Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What's yours is mine. No really, it's mine now.

Garage sales and I have a love/hate relationship.  I love the idea of going to garage sales, scouring through the cast-offs of others, and finding new inspiration and use for a piece rejected by its owner.  Once at a garage sale, however, I hate being there.  Owners watch you like a hawk, afraid you're going to walk away with their $1 used hair curlers.  They're either out to haggle with you, or try to push their things on you.  Both situations make me extremely uncomfortable.  Can't there just be a self-checkout option?  

This time of year is ripe for garage sales, though- they're everywhere!!  While some people have had great luck finding things at garage sales, and are experts in the art of a deal, I have found something I like much better: estate sales.  All the same stuff, but without the emotional attachment.  They're usually run by an outside company and not family members, which makes it much easier to eye a piece you fancy without wondering if the owner is going to shed a silent tear that you just bought her memories for fifty cents.

I've picked up a few neat pieces at estate sales over the past few years, and thought I'd share.  While none of the pieces I've gotten have been something that needed any DIY love, they were all things that struck my fancy in one way or another, and I knew they needed to come home with me.

I usually bypass the jewelry at estate sales, as they've most likely been priced by a professional, and are not great deals.  Last summer, though, my eye caught a piece that I couldn't pass up.  It was gold plated, heavy, well made, and only five dollars.  Sometimes those great deals do exist!  

Thumbs up to well-made costume jewelry!

Several years ago, I went to an estate sale a few blocks from my house that looked promising.  I ended up with a vintage metal storage cabinet that found a new life as a bedside table in the guest room.  I actually don't even use it for storage, but I love the aesthetics of it.  It's definitely one of those pieces that will find a home in whatever house I own throughout life.  It's too cool not to love!!

I know, it's not next to the bed.  I couldn't get a good picture that way!

At this same estate sale, I also found a rolled up engineering map of my city from 1957.  The paper it was on was yellowed and slightly crinkled, but for less than a dollar, I couldn't pass it up.  It sat in a drawer for three years before I finally had it framed, but I'm so glad I did.  It'll be a nice reminder of our time here if we ever move out of the area!  As a side note, I did splurge on the framing, glass, and matting to get everything in archival/art quality.  For something that is already old, irreplaceable, and hung on a wall facing a window, I wanted to make sure it would hold up to the test of time.  

Should I add a "You are Here" sticker for guests?  Too much?

At another estate sale, the vultures had pretty much picked over the goods, but had left several pieces that I found interesting enough to buy.  I bought two small metal pieces.  The larger of the two was bronze, and had a piece of masking tape stuck to the back that said, "Turkey".  The year was too smudged to make out, but it appears to be a small serving tray that someone had soldered a hanger onto at some point.  The smaller of the pieces is a thinner metal that looks like a decorative piece from the start.  There was also masking tape on the back of this piece that said, "Cairo, 1978" in the same loopy cursive handwriting.  Both pieces now hang in my dining room, tape still stuck on the back as an homage to the woman who must have loved traveling and cataloguing her purchases enough to keep track of everything.  

Anybody want to come buff out the tarnishing on here for me?

Marge must have gone on some interesting trips!

Pieces like these keep me going back to check out what treasures I might find next.  Buying things from estate or garage sales usually mean that you'll have an interesting story to tell about your new belongings.  If you have wall space, shelf space, or just space in general to fill up in your home, estate sales definitely beat the prices and homogeneity of things you'll find at Homegoods, Target, or the like.  Plus, you'll have the added benefit of people walking in your front door, breathing a comforted sigh, and saying, "Oh, it feels so homy in here."  Who could ask for anything better?


  1. My brother and I love estate sales- especially because there is no attachment. I do feel sad though still when it's obvious that someone elderly lived in the home. I know that you like to re-purpose, but here's a neat thing too...Tom looks for silver and then sells it at those "cash for gold/silver" places. He just bought something for a buck and sold it for $50! Anyway, I do enjoy your blog and think that a "You are here" sticker would be perfect for your map!!!!
    (laura duffy)