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11 Flea Market Things I Regret Not Buying + 1 Thing I Did Buy and LOVE (That You Told Me Not To)


photo by veronica crawford for ehd

I honestly don’t even think about my method or the science behind how I shop the flea market. It would be like a surgeon explaining how to set a broken pinky finger. You just do it. It’s so easy. But in the March issue of Real Simple, Orlando and I BREAK IT DOWN and help writer Natalia Provatas with the emotional, physical and mental advice of how, why and when to go and how, why and when to purchase. We even talk about our very similar philosophy on haggling which you have to pick up to read.

So I figured instead of the regularly-programmed fashion Saturdays (we did a big fashion post yesterday for anyone who missed it), we’d go through some recent flea market finds (ONE WHICH 79 PERCENT OF YOU HATED) and talk through all the pieces I ALMOST bought.

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When I insta-storied this, 79% of you said you didn’t like it. Tell me how you really feel. I didn’t look at the story results until after I purchased but I DO NOT regret it (and it wasn’t cheap, either). I love everything about it: it’s a still life (check), it’s by a Scandinavian artist (check), it’s moody (check), and the colors are so warm and yet still bright.

But even I didn’t know how much I was going to love it until it was in my dining room which you’ll see at the end of the post.

Before I get to that, let’s chat about the things that I almost bought and why. I always forget that this kind of stuff can be a post you guys want to see/read, so I take bad photos and I’m never in them because I usually go by myself at 6 am, but next time I’ll take more and better photos, I PROMISE. In my attempt to not let my new Sunday ritual (church) usurp my old Sunday ritual (the flea), I now have a packed Sunday full of, well, all stuff that makes me feel REALLY GOOD.

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This bench is one that you have to have a place for and it has to be perfect, but after I left I realized it could have gone in the entry of this house we shot last week and it would have been PERFECT because the sconces near it were modern. But I didn’t think about it beforehand and in the wrong place, this could look really junky.

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This rug (3×7 probably) was only $140 but I didn’t need it so I didn’t hoard, but I probably should have grabbed it for when we’re styling up places to shoot for the book…whoops.

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I love a pretty box. This one was $80 so I skipped it, but it is unique and interesting so had it been $30, I would have snagged it. It felt really retro, which could be great in the right space.

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Now, I was relieved to hear that this was already sold because I was SO TEMPTED by it, even though I know it’s kinda ugly. A lot of this “1970s office basement” furniture is coming in soon and even I’m not totally ready for it. Think chic-er versions of Lazy Boy recliners. But this one at least had an interesting shape, the tone of the wood was good and the leather was beautiful and OH SHOOT NOW I REALLY WANT IT. Like I said, RELIEVED that it wasn’t an option.

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Cool weird art that I didn’t need, but now I wish I had bought as a prop for the book. P.S. we are STILL looking for awesome houses if you know anyone who is a design rule breaker and wants us to shoot their house.

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I love a lawyer’s cabinet very much and this one was BEAUTIFUL with a soft finish and interesting yet not too decorative in detailing.

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I mean HOW many of these do I need in my life? They literally hold one pencil, but I just love how this vintage office or store filing cabinets look. They evoke this era that doesn’t exist anymore and they make me happy (but I passed this one up because again, I didn’t need it).

I do however need a dog painting, basically always.

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I bought the artwork below but skipped the above because I didn’t realize how much I needed it ’til later when I was looking at these photos. SO STUPID OF ME.

Okay, so the below was a debate but I’m so happy I got it:

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It’s a Cy Twombly lithograph from a show in Paris circa 1972. I’m a huge fan of his and I’m also in the market for quiet + interesting art for the mountain house. It may just look like a bunch of scribbles, but to me, it’s a piece of an artist I love.

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Regrets. I was trying to use restraint but now I’m full of regrets. Sure it was a tiny (a child’s chair) and sure I have no place for it, plus yes I see that it’s kinda in garbage condition but IT’S JUST SO CUTE. I will forever be a sucker for Victorian wicker.

