23 Ways to Create a Vintage Aesthetic with Flea Market Finds

Tapestry hanging on metal bed frame
Photo: John Bessler

Flea markets, thrift stores, and antique shops offer a wealth of interesting treasures. The trick is figuring out how to incorporate them into your space. These ideas for decorating with flea market finds will help you embrace secondhand scores in vintage style.

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Vintage Suitcase Storage

suitcase bar cart
Laura Moss

Flea market decor presents an opportunity to find creative new uses for old items and introduce vintage flair. A retired suitcase, for example, can become a stylish yet functional bar cart. Leave it propped open on the top shelf of a rolling cart and use the interior and inner pockets to store cocktail ingredients and bar tools. Narrow wooden drawers, shown here placed on a lower shelf, are right-sized for holding glassware.

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DIY Upholstered Headboard

DIY vintage feed sack headboard
Michael Partenio

Gather a collection of feed sacks or canvas bags to repurpose as material for throw pillows or upholstered furniture. Scour flea markets or antique shops for fabrics with striped patterns, printed words, and interesting details. Then cut the fabric to size and sew it into a pillow cover or attach it with staples to form a DIY upholstered headboard with a vintage country look.

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Framed Vintage Ads

White shelves vintage ads white items
Kim Cornelison

Vintage advertisements, often available as posters or found in old magazines, can serve as colorful retro wall art. Gather prints with a cohesive theme, such as a series of food product ads for the kitchen. Mount them in simple frames with a white mat to make the colors pop, and set them on shelves or hang them on the wall.

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Antique Rug Ideas

Tapestry hanging on metal bed frame
John Bessler

Antique rugs, like the Swedish ones here, can carry a story and history all their own. However, they aren't made just to cover floors. Use rugs as wall hangings, to cover throw pillows, to drape over furniture, or on top of tables.

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Flea Market Organization

Wooden table with vintage containers holding supplies
John Bessler

You'll find vintage tin containers at almost any antique store or flea market. Often featuring vibrant colors and old-fashioned illustrations, they make great desktop organizers. Utilize old tins in an office or to spruce up a side table or entryway buffet. Arrange the tins on a tray to keep the items corraled.

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Mix Vintage Items with New

Country style room with quilt on top of bed
Michael Partenio

Blend flea market finds with new items for decor that feels personalized and unique, not dated. In this bedroom, a farm sign above the bed and a patchwork quilt help to give the space a vintage touch. Graphic, modern pillows and light gray damask wallpaper leave the room feeling fresh and up-to-date.

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Architectural Salvage Decor

Vignette of seating area with wood mantel, antique chair and plant stand
Paul Dyer

Utilize cast-off pieces from other old homes to increase the architectural interest in your own house. A salvaged mantel, for example, can bring interest to a plain wall (no fireplace needed). If an entire mantel can't be found, assemble pieces of vintage molding to construct your own. For a smaller flea market decorating project, mount old house numbers in a circle to create a wall clock. (You can buy clock mechanisms at craft or hobby stores.)

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Antique Sign Gallery Wall

Antique signage in black and white over tufted sofa
John Bessler

Weathered signs and memorabilia are perfect for creating gallery walls. Use antique signs, both big and small, to add character to any space. For a more cohesive look, choose pieces that showcase the same color family or a similar theme. If an eclectic look is your goal, pieces can be different shapes, colors, and sizes. The key is to capture the tarnished style that characterizes flea market charm.

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Why We Love Flea Market Finds

Decorating with flea market finds offers a wide range of style possibilities. You can find vintage items to fit modern, retro, rustic, and cottage interiors. Watch this video to find out what to look for to fit your personal flea market style.

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Archery Target Art

Bedroom with red target artwork above bed
Reed Davis

Riflery and archery targets are easily recognizable, graphic symbols that can surface in antique shops. The bold circular design naturally draws the eye, making these flea market finds ideal for wall decor. Here, a canvas target was framed and hung above a bed to create a focal point.

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Displaying Flea Market Finds

White cabinet with red tractor
Edmund Barr

Think outside the box when it comes to displaying objects. Unexpected items, like this red pedal tractor set atop a china hutch, can give your vignettes personality and spark. Look for flea market items that speak to you personally, tie in with your room's decorating motif, or have an interesting history, then display them for a instant focal point and conversation-starter.

