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Five Flea Market Finds for Minimalists

As a recovering accumulator, I’m now enjoying a simpler life in a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom house. I’m not the collector I used to be, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good yard sale, flea market or estate sale now and then. Who doesn’t love the search for unique items at bargain prices? However, there’s no room in my Portland home for more furniture, décor items or bric-a-brac. Instead, I look for smaller items which are both visually appealing and useful.

If you live in a smaller dwelling, and still enjoy the thrill of the hunt, here's five of my favorite finds you might want to keep an eye out for.

1) Vintage linen napkins

I love the soft, springy feel of a vintage linen dinner napkin. Linen is more durable than cotton, and it’s stain-resistant and soil-resistant. Vintage linens are generally of a higher quality than you can find new. You can never have enough of these beauties. I look for larger napkins, which are 25 to 50 percent bigger than dinner napkins made today. Look for white or off white. Stains can usually be removed with OxiClean. And with white or off white, you can use bleach if needed. Vintage linen napkins add a luxurious touch to your dining table. I rarely iron mine, and simply enjoy their wrinkled, shabby chic look.

2) Garden pots and urns

Medium to large ceramic pots, as well as quality resin pots and urns, can be quite expensive to buy new. Moving sales are a great place to find them at a fraction of their retail price. Pots larger than 10 inches are my choice for outdoor gardening because small pots require frequent watering. Still, I'm overjoyed if I find a small vintage McCoy (pictured left) or Bauer pot. But be aware that most vintage pots contain lead, so they are not suitable for growing edibles.

3) Silverplated dessert forks

Modern place settings come with a dinner fork and a salad fork, and by the time dessert comes I have no more forks left unless I wash the salad forks. So I started collecting vintage, silverplated, dessert forks. I’m particularly fond of 1920’s styles. Just like dinner and salad plates, I love to mix and match silverware. For a harmonious look, I stick to forks in a similar height and type of pattern. They add elegance to any dessert. Mismatched coffee spoons are another useful item to look for.

4) Jewelry

There’s always room for one more bobble, and there’s nothing like discovering the perfect necklace for an outfit. Finding a gorgeous piece of jewelry at a great price can give you a lift without breaking the bank. And when you’re tired of it, you can always regift it or donate it to your local thrift shop.

5) Scarves

One can never have enough scarves. They are the perfect accessory to jazz up an outfit. And they’re so versatile. If you don’t want to wear one, you can tie it to the handle of your purse. They take up so little space, especially when you are traveling. Yard sales are a great place to find them at reasonable prices.


If you’re embracing a simpler, minimalist lifestyle, you can still enjoy yard sales, flea markets and estate sales. Just stay focused on the things you truly need and which are both practical and beautiful.

So now you know what I’m on the hunt for at yard sales. What about you? What do you look for? Let me know in the comments below.



Hi, I’m Lori Cronwell. As a writer and frequent traveler, I admire the values most Europeans embrace: choosing quality over quantity; residing in smaller, more sustainable homes; working less and spending more time with friends and family.

Those values were key in my decision to drastically downsize to a 700 sq. ft. accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with the goal of creating a simpler, more sumptuous life with time for travel.

Slow travel, that is. Spending more time in one place — even if it’s just a week. You'll not only spend less, you'll discover a deeper and more meaningful travel experience.

Please subscribe below and join me on a journey to find affordable ways to explore Europe in the slow lane and to live a more European lifestyle every day of our lives.

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