Take a cue from the shiplap queen on how to transform affordable antiques into eye-catching pieces.  

Michelle Darrisaw
December 15, 2017

Joanna Gaines somehow, some way has managed to take the treasure trove of one-of-a-kind pieces, otherwise known as a flea market, and turn it into a viable brand and business. The successful designer is one half of the duo behind Magnolia and the soon-to-be defunct HGTV series, Fixer Upper. But even with her discerning taste and vast knowledge of interior design, the Waco, Texas, native still can’t pass up on a great second-hand deal at estate sales and flea markets. So we’re turning to the flea-market flipper to help us develop our acquiring eye. From showy antique frames to unique storage items, here are the seven things you should be shopping for on your next flea-market excursion—taken from a pro. She even divulged the one piece that always sets Chip’s heart aflutter.  

1. Period Light Fixtures

Restoring or painting old fixtures and pendants is a way to add something new to your home without spending a lot of money.

"When we're doing these renovations, I always want it to feel like there's history there, and one way to incorporate that is using antique light fixtures that you [can] have rewired," Gaines told Country Living.

2. Novelty Items

Each veteran collector has those deeply personal knick-knacks or eclectic accessories lining their shelves at home. According to Gaines, it’s important to seek out the "random little things that speak to you."

"I have this brass mouse that's so random, but to me it's just the cutest thing. It's those things that help tell your story," she added.

3. Antiquarian Books

When it comes to all things rare and collectible, old books and tomes can make impressive decorative accents. Not to mention, guests will love perusing the stained, yellowing pages and smelling the scent of yesteryear. You can tuck them on top of shelves or windows to inject a little color in your home library and living area, or, as Gaines suggested, place them on tables, mantels, and anywhere that could use some texture.

"They're [antique books] quirky and make [a space] feel not so expected," she explained.

4. Elaborate Wood Frames

At their Waco farmhouse, Gaines uses carefully-wrought frames to display her children’s artwork. And to make Drake, Ella Rose, Duke, and Emmie Kay’s beautiful creations even more special, she employs matting to give it that extra glossy finish.

5. Unique Storage

Other interesting elements in the Gaines family home are storage bins. In the past, Joanna has flipped chicken coops and nesting boxes into toy chests to house her kids’ toys and books.

"I'm always looking for storage, so anything that I can put in the living room that we can hide something under that's also a unique piece—[like] old storage boxes and bins," Gaines said. "And I'm always looking for something you can store toys in but that's kind of cool and unique."

We’d say a repurposed chicken coop fits the bill.

6. Metal Channel Letters

Although many brands and businesses use these custom-made letters for marketing and signage, Gaines said her husband Chip is obsessed with them. So much so, the letters were even implemented in their Magnolia logo. If you're ever looking for a statement piece for the dining room wall or your bookshelf, illuminated channel letters are an unexpected addition.

WATCH: Joanna Gaines Reveals the Favorite Part of Her Kitchen

7. Architectural Salvage

Gaines revealed that her passion projects would often involve old doors and windows, but now she’s finding interesting and creative ways to incorporate antique corbels, spindles, and gates.

"Anything that came out of an old house or building that's kind of its own story," she said. "That's the kind of stuff I'm always looking for."