5 Unexpected Flea Market Finds I Use as Décor

Close up of books on coffee table and suitcase next to couch.

Design: Sarah Lyon; Photo: Allie Provost

If I could spend every Saturday and Sunday morning at a flea market, I’d be one happy lady. And truthfully, when my calendar is free and the weather is nice out, I usually am running about town scoping out my favorite spots. While you never know what you’ll find at a flea market and may not score big every time, it’s safe to say that there’s always a lot to sift through.

Below are some of the unexpected finds I’ve picked up in recent months that happen to make for awesome decorative pieces in my apartment. Keep an eye out for anything along these lines the next time you’re gearing up for a thrifting day.

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Ceramic Bowl

Some of the flea markets I regularly go to feature a mix of secondhand goods and items from independent artisans. When I purchased this beautiful black and white ceramic bowl, the woman who made it told me that she uses hers regularly in the kitchen. Well, as lovely as having a chic cereal bowl sounds, I had other plans for mine.

I love to collect matchbooks, both while visiting restaurants locally or while traveling, and I knew that this piece would look adorable holding part of my collection. I decided to place it on my bar cart, where it adds a lot of charm to the vignette I have going.

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Dior Suitcase

Dior suitcase next to beige sofa.

Design: Sarah Lyon; Photo: Allie Provost

I know, I know—this was basically the unicorn of all flea market finds. I spotted this while visiting one of my local NYC haunts one Sunday morning in December and was obviously enchanted right away (designer bags, particularly vintage ones, are one of my major weaknesses). I spoke with the seller to confirm that the piece was legit, and did a quick price comparison online to determine that the suitcase—though priced higher than I would normally spend on a whim—was a major steal.

I had always intended to use the suitcase as décor, but when I bought it, I didn’t realize how much it could actually hold. I keep it in my living room, where it not only adds elegance to the space next to my sofa, but also stores a lot of my rotating decorative pieces, like extra picture frames, prints, candle holders, and the like. Storage and sophistication—a win-win.

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Pages From an Old Book

Framed book pages.

Design: Sarah Lyon; Photo: Allie Provost

Framing book pages is an excellent way to display unique art on the cheap, but who wants to purchase a brand new book just to take it apart? No one, I’ll tell you! That’s why flea markets are so excellent, you can easily find a coffee table book or two that has seen better days yet still has frame-worthy content inside.

A flea market I visited over the summer took things a step further. The vendor was selling book pages that had already been neatly torn out and were pretty affordable. Because I live in New York City and love displaying vintage NYC memorabilia (so long as it isn’t cheesy), the fact that the illustrations were of various landmarks around Manhattan made my heart sing.

I ordered some affordable frames online, popped the pictures in, and now they hang in my bedroom, where they continue to make me happy.

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Vintage Photographs

Vintage photographs framed and styled on bookshelf.

Design: Sarah Lyon; Photo: Allie Provost

I love browsing through vintage photographs that are generally sold individually at flea markets. I found some great ones while traveling in London and at my usual spots in NYC, and I always at least find the selection set out pretty entertaining to flip through.

If you’re trying to subtly incorporate a theme, like 1920s art deco, into your apartment, keep an eye out for glamorous photos of flappers. Or, maybe you swoon over all things ‘70s—again, you can definitely find photos from that area. Frame your favorites and make up stories about the fabulous lives led by those pictured.

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What is cuter than a porcelain teacup? Honestly, not much! I see teacups at a lot of the flea markets I go to, and while they’re of course great to bring home, wash, and drink out of, they also make for fun décor.

Place one on your dresser and use it to hold earrings and other small jewelry pieces, then add another to your vanity and place hair ties or lipsticks inside. The end result is so feminine and sweet.