Unsure of what to buy at the next flea market, garage sale or antiques show? We asked pros for their freshest favorites from the annual crop of antiques, junk and salvage we love to comb through — and their advice on how to score the best stuff.
Cortney and Robert Novogratz are New York City-based designers (thenovogratz.com) and stars of HGTV’s Home by Novogratz. The couple recently curated a sale of their favorite vintage items at One Kings Lane (onekingslane.com), an online sales site that now offers a special cyber-marketplace called Vintage & Market Finds where one can buy old books, furnishings, home accessories and art.
Lorene Edwards Forkner (plantedathome.com) is a gardener, new editor of Pacific Horticulture magazine and an author who transforms the outdoors into magical living spaces. Just look at her Seattle home, where a 1964 Lil Loafer trailer permanently parked in the yard serves as a garden “folly” of sorts.
“I’ve got the inside tricked out like a little cocktail cabana. It’s my club,” said Forkner, author of Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More (Timber Press, $19.95).
A cocktail cabana in the garden! Now, who wouldn’t drink to that? But you want to be raising that glass in celebration of successful rummaging, not to forget a day of misguided searching. Here are some of the things out there catching the eyes of these pros that you can buy and enjoy too.
• Silver, metal and glass: For the Novogratzes, it’s silver and mirrored trays and silvery wine and ice buckets. “We’re seeing a lot of gorgeous champagne buckets; they’re gorgeous filled with cut flowers,” Cortney Novogratz said. And don’t forget all those tarnished trophy cups from long-forgotten sports competitions. Polish them up and use them to hold nuts, she said. For Forkner, it’s galvanized steel, old fencing and coiled wires that can be used to train vines, support plants or convert into patio furniture. Old galvanized trays make terrific tables, she said.
• Midcentury modern: “ Mad Men has had a big influence on the home,” Robert Novogratz said of the popular AMC television series. What to look for: classic lines, beautiful woods, minimal decoration, some textural element, a capacity to hold things like the kids’ toys or blankets. “People are looking for storage solutions,” he said, mentioning how the couple once turned an antique trunk into a toy chest. Just don’t be tempted to go the old-suitcase-as-decorative-item route. “It’s played out,” he said.
• Collectibles: If you like building collections, look to flea markets and tag sales as a way to add to your holdings without overspending, Forkner and the Novogratzes agreed. Whether your hankering is for purses, doorknobs, tea cups or art, chances are you’ll find something.
• Garden tools: “Garden stuff is always the most expensive,” Forkner said, so look for bargains. Also, be willing to be creative and adaptive. Rusted-out feed troughs used to be thrown away as junk, she noted, until gardeners realized these troughs made great raised garden beds. With demand, prices have risen sharply, but Forkner still considers them a bargain. “I can get a 4-by-2-by-2-foot deep container for $100. A traditional garden container that size would cost several hundred dollars,” she said. Even old gutters make good salvage finds. Cut to size, they can be mounted along a fence, wall or balcony to create an instant vertical garden, Forkner said.