Lara Spencer’s (non) retail therapy

Lara Spencer likes to rummage.

Though TV journalism is her career, the Good Morning America personality is a sucker for preowned loot. She’s already written one book on the topic, I Brake for Yard Sales, and has a new book out Tuesday, Flea Market Fabulous (ISBN, $25.95). In her copious spare time (a joke: she co-hosted the Miss America pageant Sunday night), the 45-year-old native New Yorker hosts HGTV’s Flea Market Flip.

In Fabulous, Spencer made over nine homes, including her own pied a terre in Manhattan, decked out with pieces she scored while on the hunt.

We talked to her about the process of writing the book, what advice she can hand out and a few tips on creating a cool space of your own:

What is it that you like so much about second-hand merchandise?

I think it’s the idea of the treasure hunt. The not knowing what you might find. Plus you’re getting things that could be incredibly valuable for next to nothing.

How did the process go with helping people who had no idea about interior design?

I worked with different types of individuals. You have to do a little detective work. Look at their personal style, their clothes, what colors they are comfortable with. Then I saw how far I could push them. I think we ended up with timeless, layered looks that seemed as if they were cultivated over many years.

What was your biggest challenge?

Transforming a dark, dingy room into a woman cave. It was an absolute dungeon — not a single redeeming architectural detail. We had to literally start from scratch and make lemonade out of lemons.

If a person doesn’t have the budget for a decorator, what are some of your best DIY tips?

I would say, ‘Look around.’ Maybe you’re inspired by a hotel you visited, or recall something from your grandmother’s house, or saw something in a magazine. Make a notebook and have an open mind. You won’t be able to duplicate everything exactly, just the feeling. Be prepared to be completely surprised. That’s the beauty of flea markets. They’re not like the Pottery Barn, where they restock the shelves with the same item.

How you describe your own style?

Eclectic, modern, preppy/country chic. I always say my house [in Connecticut] is definitely like a revolving art installation. Every item tells a story. At the end of the day, I’m classic.

You have a lot going on. How do you juggle all that you do?

Well, you may not get my system but it works for me. Sleep is not really a giant option for me. What with two kids and their homework, sports, after-school activities. ... The alarm goes off at 3:45 a.m. every day, so getting six hours a night is a major coup! I drink a ton of water to stay hydrated and help my vocal cords. I eat several small meals throughout the day instead of three large feasts. I try to work out even if it’s just 45 minutes five or six times a week. If I am very lucky, I can carve out a nap here and there.