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Now here’s a sofa that I was instantly drawn to. I sat on it and it was VERY comfortable. I asked about it and it was $600. I said I’d take it, not knowing where it would go but knowing that a $600 sofa in very good condition with modern lines is not something you pass up and it’s a hoard worth risking. But then two things happened: 1. He didn’t take cards. These days, 85% of the vendors take Venmo, PayPal or credit cards. I didn’t have cash. and 2. At the last minute, he mentioned that he got it from an estate with a lot of Restoration Hardware and new brands and he estimated it was three or four years old. While I’m absolutely NOT opposed to buying something new-ish if its a great deal nor do I dislike RH (I love them, in general), the romance did die a bit. I wanted this to be a ’70s or ’90s post-modern chunky sofa that no one else would have in order to justify the hoard. I couldn’t put it in my living room because my new chairs (that you haven’t seen) are in a charcoal wool so this was truly a VERY BIG RISK. Once I found out that it was only a few years old, I didn’t feel like I had found a treasure any longer. Oh the psychology of buying vintage. I KNOW I’m not the only one who has bought something at the flea market only to later find out it’s from HomeGoods or West Elm. All fin, of course, but it’s just not the intent of vintage shopping. You want a one of a kind, in general. You want that feeling of discovering a treasure, a steal, something that no one else can have.

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So I told him to release the hold and I’d keep thinking and if someone else bought it, it was fate. I came back right before I left (two hours later) and it was gone which made me happy. Someone else should buy it and I wanted the choice taken away from me.

Alright, now for a little HA I TOLD YOU SO. Like I said, I did end up buying that bottle still life and in my dining room, on a white wall styled really simply, I think it looks so dope and seriously pops:

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photography by veronica crawford for ehd

Here’s the face of a woman who is pleased with her purchase and kind of glad she didn’t see the actual Instagram poll result before pulling the trigger on it because otherwise said woman might have second guessed herself (but probably bought it anyway, phew):

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photography by veronica crawford for ehd

So…what do you think? Smart purchase? Still hate it (if you do, whyyyyy??)?

Overall, was there anything I walked away from that makes you want to shake me and scream “YOU’LL NEVER BE COMPLETE WITHOUT THAT”? Let me know. I’ll probably hit up some flea or thrift situation tomorrow. Another day, another flea market.


Fin Mark


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I have that jewelry box!


I do too! Love it.


Emily, I see Nativity on that painting… Adoration around the baby Jesus. Am I alone?


Totally. Still looks nice, but definitely a Nativity scene.


Which painting?


No, the colors are all wrong, so are the shapes and the number of bottles. It appears you couldn’t live with the imagine of the nativity, so why do you spoil it for someone else?


Alice, that’s such a beautiful way of looking at it! Now I can’t see anything else! That description really makes me like it even more. 🙂


Every time I see a set of drawers like the one you showed above, I wish I could find them because I think those thin drawers would work as a jewelry chest or LEGO storage or even tiny doll accessories.


I voted no on that painting but it looks much brighter in your dining room and looks cool with the lights and blue chairs. Love it now! Have we not seen your dining room in a while? It looks different than I remember!

thank you thank you xx and yes, I guess it has been a while..


I love the painting !



I’ve been looking for a great lawyer cabinet for YEARS. We just bought a house that was an estate sale and they had the best one I’d ever seen! We asked to buy the furniture with the house and they agreed “after the family got what they wanted, which isn’t much.”

Those meanies took the cabinet I had specifically stated I wanted and everything else good. Sigh.

The one with legs is nice, but nothing compared to the beauty that slipped through my fingers.


So glad you bought the cy twombley! It looks excellent.


Nah, you win this time. That painting looks terrific. Just goes to show that there’s a place for a vintage piece you love whether anyone else can see what you see in it, or not.


It looks nice in the space! I think my hesitation is weighing the price against the look. Not that there is anything wrong with mass reproduction art from Target but that’s what the painting reminds me of. Maybe the texture in person minimizes that! Still pretty!


when i saw the first pic of that painting i agree with the vast majority that did not like it, but when i saw it on your dining room wall, surrounded by light and bright, and near those blue chairs i completely changed my mind. that’s why you’re the designer with vision, and i am not. 🙂

Ahh thank you 🙂


Emilly, that “bottle” art is Nativity

Sheri Lee Johnson

Ah! You were drawn to it for a reason. It’s a beautiful piece.