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Vintage Accessory Display

Wall art with gilded frames and jewelry storage
Anthony Masterson

Vintage jewelry, purses, and scarves can serve as both accessories and decor. Store these items in a hanging display to dress up an otherwise plain wall in a bedroom or closet. Hooks, shelves, and old picture frames outfitted with cork or burlap can help corral accessories in a statement-making display.

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Small-Space Vintage Style

Closet with horse wallpaper
Michael Partenio

Fill small spaces with flea market finds to turn an otherwise wasted space into a creative function. In this room, a coat closet shifts into a bar for entertaining guests. Vintage suitcases provide storage space, while a serving tray creates a level surface atop the suitcase. In keeping with the theme, vintage wallpaper accents the small space and gives it an air of distinction.

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Vintage Lighting

living room filled with antiques
Erik Johnson

Industrial-style lighting once used in warehouses or barns can find new function in homes today. Look for sturdy metal shades and colorful paint finishes. If the light no longer works properly, you can still salvage the fixture with a little rewiring work.

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Flea Market Vignettes

Distressed cabinet in green in country style room
Michael Partenio

Add storage and personality to a hallway or stair landing with flea market cabinets and buffets. This old cabinet adds fun, color, and personality to the space. The antique art piece above it and decorative items on top of the cabinet create a charming vignette in a formerly boring corner. Repeat similar colors and finishes among the flea market items to create a unified look.

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Decorating with Antique Quilts

Wooden table with quilt and map artwork
King Au

Quilts make beautiful home accessories, and local thrift and antique stores typically have scores of them in stock. Besides bringing color and pattern to a plain bed, quilts can adorn a table or hang like a piece of artwork. To prevent damage to the quilt when hanging, use clip-on rings that can hang from a curtain rod.

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Repurposed Headboard

Eclectic style bedroom with cottage, rustic, and country style accents
Paul Dyer

For a creative headboard solution, go on the hunt for rustic, old doors. Set a pair of double barn doors on the floor behind the bed, or mount a single one horizontally on the wall. If hanging, use wall anchors or secure screws into wall studs to ensure a solid hold.

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Antique Mirrors

White bathroom with gilded framed mirrors
Werner Straube

Flea market finds have a place in bathroom decor, too. Here, two antique French mirrors set the tone for this glamorous bathroom. A sleek, simple vanity allows the mirrors to remain the center of attention. When thrifting for antique finds, keep an eye out for pieces that come in pairs or sets. Often, this will increase the value of your score.

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New Function for Flea Market Items

Kitchen with glass stand
Gordon Beall

Items from years gone by can still be put to good use. Here, an old wine-bottle dryer serves as a rack for glasses in a modern-day kitchen. Think creatively about the piece's size and shape to reuse old items for a new purpose today.

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Repurposed Door Desk

Cottage style living room with writing desk on back of sofa
Paul Dyer

A little DIY work can turn flea market treasures into beautiful new furnishings. A barn door, for example, can become an antique-style desk when set on two old sawhorses. Be sure to secure the door to the sawhorses with screws for a sturdy foundation.

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Flea Market Silver

Silvertone candlestick holders and floral centerpiece
Michael Partenio

Scour salvage yards and flea markets to find gorgeous silver pieces that need a new home. If the silver appears tarnished, you can typically get it shining again with a simple homemade cleaning solution. Use antique silver items as candleholders or vases for flowers on tables, shelves, or the mantel.

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Crate Coffee Table

Living room with crate coffee table
Reed Davis

Build your own coffee table from old crates and wooden boxes that can fit together to form a one-of-a-kind piece. Add a piece of glass on top of the crates to form a solid surface to set drinks, books, or decorative objects on. For extra height, stack the crates or boxes in a double layer.

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Antique Wagon Storage

Wooden wagon with side chair
John Bessler

An antique wooden wagon is a creative living room storage solution. Use the wagon to keep blankets or firewood within reach at all times. You can either keep the wheels as-is for a portable cart or secure them in place using screws for a stationary storage piece.

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