Junk Hunting from a Junk Hunter

One time this summer I was talking about some of my great roadside finds when my brother jokingly called me “a picker.” I wasn’t insulted or anything, but the truth is, what I (and the many, many like me) do is far from what you see on American Pickers & the like.  While I would love to be able to go through someone’s house/yard/garage/etc. looking for things to buy and hearing the histories behind any interesting items, my vein of “picking” is basically driving around the suburbs and grabbing things from the curb (it’s come to be known as “junk hunting” at our house.) There’s little in the way of human interaction, although once a very nice man came out with his drill and took apart the  wooden bed he had set on the curb so I could fit it into my car. There was only one other time I actually talked to the person I was “picking” from.

I had seen a craigslist ad for free garage sale leftovers, and it was only a couple blocks away from my house. Funnily, I had actually WENT to the garage sale at that house the day before, but only had $2.00 cash with me so I bought very little. When I showed up, the guy was still bringing boxes of things to the curb. As I started loading up my car, he said “go ahead, take everything you can – I do it too.” I smiled and thanked him, and he kind of hesitated, then continued – “actually, I make a living doing just that.” I stopped loading and said “really?”

He went on to tell me that he earns around $30K a year picking up “junk” and selling it through local auction houses. He’s not a furniture rehabber or DIYer – his key is in the sheer volume of stuff he picks up & sells. He actually gave me some good tips on what neighborhoods to hit on various days of the week, and recommended the best auction company to use should I ever decide to go that route. It was such an interesting and unexpected encounter! (and the guy is practically my neighbor…) I ended up getting the speakers I used to make this piece of cat furniture, along with about 4 boxes of random glassware & Christmas decorations. I’m not really sure why he chose to get rid of this stuff versus auction it off, because it was all clean and in decent condition (but if I had to guess, I’d say he probably had no shortage of things to auction & didn’t want to bother with a few boxes of little stuff that would probably only go for a few bucks.)

Even funnier, a couple of days later I was picking things up from one of the online estate sale places I frequent (that also takes consignments) and in walks this very guy. Turns out he knows the owner well (as do I, by this point) and consigns things through him pretty regularly. He was bringing in this very unique wooden sculpture to consign – which recently turned up – refinished – at the antique mall where I have a booth. It’s a small junkin’ world around here!


Hand-carved candlestand

Stopping by to share a quick rehab I just finished 🙂

I got this hand-carved candle stand at a thrift store for $3.50. It had a crack in the base, and the finish was pretty bad with lots of water stains and scuffs. It’s such a unique & pretty piece though – I didn’t get a picture, but if you look at the bottom you can see the rings from the tree – it was most likely carved right out of the trunk.

I really hesitated about painting it, because it had such a beautiful natural color and characteristics, but after patching the crack with wood filler and using some Restore-a-Finish on the top, I still wasn’t thrilled with how it looked (and the wood filler didn’t exactly match.) So I went ahead and spray painted it marigold yellow and chipped it up a bit. Something like this just didn’t look right with a flawless glossy finish!



I’ve picked up some amazing roadside finds lately that I’ll be back soon to share!

4th Sundays MainStrasse Antiques

Yesterday I set up a booth at 4th Sundays, a monthly outdoor antiques sale in MainStrasse Village in Covington, KY. My Dad came along to help out, and sell a few of his own things, and Steve and the girls showed up later. It was the first time I’ve done something like this, and although there are a few things I’ll do differently next time, overall it went pretty well.

The Good:

  • The setting – MainStrasse is a charming neighborhood, and the sale took place along both sides of a paved walkway and was almost all in the shade. It was a really nice place to spend the day.
  • The crowd – I thought the event had a really good turnout! There was pretty much a steady stream of people from about 8:45 to 2:00ish, and many stragglers after that (it took place from 9-3).
  • I had put up a little sign at my booth mentioning my booth at the antique mall (and my Etsy shop) and I had several people ask where the antique mall was and say they’d have to come check it out.
  • I got to meet Judi Ketteler, who wrote Sew Retro. She bought a couple of my vintage jewelry magnets, and I complimented her on her super-cute bag that had a vintage hankie on the front. We got to talking, and she (completely unpretentiously) mentioned that she had authored a book and told me the name of it. I had previously heard of Sew Retro (and had added it to my to-read list) but had no idea the author was local! We chatted a bit – she’s very nice and wasn’t annoyed at all by my questions about how she made her bag, even though it’s one of the projects included in her book. I’m going to order Sew Retro from her website very soon!