I don’t see a Nativity. I see bottles. But you can see Nativity if you want. And I can see bottles. That’s the beauty of art.


I was one of the 79% who voted “no” but must agree that it looks great in your dining room. Speaking of your dining room, looks like it’s gotten a few new details. Would love to see them fully revealed and hear the “why” behind the changes!


You’ll definitely be forever sad that you passed on the Victorian wicker children’s chair!! It’s small enough to hoard and looks easily refreshed with a little paint. It’s just all around SO YOU!


I agree. DEFINITELY should have got the kids’ chair!!


Now that you show us the painting in the right space, I think it’s absolutely lovely!! Clearly you knew something that many of us didn’t.


I love that painting, and it looks fantastic in its spot. I’m not on or into ‘gram. Trust your instincts.


The painting is perfect! I would have bought it in a second.


I voted on Instagram not to buy the painting- not because I don’t love it (because I do), only because of the high price! I think you made the right call though- it looks gorgeous in your dining room! Also- I love seeing your flea market buys and regrets- great post!!


When are you going to do an update of the dining room? I’m intrigued by those chairs- and the painting looks gorgeous.


Yes, those dining room chairs!


Great call on the painting! I voted no, but now seeing it in the space, I say “YES”!

Kristin O

Love it all! I watched you on design star and you are my number one pick. I love following you and your adorable family. So glad you are starting to go to church ! Hopefully it isn’t a weird wacky one but one grounded in the Bible . You GO girl. Your commentary on the pieces that you didn’t buy was hysterical. Kristin?




Ooooh, I love the colors in that rug, but the texture of the two raised sections would have been awkward to accommodate. Meh on the painting… the colors are great, but there’s something amateurish to the shapes. Perhaps, in person, the depth of paint offers something that we can’t see through the screen. Alright, since we are talking nativity; and you had mentioned hitting church, what is the deal with the LDS/Mormon design blogs?!? Clue me in.


I’m curious too. Every design blogger I follow eventually starts talking about Jesus.


Yes – I am fully aware that however I word this I will offend someone, but I have to say (yes, also aware that I don’t have to, but I will) that I am increasingly turned off by lifestyle/reno bloggers making their content more and more religion/church-based. I know that the response is that it’s a big part of them/their lives, but it truly doesn’t do it for me.


That’s the point at which I UN-follow.


Agreed! I obviously don’t care what religion Emily and her family follow in their personal lives but am super hopeful we don’t start getting religious content. Not interested, not religious, and definitely don’t think it relates to design in any way. Voted a hard no on the poll Emily did about whether or not we want church content (or wanted to, I don’t think it was an option)!


Emily wrote about this *on* this blog:

I don’t mind what religion people are even though I’m a very solid atheist. If someone gets god-y I just go somewhere else.

I know a while back there was a kerfuffle around finding out that an LDS design blogger had put money towards the Prop 8 anti gay marriage bill. But as far as I’m aware Emily has always been very liberal (too much for some readers) and I doubt her character will change now she’s going to church, esp as I assume she chose a very liberal one.


Love it!!!


I wouldn’t have been able to resist that wooden box! I’m a box and tray user for sure 🙂

Love the placement of your painting in your dining room!

Julie Dawson

Art love is so very personal. That is what makes it so fun. The painting looks great in your dining room.

So true. Thank you xx


Looks fabulous. I was a hater. Now I’ll eat my words.


I was loading my herringbone swivel egg chair into my car from the rose bowl….yup! Big ole IKEA sticker on the bottom ?


