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How to make the most of antiques shows and flea markets

Brimfield Antique Show and Flea Market. Image property of The Entertaining House/Jessica Gordon Ryan

Brimfield Antique Show and Flea Market. Image property of The Entertaining House/Jessica Gordon Ryan

How to find new uses for old things. 

It's that time of year - antique show and flea market season. As many of you know I was at Brimfield last week - the largest antiques and flea market in the country.  These events are fun and some, like Brimfield, are quite exhausting as there is just so much to see and sort through. The trick is not to try to see and do it all at once and to plan. If you have something in mind try to focus on the task at hand, if you're simply wandering around to check things out - that's fine too. It's easy to get carried away at some of these places. It's easy to get caught up in the thrill of the chase. Make a list of what you want and how much you'd like to spend. Barter. Many of these places expect it and many dealers encourage it. Be sure to have plenty of cash on hand. You'll have better luck negotiating a lower price if you can do so with cash.

For those of you who've never been to these kinds of events, you will find everything  from trash to treasures. It's such fun to wander through and look at everything on display. I'm a huge fan of bringing old things back to life and these places allow for just this. As you wander around I invite you to think outside the proverbial box - What can some of these items be used for? How can they add to your home? How can they accentuate what you already have?

These old handles can be reused in a myriad of ways - Hooks for hanging jackets in a mudroom, handles for a dresser in a young boys room, rec room or work space. What other ways can you image them being used?

These old handles can be reused in a myriad of ways - Hooks for hanging jackets in a mudroom, handles for a dresser in a young boys room, rec room or work space. What other ways can you image them being used?

These light fixtures would accentuate any space from workroom to home office to kitchen to common living area.

These light fixtures would accentuate any space from workroom to home office to kitchen to common living area.

Don't overlook the art, Many of the more popular shows have great art. Perfect for those starting or growing a collection. Looked for themed pieces like nautical, landscape, still life and scenic images.

Don't overlook the art, Many of the more popular shows have great art. Perfect for those starting or growing a collection. Looked for themed pieces like nautical, landscape, still life and scenic images.

Antiques shows and flea markets are great for finding collectibles for all areas of the home. 

Antiques shows and flea markets are great for finding collectibles for all areas of the home. 

Vintage glassware in unique color, patterns and shapes can accessorize so many areas - and have so many uses.

Vintage glassware in unique color, patterns and shapes can accessorize so many areas - and have so many uses.

Frames can be expensive. Flea markets and antique shows are great places to acquire some at a great price. Don't worry about the imperfections - Slight imperfections can be covered up with some paint - Try black lacquer or gold.

Frames can be expensive. Flea markets and antique shows are great places to acquire some at a great price. Don't worry about the imperfections - Slight imperfections can be covered up with some paint - Try black lacquer or gold.

Look to repurpose the unusual. An old pummel horse makes for a perfect bench in a home's entryway or kitchen table. 

Look to repurpose the unusual. An old pummel horse makes for a perfect bench in a home's entryway or kitchen table. 

This old window frame was repurposed and repainted with a modern poster done at a local print shop. It would be a fun piece to add to a kitchen art collection. 

This old window frame was repurposed and repainted with a modern poster done at a local print shop. It would be a fun piece to add to a kitchen art collection. 

Ginger jars and all things Chinoiserie are always in style. Look for good reproduction at local flea markets.

Ginger jars and all things Chinoiserie are always in style. Look for good reproduction at local flea markets.

Add to your existing barware with some fun vintage Depression era glassware.

Add to your existing barware with some fun vintage Depression era glassware.

One can never have too many silver trays. In a bedroom or guest room - A perfect platform for a vase filled with flowers, a few bottles of perfume and a candle. If on a budget look for a silver plate tray to dress up any space. 

One can never have too many silver trays. In a bedroom or guest room - A perfect platform for a vase filled with flowers, a few bottles of perfume and a candle. If on a budget look for a silver plate tray to dress up any space. 

Stick with a color theme. All plates do not have to match. 

Stick with a color theme. All plates do not have to match. 

Vintage tea and coffee sets make for wonderful gifts. 

Vintage tea and coffee sets make for wonderful gifts. 

An old ship's wheel adds the perfect nautical touch to a coastal home or a decorative piece in a boy's bedroom.

An old ship's wheel adds the perfect nautical touch to a coastal home or a decorative piece in a boy's bedroom.

This old school bench would brighten any entryway, mudroom, kitchen - or any room for that matter!

This old school bench would brighten any entryway, mudroom, kitchen - or any room for that matter!