The Not-So-Great:

  • The heat. It was a pretty, sunny day, and the first part of the morning was absolutely gorgeous. But later on, it got HOT. Even in the shade, it was to the point of being uncomfortable, and packing up afterward was not fun at all. Speaking of…
  • Packing & unpacking. Setting up my 10×10 booth at the antique mall took a lot of work, but at least I only had to do it once.
  • My sales. I talked to a few other vendors after the event, and it seems that no one did that great. I heard a lot of “people were looking, but not buying.” That said, I did sell enough to at least pay for the booth rental, which was my ultimate goal. I didn’t expect to make a killing, but it would have been nice to sell a little bit more (if for no reason other than to get it out of my house).

Overall, I’m glad we tried it. September is really busy for me, but I’d like to do another outdoor show in October – I just haven’t decided which one yet.

I had to leave this on the side of the road….

….due to lack of car space & manpower (Sob!) It was kind of beat up, and I doubt it works, but what a beautiful piece of furniture! My mind was swimming with ideas for it, but after 10 minutes on the side of a busy road, rearranging my trunk and attempting to slide it over to my car, I came to the realization that there was no way I was getting it home. I only hope some other junker got it! Would hate to see this one go to waste.

On the bright side, before heading to a night-before-kindergarten dinner last night (yes, Piper started kindergarten today!) I took a drive around my parent’s neighborhood and came upon a house where it looked like the tenants had recently been evicted. I don’t normally dig through trash cans, but I took a look inside one that obviously didn’t contain actual garbage, and I found this beauty!

Only a junker could appreciate it, I’m sure….but I can’t wait to upholster a chair with it. I also got a couple pieces of pottery, a big jar full of unused matchbooks, and this neat little “spanish guitar tuning pipe” in a leather case.

I have about 30 pieces of extra furniture in my house that are just waiting for me to work on them. All I need is the time to do it! I hope to be back to share some finished projects soon….

Old Stereo Speakers Upcycled to Cat Tree

My inspiration for this upcycle was a double-decker cat bed made from an old suitcase that I saw a picture of. While keeping my eye out for a suitcase to use, I came across a set of mismatched beat-up stereo speakers on the side of the road. It was actually pretty interesting, because as I picked these up, the man who lived at the house came outside and told me to help myself to whatever I wanted (I also got a like-new artificial Christmas wreath). He then told me that he actually does “this” for a living, and proceeded to share the best nights to check out different neighborhoods and recommend an auction house if I ever decide to consign anything.

the crappy “before” pic I almost forgot to take

Despite having 1,001,001 projects waiting, and a few in progress, I got started on the speakers right away. It actually turned out to be a lot harder of a project than I anticipated! Part of it was due to my lack of certain power tools – a circular saw, in particular – and a real work table. I’ll be getting these things before starting anything else that requires sawing off 2x4s trying to cut a shape out of plywood.

As usual, I failed to take many “during” pictures. Steve helped me with the demo-ing, and that was the fun part. But I had failed to account for the fact that these weren’t real wood, rather a cheap particle-board material. The sides ended up falling off the smaller speaker, and it proved tricky to do any nailing or screwing without cracking a whole piece. But, I figured out that by relying mainly on L-brackets for support (and using tiny screws) I could make it work.

The top level was kind of an after-thought. I just cut a (rough) circle out of a piece of plywood that I had lying around and then used my staple gun to attach batting and then fabric.I sewed the pillows out of an old vintage sheet and hot glued a strip of velcro to the bottom and the surface so they wouldn’t constantly be falling off. I didn’t put a ton of effort into making everything look perfect – after all, this is just a cat tree, and it’s for my own home. But I think it turned out pretty cute, and it was definitely a TON cheaper than the carpet-covered cat trees you can buy in the store! Really, my only expense at all was the fabric and paint, which I already had, (and which barely cost anything anyway – the paint was from the mis-tint section, and the fabric was a remnant and an old sheet.)

