By Rachel Collar
For decorators on a budget, there is nothing more exciting than discovering a diamond in the rough. Garage sales, thrift stores and seasonal sales hold a special intrigue for these treasure hunters as they search endlessly for the hidden gems that will polish up to become centerpieces in their home. Some look for antique tables that have covered their beauty in years of old paint and dust, just waiting to be sanded and refinished to their former splendor. Others simply want to repurpose discarded items such as pallet wood or turn an old piece of scrap metal into a lamp. Though some people seem to have a knack for extreme bargain hunting, anyone can become an expert with a few tips and a little practice!
Though there is no doubt that one can find a deal on internet resale sites, there is nothing that can replace a good old fashioned garage sale, where you can see items with your own eyes and negotiate price. Make a list of garage sales in your area and go early to catch the best deals. Show up again before they close shop to see if the seller is willing to take less for unsold goods. Look for well-made and name brand treasures that are either classic in style or very unique. Do not hesitate to take on small repair or upcycle projects that may just require a little paint.
It is amazing what people are willing to donate when it comes time for spring cleaning. Checking local thrift stores often and right at opening is a good way to fall into the find of a lifetime. Many thrift stores have newsletters that will send out coupons or notifications of new stock. Know your brands and materials. The best way to become an expert shopper is to spend time in high end stores, window shopping for your dream decor. Once you develop a sense of your own taste and the feel of fine home goods, you will be able to quickly identify the same items or look alikes that have been relocated to the shelves of the resale store. Become a regular and some store managers will put you on a list to call for specific items if they come across them.
The most literal interpretation of trash to treasure is to pay nothing for your project because it is discarded material. Pallet wood has endless possibilities and can often be found at for pennies or completely free at local businesses. Wine bottles can be painted and repurposed into a vase for wildflowers. Farm crates become shelving for a shabby chic kitchen while an old tin bucket house magazines. Get creative with your free finds but always ask permission before rummaging through another’s discards.
Scratch and Dent
Try shopping the clearance section of home stores and large department stores for damaged items that may only require a small repair or modification. Shop at the end of each season to find the best markdowns. With very few tools and the help of the internet, you may be able to repair an item that could be marked down to a fraction of the original price. Never hesitate to ask for a manager and negotiate.
Now that you are a bargain decor expert, consider giving back by donating your own unwanted items to a fellow treasure hunter!