Bargain Flea Market Finds ~ May 2014

Another flea market weekend has come and gone at the Kane County Flea Market in Illinois. The market is held the first weekend of each month from March through December and it’s a big flea market! The doors open at noon but they’ll let you in early, which is a wise thing to do because you can hit the best vendors before the crowds approach. Within just a few minutes I encountered the first of my flea market finds for the weekend …

White Shabby Chic Flea Market FindsI saw it out the corner of my eye … a white, somewhat shabby chic secretary with a cute round mirror at the top. Like the white dresser I found last month at the flea market, this one had a reasonable price tag … $65.


Shabby Chic Flea Market FindsI still wasn’t sold though. I checked the doors and drawers and peeked inside. The drawer was sticking, so I purposely struggled with it hoping the vendor would offer a lower price without me having to ask.


White Shabby Chic Secretary“Since the drawer’s sticking, I can go as low as $50,” he said. Music to my ears! “Okay,” I replied. “I think hubby can fix the drawer so I’ll take it!”  I had a spot in the bedroom in mind, but I’m kind of liking it in my living room.


Vintage Flea Market FindsI love the little round mirror at the top. I’m not really sure what this piece was used for, so if you know, I would love to hear about it! I plan to paint it … it’s not really distressed in the right places.


Vintage Flea Market Finds - Cedar ChestI found the next of my flea market finds within a few minutes. I’ve been in search of a chest to use as a coffee table in the living room. I was hoping to find a steamer trunk but just can’t find the right one. When I spied this cedar chest, I figured it would fit the bill. This piece is also getting painted. You can see the finish is beat up and the top is discolored.


Vintage Flea Market Cedar ChestBut it’s a solid piece and the interior is in excellent condition. This was marked at $60 but I offered $50 and the vendor was agreeable. I told myself I wasn’t spending more than $100 so within 20 minutes I was done shopping. Still, we kept wandering around because it was a beautiful day … and there’s an ATM machine on site just in case!


Vintage Flea Market Finds - Shabby Chic SecretaryBut I was a good girl and didn’t spend any more money.  Now I have 2 projects to finish. I’ll be sure to show you their transformations when I’m done with them.

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  1. The white pieces is a desk/secretary. The front should fold down and the front was a surface for writing. There would have been cubbies inside. On some of these, the drawer, when pulled out, supported the writing surface. On others, there are two braces that pull out (one on each side). Also, some had hinges that locked to hold the surface in place. The piece may actually be quarter sawn oak. I agree, it is not distressed in the right places.

  2. What???? $50? I would have paid $65 and never questioned it. Wow! What a steal! The hope chest is one like my mom had and I love it! You got a steal there too. We don’t have flea markets like that. Wow, Wow, Wee! Thanks for sharing those lovely pieces. I wouldn’t do one thing to the white on as far a distressing. It is perfect just like it is. So cool!

  3. Dang, girl, what super bargains! I like your style of fidgeting with the drawer. 😉 I have one of those cedar chests, and they’re really heavy (mine was painted a chippy, pale yellow, and I love it just like that)! Have a fun week transforming your finds.

  4. Great finds! and great deals, too. I totally would not paint that cedar chest — the wood is too pretty on the sides! Can you try cleaning up the top with some cleaner/restorer?

    1. I like the wood on the sides too, but it’s actually veneer over wood. You can’t see it in the photo, but the veneer has stripped away in spots on the top and doesn’t look good. There are also stains on the top that I tried to remove but couldn’t … looks like grease or oil maybe.

  5. My mother was in town yesterday from Tennessee, so I took her down to the Kane County flea market. We had so much fun, but I was tired from a long weekend with family at my brother-in-law’s wedding to haggle and really search for treasure. Maybe next month. I am on the hunt for some old milk bottles and a really big milk canister. All the ones I found were a little too distressed for me. I don’t want one that is completely rusted out.

  6. Hi, Jennifer, I love your site, and have just started painting furniture, although I’ve painting in oils and watercolors for years (see my website). You mentioned that the distressing on the white piece was not in the right places. Could you share with me where and how much the right amount of distressing is the trend? I’d really appreciate your professional advice. Thanks, Kathi

    1. Hi Kathi! The amount of distressing is kind of personal preference. I usually distress where a piece would normally show wear and tear … like on and round the knobs, on the edges of the piece, and if the piece has scroll work, I’ll distress that a bit too just to make it show up a little more. Hope that helps!

  7. Wish we had flea markets like that in my area! What good buys! I can’t wait to see what you do with the cedar chest, I have one just like it that I bought at a garage sale many years ago for $35. It has stains on the top too and I have not had the courage to try to do anything with it and am always hesitant to paint over good wood surfaces. The stains are not going to come out though so painting it seems to be the only way to go. Look forward to your results, I am sure I will be inspired!

  8. Great finds! Looking forward to seeing your transformation of both pieces. Participated in subdivision garage sale here in STL MO area with others this weekend where one friend had a World War 11 era steamer trunk for $45 dollars and no one bought it. Wish you had been here!

  9. Jen I went too,bought. 6Hydrangeas ,purple loosetrife,Veronica speedwell,a purple clematis,a coral coral bells,all to replace my side garden that was burned up from our garage fire( July 18-14). Love the Red Barn,Mi. Where ll the perennials are from! They are goood people. Dog bones& a pigs service for my golden…Filipino egg rolls& tempura veggies a MUST.. Home by 4pm. Till next month(5-31-14& 6-1-14).

  10. Jennifer, I really adore the desk you picked up and that mirror is so cool. That would have grabbed me right away and what a great price. Loving the trunk too.


  11. I get confused when a person finds a piece as lovely as the cedar chest and say it’s too distressed, and then paint it and DISTRESS it. I think the chest is lovely as is. If the top is a problem, then I would do two things. I would put a lovely dresser scarf over it and then have glass cut to fit. Even if I couldn’t do the glass, I would do the dresser scarf.

    1. Hi Jeanne! You bring up a very valid point about distressing painted furniture! 🙂 I guess I think of paint as a way of covering up flaws – kind of like how make-up covers skin imperfections. I love painted furniture – it’s a passion of mine. I’ve seen some pieces painted so beautifully – they’re like works of art. I also love stained furniture … it just depends on the piece I guess. The scarf is a great idea!

  12. Great finds! Can’t wait to see what you do with them. I wish the flea markets around here were so nice like the one you went to…

  13. Great find on the secretary, love the lines,, great purchase. Have to say I gotcha beat on the chest though,…. Picked up the same cedar chest at a garage sale for $10 except mine was painted a hideous gold with spray paint…. Ick can’t wait to see what you do with yours.