Lacy wall art from an old headboard

Happy 4th of July everyone!

This summer has been crazy busy, which seems to be the case with everyone. I’ve done a decent amount of junking/thrift, and a ton of online estate sale shopping – but haven’t had as much time as I’d like to actually work on projects. I’ve had decent luck selling my no-rehab-needed antiques/vintage goods (I just found out I actually made a profit my first month at the antique mall!) but I’d really like to get back to my true passion – making old things pretty.

We needed something new to hang above our couch, and since I couldn’t find anything I liked at Goodwill, etc., this meant it was up to me to create it. However….I’m not an artist. I have next-to-no skills in drawing, painting, things like that. So I had to be creative!

I thought of this old wooden headboard frame that I had snatched from the side of the road a while back. I’m actually not even sure if it’s that old, but it was in pretty rough condition, and it only caught my eye because of it’s pretty shape.

After some brainstorming, I decided to paint it this rusty orange color and then use it to frame some pretty decorative fabric. But when reviewing my collection of fabric/linens, I couldn’t find anything that would look quite right. I moved on to my stack of curtains, and when I found this vintage lace valance, I knew it would be perfect! I just used my staple gun to attach it to the back of the frame, and I ended up putting a dark blue fabric behind it to make it stand out better against our wall. I topped the paint with a brush-on poly, and then did just a bit of distressing.

I love how it turned out! If it were up to me, I’d rather that the seam of the curtain not show under the arched part, but that was the only way that the curtain would fit, and I don’t think it really detracts from the overall look at all.

(it’s not hung yet because I’m still deciding where exactly to place it and what else I want around it)

Stay tuned – I’ll be back soon (really!) to share the yet-to-be-seen outcome of my most ambitious project yet – a cat tree made from a pair of old stereo speakers!

Side Table Makeover

(am I the only mom who can’t help but think of Blue’s Clues when I hear “side table”?)

So I got this little table off Freecycle – someone had rescued it from her neighbor’s trash, but didn’t have a need for it. I knew I could make it into something cute!

But my ideas don’t always work out the way I’ve planned. This is actually this table’s THIRD incarnation. I had first decoupaged a cool picture from a magazine on it – it looked good, but it wasn’t the best decoupage job, and when I decided to sell it, I couldn’t do so with someone else’s artwork on it. I’m going to stay mum on the second idea, because I’d still like to try it on something else – it was just going to take too long, and I desperately needed to get some finished pieces out of the house (and into my new booth at Riverside Center Antique Mall & Resale Center!)

First, I painted the table red, and that stayed the same throughout – I love the color, especially on a little piece like this. The top is decoupaged with vintage wallpaper that I actually found sitting next to someone’s trash can! There was a whole roll of it, and a roll of another print (not quite as cute.) I happened to drive by, and stopped because they had a little shelf thing sitting out too – I ended up passing on that, but scooped this up, and 2 minutes later it started pouring rain – whew! Anyway, I finished this off with a few coats of acrylic sealant, and distressed it just a tad around the edges to go with the vintage feel.

(poor lighting resulted in not the best pictures)

GIVEAWAY! Win something vintage, upcycled, handmade or random!

I think the Secondhand Fancy Facebook page has more followers than this blog, but just in case anyone’s missed it – I’m hosting a giveaway to celebrate getting 100 FB fans!

All you have to do to enter is become a fan of Secondhand Fancy on Facebook, and then post a comment letting me know which of the four categories you want to enter the drawing for (vintage, upcycled, handmade, or totally random).

The deadline to enter is Friday at noon (EST) and I’ll announce the winner(s) in each category later that afternoon.

As of now there aren’t many entries, so your chances of winning are pretty good! 🙂

Secondhand shopping without leaving home! (online estate sales)

So a couple of weeks ago I decided to look online to find an estate sale to go to – I’ve never been to one –  when I made an amazing discovery: there was no need to wait – I could bid on numerous local estate sales right that very minute!

