Amazing Flea Market Flip Upcycle Ideas and Makeovers

Get creative with these flea market flip upcycle ideas and makeovers for your home! Decorate your home on a budget!

Flea market flipping has become a popular trend in recent years, and for good reason. It’s a fun and creative way to upcycle old items and turn them into something new and unique. Whether you’re looking to decorate your home on a budget or start a side hustle selling your creations, flea market flipping is a great way to get started.

In this post, I will share with you shopping tips, what items to look for while out thrift shopping, and help you to get your creative juices flowing! All you need is some basic tools and supplies, a budget, and some great finds!

Getting Started with Flea Market Flipping

As an avid thrift shopper, I have found that with a little creativity and effort, you can turn someone else’s trash into your treasure. Finding unique items and rare finds at yard sales, garage sales, and flea markets is easier than you might think. It takes time and perseverance to look for items but believe me, they are there!

 Here are a few tips to help you get started with flea market and thrift store shopping!

Understanding Flea Markets

Flea markets are a great place to find hidden gems that you can upcycle and sell for a profit or use in your own home. These markets are typically held outdoors and offer a variety of items, from vintage clothing to antique furniture and kitchen wares to outdated home decor. Knowing when and where to go is key to finding the best deals.

One of my favorite ways to find flea markets is by checking local newspapers or online classifieds. Another great resource is social media. Many flea markets have their own Facebook pages or groups where you can get information about upcoming events and see what other vendors are selling.

One of our favorite local flea markets is held annually and is called the Eastern Shore Threshermen Wheat Threshing held in Federalsburg, Maryland each August. We have gone almost every year for the last ten or so years and we always find interesting items from furniture pieces to old shutters and other home decor items that have seen better days. These pieces are screaming to be flipped!

Search your area for a flea market and put it on your calendar each year!

Annual Eastern Shore Threshermens Event outdoor flea market shopping

Identifying Potential Flip Items

Once you’ve found a flea market to visit, it’s important to know what to look for. Keep an eye out for items that are in good condition but may need a little TLC to bring them back to life. 

Some of my favorite items to flip include vintage suitcases, old picture frames, outdated home decor pieces, and old furniture.

When looking at potential flip items, consider the following:

  • Is it in good condition?
  • Can it be easily cleaned or repaired?
  • Is it unique or in high demand?
  • Is it in my budget?
  • Can I make a profit? (if you are selling your upcycled finds, always keep the profit margin in mind!)

Thrift Shopping Tips and Hacks

Before heading out to find a vintage piece to upcycle, have a list ready in your notes app of the items you are looking for your home. Knowing the room that a furniture piece will eventually go in and the size it needs to be in order to fit properly is so helpful. These notes and measurements will come in handy the next time you are out shopping.

If you are shopping for items to flip and resell, keep a running list of ideas in your notes app of pieces that have sold well for you in the past. This will keep those ideas fresh on your mind when you see the abundance of items to go through at a flea market.

Remember, the goal is to find items that you can upcycle and use as budget-friendly home decor. If you sell your pieces, always consider the investment and your profitability. If the piece you find is for your own home, consider the cost you are willing to spend.  Don’t be afraid to negotiate with vendors to get the best price possible. Always be kind in your negotiations.

thanks for being here!

I hope you are enjoying this project! Let me know if you have any questions. Or leave me a comment to tell me about your project and ideas!

thanks, Cindy 😀

Take cash with you. Most vendors are willing to work with you on the price if you have cash on hand. Make sure you have small bills for the best negotiating power.

By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful flea market flipper in no time. 

When it comes to finding great deals, flea markets are a goldmine for upcyclers. Look for pieces of furniture with good bones, such as solid wood or metal frames. Don’t purchase something that is beyond your scope of repair. If the repair is too much for your skill level, pass by it! 

Remember, the key to successful flea market flipping is to have patience and a keen eye for potential. With the right tools, materials, and shopping strategy, you can transform any piece of furniture into a stunning upcycled masterpiece.

a row of antique used rocking chairs in front of a Restore retail store

Basic Tools and Supplies

I’ve been repurposing and upcycling for many years so I know the importance of having the right tools and supplies on hand in my garage workshop. I also have a large craftroom inside and I like to keep it stocked with supplies as well. Following are my suggestions for basic tools and supplies.

