Decorating with Yard Sale Finds

by Kathy Wilson

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This is the time of year when yard sales abound just about everywhere, and everyone is looking to get a good deal on items for your home. But what should you do with your finds after the purchase? How do you use them to create personality and character? Here are some great ideas for turning low cost yard sale or flea market finds into great decorating opportunities.

  • Use chipped cups and saucers as birdfeeders. Glue the cup to the saucer and fill the cup with birdseed. The birds will use the saucer as a perch while they take turns. You can mount it onto a stake or post by drilling through the bottom with a special drill bit and a screw. Or, if you are like me and enjoy change, just nestle them into your garden pots, tucked next to a fountain, or along the edge of a garden bed.
  • Old photo laminate furniture is cheap, but looks it. Using a special primer such as Kilz original or BIN, you can paint those surfaces to create a piece of art! Bookcases, entertainment centers and small tables are common items that can be purchased for just a few dollars at a yard sale. Just be sure it is sturdy and then paint it to coordinate with your décor. If in doubt, paint it white for country, traditional or contemporary rooms or black for Asian or sophisticated themes.
  • Pick up picture frames for next to nothing. You can always throw away the picture if you don't like it! Take antique wooden picture frames and display them as art in themselves hung as a group on the wall, or prop three or five against a shelf or mantle. Spray paint frames the same color to make them coordinate, even if they came from different sales. Fill them with calendar pictures or garden catalog pages until you can afford the right piece of art.
  • Sheets. Blankets, quilts and table linens are all great finds, even if they aren't something you need at the moment. They can all be used as fabric for projects, last minute table settings, spur of the moment slipcovers, or swagged over window treatments for a new look. Just be sure to wash and put through the dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes.
  • Keep an eye out for pretty pitchers, bowls, and mugs to fill with informal flower displays. It doesn't matter if they are chipped. It adds to the charm.
  • Start a collection of dishes and hang on the wall. Pretty dishes make a stunning contrast to your walls, and add a homey family feel. You can find plate hangers at the hardware store. Group them over doorways, above your backsplash, or even in a country style bedroom as a headboard.

Use your imagination and learn to make other people's cast-offs your very own home decorating treasures!

Kathy Wilson is an author, columnist, and editor of The Budget Decorator and other popular websites. For hundreds of free budget decorating ideas, visit her at

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