Flea market style
Weekends spent at swap meets and yard sales pay off with the most individual style of all. If you're among the truly inspired, you can put together a distinctive decor with quirky second-hand finds.
From the formal to the funky and the exquisite to the weird, flea market style is shaped more by individual preferences than by any rigid set of rules. The key is to mix and match decades, regions and materials to come up with your own singular mix. For flea aficionados, the fun is as much in the process as the finished product.
Formerly functional items — old kitchen utensils, gardening tools — become purely aesthetic attractions. Collectibles like sports memorabilia, snuff bottles, and antique books can provide a focus, both for your decor and for your weekend rounds of local garage sales.
The middle years of the twentieth century provide some of the most fertile ground for flea market style. Think bakelite phones, fiberglass lampshades, chrome and formica dinette sets. Look for kitschy knick-knacks like flying duck wall plaques, pin-up posters, and atomic-motif ashtrays.
For the cocktail set, a plywood boat bar is a true prize. Those who are serious about their period detail will seek out antique kitchen appliances like an enamel gas range on raised legs. And if the flea gods smile on you, perhaps you'll come away with an Eames chair or an orange vinyl diner booth.
If your tastes run more to hand-painted china or vintage linens, of course, these refined objects can also be found at neighborhood garage sales and auctions. Flea market shopping requires a little more time, but the hunt for great junk is addictive!