Garage sales can be fun, but many really cool items tend to be overlooked because they look old or worn.  Repurposing garage sale finds can be fun and easy and makes a great conversation piece.

What was referred to as recycling is now referred to as “upcycling” (making a garage sale find even better and more useful instead of throwing it away) or “repurposing” (simply change its use to something else.  This works for older items that are simply too worn to be used for their original purpose!)

Here are a few ideas to get you started.  Many items would work great in your garden and save you money on new planters and flower pots.  Try being a little different from your neighbour and see the reaction you get.  Plus you will be doing the environment a favour by reusing an old item even if not in its original way.

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Old Shoes or Boots – These can be repurposed in the garden for lots of fun and whimsy!  If you find yourself at a garage sale that has rubber boots, or old boots or any type of shoe that simply looks a bit different and they are past their “wear ability” then simply fill them with dirt and plant away and place them around your patio or in amongst your flower garden for a bit of height and fun.

This will give the garden a bit of texture too.

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Old Terra Cotta Flower Pots – Many times you will see these at garage sales and they will look faded and stained.  But this doesn’t mean they are ready for the heap yet, you can simply wash them well then let them dry in the sun.  Then paint on a good adhesion primer and let dry, then paint with some bright colours and finish off with a coat of outside varnish.

Your plant pots will now be good as new!  Show a bit of artistic style and have fun, or let your kids paint them for some real whimsy in the garden.  It will show your kids that you do not need to always buy everything new.  You just have to see past the state they are in when in a dirty box at a garage sale!

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Old Oil Lamps – You quite often see these in dusty boxes from old camping days, and usually for quite cheap.  Before you walk past them, consider that they can be painted, even if they are metal. 

You don’t have to use them as an oil lamp, you could simply paint them and hang them under your porch or on your back deck or in your garden on hooks.  You could even retrofit them to take tea candles for even more whimsy.

Simply clean the metal well, then paint with a good adhesion primer or a metal primer, then you can use good outdoor paint and finish with a coat of outdoor primer.  Just make sure that the primer will work on clean metal. 

Sometimes they look good just the way they are with an old patina of old paint, just clean them up and clean the glass and hang them up.

Upcycling Garage Sale Finds(109557)Credit: Diane Palmer

Old Dresser – Repurposing garage sales finds is not restricted to smaller items, you can recycle or upcycle old furniture too and you don’t have to be a great artist!

This dresser was an old worn brown varnished dresser, that was sanded enough to knock of the old shine of the varnish (you don’t have to strip paint with the newer primers on the market now) cleaned well and then primed with a high adhesion primer such as Zinsser (which will go over even varnish or glass).  Using a good primer will create a base for any kind of paint you want.

In this case the dresser was painted a mauve and black colour with whimsical flowers on the front for fun, then varnished.  You could also add new hardware to upcycle and create a new original art piece.

You can make your furniture one of kind art pieces.  This dresser now has a new lease on life.

Repurposing Garage Sale FindsCredit: Diane Palmer

Small Hall Table – This table looked really sad at the garage sale, and was quite scratched up, but with a little paint and fun it was turned into a work of art. 

Don’t worry if you are not that “artsy” you could simply use stencils or decoupage items to the table to create fun and bring it back to life.  There are many ways to recycle and reuse items that would simply end up in the dump.

If you are trying to outfit your very first apartment, then this could be a fun way to do it, by filling it with repurposed or upcycled items from garage sales would save you a ton of cash.

Many people can’t see past the item in front of them and just can’t imagine it being anything else that is why house stagers do so well in the real estate business because they give the buyer what they need to see without having to imagine it.

But if you can look at a piece long enough, you will come up with an idea that will work and have fun, or even try selling them.

Old Chairs make Great Planters or Works of Art – You can take chairs especially basket chairs and fill them with sphagnum moss and then soil and then lots of flowers and park it in your flower garden for added interest. 

Or you can take a wooden kitchen chair that has seen better days and cut a hole in the seat with the help of a jig saw and place a terra cotta planter in the hole and fill with flowers and paint “welcome” along the top of the chair.  Place near your door.  This is a fun piece.

Upcycling Garage Sale FindsCredit: Diane Palmer

Or if you like to paint and have an empty corner you could use the seat of the chair as a canvas and paint a scene, any scene or decoupage tissue paper designs or simply stencil for fun.  There are so many ways of repurposing garage sale finds, you just have to get your creative juices flowing and then do your part of bringing it back to life!

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