Rethink Flea Market Finds: 20 Amazing Projects, Hacks, and Revamps

Once you see what you can do with these common flea market finds you won't be passing them up any more. Get inspired by our 20 do-it-yourself projects that transform vintage finds into fabulous and clever decor.

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    Crate Creations

    Savor the hard-won patina of old wooden crates by converting them into stylish furnishings. Turn one on its end -- instant end table! Or add a cushioned top to a crate to create a cozy footstool. To fashion the top, glue two layers of foam to a piece of plywood and wrap in a pretty fabric, securing the fabric to the board with a staple gun. Attach wooden stretchers across the crate opening to form a support ledge for the cushion.

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    Chalkboard Family Organizer

    Transform a six-pane window frame into a chalkboard planner with just a few simple steps. Watch and learn how to make this flea market project!

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    Table Talk

    Scour secondhand stores for objects with interesting silhouettes that are up to the supporting role of an end table: Think suitcases, crates, urns, or sewing machine bases. Snagged for $50, this base just needed a glass top, which was cut at a local glass supply store, to shine as a glamorous side table. 

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    Edgy Display

    Pay tribute to the craftsmanship of reclaimed architectural trim by transforming a remnant into a display ledge. Use metal L brackets screwed into studs to anchor the piece to a wall, and pile on your favorite collectibles. 

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    Jewelry Art

    Brooches, earrings, and other vintage jewelry make fabulous embellishments for one-of-a-kind artwork on your walls. Watch and learn how to add them to DIY art canvases!

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    Elegant Dining

    Give place settings something to twinkle about -- embellish chargers with vintage costume jewelry. Secure a piece or two of jewelry to the top of each charger with hot glue or metal glue. Jewelry items that lie flat work best, so look for pieces with metal backs that can be bent or easily removed with pliers or wire cutters. To complete the setting, use clip-on earrings to prop up place cards. 

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    Don’t let your cork collection gather dust -- let them dazzle in the form of a rustic chandelier instead. Gather three different-size wire wreath forms, twine, paper clips, and a light pendant cord kit. Bend the outer end of each paper clip until it forms a straight line, then push the cork until it’s halfway in and repeat with each paper clip and cork. Slip the coiled part of the paper clips over the wreath forms, layering until the forms are full. Use twine to secure the wreath forms together, then tie the wreaths to the pendant light.

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    Seed Saver

    Put a metal lunch pail back to work by converting it into a seed caddy for your garden. When it's time to plant, you'll have everything you need, ready in a portable container.

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    Art on Tap

    Transform a collection of colorful plumbing valves into a 3-D work of art. Arrange the valves in shapes or letters and secure to wood backing with screws. To enhance the valves' historic flavor, suspend the art on reclaimed wooden boards. Or apply the look of age to a new cut of wood with chalk paint for a backdrop that complements your home’s color scheme

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    Serving Station

    Pair a galvanized-tin tub with an old baby-buggy frame to fashion a playful alfresco entertaining cart. Place the tub inside the bed-frame portion of the buggy, and you're ready to roll. One key: You'll need to find a container that is slightly larger than the frame to ensure the tub won't tip over or fall through. It should fit snugly into the opening --no additional attachments required. Fill the container with ice and beverages, goodie bags, or packaged nibbles, and let guests help themselves.

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    Vintage Ephemera

    Dust off penned notes from the past and bring them out into the open. Use a photocopier to enlarge the letters and print the results on pretty paper stock. Form dust jackets for books from the paper and display the wrapped books on tabletops or shelves.

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    Improved Shelves

    Tired of tall, dark bookshelves? Flip them! Stacked horizontally and sporting a new coat of crisp white paint, these slender shelves now provide display cubbies and a tabletop surface that’s perfect as a drop zone for functional items and a few decorative artifacts. Highlight collectibles in the cubbies by lining the shelves with vintage maps. Add flair by using salvaged corbels as bookends.

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    Salvaged Headboard

    Rework architectural salvage into a headboard design. These porch spindles and decorative molding pieces are attached to four painted wooden canvas stretchers, which are available at crafts stores. The peekaboo headboard style is ideal when you have a patterned wall you want to show off.

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    The Stars Align

    Grab a picture frame, line it with a constellation chart, and attach a letter in the center to craft an easy monogram. This letter is made from zinc and nailed to the frame’s backing, but you could use a paper or wooden cutout to achieve the same effect. 

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    Movie Magic

    Bring the allure of old Hollywood home via vintage film reel cases. Paint the metal lid interiors a favorite hue, add a stenciled embellishment, and hang the lids as wall art or use magnets to make them into mini message boards. Removable adhesive strips easily hold the lightweight lids on the wall.

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    Mini Mementos

    Tell your family story by hanging small framed pictures and memorabilia bulletin-board style in a large vintage frame. To create the backing, cut a piece of cork (sold in rolls at crafts stores) to fit the frame. Apply spray adhesive to secure the cork to a sturdy piece of corrugated cardboard. Use four flathead tacks to hang each small frame on the corkboard. Glue the flathead portion of the tacks to the back of each frame -- one tack in each corner. Let dry, then push the frame into the cork. 

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    Lovely Lamp

    Fashion a showy lamp from a peacock-style Victorian fireplace screen. Wire the brass screen using a lamp kit from a home improvement center and top it with an 11-inch-diameter shade for illuminating results. Love this shade’s map motif? Replicate the look by adhering parts of a map to the shade with spray adhesive. If the map has crease lines or you want to preserve it, make color photocopies instead. At the seams, allow the vertical edges of the map pieces to overlap by 1⁄8 inch. 

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    By the Book

    One flea-found illustrated Audubon book is all it takes to create an attention-grabbing wall worth tweeting about. Using either the original pages or color copies, hang by applying a premixed wallpaper paste to the back of each page with a roller. For the best results, place your first set of prints along the ceiling line and work down from there. Make sure each page is straight and sweep a wallpaper smoother over each print to take out any wrinkles before moving on to hang the next illustration.

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    Stitch Happy

    Crewelwork and needlepoint were once a common pastime for women. But the lovingly created samples were often framed in ways now considered dowdy, which is why you'll find so many pieces in flea markets and secondhand shops. To freshen the handiwork, ditch the frame and work the needlepoint into an accent pillow. Hand-stitch each piece atop an existing pillow or sew the embroidery into a new pillow cover with fabric that coordinates with your home's palette.

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    Clear Cut

    Build a translucent table centerpiece by clustering an assortment of crystal and glass oil lamps on a tray. No need to mess with kerosene to light up a room: The lamp openings once designed for wicks are ideally suited for holding a variety of candle sizes, and the decorative wells are great when used as vases.

  • Next Slideshow 20 Flea Market Makeovers

    20 Flea Market Makeovers

    Turn flea market finds and vintage treasures into one-of-a-kind pieces for your home. It's amazing what castoffs and secondhand scores -- such as doilies, plates, furniture, and odds and ends -- can become!
    Begin Slideshow »

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