Decorate a home with secondhand finds

Lauren McGrath and her mother, Suzanne co-authored Good Bones, Great Pieces, a decorating book chock-full of sound wisdom regarding how to get your money's worth. Here, they share 13 ways to decorate with a high-low mix of keep-forever antiques and secondhand buys.


The best things often come in small packages. Less expensive than full-size sofas, settees also function outside the living room — bringing comfort to a foyer, providing seating at the foot of a bed, cosying up to a dining table. So you're likely to love a love seat long after you've kicked a hulking couch to the curb.

Give an outdated lamp a top-down makeover. A modest drum shade can modernise the fussiest old fixture. And no need to splurge on silk - paper delivers a crisper, more contemporary look. The secret to beautifully stocked bookshelves: Scour thrift stores for hardbacks, typically a couple of bucks each, then arrange them by colour for extra pizzazz.

Empty frames offer endless potential. It's easy to score these castoffs at junk shops for next to nothing. To turn one into a posh bulletin board, cut a piece of foam core to fit and wrap it in burlap. Another possibility: Have a pro cut mirrors to size.



The frugal fix for homely floors? Paint. Refinishing them on your own involves renting a sanding machine and buying supplies like polyurethane. As an alternative, simply clean floors and hand-scuff any rough spots; then apply a few coats of a self-priming floor paint.

Expand your seating options. Even affordable dining-room chairs become exorbitant, fast, once you calculate how many you need to surround a table. The smart solution: a bench or two.

Feel free to scrimp on shelving. It's so easy to knock up some shelving for a home, and by making them yourself you'll have plenty left over for filling them with decorative stuff. Why pay a premium for matchy-matchy pieces? When pairs of lamps, chairs, and side tables get separated, their prices usually plummet. Take advantage of the opportunity to shake up an overly symmetrical room. Keep it local when deal-hunting online. Narrow your purview to items you can pick up easily and not have to pay shipping costs.