Since trends come and go, it’s best not to break the bank striving for at-this-moment style. But several popular accessories today can be found on the cheap at garage and estate sales. Here are a few worth searching out:
- A few years ago I bought an 18-inch globe for $4 at an estate sale. The next question was what to do with it. Lots of people are amassing globes on top of shelving units or around bedrooms—the more, the merrier. If you’re looking for a project, turn one into a glowing globe; just cut a circle in the top and bottom, attach a light kit, and you’ve got a pendant and conversation piece in one.
If lots of globes will eat up too much space in your home, consider globe penny banks. Tin ones were mass-produced around the turn of the century, and they add color to a space while being functional.
- Old trophies. We’re not talking about 1980s bowling trophies with a nameplate on the base. We’re talking old, old trophies (or ones that look old)—the kind shaped like a cup. They make great vases today.
- Parents have got to love any decoration that’s easy on the eyes and educational too, and maps fit the bill. While you can search for these online, the price tag might not be in line with your budget, which makes them the perfect treasure for sniffing out at estate sales. Two summers ago I bought a $7 folder of 41 mid-century maps in great condition. I plan to hang one depicting phases of the moon in my boys’ room, and another four footer went to my sister for her birthday. They make perfect gifts if you can match a map with a place significant to one of your significant others.
Maps make great décor because they are usually big, so they make a big statement. A few years ago I bought a classroom map of the United States for $12 at a local vintage store. It hangs above my boys’ desk and fills the wall with color.
- Vintage ornaments. Tinsel trees are back—it’s true!—and vintage ornaments are my favorite thing to find at estate sales. My 5 year old has been trained to spot them, and I’ve collected enough to load multiple trees.Nowadays I’m particularly interested in buying vintage tree toppers and figurals, ornaments in the shape of something specific like pinecones, acorns, and bells. I recently found a figural in the shape of a little Christmas cottage—so sweet.
Sometimes ornaments will look old but aren’t. I always check out the bottom of the ornament, hoping to see a small bump called a pontil. This is a good indication that the bulb was broken from a cane of glass and is likely vintage.
- White dishes. Okay, maybe these aren’t trending—they’re timeless in their appeal. But if you’re looking to stock an open shelf or hutch with something lovely, look for white dishware secondhand. Often you can buy a bunch for only a few dollars (and nobody will have the same dish collection you do).
To keep things interesting visually, seek items with interesting shapes—scallops, cutouts and raised surfaces fit the bill. These lend texture to what might otherwise seem a sea of white.