Eye Candy at the Antique Fairs

By Kate Riley September 27, 2009

When I go to an antique fair, I sometimes go incognito, then I photograph all of the things I love, or the things that inspire me. 

What I truly love about outdoor antique fairs is the exposure to other people’s conversations.  I’m not eavesdropping on purpose.  But one can’t help overhearing the most interesting observations with so many persons milling about inspecting, inquiring, and always commentating.  I find it fascinating.  I find people fascinating, with all of their different tastes. 

I have perused several of the the larger local antique fairs in the past month, and I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve found inspirational.  Some can be recreated right at home. 

Take a tour with me. 

I spotted this mirrored coat rack made from architectural salvage.  It reminds me of the coat rack I made with an old headboard.  You can see that project right here

salvage coat rack

Look at these beautiful conch shells that someone has carefully embellished with pearl string.  They’ve been mounted on secondary clam shells and they make quite a pair.  They were very large shells, about 8 inches tall, and so very pretty up close. 

beaded shells on stands

How about these hand painted nightstands?  Look what some bun feet, appliqués, and a distressed and hand painted surface can do to enhance a simple piece.  

handpainted nightstands

Do you love copper teakettles as much as me?  Like the song, “…bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.”  They are one of my favorite things too. 

copper teakettles

This copper chest adds just the right amount of traditional style with modern glitz.

copper chest

I’m like a moth to a flame with beautiful silver.  Oh, to have an entire collection and a hutch to display it in. 

silver collection

This was a clever idea.  Broken china applied in a mosaic on silver platters.  Great DIY project.

 chipped china on silver

I’d love to have one of these around my house.  I appreciate anything that can multitask.  This handy cart can hold craft supplies one day and serve cocktails the next.  Someday I’ll find one for myself. 

green cart

Look at what you can make with a door, a cabinet, and some hooks.  You could find a 30” wide door and 30” wide cabinet at a home improvement store, attach them, trim them with baseboard, then prime and paint them both.   The mirror and cushioned seat are an added bonus.  What a marvelous hall tree for a foyer or narrow wall space.  This is another fabulous DIY project. 

door hall tree

Aren’t these so pretty?  These plant stands can go anywhere.  They’re so perfect for a covered porch or a sunroom.  They’re surface is just big enough to sit next to a gorgeous chair and hold a beverage and your favorite read. 

plant stands

I liked this chalkboard shadow box hung with checkered ribbon on a brightly painted French door.  chalkboard shadow box

Here’s a shadowbox end table – a great conversation piece for whatever is displayed inside.

shadow box end table

Some colorful collections of starfish and spools of ribbon. 

colored starfish

ribbon spools

A painted window is always a nice way to welcome guests.  All you need is a salvaged widow and some paint designed for glass (available at craft stores) and you’re in business.  Stamps would make it easier to perfect the letters, like I used for these monogrammed plates.  Imagine this hanging from a porch or positioned in an entry, or on top of a hutch.  Charming !

painted french bievenue sign

Here’s another pair of nightstands that I adored.  Look how they’ve been painted a cream color, then given a coffee glaze over the edges and in the detail. 

pair of nightstands

How about these chairs?  A little old fashioned without the paint, but all of a sudden with this turquoise shade, they are so darling.  Add some fabulous fabric cushions and they make for a lovely dining space.  Put some blue decorative glass on your tabletop, and pop!  Perfect.

turquoise blue chairs

Speaking of paint, this is my new favorite treatment.  When I saw this today, I just knew I was so right to paint my brother’s nightstand and dresser in these tones.  It’s a mushroom taupe shade, then it’s been given a subtle metallic glaze on the deco panels.  This is my absolute favorite look from today. 

taupe paint nightstand

These are all the rage right now, and I liked this golden version of a giant fork and spoon.  They would be so fun in a dining space, or in a restaurant. 

giant fork and spoon

I nearly handed over my credit card when I saw these.  I love them.  Don’t know where I’d ever put them. But I love them.  Don’t ask me why.  I just love them.

