Bargain beauty: Decorating for less
Savvy shopper Marny Pelletier is proof you don't need to spend a lot of money to get stylish results. By combining thrift shop finds and creativity, she has decorated the Kitchener, Ont., home she shares with husband Glenn and their children for less than some people spend on one room.
Looking for ways to cut costs after she decided to stay home with daughters Lucy and Ellen, Marny turned to discount stores and yard sales to furnish her house. "I go to Value Village and local thrift shops a lot," she says. "I've also shopped at Habitat for Humanity ReStore." And she's a regular at country auctions. "Especially small ones the dealers won't be at – that's where to get real bargains."
Marny sometimes discovers her treasures in roundabout ways. She found her dining room's 100-year-old table for $80 at an auction sale in a barn. Piled with toys the owner was selling, the table initially went unnoticed. She almost got it for a mere $5, until a dealer spotted it, too, and bid her up.
The beauty beneath
The ability to see beauty hiding beneath a grimy exterior led Marny to her collection of wartime cigarette boxes, found covered in dirt in a garage sale bin. "I cleaned them up and placed them throughout my house to hold buttons and other things," she says. "They add character and texture. And every- one who sees them seems to have a story, like remembering how their grandfather had similar ones."
Marny has even turned her love of the hunt into two home businesses. Seven years ago, she started Reinventing Interiors, helping people creatively repurpose items and refurbish flea market finds. For Throwbacks, the pillow company she runs with a friend, Marny seeks out vintage textiles and buttons to fashion into unique cushions like those on her sofa, one of which she made from an old chenille coverlet.
What started out as a necessity has become a happy way of life. "I've often wondered, if I had a lot of disposable income, what would I really change?" Marny says. "I might make some fun architectural alterations, but I don't think I would change the major pieces because they have a history – there's a story behind them."
It's yard sale season! Get the most out of it with advice from Jo-Anne Lauzer, publisher-editor of the B.C.-based website secondhandsavvy.com.
• A measuring tape, blanket to wrap purchases, screw- driver.
• Small bills and coins – most sellers won't have much change.
• Lists of the items and sizes you need.
• Pen and paper so you can leave your name and number. If something is beyond your budget, the owners might be willing to call and make a deal if it's not sold by end of day.
Garage sale etiquette
• If the ad says no early birds, don't show up an hour early.
• Always check if prices are negotiable before haggling. It's best not to negotiate on items under a dollar.
• Make sure items work and all the pieces are intact before you buy.
• Avoid making negative comments while browsing. People get attached to the strangest things and feelings can be hurt.
• A friendly smile and hello goes a long way – it is a social outing after all.