are no holes or stains.
Art: Framed and unframed art can be found quite easily at flea markets. Look through the stacks of art, toward the back of the pile, to find the best bargains. Buy only what you absolutely love and do not be afraid to negotiate as art is the most subjectively priced item at a flea market.
Suitcases / Trunks: Old suitcase and trunks can be stacked together and used as a side or coffee table in your home. When searching for two or three to use together, do not worry about matching colors or styles as that can be an impossible feat. More important is to look for suitcases that are in good condition, are visually appealing, and at a rock bottom price.
Table Linens: Old tablecloths and napkins come in a wide array of colors and patterns. The best bargains are found on items that are not part of a matched set. Use your creativity to make your own set by finding linens all on one color family but with different patterns.
Antique Spools: For just dollars a piece, antique spools and bobbins can be purchased at flea markets. These spools can be turned into lamp bases or stacked and used as inexpensive and unique candle holders.
Wood Crates: Interesting old crates can be used as a magazine rack, or a firewood box, or be placed on their side and used as a table. Look for crates with writing or logos painted on the sides for a bit of color. Crates are typically found in abundance at flea markets, and were made as a utilitarian item rather than as decor, which gives you lots of negation room.
Cabinet Hardware: Hardware for your Kitchen, Bathroom, or a piece of furniture is a great thing to hunt at flea markets. Just like with table linens, matched sets are at a premium, so if you can pull together several knobs that work cohesively as a group, you will achieve an interesting look at a bargain base price.
Planters: Just about any type of vessel can be used as a flower or plant pot in the garden, and the choices at a flea market are truly endless. Consider purchasing old cooking pans, serving bowls, coffee mugs, wood boxes, and other types of container to be used for visual interest in the garden or on a porch.
Decorative Frames: Search for old frames in different shapes, sizes and materials at the flea market. Typically the glass from the frame is missing or damaged, allowing more room for termination on the cost of the frame. Take you new treasure to a framing store and have new glass cut for just a few dollars.
Postcards / Maps: Postcards and maps are colorful, educational and just plain interesting to look at. They can be snatched up for mere pennies at flea markets and used in your home. Consider framing postcards for inexpensive vintage art. Large maps can be used as custom wallpaper when applied to walls.
Flea market shopping can be both an exhilarating and exhausting experience. The trick is to know what you are looking for before you go, always keep your budget in mind, and remember to keep your eyes open at all times.