zebra stools

I’ve been looking for one of these sunburst style mirrors, but this one was just too small.  I’m still on the hunt. 

sunburst mirror

I’m such a sucker for seltzer (or is it spritzer?) bottles.  Look at these colors.  I liked the lavender one best – it was so unusual.  Almost like mercury glass.  But it was $120 dollars.  So I put it down.  Fast.  But not too fast. 

seltzer bottles

This retro outdoor set just screams “I Love Lucy”.  And since I love Lucy, I sure love these too.  They were vinyl.  They were hysterical.  C’mon, something inside of you likes them too. 

retro outdoor set

One vendor who makes all of his wares out of salvaged goods.  This was his latest creation: slatted wood coffee table trimmed with iron decorative grills.  Very cool cottage style. 

slatted coffee table 

Another stunning bench made out of a headboard.  My favorite is the scalloped detail. 

headboard bench

Look at this old wooden carousel horse, displayed in a frame constructed from a salvaged fence.  It was huge.  And it was quite a piece of art. 

carousel horse

Then there was this bust that reminded me of a Degas sculpture.


Of course, I had to drool over the Bakelite Lady’s impressive collection. 

bakelite 2

bakelite 1

bakelite 3

Here are some bulletin boards made out of coffee sacks. 

coffee sack bulletin board

A butcher block table made from an old desk.  Great for a kitchen island. 

butcherblock table

These are planter boxes formed out of decorative fence posts. 

decorative fence post flower box

And these antique carved panels would add big impact to any space.

antique screens

That’s just a glimpse of some of the great pieces on display.  I hope you found one or two inspiring.  Did you have a favorite?  Do tell.


  1. What neat ideas! Thanks for sharing all of your ideas and inspirations! How could you resist not buying some of those! But I am with you…$120 for the spritzers is CRAZY! Marshalls/ Homegoods has them for like $10 bucks! Try that ..they would look cute in your remodeled bathroom!

  2. I love all the wonderful things you found, especially the mosaic trays and plant stands! So many great ideas there. Hard to believe those big wood spoons and forks are popular again. Did the vendors mind you taking pictures?

  3. What a great collection of lovelies! I am most amazed by the skinny hall trees. I just have to make these. I need two. One each flanking my front door. Right now I have two plants on plants stands there. It’s not enough. Thanks for the picture. I’m going to have to run with this inspiration! I’ll email you when I complete my project. (Might take a few weeks to conjure up the right woods and such, but I’m on, promise.) Happy early Monday.

  4. Great stuff! The big fork always get me! (where’s the food to go with it? ;}
    Can’t wait to see your “interpretation of inspiration”!

    m ^..^

  5. I like the bench, the hall tree, the cart, the night stands…. heck it was fun to look at all your pictures!

    I’m curious too, about the vendors and you taking pics? :)

  6. I love the old window. I have the perfect spot for one and I’ve been shopping for just the right size. So far, I haven’t decided what to paint on mine, but it will be an art piece.

  7. Oh wow, what a wonder antique fair. It is hard to pick a favorite. So many wonderful things. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Marty

  8. I love the painted window. I found 2 windows while “roadside shopping” this summer. I would like to decorate the glass with either paint or vinyl letters. Not sure yet what I will put on the windows. I am waiting for inspiration to strike.

    I wish we had antique fairs like this in Ohio.

  9. Wow-what a collection of ideas. My mother-in-law has a collection of Bakelite jewelry, and I never really liked it. But, when I see it all together like your photo, it is quite stunning. I like the flower boxes made out of the fence posts.

  10. Hi Marti and Gail
    Taking pictures is a sensitive thing – I find most vendors don’t mind and don’t blink. But if I sense a vendor may not want me just clicking away on my camera, I just politely ask if they’d mind me taking a photo. Most don’t mind. There’s only been one or two in my lifetime that have ever said “No.” And then I just move on.