These old sailing hooks can be used as tie backs for curtains in a boys room or a home in a nautical setting. They could even be reimagined as a door or drawer handle. Give them a more dramatic look by painting them a fun color.

These old sailing hooks can be used as tie backs for curtains in a boys room or a home in a nautical setting. They could even be reimagined as a door or drawer handle. Give them a more dramatic look by painting them a fun color.

Old life preserver rings get new life inside the home. Great as a decorative piece in a pool house, rec room or children's room. They can be repainted in fun, bright colors. Add a piece of mirrored glass to their centesr, and they become whimsical mirrors.

Old life preserver rings get new life inside the home. Great as a decorative piece in a pool house, rec room or children's room. They can be repainted in fun, bright colors. Add a piece of mirrored glass to their centesr, and they become whimsical mirrors.

Vintage glasses are easily spotted at these events. Mid-century modern and art deco are easy to come by and are enjoying a renewed popularity. 

Vintage glasses are easily spotted at these events. Mid-century modern and art deco are easy to come by and are enjoying a renewed popularity. 

Fill in, add to or enhance your tableware. Antiques shows and flea markets offer great and varied selections at all price points. Can't find a dozen of the same. Consider the art of mix and match! It adds wonderful color and texture to any table setting. 

Fill in, add to or enhance your tableware. Antiques shows and flea markets offer great and varied selections at all price points. Can't find a dozen of the same. Consider the art of mix and match! It adds wonderful color and texture to any table setting. 

Flea markets offer the unusual. These tiki cocktail glasses add whimsy to any bar. What fun to use these at your next party!

Flea markets offer the unusual. These tiki cocktail glasses add whimsy to any bar. What fun to use these at your next party!

Creative new ways to use old things - This ice chest would be great for holding books, notebooks or hanging files in an office or home office. 

Creative new ways to use old things - This ice chest would be great for holding books, notebooks or hanging files in an office or home office. 

I've always wanted a punching back. Where would I put this?

I've always wanted a punching back. Where would I put this?

Vintage Bakelite cutlery in assorted colors are a perfect way to add to or enhance your flatware collection. Think outside of the big box stores.

Vintage Bakelite cutlery in assorted colors are a perfect way to add to or enhance your flatware collection. Think outside of the big box stores.

Because everyone needs a donut - Some whimsical art for your kitchen perhaps? 

Because everyone needs a donut - Some whimsical art for your kitchen perhaps? 

Brimfield was brimming with plates, service ware and flatware. 

Brimfield was brimming with plates, service ware and flatware. 

These old British phone booths are becoming obsolete. Would make for a fun phone charging station in a home that could accommodate this!

These old British phone booths are becoming obsolete. Would make for a fun phone charging station in a home that could accommodate this!

As you can see with a little imagination there's so much that can be done with yesterday's treasures - Don't let them become trash. It just requires a little bit of creative thinking. Your home should be as individual as you are. What you put in it should reflect you, your personality and lifestyle. Your life isn't mass produced or cookie cutter and your home shouldn't be either.

Almost as fun as looking for great finds to add to your home is spotting those mad, crazy and insane items... A few below were spotted in Brimfield last weekend... Perhaps we should call the following images "What would you do with _____________?" 

For those of you who missed the May Brimfield event, you can try back in July or September. Visit the Brimfield website for more information.  The Elephant's Trunk Country Flea Market is a must see for those in the New York and Connecticut areas. 

The odd and whimsical finds at Brimfield 

The odd and whimsical finds at Brimfield 

The unusual and extraordinary finds of Brimfield

The unusual and extraordinary finds of Brimfield

Eclectic finds at Brimfield

Eclectic finds at Brimfield

Of Pans and Bedpans?? Weird flea market finds. Brimfield Antiques Show and Flea market

Of Pans and Bedpans?? Weird flea market finds. Brimfield Antiques Show and Flea market

Subtitle needed - Strange flea market finds

Subtitle needed - Strange flea market finds

Clowning around at Brimfield 

Clowning around at Brimfield 

Strange flea market finds. Brimfield Antiques Show and Flea Market.

Strange flea market finds. Brimfield Antiques Show and Flea Market.

Paul Bunyan anyone? What would you do with this?

Paul Bunyan anyone? What would you do with this?

Barbie came in on a wrecking ball... Did Miley Cyrus inspire this strange display. Brimfield Antique show and Flea market

Barbie came in on a wrecking ball... Did Miley Cyrus inspire this strange display. Brimfield Antique show and Flea market

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