Queen of the Yard Sales: Lara Spencer Solves Your Decorating Dilemmas with Flea Market Fabulous
It takes a special kind of person who can see a dingy, water-stained basement and think "glamorous game room!" Or pass a destroyed ottoman at a flea market and think "elegant extra seating!"
Lara Spencer is that kind of person.
The Good Morning America anchor and host of HGTV's Flea Market Flip is a positivity personified. She is a whirlwind of creativity who will see busted rattan, chipped paint, and threadbare upholstery and cheer "good bones!" She is a life coach for flea market flotsam—possessed by a personal mission to coax dusty treasures into makeovers, giving them new lives.
Spencer's new book, Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures ($17; amazon.com), is a follow up to her New York Times best seller I Brake for Yard Sales ($18; amazon.com). Armed with a talented team and an endless supply of moxie, she conquers room makeovers that you won't believe.
"Not only can she light up a room metaphorically—changing the mood from greige to kapow—but she can do it literally, too," designer Jonathan Adler writes in Flea Market Fabulous' foreword. "Lara's creativity and her design genius are every bit as powerful as her personal charisma. She has the magical ability to walk into a room and transform the vibe from soggy to glam ... all without spending a billion dollars."
[wrn_tweet title="Notable Quote"]"She is a tornado of blonde positivity. That chick has charisma." —@jonathanadler on @LaraSpencer[/wrn_tweet]
Flea Market Fabulous, which hit bookstores today, is a well of inspiration. It's filled with practical advice from the author-cum-lifelong-bargain-hunter, easy to manage DIYs, practical advice from pros, and before-and-after shots that will make a believer of Spencer's thrift shop miracles.
"Flea markets are indeed fabulous!" Spencer writes. "They are filled with magical and mysterious objects that are just screaming to be brought into our homes to create rooms that make us happy."
The Queen of Yard Sales
"Flea markets are indeed fabulous!" Lara Spencer writes in her new book Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures (amazon.com, $17). "They are filled with magical and mysterious objects that are just screaming to be brought into our homes to create rooms that make us happy." The Good Morning America anchor and host of HGTV's Flea Market Flip gives us a sneak peek at some of the incredible before-and-after room makeovers she's conquered.
Before: A Boring Living Room
When Lara Spencer took on the challenge of transforming this boring living room, she was basically starting from scratch! "For years, the homeowners tolerated empty white walls, bare wood floors, and hardly a stick of furniture," she said. They were overwhelmed by options and suffered from what Lara calls "serious color commitment issues."
After: A Lively Living Room
Spencer and her team brought a much-needed dose of color and pattern to the bare, boring living room. The existing plaid chairs were updated with a modern pattern and new pieces were hulled from flea markets—including a stunning black desk for $250. Lara accessorized the room with vintage books ($1 a piece), chunks of non-endangered coral ($8), and blue-and-white pottery (less than $10 a piece). "Even if you can't afford centuries-old Chinese porcelain, you can find similar blue and white pieces at flea markets for next to nothing!" Lara writes.
Before: An Outdated Den
Lara called this clashing room a "has-been habitat," full of clutter and mismatched old furniture. With the existing fireplace, she envisioned a modern, cozy den perfect for entertaining guests.
After: A Dynamic Den
Working with a cozy palette of brown and orange, Lara and her team set to work lightening up the dated decor. The real stunner was the fireplace's facelift. Though it looks like an expensive, custom-made wall, Lara confesses the DIY wasn't nearly as intensive as it seems: "We created it using foam core panels you can get at any art supply store. We covered them with orange linen fabric using spray adhesive; and because the foam core is so soft, we just pushed in the tacks with our fingers."
Another dazzling makeover worth mentioning: the awesome ottoman lived former lives as a small piece of cowhide ($35) and a threadbare ottoman ($5).
Before: A Kids-Only Playroom
Lara helped a family whose trio of kids had outgrown their play space. The cheery, art-filled room was no longer being utilized and Mom and Dad were ready to reclaim it as their own. They asked Lara for a sophisticated dining room.
After: A Glamorous Dining Room
Lara refers to this makeover as "a journey from playroom to 'pass the champagne, please!'" She hit estate sales with the inspiration of Hollywood Regency in mind and hunted for elegant pieces she could use to transform the playroom. Her team gave a group of mismatched furniture a coat of clean, white paint to unify them and, inspired by the super-luxe hand-painted wallpaper of the late 1800s, Lara grabbed a brush and painted delicate cherry blossom branches on the walls.
Before: Ho Hum Kitchen Nook
Lara came across this sunny kitchen begging to be jazzed up.
After: A Kitchen Nook With Panache
With an energizing new palette—bright blue and zingy yellow—Lara set to work hunting down whimsical pieces she could use to embolden this kitchen. An antique crate ($36) became a side table, a headboard ($20) was reupholstered and turned into a bench, and an old industrial whisk from a cupcake factory ($70) became a light fixture. Lara also embraced the sunny kitchen and set up a small herb garden to bask in the windowsill.
Before: A Grubby Gameroom
Lara and her team were up against a load of major design issues when they tackled this basement makeover: hardly any natural light, troublesome exposed pipes, and stained dropped ceiling tiles.
After: A Whimsical Family Room
"Who'd have thought the horrible basement would become one of the most-loved spots in the house? Bring on the little-kid play-dates and big-kid parties!" Lara writes. Her team hid the exposed pipes in plain sight by painting them the same shade of robin's egg blue as the walls and then mounted camouflaging shelving around them. Thin, foam ceiling tiles were glued directly on to the existing acoustic tiles for a brand new ceiling. A century-old industrial cart ($100) snagged from The Brimfield Antiques Show turned into the perfect coffee table—large enough to hold any board game. The final touch: artful arranged accessories including vintage bingo cards that Lara found for $1 a piece at the Brooklyn Flea and framed.