I believe it was in Country Living that I read, you never regret what you buy, only what you pass up. The reason being: if you buy it and discover it wasn’t quite right, you can gift it, sell it, donate it, or save it. If you simply pass it up and then regret it, there is no solution. And you might “mourn” it forever. Ok, that was silly, if you’re truly in mourning, you need to review your priorities. BUT — that has been my MO since I read it and I assure you, it works! Trust yourself……..if you love it you need to get it into your car ASAP.

patricia blaettler

First, I would like to say that I really enjoy the flea market posts. Secondly, is it rude to ask what you paid for the Cy Twombley? I love it! (I used to work with his niece).


The Cy Twombly is fantastic. The hotel art bottles… still not a fan. Okay okay it looks a little better styled in your space but I’m still just not convinced. But hey! I don’t live in your house, YOU do. If you love it then I can pretend to like it for your sake. Art is very personal, and if it evoked something in you, you can’t just let that go!


I like it but it looks too small right there. It should be in a messy, decaying room a lá John Derian with dried wilflowers that touch the ceiling, next to a table covered in 17th century green glass.


This is hilarious and spot on!


I voted yes on the painting! I love it and it looks fabulous in your dining room- great purchase!


PS I LOVE that Cy Twombley and now I’m jealous. Let us know if you find any Sally Mann.


Love this type of post! So interesting to see what finds are in California and what prices are for them. Still not a fan of the art, but totally support that YOU have the only vote that counts? And this type of post? Clothes for the week?


I voted no on the art mostly because of the price tag. I think it looks lovely in your space, though!


I love the painting!

You should check out Anna and Dan Kehoe of the DC store GoodWood for your book. Their style and store are second to none –

Mary Barry

Let me start by saying I love you and your design! Second we are building a home in the Midwest. You asked if anyone is building and doing anything that would be considered outside the norm? I don’t know enough about design to know if I am but I would gladly do something wild if you helped me figure out what that would be! We have 5 acres of forest, so our views are beautiful. Kind of a combo of mid century modern, Nordic, with a hint of farmhouse? Let me know if you want to help us try something outside the box on our finishes!


I voted yes on that painting and I love it in your house! Bravo!


The lines of the wicker child’s chair are striking. Now I don’t know if it could be easily repaired/repainted, but it sure would make a beautiful & original vignette in a kid’s room…

Susie Q.

I like it when I buy something that none of my friends likes! I bought a big picture at the antique mall a couple of years ago, and when one of my friends saw it, he was like, “What is that? It’s horrible.” I smugly replied, “I love it.” And I still do. It’d go great with that “80’s basement” couch you didn’t buy. That was gorgeous. Of course I’m not really jealous of your flea market posts–though I love ’em. The prices in my part of the country are incredible, so I always chortle at how much you have to pay.

Susie Q.

Oh yeah, I wanted to add that the Cy Twombly lithograph is BEAUTIFUL. I’d snatch that up in a second!!


You done good


LOVE! The blue in it is perfect for the space!


hi – i am an artist – not famous by any means… a printmaker. i have a selection of abstract prints on paper that are for sale.. cheap! u mentioned on the blog that u r looking for ‘quiet yet interesting’ art? i could send pics.. let me know thx ?

Hi Linda! You can send pics to [email protected] 🙂


Do you still need design rule breakers? My mom is an art teacher and my dad is a Shipwright (boatbuilder). My dad rebuilt the house and my Mom styled it. They are definitely design rule breakers. (I’m sure you can imagine.) Especially the kitchen.


I love the painting in your dining room, but that Cy Twombly lithograph is my favourite find of yours today! I just adore his work so much!


I voted YES! It’s beautiful.

Herself in Dublin

I have no strong feelings either way on the painting, although I think you’re making it look good by sitting in front of it on a blue chair in a blue dress, thereby bringing out the blue of the painting! (Coincidence…?)

But my real comment is – what about “Ice cream and Soda” bench in the van in the picture with the brown upholstered bench? I love that one.


The painting feels a bit Starbucks, generic coffee shop to me. However your beautiful room does make it look a lot better!


I love the painting! I just bought one similar yesterday.


I voted yes on the painting in your Insta story, totally not my taste but I liked it and knew it would be perfect in your house. And it does look perfect in your dining room – the blue matches the chairs. Enjoy!

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