  11. Thanks for sharing! Those were all great pieces. My favorite was definitely the door bench… or maybe the window with the painted word… or maybe the turquoise chairs. =D

  12. I REALLY wish I could find a market like that! Although I’d be so overwhelmed I’d come home empty-handed. Loved the zebra stools, and also the hall tree made from a door – that one’s going on my list!

  13. I love love LOVE that foyer seat made from the door and cabinet- what a fantastic cool idea!! I don’t even think we have an antique fair around here… we’ve got a flea market but I don’t think they have stuff as fantastic as all of this! :)

  14. I must be really ecclectic, because my two faves were the zebra benches (swoon!! They could go so many places! Just curious- how much were they?) and the “I Love Lucy” patio set! Part of me wishes women still dressed like they did in the fifties- full skirts, pearls, hats and gloves!

  15. SO many amazing pieces… I particularly like the spoon and fork and the copper chest. But really, they are all such amazing finds!!

    PS, made your french onion soup recipe last week… WOW!!! Delish!

  16. Nope, I don’t have a favorite, I would have taken a picutre of all those same things, and drooled over them as well! I even like the silver, I know I am possessed, I LOVE to polish silver! Thanks for all the fun photos!

  17. Wow!I love EVERYTHING! My favorites we’re the night stands (all of them), the turquoise chairs, the zebra stools, and the I love Lucy outdoor furniture!

    I MUST find out if we have places like that here in DC!

  18. I can’t believe all the incredible things you saw!! I want to comment on each and every one, but I will spare you. My favorites are the giant fork and spoon. It kind of reminded me of the art I picked for an inspiration board here: http://www.in-a-dream.org/2009/09/14/inspiration-board-elegant-chic/ but the ones you shared would have much more impact. I also love the shadowbox side table, the coffee sack bulletin boards (genius!), and that bust is gorgeous. I really liked everything though. Thanks for sharing!

  19. That “door hall tree thing” is so great. I have stolen the picture to save in my “someday I will make this file”…thanks for sharing. I’m having a giveaway over at mamathompson.blogspot.com if you want to win…I probably just owe you a necklace after that pear cake recipe…still raving about it and just about to make another for my neighbor!

  20. I love the zebra print seats too! You have some mighty will power!

  21. i loved the door/cabinet & hooks idea! I even added that pic to my blog if you don’t mind with a link back to your blog. I just thought that piece was amazing especially for those who don’t have large entry ways:)

  22. I work for an auctioneer and his wife. They also have a ginormous consignment shop…chock full of goodies like these. It’s so hard not to spend every dime I make, before I clock out.
    It’s so much fun just to look at everything.

  23. What is not to love and want! My favorite pick goes to the decorated shells. The artist did a wonderful job and I’ve never seen shells look so lovely!

    Your fellow SITS,

  24. These shells are beautiful and would be perfect in the bathroom for holding cotton balls or random jewelry bits that seem to pile up. Gorgeous!

  25. I’ve decorated glass tables with vinyl decals before, myself. Have you checked out http://www.wallslicks.com? They have so many different kinds of designs, themes and even colors, and the decals have a matte finish so they don’t look like plastic stickers. They have a classy look, and stick to glass very well.

  26. LOVED seeing all these goodies…where did you go to find all these treasures? Flea market? antique shop? do tell!!!

  27. I live in N. Cal too and would love to go to these antique fairs! Where are they and when do they happen?


  28. That was fun going to the fair with you…via blog ;) I have to tell ya on a negative note – Did NOT like the sea shells! I love shells, but not with pearls glued on them. Ok…sorry, but you did say that you like to hear what ppl think, right? I like the butcher block table, liked the zebra chairs too as they were funky, rustic…if you will ;) antique panels were cool and be even cooler after some fresh paint. Thanx, MG

  29. that was a good antique show.. you have don a good job taking all those pics and virtually lead us into the antique fair.. Nice Job.

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