I’ve since been filling up our house with purchases from online estate auctions.  It’s just so convenient and fun! The deals are amazing, too.

Kady helping me pick up my winnings

So here’s what I brought home yesterday – it cost $41.50 total.  (I feel compelled to add that some of this stuff was purchased in a lot – basically I paid $1-$2 for a big box of unknowns.)

Online Estate Sale Basics

If you’re unfamiliar with online estate sales, they basically work like a simplified version of E-bay. Of course, I can’t speak for every company out there, but it seems that the majority of them use the same (or very similar) software to run their auctions, and it’s really easy to use.

First,  go to the estate liquidator’s website and register for a bidding number. Some of them require a credit card on file but many don’t. It’s a simple form and you’ll be e-mailed a bidding number immediately.

Once you have that, return to the auction and view the list of items (they’ll have at least one picture and a brief description). You’ll be able to see the current bid, and enter your own maximum bid. After bidding, you’ll be told if you have the highest bid or if another bidder had previously entered a higher bid than yours. That’s about it!

I’ve been at this for just under a month, so I’m far from an expert, but here are a few tips that I’ll pass on:

  • Carefully consider the convenience of the auction’s pick-up location and date/time before bidding.  I bid on several things in one of my first auctions, but when it ended, I had only won a $1 vintage tin box. Sure, it was cute, but not really worth driving 45-minutes across town on a Monday afternoon for, and the shipping costs would have been ridiculous. I ended up paying for it and apologizing profusely for not coming to pick it up.
  • Pay attention to any measurements given in an item listing. It can be really hard to tell how big something is without a frame of reference. When I was picking up yesterday, another buyer was stunned when the vintage tea set she had purchased turned out to be doll-sized.
  • When it comes time to pick up, bring your own copy of your invoice, and check each item off to make sure you have everything before you leave. And if you bought several things, bring your own bags and boxes and don’t count on any help carrying things to your car. The auction employees I’ve encountered so far have been super nice, but also super busy.
  • If you start participating in multiple auctions, come up with a system to keep track of the end dates and pick-up times of each one (I just printed a blank calendar page and wrote only auction-related dates on it.) You’ll usually get an e-mail when you’re outbid on something, but it can be hard to remember which were things you just bid on because they were ridiculous-cheap, and which you really really wanted. Make a habit of reviewing an auction shortly before it ends. There seem to be a lot of people who just wait until the last few minutes and then pop in and place a bid.

There really are some amazing deals to be had! Sure, if you’re set on bidding only on Waterford crystal or Tiffany lamps, you’ll spend some bucks. But if you’re a junker/thrifter who’s into fixing things up, you can definitely find some hidden treasures! It’s not at all uncommon to see pieces of furniture going for under $5, and I’ve picked up plenty of things for $1.

I found my local online estate auctions via simple google searches. I definitely encourage you to check out the ones near you – and let me know if you get anything good!

Guest Post from Melissa @ MeloMomma :)

Today my friend Melissa is swinging by to share a cute and simple craft idea for the younger kiddos. She blogs about crafts, recipes, and all kinds of other fun mom stuff at MeloMomma. She’s posts really frequently and I always enjoy what she writes about. Go check her out!
My son’s teacher assigned a family craft! We were to make an animal entirely out of leaves. It took a little thought from the four of us, but with a little guidance my son designed Rahh, the lion! Have fun and be creative!!!
What you will need:
Heavy books

Gather several different shapes of leaves.
Open a heavy book in the center and line the pages with newspaper.
Place the leaves on top of the newspaper. Be careful that the leaves do not touch.
Place newspaper on top of the leaves and close the book.
Repeat until al the leaves have a safe spot in the books.
Allow approx. 5 days to dry.
Remove the leaves from the books and design your leaf animal or creature.
It may be helpful to draw an outline before placing the leaves on to the cardboard.
I also recommend designing the creature and laying the leaves in place prior to to actually gluing them on.