June 27, 2011

Finishing Touches for the Living Room

Back to the living room. It's a work in progress, but the fam and I are loving it thus far.

As long as we'd lived here, the television's spot was above the fireplace, no questions asked.

The TV lived in the corner and that was that.

When you rearranged the room, you didn't have to wonder where to put the TV because it couldn't move, or so we thought. When Dave and I decided to rebel against the One-And-Only-Spot for the TV, a whole new world of possibilities opened up for decorating above the fireplace.

What to do? Well, the first thing I did was give the mantel a heavy duty dusting - yuck. And then I let my mind wander..... {as it does so frequently}. I've been loving globes lately, and blue and green would tie in perfectly to the new lamps and the painting we'd bought for the room. I also have this strange love affair with ferns. Outdoor gardening I can do, but houseplants seem to die under my not-so-watchful eye. Not disheartened, I decided to give it another go and purchased a beautiful lacy fern named Rhonda for the living room {she didn't come with the name; I named her that}. I'm really into monograms and letters and numbers representing our family, so I grabbed the framed "W" project I'd made for the master bedroom and then continued to shop the house for other decor, including some candles and pretty vases, to put together a new look for the little corner of the living room.

Dave and I bought this little globe paperweight on a vacation,
and it looks divine in a thrifted silver serving bowl turned upside down.
A candle sits next to the vase atop a crystal candlestick from Goodwill.

The framed "W" is nestled at the back of the wall peeking out from behind the fern
{a.k.a. Rhonda}. A blue vase and some hurricane candle holders complete the look.

 Built in shelves on either side of the fireplace are the perfect locations for piano music and photo albums.

Fresh and clean and crisp all while pulling in the blue and green colors from the room - I'm loving it! The mantel makeover can stay.

June 15, 2011

How to Shop Garage Sales

So you're an expert on how to have a garage sale. What you need to know now is how to expertly shop garage sales and come home with treasures. I always know the people who aren't garage sales shoppers. They're the ones who are at your home and say, "I love that [fill in the blank]." And I say, "I found it at a garage sale." And then they say, "REALLY?!" as though it's earth shattering news that you could actually find something of value at a garage sale. It's true, my friend. If I'm looking for furniture, artwork, and accessories for my home, I look to garage sales and thrift stores first. For one, it's definitely the more inexpensive route, and two, I'm more likely to find something that's one-of-a-kind. So yeah, I found that at a garage sale and paid $14 for it. You wanna make something of it?

Here are some DOs and DON'Ts to finding your own treasures.

DO find out where the sales are. Scope out your local newspaper for ads and check out Craigslist for listings. Pay attention to what people are selling and note the start time of the sales. Sometimes towns and cities hold annual community garage sales and even print directories pointing you right to the sales. When you're cruising around looking for sales, pay attention to signs. If someone has taken the time to make attractive signs, chances are they've taken the time to sell decent stuff, too.

DO get there early. The good stuff goes quickly. When I have a sale, I can look out the window before it's time to open and see at least three or four cars driving by slowly.... waiting.... If a sale starts at 8:00, be there at 7:45. Note that I did not say to knock on anyone's door and ask them to open their sale early. Sellers don't like that. But occasionally sellers will open their sales early; if you're eager to get to a particular one, find a nearby parking spot and take a peek to see if they've started their sale. If not, stay in your car, enjoy a cup of coffee, and plan your attack, which brings me to....

DO know what you're looking for and come prepared. Are you pining for a nightstand? Frames? Chairs? Have a goal in mind and stick to it. It's awesome if you find something absolutely amazing while you're trying to find your prize, but it's not an absolutely amazing find if you don't need it and can't use it. I'm serious, you probably don't need an air popper that's still new in the box. If you're looking for something of a certain size, know the dimensions that will work for your home and bring a tape measure to measure potential winners. Have cash, especially lots of ones and fives. Sellers don't like it when you pay for your fifty cent item with a twenty dollar bill.

DO know how to see the potential in something. Wooden furniture can be painted. Upholstered items can be recovered in a different fabric. Frames and metal decor can be spray painted to suit your style. Sometimes an item needs a little love, but that's what's great about garage sales. You get to find things, pay next to nothing for them, and make them your own!

DO have a way to get your treasures home. Believe me, a seller wants you to pay for something and take it now. It's great to bring a truck or empty out the back of your van or SUV.

A recent garage sale trip with lots of good stuff.

DON'T offend the seller by asking if she'd take a lot less than what an item is priced. I'm all about asking for a deal, but if an item is marked at $25, don't offer $8. Be reasonable.

DON'T disclose strange information. Do you plan to paint orange and green stripes on that antique table? It might be best to keep mum about it. Sometimes sellers are parting with items that still hold meaning to them, and they'd rather think you'll be loving something just how it is. A few years ago I had a sale while there was a carnival in town. A few men shopped the sale and cleaned out all of the stuffed animals we were selling. Great! And then they told me they worked with the carnival and invited me to "C'mon down and win them all back." I've never felt the same about winning a prize at a carnival.

DON'T pull up to a stranger's garage sale with a truckload of stuff you want to sell and ask if they'd mind selling it for you. Should I really have to tell you that? I know that none of you, dear readers, could even fathom doing something so strange, but it's a true story.

