Repurposing Flea Market Finds

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Flea marketing is a European past-time that locals and tourists indulge in alike.  At The Antiques Diva & Co we are constantly taking clients to flea markets in all of our 8 tour countries, which means we see a lot of inventory! Flea markets can be overwhelming, but if you know what to look for – and what to do with those things you find –  bargains can abound.  Today I want to share with you some of my favorite ways you can repurpose items found at the flea market.  Hmmm… now that I think about it, I should have titled this blog “Flea Market Finds and How They Get Their Groove Back”.

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1.  I think one of the biggest bargains at a flea market is on lighting.  Whether you’re buying traditional crystal laden chandeliers, funky vintage fixtures from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s or table top lamps, prices at the puce in Paris can be up to 10x cheaper than in a retail shop.  But you don’t just have to buy ready-made lamps – the flea market is a virtual lamp supply store for people with an eye for repurposing.  All you need to do is go to your local hardware store, pick up a lamp kit and then scan the market for something you can use for a base.  It needs to be sturdy enough to stand on its own after you add the lamp apparatus and shade on top.  Bottles and vases make obvious choices, but think outside the box. You can make a lamp base out of anything: a stack of antique books, an old type writer, a vintage camera, a teapot, a stack of mixing bowls or even stacked pasta strainers.  Any old bucket will do. What about a tripod or a mannequin, statues or even old dolls?  Ideas for repurposed lighting are endless.  And we haven’t even started talking about what you could do with the shades!  Rip the fabric off a lamp shade and string the frame with vintage crystal for a shabby chateau look.  Drill holes through the end of vintage cutlery and string them on a lamp frame to put in on a dining room lamp.   Sconces are a breeze to make from old plates or hand held mirrors.

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2.  Vintage scarves are not only chic but also cheap.  And while they can update your wardrobe in a flash, they are positively perfect for home décor.  Frame brightly colored scarves for instant artwork.  Sew on backing – et voila – you’ve got throw pillows.  Patchwork scarves together for Bohemian draperies or for a no-sew-solution simply tie or drape a scarf across a window for a burst of color.  Hint: if you’re a hopeless seamstress you can buy iron-on tape to use in lieu of a needle and threat.   When shopping for scarves look for quality.  And while silk is always gorgeous don’t turn your nose up at a vintage rayon blend – this artificial fabric actually adds to their durability.  The stiffer the scarf the easier it can be converted into purses and bags, slinky summer tops or even skirts.  And the next time you need to give a gift, why buy wrapping paper when you can wrap the present with – what else? – a vintage scarf!

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3.  You would never believe it – but the flea market is the perfect place to purchase presents. Forget going to a registry next time someone is getting married – go to the flea market and buy crystal wine glasses and a decanter.  Add a bottle of wine and an antique cork screw and you’ve got a perfect present for honeymooners (or any oenophile for that matter).  Put together a Mad Men basket for a university graduate – source martini shakers and vintage cocktail napkins, cocktail forks and little hors d’oeuvre plates. You can often find leather boxes or small trunks – pack it all away and tie the box with an old tie to make your bow.  Know someone having a baby? What about an antique silver baby rattle?  Buy antique linens and sew up gorgeous burp clothes.  Tuck into the package a bottle of The Laundress All Purpose Bleach Alternative so the young mum can safely whiten, brighten and disinfect.  Frame antique children’s clothes – bonnets, christening gowns and shoes to decorate a baby’s room. For the teenage girl, glue old jewelry onto a headband or a picture frame.  Bridal magazines are filled with images of antique broaches being used in lieu of flowers in wedding floral arrangements.  Keep your eyes out for unique cutlery and serving platters – and stock up.  Next time you’re invited to attend a party pull out a vintage platter and tell the hostess “Keep the Edwardian serving tray! I bought it just for you!”  Go a step further and stock up on antique silver accessories and get them monogrammed with your hosts initials or seeking out silver already monogrammed with your friends initials!

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4.  Using architectural salvage in home renovations is all the rage at the moment – but even if you’re not doing a home renovation these items can be great used as decoration.  The impromptu headboard is perhaps the most classic use for architectural salvage – doors, shutters, garden gates all make gorgeous backdrops.  If you’re not handy find a good upholsterer and ask them to help you convert fireplace mantle into a padded headboard.

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5.  China and Porcelain are available by the car load at the markets.  Whether buying one offs that you mix and match or entire sets, get out your hammer and start breaking these plates and saucers into teeny tiny bits and bobs.  Voila – you have mosaic material.  Now find something you want to mosaic.  You can mosaic anything from the side table to a tea pot to a broken violin and create your own unique art (and get rid of a lot of pent up aggression).  If a full-on craft project is more than you bargained for, add magnets to the back – et voila – refrigerator art.  Mix and match various patterns of plates and saucers. Put the biggest plate on bottom, glue a wine glass to the center of the plate then stack another plate, creating your own multi-tier serving tray.  Pretty floral china tea cup can be converted into clusters of tea cup hanging lights – wouldn’t that be adorable in a little girl’s room for throwing tea parties?  Or glue a tea cup to a garden stake and fill it with bird seed.

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Paris flea market
Looking for Lighting!