How To Make Flea Market Finds Look Fabulous At Home
Summer road tips often wend past outdoor flea markets and small-town thrift shops, which can be great sources of humble gems. But when you bring home your treasures, they may look a bit out of their natural habitat. H&H‘s Kai Ethier and Jennifer Koper did some exploring and unearthed some fabulous finds that make charming additions at the cottage or in the city — and offer tips on how to decorate with them at home.
The Find: The pink marble top of this console table is eye-catching, but the legs were a bit beaten up. “The skirt not only conceals the legs, but also storage bins or baskets,” says Jennifer. “A vent at the front lets you access items easily.” An old map of Ontario’s Georgian Bay has graphic impact when divided and displayed in multiple frames.
The Fix: To make the console skirt, four fabric panels were hemmed and attached with Velcro strips. The front panels were sewn about one quarter of the way down. To make the art, cut a matboard to size and affix it to the back of your map with spray adhesive. Cut the map sections with a utility knife and press them firmly to the back of the frames. We used canvas floater frames with a 1″ lip.
The Find: Plentiful at flea markets and thrift shops, old tart tins and jelly molds can be repurposed as DIY candleholders, with triple wicks that burn brighter. “Don’t get drop-bottom tins, and make sure they sit level before you buy,” Jennifer cautions. “You need a flat base so the candle doesn’t tip over.”
The Fix: You’ll need wax flakes or bars, wicks and essential oils (citronella and eucalyptus help repel insects), which are sold at craft stores. Glue-gun the metal base of the wicks to the bottom of the tin and tie the wicks to pencils laid across the rim (or just lean them, if they’re wax-covered wicks) so they’ll stay straight while the wax sets. Melt wax flakes over medium heat in a double boiler until liquid, stir in 8 to 10 drops of essential oil, then pour into molds.
The Find: Cottage window treatments don’t need to be tailored: a lightweight blanket or coverlet in a pretty color and pattern can easily double as a drape. “You might not want to cuddle up under a vintage blanket, but some make a lovely no-sew drape — just check for moth holes before you buy, and launder it first,” says Kai. “If it’s really heavy, clips might not hold it up, so go for a lighter material.”
The Fix: Fold over the top of the blanket to make a valance (approximately one sixth of the entire length of the drape) and affix clip-on curtain rings. Another flea-market find, this lyre-back chair was sanded and spray-painted matte black, then a summer-fresh fabric was wrapped around and stapled to the seat.
The Find: Humble wooden spoons become sculptural objets on a kitchen wall. “You see a lot of wooden spoons at flea markets and antique shops,” says Jennifer. “Look for different shapes and sizes for variety. The beauty of a collection like this is that you can add new finds to it over time.”
The Fix: The trick to making a grouping look curated? Create a layout on the floor (with some spoons pointing upward for a varied look), then snap reference shots so you can recreate the placement on the wall. Use finishing nails to hang spoons from existing handle holes or use nails to create brackets for upright spoons.
The Find: A set of bamboo side tables is handy for entertaining, but this one got a pass from other buyers because of water damage on the medium-size table. “We painted it in a coral hue with a chalky finish, since the rest of the tables aren’t shiny,” says Kai. “Have some fun with it — you don’t have to paint the whole set.”
The Fix: Sand down wood finishes so paint will adhere smoothly. Wipe away any dust with a tack cloth, then use a cleaning product like Natura to remove any grease. Apply at least two coats of paint (a great way to use up leftover cans) for complete coverage.