April 18, 2013 | by Valerie Blake
Decorating on a dollar
yard sale, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by /\ \/\/ /\ via Creative Commons)

Spring has sprung.  The grass has riz.  I wonder where the yard sales iz.

I share my introductory paragraph, of course, with that great and prolific writer, Anonymous, whom I have to thank for the topic of my treatise today.

Despite what they say on HGTV, I don’t know anyone who can Design on a Dime anymore.  Much like our property sales prices, the cost of decorating our homes has gone up. No matter how much we can Cash and Cari, even the low end of The High Low Project can be beyond the budget of many of us.

So what do we do when the weather gets warm and we want a new trinket or objet d’art for our home? We go and sift through other people’s stuff, of course.

We are taught that one woman’s junk is another man’s treasure, so we wake up early on a Saturday morning, smell the very strong coffee and head out with a stack of small bills in search of a bargain, be it antique or just unique.

A quick glance at the garage sales section of Craigslist offers us a variety of items for the home this week. Some examples include:

  • a stainless steel fondue pot with six two-tined forks for your next “Mad Men” party;
  • a bejeweled peacock lawn ornament;
  • a wooden dining chair for $25 (or take all four for just $80);
  • an assortment of Ikea Malm dressers in various finishes;
  • and a pair of plaster gargoyles to welcome guests as they ascend your front porch (the guests, not the gargoyles).

Many local community organizations and neighborhood associations are planning their annual multi-family yard sales. Some benefit volunteer fire departments and others serve as fundraisers for churches, schools and veterans groups. You can even find a “Yake Sale” (a combination yard and bake sale) in Fairfax this weekend, so arrive hungry for some kuchen to go with that morning kaffee.

Stay close to town at flea markets in Georgetown and Capitol Hill or, for a change of pace, travel a short distance to check out the Fleagaville Indoor Flea Market in Frederick, Md. Serious shoppers can make a road trip out of it from Aug. 1-4 by attending The World’s Longest Yard Sale, which spans 690 miles of Highway 127 from Addison, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama.

Estate sales promise bargains galore. They often begin on a Thursday or a Friday, so if you can take time off from work, you can beat the weekend crowd. Some estate sale firms will only allow a small number of people into the home at one time so you must obtain an entry ticket at the door, much like taking a number at the deli counter.  There is usually a wide variety of household items available and sometimes the firms running the sale will even accept credit cards.

I’m more of an estate sale enthusiast than a flea market floozy. My guest bedroom, for example, contains a 1960s bookshelf headboard, a matching triple dresser with original chrome hardware and a silver Sputnik lamp that were about to be placed curbside. The cost: hauling fees, a gallon of semi-gloss paint and two days of my time.

My den features unwanted items from various clients: a waterfall chest of drawers with brass and Bakelite handles, a scalloped drop-leaf table and a twin sofabed with a matching child-sized sleeper ottoman, all for an investment in a bottle of Old English furniture polish and a $400 check to my upholsterer.

In my recreation room, a black and white loveseat and matching easy chair, purchased from a seller for $300, are the perfect complement to two high-gloss black étagères with glass shelves, which came with my house because they wouldn’t fit up the basement stairs.

The 6th Annual Great Brookland Yard Sale (GBYS) is coming up on May 11. I have participated in this community event for two of the past three years and it’s time to do it again.  After all, I need to make room in my garage for new treasures.

You will likely find me on my front lawn that morning, trying to entice someone to buy my leftover building materials and staging items. Stop by and say hello, but remember: sometimes one woman’s junk is just junk.

Valerie M. Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Prudential PenFed Realty is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc.  Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide.  Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential.  Equal Housing Opportunity.

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