Add These 'Fixer Upper' Finds to Your Flea Market Wish List
It’s easy to look at a finished home on Fixer Upper and think, “If only Joanna Gaines could transform my home.” Unfortunately, we can’t hire Joanna as your personal decorator, but we can offer a few tips for stealing her flea market style (as well as what you can expect to pay for it.) Next time you're at the flea market or thrift store, keep an eye out for these easy-to-come-by decorations.
Old windows are super easy to find and always look beautiful hanging on the wall. You can paint them for extra oomph or leave them as-is for simple, cottage style. Prices on windows really vary, but with so many available, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one for a price you’re comfortable with. A word of advice: If you do paint them, make sure you buy paint that is made for glass. I once tried acrylic, and it flaked right off. Never again.
Wooden Crates: $$
Wooden crates are great for combining storage and style. They are easy to find and pretty inexpensive. Old soda crates are a bit pricier, but they add a warm, vintage touch to home decor. And these aren't just for storage: A clever option is to stack two crates on their sides to use as a ready-made side table. Built-in storage for books, albums and movies is just a plus.
You’ve probably seen the expensive blanket ladders at home goods stores, but to save money and get a more unique look, consider buying a plain wooden ladder at the flea market. Usually inexpensive, it might just need a coat of paint to be the perfect addition to your living room. Another option: I saved my monkey bars from childhood and upcycled them into perfect high heel storage. Nostalgia + utility = my idea of a home decor win!
Tool Boxes: $
I usually see the metal variety when thrifting, but both metal and wood could make great planters. Joanna often uses them as centerpieces, which is the perfect addition for a long table as it facilitates easy conversation across the table and lasts much longer than fresh flowers. After seeing this picture, I’m currently kicking myself for not buying the tool box I saw at an antique fair last weekend. Fail.
Watering Cans: $
Galvanized watering cans can be found at most flea markets. It may be rusted with holes in the bottom, but hey, you don’t have to use it as a watering can. Try planting spring flowers in it or storing garden tools. This item is plentiful, so definitely haggle until you get a bargain.
Church Pews: $$$
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This is one item that doesn’t come cheap. Despite the fact that they have been reigning supreme on my flea market wish list for years now, church pews aren’t actually too difficult to find. They are, however, difficult to find for a decent price. The long pews are more abundant, but unless you have a huge space or have some woodworking skills, it makes more sense to hold out for the shorter alternatives. And if someone happens to have one they aren’t using, I wouldn’t object to an early Christmas present.
Traditional Chairs: $$
Even more easily accessible than church pews, traditional armchairs are pretty easy to find, and they are usually priced fairly according to their condition. A great option is to find a nice chair with some damage and reupholster it in the fabric of your choice. That way, you save money on the chair and can use that extra cash to achieve a custom look.
Vintage Fans: $$$
These old fans are such cool accessories, whether they work or not. Working fans may cost you a bit more, but be forewarned — the cool vintage cages don't have the safety features of today's fans, so watch your fingers, please! These retro beauties tend to run high, so be on the lookout for a bargain price.
Old Books: $
Old books are so easy to find, which is great as you can never have too many. Put favorite titles on the shelf, and use others as easy decor just as Joanna did here. It doesn’t even matter what the book is! If you have any talent with a jigsaw, books sawn into brainy initials are also a growing trend you can buy or DIY.
Cottage-Style Bedroom With Upcycled White Fireplace Mantel
Sarah Wilson/ Getty Images, 2013, HGTV/ Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
If you’ve always wanted a cozy fireplace but that’s simply not an option, you might consider installing a mantel instead. They look amazing with added shelving or even a corkboard or chalkboard. Joanna’s use of hanging baskets is a definite look to steal. Mantels usually start around $50 and continue to go up depending on condition and details, but more details definitely add to the look, so don’t be afraid to splurge a little on this one.
Glass Jars: $
Joanna Gaines With Antique Finds
Where does Joanna Gaines, co-host of HGTV's Fixer Upper, find all the great pieces she uses in her farmhouse and in her shop? "Off-the-beaten-path antique stores and flea markets," she says. "My favorite thing to do is hunt for really cool pieces to sell or repurpose and use in my home."
Generally pretty cheap and readily available, glass jars in all shapes and sizes are at every flea market worldwide just waiting for a nice home. Blue Mason jars? They’ve got it. Gorgeous glass vases? Yep. Always be on the lookout for interesting shapes and colors, and it won’t take long to curate a collection as fantastic as Joanna’s.
