06 March 2013

I Brake For Yard Sales

Last Saturday and Sunday were perfect days for catching up on reading. It drizzled incessantly for hours and hours, occasionally turning into large floppy snowflakes before turning back into rain.  Couple the dreary weather with the fact that every year at this time I'm gripped by the urge to change, reorganize, and/or rearrange my cottage, it seemed the perfect time to read "I BRAKE FOR YARD SALES" by Lara Spencer.

For those who watched the Red Carpet arrivals on ABC on Oscar night, Lara was the lovely blonde in the silver gown who got to schmooze with all the stars as they ambled past.  CNN junkie that I am, before reading her book I didn't realize she was the lifestyle contributor on ABC's morning show, nor did I recall that she used to be on Antiques Roadshow with the Keno Brothers or had produced shows on HGTV. But now that I've read Ms. Spencer's book I am a HUGE fan. In addition to her gig on ABC, she frequently helps friends with their design challenges in their homes.

Ms. Spencer begins her book by reminding us that even the most expensive highboy in a blueblood Nantucket cottage is "used" furniture. Admittedly, used furniture with a pedigree, but used nonetheless.  With this as a jumping off point, she tells us about spending her childhood accompanying her mother each weekend for what they called Sale-ing, i.e., foraging for loot at local yard sales. After watching her mother repaint, reupholster, and repurpose hundreds of items over the years, and in doing so turning their home into a true showcase, Lara was inspired to become a devoted "sale-er" in her own right as an adult, haunting the Rose Bowl flea market, auctions, or even dumpster diving now and then to find 'used' items she could repurpose for her own use or the use of her client friends.

The chapters are divided into sections, roughly having to do with the various places you can find used treasures: Yard Sales, Thrift Shops, Estate Sales, Auctions, Antique Marts, Flea Markets, etc. The emphasis is on being thrifty and seeing the potential in items we might normally walk past in a dusty shop. (A girl after my own heart!)

There are excellent tips on every page, not only having to do with when to paint something yourself and when to hire a profesional, but also the proper etiquette for the different venues. (e.g., where you should NOT ask them to lower the price, and where it's okay to do so)  There are hundreds of photographs, including wonderful befores and afters of the pieces as well as thoes that show how the makeovers were incorporated into the rooms of her own home and the homes of several friends.  (She puts small price tags over items in her photos to show how little the rooms cost to put together.)

Thanks to her job, Spencer is a bi-coastal dweller, with homes in Connecticut and Los Angeles. The two abodes could not look more different, and in each she's incorporated hundreds of items she's found in her "sale-ing" travels.  At the end of the book she provides a filofax of her own favorite haunts on both coasts.

As a person who can look around any room in her cottage and point to multiple flea market, yard sale, thrift shop, dumpster, and trash day finds, I truly appreciate someone who can see the swan in the ugly duckling and who knows that being frugal doesn't mean you can't be stylish.

I Brake for Yard Sales [Abrams Books Spring 2012] is a fun read for anyone who enjoys recycling cast off treasures and wants to be inspired.

1 comment:

  1. I've been a fan of Lara's for many years. Despite the glitz of her job...she always seems so down to earth. I must look for the book...sounds like a fun read as well as helpful.