DON'T get discouraged if you don't find something awesome right away. Finding great stuff takes dedication. I shop a lot of garage sales and rarely find something that makes me giddy. But when I find something, great, it's amazing!

June 7, 2011

How to Have a Garage Sale

You can have a garage sale, yes - you. Yep, uh-huh - over there, I'm talking to you. Yes, it's a lot of work. I realize you have to price everything, go through your home and make decisions, and {my favorite} sit around and watch strangers pick through your stuff. But you can do it. Buck up. It's good for you {and good for your home}.

I love to have garage sales. People who don't really know me in our little ol' town probably know of  me just because I have ads in the paper so often for garage sales - typically twice a summer. Yeah, I know - two sales in one summer seems like a lot. But I'm kind of the Garage Sale Queen; my house is the hub for friends and family members who want to sell their stuff. Therefore, my ad always reads: "Multi-Family Garage Sale." I enjoy it. And guess what, people? Having a garage sale is fun and it's great for your pocketbook. Here's how to do it.

1. Shop Your House.
Having a garage sale is great therapy, a walk down memory lane as you dig into your stuff. I don't know about you, but I can still remember what a great time I had when I wore that blue blouse to that BBQ two summers ago. Great, but does it still fit well, and would I buy it again? I thought I loved that scarf and those shoes at the end of last summer when they were on clearance....maybe I don't.

Garage sales aren't just about cleaning out your closets. Take a stroll through your home and take note of what you see. Artwork, frames, vases, knickknacks - do you love it all? If you don't love something and it holds no sentimental value, grab it for your sale.

Rummage through your cupboards. Have you used that George Foreman Family Size Grill like you thought you would? Do you really need two waffle makers? {No, you are not going to take that second one to the cabin. Stop lying to yourself.} Do you have to have three sets of glassware? I doubt it.

2. Clean Your Stuff.
No one wants your dirty stuff. Clean it. Your Walkman works? Prove it. Put new batteries in it. Did you keep the manual for something? Put it with the item; people like that. If something is stained or damaged beyond repair, toss it.

3. Price Your Stuff.
Pricing, for me, is the most difficult part of getting ready for a garage sale. Prices are tricky; they have to be just right and may vary by region of the country. You don't want to price things below their value, but price them too high and people may turn and walk right away. I recently had a garage sale with my good friend, Laura. We spent many nights in my garage pricing items, and this is how our conversations went:

Me: "What should I price this?"
Laura: "Two dollars."
Laura: "I don't know.... What were you thinking?"
Me: "I don't know.... One dollar?"
Laura: "Okay. $1.50."
Me: "Okay. $1.50."

Seriously, we had that conversation 247 times.

4. Organize Your Stuff.
Place like items together. Clothing in one area and divided by size and gender, books in another. Laura and I had so much stuff the last time we had a garage sale that we had the garage divided like Target; there was a department for everything: clothing, shoes, books, games, toys, household decor, electronics, sporting equipment, kitchen appliances, etc. People like to find what they're looking for quickly. I've walked into garage sales with all of the clothing heaped in one mound on a table. I walked away; I wasn't in the mood to sort through that much stuff all the while hoping I didn't pull out an item that caused the mountain to crumble.

5. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise.
Did you hear me, people? Advertise. No one's going to buy your stuff if they don't know about your sale. Run an ad in your LOCAL NEWSPAPERS. Put a post on CRAIGSLIST {Free!}. Make bright and bold and sturdy SIGNS that won't get ruined in the rain and place them near major roads and intersections. TELL PEOPLE you're having a garage sale; word of mouth works wonderfully. I once knew someone who knew someone who was selling something I had to have. I bought it. Are you on FACEBOOK? Make a photo album on your Facebook page with the details of your garage sale and pictures of the big ticket items you're selling.

6. Be Money Prepared.
Have a container to keep your change and earnings in. A plastic Tupperware container works fine, so does your kids' pretend cash register. A couple days before the sale, go the the bank and get change to start your sale: tens, fives, lots of ones, and a roll of quarters. I always start with $50 in change and have found that to be just right.

7. Keep Track of Your Profit
I keep a notebook with separate pages for each person selling stuff. Each person also has their stickers color-coded so they get their due money.

8. Have a Free Box 
My Free Box typically contains diaper covers that come with all those adorable little girl dresses, items that may be missing a mate or a part that someone might still find useful, and Beanie Babies {because they left the house back in the Purge of 2004 and are not coming back}.

9. Get Comfy
Have a sturdy table and chairs for sitting at when you're not folding, hanging, and helping customers. Keep a watchful eye on your cash box. Have your phone handy and keep a stash of snacks at arm's length. You'll thank me when you get hungry but can't run into the house. Have a husband who will bring you Subway for lunch. Find some good selling partners; two people make a garage sale run much better than one. Plus, you'll have someone to talk to when there's a lull in the action.

10. Don't Get Crabby
Not everyone is going to love your stuff. You don't anymore; that's why you're selling it. Don't get offended if someone leaves without buying something. Also, people like to barter at garage sales. Think ahead of time about the lowest price you're willing to take for your items. You're asking $15 for that lamp? How badly do you want to sell it? Would you rather store it until your next garage sale or take $12 for it?

See, not so bad. Do it.
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