Scrap Metal: $$
Okay, so partial windmills aren’t exactly plentiful, but interesting pieces of scrap metal are. If you’ve got a good eye and creative mind, it should be pretty easy to find a unique piece to proudly display on your wall.
Metal Baskets: $
Metal baskets are a favorite of Joanna’s, and lucky for you, they are plentiful. Vintage locker baskets are a good size for storage (that’s how I store all my magazines and cookbooks), and they’re fairly cheap too. You could probably find one today for $30, but hold out and you’re likely to find one as low as $15. Score!
Church pews are a great addition to the entryway and can be dressed up with seasonal pillows for a fresh look. And with many modern churches switching to theater-style seating, these classic seats are fairly easy to come by. Side note: They are also fairly pricy, so if you find a good deal, you'd better snatch it up.
While finding two armchairs that are identical and in good shape can be a challenge, traditional wingback chairs always seem to be available. Consider buying two that are similar but not matching and recovering the pair in your favorite fabric.
Add an instant cool factor to your shelves or buffet table with a vintage fan. Though not difficult to come by, these fans can be on the pricier end of thrift-store merchandise. Opt for one that hasn't been restored to save a little money and still get a great look.
Usually all metal, bird cages can add interest to any space. The stunning versions you can find antiquing vary in price depending on size and the condition they are in. If you're interested in adding one to your home decor, this is one item you'll want to take your time to find the right price.
Mantels can instantly add depth and architectural interest to your home. Though easy to find, you'll want to consider the style you are looking for rather than buying the first one you see. While the more detailed versions do run a little higher, it may be worth the extra cost in the end. If you plan to paint your mantel, little details and intricate carvings really help it shine.
While it may seem like everything is chalkboard these days, the green classroom chalkboard is actually more of a rarity. You may find one that is still on the rolling display, which would be great for a kid's playroom. To achieve the look seen here, just remove the screws and hang it wherever you hope to add some schoolhouse charm.
Industrial Scrap Pieces
While you may not be lucky enough to find a portion of a windmill, scrap metal and industrial pieces are a dime a dozen. From metal mattress springs to old metal typeset drawers, these pieces are just waiting to be reused as wall art, furniture beginnings and more.
Perfect for a long table, Joanna regularly upcycles wooden tool boxes as charming centerpieces. Whether you find a wooden or metal version, tool boxes are easy to find when thrifting and can be used as planters, to hold towels and to keep toiletries corralled. Really, the options are endless.
Vintage scales look amazing in the kitchen. The most common versions are countertop scales, but hanging scales like the one seen here are not too hard to come by. Side note: If you actually plan to use a kitchen scale for weighing food, you may want to consider a new version with vintage charm.
Books are always a great decor option. And the great part about this design is that the titles don't even matter. Simply pick up a few well-loved books at your local flea market and display proudly for an instant shabby-chic effect.
One of Joanna's favorite pieces to work with, metal baskets are just as useful as they are stylish. They come in all shapes and sizes. Consider buying an old metal locker basket. These little slices of history are often found in thrift stores and work with many different design styles.
Industrial furniture, such as old post office cabinets and hotel mail slots, is easier to come by than you might expect. The downside with these pieces is that if they are in good condition, (and often even when they are not) they fall on the pricier side of the thrift-store scale.
Small, large and in between, old glass windows are an easy flea market find that can be used to add some rustic charm to an empty wall. And if you're really feeling creative, consider painting them or adding a few colorful jars to display flowers as Joanna did here.
Vintage signs are easy wall decor that tell a story, and since perfectly-distressed signs aren't readily available at every store, this is the type of thrift store find you want to grab when you find it. Even if it won't work in your house, chances are you'll find a friend or family member that is dying to get their hands on it.
Rustic, industrial and perfect for storage, wooden crates are one of Joanna's go-to decorations. You can definitely find these used, but it may be cheaper to opt for new in this case. Side note: If you want vintage, old soda crates are easy to find with typically fair prices.
If you have something specific in mind, you'll likely leave the thrift store disappointed, but if interesting furniture is your goal, there are so many fantastic options. And don't get stuck on the original purpose of the piece. Here, this antique cobbler's bench works as a unique side table with tons of character.
While they likely won't be a perfect fit for your front entrance, vintage doors can also be used as a decorative wall hanging like Joanna did here. Old screen doors are a popular thrift store find that can be used as decor or even transformed as a useful spot to hang jewelry, cooking utensils or whatever your heart desires.
Keep in mind, this list is based on flea markets and thrift stores in the South, and prices and availability will vary depending on location. But once you're an avid flea market shopper, you'll be the expert on just what to pay for every diamond in the rough!