One rule for transforming flea market finds

One of the hottest trends in home décor today is transforming or repurposing flea market finds.  Every time Lara Spencer’s Flea Market Flip is on, I get lost watching it. Most of the time I find the creative sparks of the participants refreshing and at times inspiring. It kills me though, when they take a true antique in great condition and ruin it by painting it, or drastically altering the look of it. Antiques in great condition only retain their value when left alone with their original finish. Once they are stripped and painted, or restained, the value drops, not a wise move in my opinion.

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( piece I found at the Homeless Emergency Project Thrift store)

So, how do you know what flea market finds are worth the effort in transforming. Well, a good rule to follow would be to leave designer pieces in great condition alone.  Well-worn or mass produced pieces are safe to strip and paint. Less than great condition designer pieces can be given a new lease on life with a little extra care too.  It really  boils down to knowing your antiques and making a judgement call on pieces you stumble across.

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(Dorothy Draper original Lacquered chest)

No one would dream of altering the iconic Dorothy Draper chest, or painting a genuine Chippendale chair, would they?  Iconic pieces just need to be left alone.  Badly damaged non designer pieces are free to be painted, hacked and transformed to your hearts content.  Take the dresser below. It was found at a flea market by a friend of mine. She completely transformed the dresser with paint, drawer pulls and added textural details to the front of the drawers.

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(summa lee creations)

Most of what I find is perfectly suited to being given a new look.  It would be rare to find a true antique at a thrift store, or at a flea market. Consignment shops on the other hand would be prime locations to find antiques. People will sell their items of value for the money rather than just donate to a thrift store.

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