Part of you can't stay away from flea markets, garage sales, and antique malls. But another part of you knows that there is not enough room in your home for the random pieces that you find. The living room corner is not the perfect place for a rusted pitchfork, and your bedroom shouldn't house that old hand plow. But some items fit right in, and others that can be made to order with a little hacking.
Hacks, not a hacksaw
Although many hacks require some cutting or drilling into the piece, remember that its very age makes it less able to withstand severe alterations without also improving its stability. For example, a wooden library card-filling system creates a perfect side table with the addition of legs, and the wood usually can withstand the drilling. Conversely, a metal and glass tea trolley may not have the stability to add drawers or remove shelves, and a dresser with delicate French legs might not bear the weight of your entertainment system. A sturdy farmhouse table, however, makes a fantastic coffee or game table and only requires cutting down the legs. Before embarking on alterations, consider the original use of the piece and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Vintage beds rarely come in queen-size. If you’ve got your eye on an antique headboard, but you have a queen bed, consider that you may need to add pieces to the sides to make it fit. Or, you can take that headboard and attach it to a bench instead, so you get the vintage piece in a useful, but fitting, alternative.
Another hack for a headboard is to use an antique door. Many old doors have interesting architectural features worthy of artistic interest. Turn a door on its side and connect it to legs and your bed frame, and voila! You have a lovely headboard. Or create a banquette with two doors attached as the bench backs in a corner.
Expand its use
Metal tea trays in deep rich colors make excellent wall art for a kitchen, breakfast nook, or even a bedroom. Cluster several together for interest and to draw the eye. Or, attach a large tray to the top of a nightstand for instant charm. If the tray has a sturdy base, you can even connect hairpin metal corner legs to create a side table.
Don't buy the first items you see. The perfect one might be right around the corner in a market you've never visited. If you're new to an area, ask your real estate professional about local thrift stores, farmers markets, and city-wide garage-sale days.