Friday, April 20, 2018

8 Ways to Tell Trash From Treasure

We've all driven past a garage sale and thought, "Boy, that stuff looks like a bunch of garbage." Most people don't go to garage sales for clothes or stuffed animals. Why people think I'm going to want their stained sweatpants is beyond me... So how do you find a treasure that will make a statement in your home and avoid buying junk? How do you know what to look for and what to stay away from? I've made a list of a few things I've learned first hand!

1. Focus closely on the material it's made of. If the furniture isn't solid, don't bother. It may be gorgeous, but if it isn't made of solid wood, it won't fix up, and it won't last. If it's heavy, that's a really good sign! Many people are also thrown off by mismatched wood. It's actually a sign that the piece may be old or handmade.

2. Look for original knobs, screws, and hinges. Something without all of its hardware could end up costing you a pretty penny and replacing it could ruin the value. Depending upon how much you really need it, it may be worth it to hold out for something else

3. It'll probably be whompyjawed, cattywampus, or slightly off-centered, and that's okay!  If it's crooked, it probably means that it was made with more primitive and imprecise tools. If every line, notch, and screw is perfectly straight, you can bet it was made by modern tools or even a machine. Crooked dovetailing follows the same rules! Yay for imperfections!

4. Look for flat head screws. Phillip's head screws were invented in the 1930's. If it has those, you may have a vintage, but not an antique piece. If you want antique, looks for nails or other means of attaching the piece together, such as pegs.

5. Look for any markings, stickers, or etchings that could help you look up more info. I love researching the old pieces I find! Discovering that they came from a different state, or even country, tells a story that is all its own. So when you see something will a serial number, print___ of ___, or makers mark, you've discovered history along with a wonderful piece. And don't be afraid to do your research on the spot. If you think a piece may be valuable, take a minute to look it up. Don't wait till you get home to realize you've missed out on a treasure!
6. Ask the owner where they got the piece. You're looking for answers like, "It was my great-grandmother's," or "I don't know. It's been in the garage since I was a child." If they got it from Target two years ago, pass.

7. Don't give up on it just because of paint or condition. Paint is a very easy fix. Whether you sand it off and paint over it or remove it with stripper, try to see the beauty under the coats of awful paint. When you see a problem with a piece, ask yourself, "Can I fix this with things I have at home?" Wood glue covers a multitude of sins and a sander can buff out most nicks. Some screws just need to be tightened or replaced to bring it back to its former glory! Don't let brokeness stop you from falling in love with something that needs simple repairs!

8. Always walk around the whole sale. Sometimes people have things at the table they are sitting at because they don't want them stolen. Other times, people have things in the garage that they weren't planning to sell, but might if you ask them about it. Always, always, always, look at the items that things are sitting on. The tables may be for sale, too!

Are there any tips you have for discerning trash from treasure? Let us hear them in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. This is so helpful, especially during yard sale season! I'm known for bringing home items that end up in the burn pile! This is great!


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