Yard Sales 101: Lara Spencer's Tips for Decorating on a Budget

It's true Lara Spencer really does "Brake for Yard Sales"….not to mention flea markets, thrift shops and, no, she's not ashamed to admit it, even the occasional dumpster.

Her passion is finding cheap vintage finds and transforming them into high-end interior design, often bringing them back to life in her very own workshop, a.k.a. her driveway.

When the cameras stop rolling on "Good Morning America," Spencer's jeans come on and her double-life as a designer begins.

The title of her new book says it all. In "I Brake for Yard Sales: and Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster," named after the bumper sticker on her mom's car when she was a kid, Spencer offers practical tips on how anyone can achieve blue-blood style on a blue-collar budget .

Her mantra?  Rescue, Recycle, and Reinvent.

Her specialty?  Taking pieces that other people may consider trash and turning them into treasure with a little sanding, spray paint and elbow grease.

Here are some tips from Spencer's new book to help you on your decorating treasure hunt.

Must-Have Pieces for Anyone Wanting to Redecorate:

  1. Unique lamps - A great way to add color and interest to a room.
  2. Mirrors - Lighten up a room and add glamour.
  3. Dog statues - Big dogs, small dogs, foo dogs - they are truly every decorator's best friend.
  4. Original art - Value doesn't matter.  If you love it, buy it and retire mass-produced prints.

How to Find the Best Deals:

  1. Check the classified section of your local paper on Thursdays.
  2. Strategize your hunting route.  Map out your route the night before you plan on hitting estate and yard sales to maximize time.  Remember, early bird gets the worm!
  3. The early bird may get the worm but it's still worth it to hit estate sales and flea markets at the end of the day.  Trust me, they want to get rid of every last thing!

Getting Started:

  1. Don't be afraid to mix and match different designs and styles.
  2. Choose a "scene setter," a single piece that can inspire the décor of a whole room.
  3. Map out exactly what you need for each room before you start shopping.

Tips for Easy, Do-it-Yourself Design:

  1. New knobs are a simple and cheap way to take an old bureau or nightstand and instantly modernize it.
  2. Use glossy spray paint to hide a myriad of sins like watermarks on furniture.
  3. Choose vintage lamps as a cheaper alternative to buying a new lamp.  Just have the wiring checked, buy a new shade and new finial to make it new again.
  4. Ask for remnant fabrics which are at the end of the roll and then have window drapes and pillows made from them.
  5. When painting, always make sure you add a coat of primer before you paint.