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MY FRIENDS often flatter me with gracious comments about my creativity and one question that always comes up when I’m blabbing on endlessly with someone about a recent project is “How in the world did you come up with that?”  Well, here’s my not-so-secret recipe for cooking up a project of any kind.  I research. A lot.

Books, magazines, newspapers, TV shows, hotels, restaurants, websites, design blogs, and boutiques.  I have an insatiable thirst for new design ideas and I’m always on the look out for the next bit of inspiration.  If I got on a plane without a stack of shelter magazines I likely would spontaneously combust. My husband knows the drill after we clear airport security; I go directly to the nearest snack stand and he goes directly to the nearest newsstand.  When I meet him at the gate, there is always a stack of lovely, shiny, goodness waiting to keep me occupied during the flight.  I’m spoiled.

I love books most of all.  Books are filled with inspiration and information, come in all shapes, sizes and colors and look pretty awesome in my bookcase next to my foo dog.  As a DIYer and junk store lover, one of my favorite sources for inspiration as of late is Lara Spencer’s new book “I BRAKE FOR YARD SALES: And Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster.” 

You can find it here.

Its pages are full of great before & after photos, sale-ing strategies, tutorials for revamping old junk and flea market war stories, including Lara’s shining moment of second-hand glory  – when she found a pair of numbered Picasso lithographs for $35 in a Salvation Army store in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC!  I BRAKE FOR YARD SALES is also a testament to the fact that upcycled estate sale finds can translate into more than just shabby chic decor.  With the right paint, upholstery or hardware, a junk yard gem can streamline beautifully into a traditional, mid-century, glam, eclectic, modern or industrial design aesthetic.

Photo by Michael McNamara from RedbookMag

I’d recommend I BRAKE FOR YARD SALES to anyone who loves to spend a Saturday at the local flea market, has champagne taste without the matching budget or has a ton of hand-me-down furniture that doesn’t match their style.  The book is well-organized, crammed with ideas that will get your creative juices flowing and is a great addition (or start!) to your home decor book collection.

Let the buyer beware – I BRAKE FOR YARD SALES is not for the faint-hearted decorator.  All junk is not created equal.  Unless you’re lucky enough to find something great on the side of the road you have to be willing to dig through dusty shelves and wade through piles of dingy duds in order to find that diamond in the rough.  And you’ll likely need to bust out the toolbox and get down and dirty with grandma’s trash before it turns into your show-stopping treasure.  But don’t be discouraged if you’re a junking newbie.  With patience, some elbow grease, a power sander and Lara’s book in your arsenal, you’ll be a flea market warrior in no time!

Has Lara’s book inspired you to go dumpster diving?  I’d love to hear about all of your flea market victories!  Do you have an old piece of junk and don’t know where to go from here?  Drop me a line, I’d love to see whatcha got!