  • power drill, drill bits, and screw bits
  • interchangeable ratcheting screwdriver
  • wood glue and all-purpose glue like E6000
  • orbital sander, detail sander & sanding discs
  • sanding blocks
  • cleaning supplies
  • chalk paint and top coats
  • quality paintbrushes
  • decorative elements like decoupage paper & transfers (optional)
Lady showing a jar of White Lightning TSP cleaner with a spray bottle and an old dirty lamp in the background.

Creative Upcycling Projects

Recently I gave several thrift store items makeovers and I shared those projects over on YouTube. Let’s take a look at some of those projects here. You can also watch the full video. I will share it later in this post. It’s filled with ideas and inspiration for you and your upcycling journey!

Wooden Trays

One of my favorite flea market flip ideas is to turn old wooden trays into something new and useful. With just a little bit of cleaning, sanding, and some paint, you can transform an old, worn-out tray into a beautiful and functional piece. 

In one of my recent thrift shopping trips I  picked up a couple of old wooden trays and turned them into a stylish upcycled home decor for my coffee table in my living room. Both makeovers were fun and easy and they turned out adorable!

For one of the wooden trays, I painted it in a light gray called Oyster and then applied a gorgeous eucalyptus transfer to one corner. I also added small wooden candle cups to the bottom of the tray to turn it into a riser. This piece will help to keep my bathroom counter organized!

I’ll take that gorgeous painted fruit out before using it as a bathroom organizer 😂

The other wooden tray got a nice paint job in the color Hampton Olive. Two coats covered the dark wood perfectly. I had already attached feet to the bottom of the tray. Those feet started out as spindle table legs! I used an all-purpose glue called E6000 to secure them to the bottom. I also used E6000 to secure two vintage metal drawer pulls to the sides of the tray. It looks great with a couple of faux pillar candles and greenery, don’t you think?

For both of these wooden trays, I used Silk All in One Chalk Mineral Paint with a built-in primer and top coat. This product made these two upcycled home decor pieces easy and fast to makeover!

upcycled wooden tray with faux candles and greeenery the tray has been painted in olive green.

Painted Faux Fruit

Another fun upcycle project is to take old, outdated faux fruit and give it a fresh new look with some paint. I recently found a bag of plastic fruit at a thrift store and turned them into a colorful centerpiece for my kitchen island. I used two soft colors in the Silk line with Dixie Belle called Quiet Cove and Serenity. The soft blue and soft green colors look amazing with one of those wooden trays!

I said earlier I would use this tray as a bathroom organizer but it looks so good in my kitchen too! Who knows where I will use this cutie!@

close up of painted faux fruit in blue and green

Upcycle Kitchen Items

Kitchen items are plentiful at flea markets and thrift stores but they are usually dirty and often not useable. I like to use as many of the items as possible in our home. These two kitchen utensils were in rough shape. I sanded them down to bare wood and then applied Howard’s Wax-It-All to the surfaces. Now they are in amazing condition and I can use them!

I also used the same methods on a couple of small cutting boards. They each only cost about $1. Now they look like I bought them at a high-end store!

Furniture Makeovers

One of the most popular upcycle projects is to take an old dresser or other piece of furniture and give it a fresh new look. With just a little bit of paint or stain, you can transform an old, outdated piece into something beautiful and functional.

I recently picked up an old washstand at a flea market and turned it into a gorgeous piece of furniture for our guest bedroom. It was a fun and challenging project that paid off in the end.

side view of old orange oak washstand showing the side of a drawer with Knapp joinery
front view of furniture makeover of a washstand with Knapp joinery that has been painted in light grey chalk paint and has a decorative transfer in a floral design that has been applied to the drawer fronts and side of the furniture piece. The washstand has a brass lamp, vintage books and a faux plant on top.

