In this tough economy, buying anything to feather your nest might seem like an extravagance. But maybe you're not ready to completely give up the mood-altering delights of "retail therapy." Maybe you love the beautiful, the unexpected, or the thrill of the hunt. What to do when your budget is tanking? Consider the humble junk shop. I've found gorgeous little delights at these funky places. To wit:
I found each of these crystal decanter stoppers for just $1 each. I like to display them where they catch the sun. For me, they don't need to be whole (see the broken-off bits on the one in front?). They exist for no reason other than to be pretty.
Here's a small assortment of glass doorknobs and chandelier crystals, also purchased for $1 each. I strung many of the crystals on a small chandelier in my closet, and the rest just hang around looking pretty in a bowl.
Some of my junk-shop finds are put to use. This mid-20th-century silver cigarette holder, bought for a few bucks, now holds cotton swabs and bandages in the guest room's bath.
This bone-china teacup, also purchased for a few dollars, holds cotton squares in the same bath.
I bought this silverplate serving tray, with its cute feet and a pierced-work "gallery" (the edge that surrounds the tray), for just $1. It now corrals salts, peppers, and such on my kitchen's island.
I'm cheating a bit on this one. This is an egg cup I inherited from my Nana. Things that are out of fashion, like egg cups, can be picked up for cheap and used to store any number of items.
In my bath, this pretty little sterling bowl holds samples of hand cream and a swan's down powder puff I bought for no other reason that it is the softest thing I've ever felt in my life. The silverplate child's cup caught my eye for its initials--"MJB"--a nickname my friends in college gave me. As you can see, you can keep these treasures polished, like the one at left, or let them go a bit, like the mug. Either way I think they look adorable. I think the bowl cost less than $20 and the mug a bit less than that.
This little sterling dish might've been designed to hold nuts or candy, but now it holds a bar of delicious-smelling soap. And the crystal-and-sterling powder box, below, now holds face-washing cloths. Probably a $5 find for the bowl. The powder box was more expensive--the savvy owner knew what she had. But I loved it and haven't begrudged the $40 or so it cost.
Can you tell I like china, crystal, and silver? Occasionally I find something I like of cloth or wood, too. Like this needlepoint footstool, which cost me $1 (below). It sits at the foot of my bed and serves as a stepping-stool for the pugs when they want to jump up on my bed. (Please, don't let your dogs jump off high things like a big bed. Over the years, it can wreak havoc with their joints!)
Sit, Won Ton!
This last piece, a china box with metal banding, I bought for $15. I was going to give it as a gift, but I fell in love with its chubby shape and silly, undersized legs. It looks a lot like my pugs to me! It sits on my dresser, where it holds safety pins and various bits of fluff.
A few words about junk shops vs. garage sales: I vastly prefer the former. Garage sales are very hit-or-miss. There are mounds of bad tee-shirts and broken bread machines to sift through, and you have to drive around to find one, which wastes gas. A junk shop, on the other hand, has many treasures all in one small space and is there every day of the week. And, if you get to know the owner, he or she is usually happy to call you if you let them know you're looking for something special. Can't say that for a garage sale!