I realize that I cannot always wait around in hopes to discover a great piece of furniture abandoned on a curb.  Occasionally I have to take matters in my own hands and be willing to shell out a little cash.  And I mean a little cash.  This means yard saling!  Yard sales have many aliases – garage sales, moving sales, tag sales, and even stoop sales as I discovered on a recent trip to Brooklyn.  Call them what you want, yard sales are an excellent opportunity to score fantastic treasures.

Over the next few months, I plan to post pictures of my yard sale finds along with helpful tips.  Pictured above are two gorgeous Victorian chairs that I purchased for a mere $10 each at a yard sale in Bellevue.  I simply reupholstered them and left the beautiful white painted wood.  I love the aged look of the chipped paint and did not want to disturb any of the carved details.  I also saved a piece of the original fabric and included it with the cotton batting inside of each reupholstered chair in order to preserve the past.

Here are a few tips to get started:

1.  Early birds have access to the best selections but sleeping in brings the best deals.  My advice is to get there early to scout out the best stuff.  If the seller is asking more than you want to spend and is not willing to budge on the price, you can always leave and come back towards the end of the sale.  If the item is still there, then you are much more likely to talk the seller into a better price and it was meant to be.

2.  Do not buy something just because it is a good deal.  This is how you end up on the news for being one of those crazy people who hoard so much junk that their neighbors call the police for an intervention.  When you see something that catches your eye, try to visualize it in your home.  If you cannot think of a place to put it, a way to use it, or a friend who would love to receive it as a gift, then put the item down and walk away.

3.  Do not judge a book by its cover.  Would a little sanding and a new coat of paint make that dresser ideal for your bedroom?  Would calling me to reupholster that chair make it look very similar to the one you have been drooling over in the Anthropologie catalog that costs ten times the price?

4.  Haggle.  It never hurts to ask.  If you find several items that you like at one sale, then group them together in order to negotiate a better price.  The seller put the item in the sale with the ultimate goal of getting rid of it, so she might be willing to go very low in order for you to take it off her hands.

5.  Keep a journal.  Nothing is worse than bringing home a breathtaking armoire that does not fit through your hall.  Write down measurements in a journal to keep with you and take a measuring tape.  It also does not hurt to take fabric or paint swatches if you are trying to match a specific item.

6.  Smile.  I have met a lot of fascinating people during my yard saling adventures over the last few years.  You may get the back story on an antique that you are purchasing which creates a special memory once it is displayed in your abode.  It may also help you get a better deal too!

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