This craft table is something my hubby put together for me several years ago. The cast iron base is from an antique sewing machine. He attached a solid piece of wood to the top and made this craft and sewing table. We also added casters to the bottom for mobility.

I’ve used it for years but one of my daughters needed a craft table so off it went! But first, I repainted the well-used top in a color called Smokey Mountains to coordinate with her home. She loved it!

small craft table made from cast iron sewing machine base and a piece of wood on top. painting supplies are stacked on top of this flea market flip upcycle project.

Home Decor Pieces

Finally, there are plenty of flea market flip ideas for creating unique and stylish home decor pieces. Old picture frames can be turned into stylish wall art, while vintage suitcases can be repurposed into stylish storage solutions. I recently picked up an old window frame at a flea market and turned it into a beautiful photo display for my living room. It was a fun and easy project that really added a personal touch to my home.

Finishing Touches

Applying a Fresh Coat of Paint

When it comes to upcycling flea market finds, a fresh coat of paint can work wonders. I love using Dixie Belle Silk Chalk Mineral Paint for its versatility and ease of use. It has a built-in primer and top coat and that saves me a couple of steps. Before applying the paint, it’s important to clean and sand down the surface to ensure the paint adheres properly.

Once the surface is prepped, I like to use a brush to apply the paint in thin, even coats. Depending on the desired look, multiple coats may be necessary. After the paint dries, I often use dark wax to add depth and dimension to the piece. Using a clear wax gives a nice finish as well. But remember, if you use Silk All-in-One paint, you will not need to seal it!

jar of chalk paint Fluff by Dixie Belle

Adding Built-In Storage

One technique I like to use is building shelves into the piece. We have added shelving to old TV cabinets to create additional storage.  These units can be used to store linens, board games, or even clothing like an old-fashioned wardrobe!

Using small washstands in place of end tables is a great way to add built-in storage to any room. We have a pair of washstands in our primary bedroom that can store the books we read each night. The top is the perfect place for a lamp, especially one I have refreshed! Repurposed old furniture is a great way to get functional and beautiful storage.

Overall, these finishing touches and techniques can take a flea market find from drab to fab. Whether it’s a fresh coat of paint or added storage, these simple updates can breathe new life into old pieces of furniture.

antique wash stand furniture makeover after photo

YouTube Thrift Makeovers Video

You will enjoy watching these makeovers! Subscribe to my channel while you are there so you don’t miss any of the creative ideas!

Tap below to watch and get inspired!

Happy Shopping!

I hope you have been inspired to tackle your own upcycled DIY projects with these creative ideas! I would love to know how you makeover the pieces you find at your local flea market, estate sales, and thrift stores.

Share your creativity with me by joining my Facebook Group Recreate and Decorate. We are a group of like-minded, vintage-loving, upcycling enthusiasts who love to share our projects to inspire others! Tap below to join!

pinterest graphic with text overlay "trash to treasure gorgeous upcycled home decor with showing before and after images of thrift store fruit and wooden tray

Thanks for joining our journey!

Thanks so much for joining us for this post! Join our journey so you don’t miss any of the fun projects, tutorials, and inspiration that we share with you each week! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. We share even more inspiration on Pinterest!

Cindy Rust

Cindy has been decorating her home with thrift store finds for 40 years. She is an avid thrift store shopper who loves to makeover the items she finds into vintage-inspired home decor and furniture. When she isn’t thrift shopping or painting a piece of furniture, you can find her making homemade butter, working in her garden, or painting with watercolors.

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  1. Rachel @ The Antiqued Journey says:

    Amazing flips and tips, Cindy! Love all of the kitchen items!

    1. Cindy Rust says:

      Thanks Rachel! We love makeovers and upcycled projects around here! 🥰

  2. Cheryl Atkinson says:

    Hi Cindy! I have been reading blogs from Content creators and DIYers for a very long time. I just turned 60 and now reaching the age to retire from my Corporate job. I would love to be a content creator but have no idea how to even start. How did you start?

    1. Cindy Rust says:

      Hi Cheryl! I just sent you an email about becoming a content creator! It is really a wonderful job but it is hard work!!