Flea market vs. estate sale: Which has the best vintage finds?

Flea markets have become the go-to destination for those in search of inexpensive home decor. But budget-conscious home decorators know that there’s another shopping alternative that won’t break the bank. Enter the home decorators’ best kept secret: estate sales.

Melissa Arnold from Succor Estate Sales

A passion for good design and the environment

Flea markets and estate sales have a lot in common. They both turn treasures over from one household to another focusing on beautiful decor pieces and upcycling.

Melissa Arnold represents Succor Estate Sales. Born from a passion for good design and the environment, Succor Estate Sales helps you recycle your designer, antique, vintage decor and home furnishings, and in return helps other people furnish their homes with good design while lightening local landfills.

Vintage shopping

Melissa broke down the differences between flea markets and estate sales for us.

Fabulous flea markets

She says, “Flea markets tend to be the stuff cherry picked at estate sales and thrift stores with a higher price tag, but everything you see is curated by the dealer; they save you from having to dig, and you have access to all the best stuff in one place.” Flea markets are tempting to shop at because one step of the vintage shopping process is done for you.

Excellent estate sales

But there’s a benefit to being the one taking that step. Melissa explains, “Estate sales are in-home sales usually run by a professional company on behalf of the original owners or their families. You can find anything and everything there, and you gain access to the interior of some fabulous homes!”

Seeing vintage pieces displayed in a home setting can inspire your own decor. Melissa says, “Don’t let the idea of professional dealers [at estate sales] intimidate you. Sure they line up early, but there’s still plenty of amazing stuff available if you enter the house an hour behind them, and that early morning line can be exhilarating!”

Estate sale finds

Like flea markets, estate sales are, indeed, exhilarating for the avid vintage shopper. Melissa shares some of her best vintage decorating tips and finds and explains how you can use your well-trained shopping eye to find unique and fabulous pieces at estate sales and bring them from someone else’s home right into yours.

Go rustic

Go rustic

Look for key pieces that inspire a rustic and natural feeling. Strategically picking a few pieces in this room could bring its classic decor feeling into your own home. Melissa says, “I love the rustic look of the American antiques in this photo, with two American flags, gorgeous artwork and a touch of brass dead center. These pieces look like they could be straight out of the pages of Elle Decor or grace Remodelista online. Incorporating pieces of raw wood into your home decor helps bring the feeling of nature inside.”

Mix and match

Mix and match

Don’t be afraid to pick unique vintage pieces to complement a more modern decorated home. Melissa says, “In [this] foreground you see a wonderful old armillary sphere [with a] beautiful patina’ and an antique tobacco basket on the left. And in the background, [there’s] a very rare and totally cool oil derrick table lamp. The look of antiques next to bright white contemporary furniture is fabulous and unexpected.”

Statement pieces

Statement pieces

Statement pieces are the bread and butter of any decor. Keep your eyes open for eye-catching finds. If you’re drawn to a piece at an estate sale, guests are likely to be drawn to the same piece in your home. Melissa says, “What a great pair of retro bamboo swivel chairs. These babies scream ’60s with their bright orange cushions.”

Think display

Think display

A vintage-inspired decorated home will take a page out of estate sale books. Think magazine layouts and storefronts. Purposefully displaying key pieces turns individual finds into well-decorated nooks in your home that beg to be admired. Melissa says, “A classic Mies van der Rohe black leather on chrome base Barcelona chair sits in front of an extremely rare antique Wurlitzer harp from the late 19th century.”

Keep it simple, shopper

Keep it simple, shopper

Sometimes estate sale displays are set up and ready to go, and you can literally move a look and a find from the sale home into yours. Melissa says, “[This] stark black dining room table and chairs [are] in the style of Arne Jacobsen’s swan chair.”

More on vintage decor

9 Uncommon ways to decorate with vintage doorknobs
A simple girl’s guide to vintage shopping
3 Uses for vintage suitcases in home decor

Photo credit: Arnold / Succor Estate Sales via Facebook


Comments are closed.