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Supplement to “Top Home Improvements”

Walk through a flea market and leave with a unique treasure—for a pittance. It’s every bargain shopper’s dream. Especially if that unexpected find is just the thing to transform a ho hum living space into a work of art.

According to Albert LaForge, author of the US Flea Market Directory, America’s thousands of flea, antique, and collectible markets draw in millions of shoppers annually. Increasingly, say interior designers, antique and resale shops, discount stores, and flea markets are primary destinations for bargain hunters hoping to find bargain-priced furnishings and accessories to decorate their homes.

“Flea markets are wonderful places to find accent pieces such as vases, mirrors, artwork, even furniture,” says Cathy Munisteri, who, along with husband, Mark Hood, owns and operates Eclectic Style, a home accessory shop and interior design service in Bowling Green. “Flea market finds bring a different element to your home interior design.”

In fact, say designers, there’s not much a savvy shopper can’t find at flea and antique markets or resale shops brimming with home makeover potential. Scour antique markets and resale shops for framed art (even if it’s just the frame that’s appealing), glassware, sculptures, vintage accessories, and hardware such as drawer pulls and vintage or contemporary door knobs.

Of course, not everything in the shop or vendor’s booth is a treasure, designers warn. It takes a discerning eye and a bit of knowledge to tell the difference between a find and a true treasure.

Examine items carefully, Munisteri recommends, to ensure that the joints on furnishings are solid, and that mirrors and artworks are undamaged and completely intact.

“Decide whether you want to make an investment in time and materials to something if it needs repair,” she says.

Also, says interior designer Brenda Martin, of Martin Design Co. of Bowling Green, don’t leave home without an open mind and a keen eye.

“Cultivate an eye for quality,” Martin says, “know it when you see it. And look for things you really like. Even if something seems a bit gaudy, if you really like it, you can put it together with less ornate pieces to tone it down.”

To read the Kentucky Living May 2006 feature that goes along with this supplement, click here: Top Home Improvements

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