You don’t have to splurge at a high-end department store for the hottest and trendiest décor items. Sometimes, the best items are the ones you find in a bustling flea market. Not only are the items cheaper, but they also have a personalized and handcrafted vibe to them. These make terrific everyday décor for placement around the home.
1. Showcase Your Small Findings
You’ll find a lot of small collectables at flea markets. These include ceramics and other similar items that don’t have much purpose other than serving as display. Consider an entire shelf space or two for displaying and grouping these items together. While a single item won’t mean much on its own, the items displayed together have more of a pronounced stature as a collective.
2. Use Unconventional Storage
Instead of using a generic bin, consider something of a more vintage or unexpected nature. Flea markets contain a lot of throwaway items, such as cheese crates, deposit boxes, or even a drawer from an old library card catalog. Bring these items home and use as is or decorate them. These make for great standout pieces that double as storage for your mail or other stationery items.
Furthermore, unconventional storage items complement nicely with items on the more upscale end. This includes leather accessories and the like. A leather blotter, for instance, pairs nicely with some of the aforementioned improvised storage. This provides an eclectic mix of old vintage and contemporary luxury.
3. Use Incomplete Furniture
It’s not unusual to find old furniture that may be missing a drawer, a shelf, or other component. These are usually items you expect to find at an alleyway awaiting garbage pickup. However, such items are still salvageable. A fresh coat of paint and a bit of improvising can restore the furniture, and with a very small investment, you’re getting more for the money – given that you’re familiar with the basics of shopping for antiques. These serve as nice focal pieces that are still every bit as functional, even if a piece or two is missing.
4. Buy Items Out of Season
Flea markets contain many out-of-season gear and equipment. If visiting a market in the summer, for example, don’t be surprised to find a discarded winter sled in fair condition. What on earth can you do with a sled in summer? Think outside the box. Outside of its intended use, the item makes for a nice staging area for potted plants and garden décor.
5. Look for Old Soda Bottles
Some of the more unusual items you will find include old glass soda bottles. The same goes for other storage containers that once held food or drink. Reclaim these items and give them new life. A retro-looking soda pop bottle suffices as is as a decorative piece or can be used for storing laundry detergent or baking soda. Vintage glass bottles are especially nice if you’re the type that likes to decorate with old license plates and street signs.
6. Buy a Ladder
Another oddball item that you might find are old wooden ladders, usually from a bunk bed. An old ladder has a lot of vintage appeal especially if placed alongside other vintage stuff. They are also quite functional if you use your imagination. The rungs, for example, are great for hanging towels, aprons, and blankets. If you treat and seal the wood, you can stage the ladder horizontally outside and use for hanging and drying clothes.
7. Reclaim an Old Wash Basin
Wash basins and tubs were commonplace in the days before running water. What can you do with one of these in a modern home? Again, you’re only limited by your imagination. For starters, you can turn a metal washstand upside down and place it next to a bed as a makeshift nightstand.
8. Display Wall Art
Flea markets are also a great place for finding hand-painted art pieces. These are usually done by amateur artists who for one reason or another decided to part with their work. These types of artworks aren’t exactly Van Gogh-level quality, but the rudimentary nature of the work has a one-of-a-kind and personal quality to it that makes it very relatable and organic. As such, they’re worth picking up and gracing your walls.
As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The flea market is where you’ll find items that – with a little touchup – can become your personal treasure for home decorating.
Hannah Hutchinson is an interior designer based in London, currently blogging for Westland London. She’s always chasing new ideas and likes thinking outside the box when it comes to incorporating fresh ideas to her clients’ new homes.