From CNN Writer/Editor Karen Waygood:
New furniture makes me nervous. The stores are too big, there’s too much to choose from, the sales people are too pushy and the prices are usually too high. Then there’s the added responsibility that comes with bringing a virgin easy chair or end table into your home: no food, no feet, no furry friends allowed.
Who wants to live like that?
My Mom taught me at an early age that it's much more fun to “rescue” an old piece of furniture and give it a new life. She did it out of necessity - she was widowed at 36 with two young girls to raise. But our house always looked beautiful and my friends always noticed. When I was 36, I got married in that beautiful house surrounded by flea market and garage sale finds.
As I look around my own living room today, I see only three store-bought pieces of furniture - two reclining chairs and a book case. The rest was picked up at a flea market, a thrift store, a garage sale or the side of the road. You know what? It all works. I have found over the years that if I buy what I am attracted to, everything somehow magically blends together.
Sometimes I know what I’m looking for before I go to a flea market. Sometimes, I just wait and see what speaks to me. Color is important, but it’s also important to remember color can be changed with a coat of paint, a slip cover or even a good cleaning! I don’t limit myself with traditional usage. A broken down office swivel chair can be just a chair. It can also be a stunning side table once the seat is replaced with a round piece of tempered glass.
Sometimes I know immediately what I’m going to do with a flea market find. When I don’t, I bring it home anyway because I know it will come to me later. Once I picked up two student desks meant for a classroom. I didn’t know until I brought them home that they’d make perfect end tables on either side of the sofa! The height of the desks can be changed to fit the height of the student. Now they can be changed to fit the height of the sofa’s arms. They can also be raised or lowered to use as night tables in the bedroom if I tire of them in the living room. I can keep them as is or slip-cover them for a more elegant look.
Admittedly, flea market decorating is not for the impatient person. A room cannot be remade in 48 hours like all those home design programs suggest. It takes time. It’s an evolving process. And, it’s a very rewarding one as well. It keeps old furniture out of landfills, money in the bank, and the creative juices flowing. I also think it keeps my Mom smiling down on me.
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