Get Retro!

As we all strive to be more conscious of our spending habits, the idea of recycling old or castaway objects—or in some cases, junk—into new and useful items becomes more appealing. Plus, sometimes its just fun to get out the tools and be creative!
Scouring flea markets, yard sales, antique shows or maybe even your local junkyard is a great way to dig up some, well, junk, that cost next to nothing. A chipped tea cup easily becomes a sweet candle holder when filled with beeswax. A pair of beat-up license plates can quickly be transformed into a funky pair of bookends, such as in the project below. The possibilities are endless once you start brainstorming.

To inspire you, check out three clever projects that were not only easy to make, but each project cost $10 or less!

License Plate Bookends: The license plates were picked up from a local junkyard (free!). Each was bent and then attached (use a short screw or use an epoxy glue such as Liquid Nails Perfect Glue 3) to inexpensive metal bookends purchased at a variety store for $5. Note: if you choose to glue the plates, be sure to clamp them they dry.

Tire Rim Clock: An old tire rim purchased from a car swap for $1 was used for the base of this cool clock. The center emblem was removed and a $7 clock mechanism was installed. To finish the clock’s face, vinyl numbers were added, which cost $2. Total for this clock? $8.

Steering Wheel Towel Rack: A part of a 1949 Ford steering wheel was purchased at a car show for $10, a real steal considering the age of the item. Once it was cleaned up (soapy water is always the safest way to go), the steering wheel was mounted to a wall ready to hold towels or even scarves.

Smart Shopper
Before you set out on your hunt for treasures, follow these useful tips:

1. Cash is king. From seasoned vendors at the monthly flea markets to the first-timers hosting a tag sale, cash makes any transaction so much easier. Also, carry small bills, sellers desperate to make change will thank you.

2. Bring a tape measure. If you’re shopping for a piece of furniture for a particular room, bring that room’s dimensions along as well. That way, when you find that perfect dresser, you can measure it and compare it against the room’s measurements instantly to be sure it will fit.

3. Load your car with blankets, totes, newspaper and rope. Once you’ve found your treasure, you’ll want to be sure it gets home safely, in one piece. Moving blankets are perfect for wrapping furniture in (secure with rope if necessary) and will help prevent items from shifting in your trunk. Newspaper can be used to wrap up fragile, smaller items in a snap, which can then be stored in sturdy tote bags for the ride home.

lauren debellis

A former magazine editor, Lauren DeBellis has been writing and producing stories about home decorating and design for nearly ten years. She resides in East Northport with her husband.