Those who love finding yard sales know the exciting thrill you can feel when you see that there’s a yard sale near your home that’s happening during the upcoming weekend. It’s basically a real-life treasure hunt, especially if you plan to up-cycle.
Up-cycling is when you find something used being sold that you can transform into something wonderful and new. The process is different for different materials you might find, but it’s a great way to have fun and tap into your creative flow.
If you’re looking for inspiration, read on to find some of the best yard sale finds you can snag and up-cycle. Sometimes all you need to do is think outside the box to find the treasure you’re looking for.
1. Picture Frames
Getting a picture frame is like taking Up-cycling 101. You can always reuse it as it is, but there’s more fun to be had. This is especially true if you find an older frame that has more of an antique look to it.
People love to paint over picture frames to re-purpose them. There are the traditional paint colors to choose from, but you can also play around with metallic paints or spray paints. Make it match your home, so it’ll fit right in like it was always meant to be there.
2. Wooden Shelves
Wood products often last a long time, especially if they’re made with care. Wooden shelves, especially if they were made a decade or so ago, hold up well over time, which is why many of them show up at yard sales.
Take advantage of this and snag a few of your own. They can be easily painted or polished, so they’ll fit right in with the furniture already in your home.
3. Mason Jars
There are a million uses for mason jars, so many people find themselves having to sell them at yard sales just to make room in their kitchen cabinets. They’re easy to collect and even easier to find on sale for a cheap price.
Skip the ones at the store and buy a few at local yard sales. You can paint them into vases, use them for preserving food or even join the trend of using them as your drinking cups. They’re also great if you’re packing things like soups or drinks ahead of time, since they fit perfectly in your average lunch box.
4. Wicker Baskets
Some household decor trends will come and go, but wicker baskets are here to stay. They look perfect in any room of the house and can hold just about anything.
If you happen to find some that look like they’ve been well loved, don’t feel like you have to continue your yard sale search. Buy it up and spray paint it with a few coats of a fresh color. It’ll look good as new, even if a few pieces have broken off.
5. Jewelry Boxes
Jewelry boxes are another fantastic up-cycling find. The more traditional ones will be a wooden box that you can paint, color and decorate however you want.
Older jewelry boxes may present more of an up-cycling challenge. They used to be their own pieces of furniture, standing about as tall as a couch and as wide as a coffee table. They often had glass doors or windows through which you could pick out your jewelry.
If you find one of these, don’t shy away from it, even if it has broken or cracked glass. Furniture glass has been regulated by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), so you can get glass that’s guaranteed not to break if you close the jewelry box’s door too hard.
6. Works of Art
When you buy art at a decor store, it can often look like it’s straight off a printing press. Yard sales are the perfect time to buy art that looks painted or sketched, since people will offer pieces at a lowered price.
Buy a framed art piece for the art itself and then switch out the frame later. Or you can buy the art for the frame it comes in. Make an extra effort to look through art collections at yard sales. You never know what you’re going to find!
7. Antique Brooches
Women used to wear brooches every day. They looked fashionable at work and out to dinner, but they aren’t so popular anymore. You’ll probably see many of these on sale at the homes of older neighbors, and they’re the perfect way to up-cycle with an easy project.
You can make almost any brooch into a necklace with the right supplies. This gives the brooch a second life, and you can wear it without compromising your personal sense of style.
8. Eyeglass Frames
Young people are starting to get into the habit of looking through thrift stores and yard sales for eyeglass frames. The larger frames are rising in popularity, which means so are the in-store prices.
If you’ve thought about changing out your glasses recently, but stopped because they can be so expensive, look for a pair of glasses at a yard sale.
Frames often get sold or given away at yard sales, but they can still be used. Once you find a pair that fits your face correctly, take it to your trusted optometrist and ask them to switch out the prescription lenses.
It’ll end up being much less expensive than buying a pair of new frames, and you’ll get that vintage look that so many people are going for now.
Always Keep Your Eyes Open
The list of possible up-cycling projects could go on and on. All you need to do is find a piece you like and dream up ways to work with it.
Switch out the glass in a piece of furniture to make it brand new. Give something new life with a fresh coat of paint. Even a simple polish could transform what you find at a yard sale.
The key is to always keep your eyes open when you’re looking around. You can make anything into an up-cycling project. See if anything inspires you and follow that creativity to wherever it takes you and your yard sale treasures.1