Shop Tours

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

May 30, 2013

Hello decor8 readers! I’m Raina Kattelson from A Stylist’s Life visiting you today with part two of a mini series that Megan Camp and I pulled together for decor8 (her part one is here) while we were out shopping at Brimfield this month. I’m a NY-based stylist who has worked most recently with Anthology magazine, Country Living magazine and for designer Thom Filicia. I thought I’d share some of my personal highlights from Brimfield this year along with some tips of my own, so let’s get started!

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

Brimfield Antique Show & Flea Market is a stylist’s playground with acres and acres of super cool treasures. And since my idea of a perfect day is to get up before sunrise and spend hours walking around searching for potential props for shoots, and lugging them home that’s where I happily headed this month. Most years I spend several days there but this time around could only spend one day – which is hardly enough to see 1/4 of what’s there…agony!

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

So in the early dawn light I happened upon a booth calling to me with pottery in my favorite blues and greens. I scored a rectangular Italian blue vase decorated with charming flowers and an interesting glaze. I also added to my collection of Dansk cookware with a casserole dish in the most perfect shade of turquoise. The quirky chartreuse warming dish kept calling me so I couldn’t resist. It’s often the strange things that I wonder why I bought that become my most favorite props!

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

I usually go to a market with some sort of rough wish list, which of course means I won’t find any of it – that’s a flea market curse. This time I was looking for a sideboard, marble sink, and bathroom mirrors for our new house, so zippo. Instead I found a groovy mid century hand made tile top bench/coffee table, which I have absolutely no use for but LOVE! The best part is the secret compartment at the bottom with extra tiles. It will happily find a home somewhere in my house. I also found my dream chair a Bruno Mathsson “Eva” chair with leather straps in great shape, that alone made the whole day worth it.

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

After wandering the fields to the point of total exhaustion I can’t say I saw too many new trends this year. Industrial, taxidermy and horns, signage and shabby chic seem to be sticking around. I saw a lot of brass and lucite, including a table that was reminiscent of a table in Celerie Kemble’s new line. Worn leather sports equipment was in quite a few booths, though some of the larger pieces are best left as props.

Flea Market Tips From a Stylist (Part Two)

I’ve been shopping flea markets since I was a kid and for years as a pro so here’s some super important tips so you can score the best pieces and not find yourself an exhausted puddle on the ground. Here are my 7 top tips:

1. Arrive early, I know everyone says it.. But it’s true! I hate getting up early, but for a flea 6am on the fields is the time to find the best pieces.
2. A list is good even if you don’t ever find them it’s easy to forget that you needed a new coffee table and quickly blow your money on yet another chair you don’t need. If you don’t believe me check out my basement – it’s filled with chairs!
3. Shop for larger pieces first  (like furniture) – they go quickly.
4. If I see a piece I like but am not sure, I ask the price, take the booth number down and walk away. If it’s still calling to me a little while later I go back and get it. But if you really love it, jump on it right away. There’s nothing worse then going back and seeing your beloved piece with a sold sticker on it. And do write the booth info, no matter how much you think you will remember – you don’t. I have wasted precious shopping time trying to remember where something I now desperately wanted was.
5. Bring lot’s of cash and in small bills! It’s easier to haggle and then hand the dealer a small bill rather then whip out a $100 for a $10 item.
6. Look for shape – you can always repaint, refinish, reupholster.
7. Important things to bring: Cash, water, snacks – flea food usually stinks unless you are at the Brooklyn flea or Paris where the crepe truck is fab. Sunscreen, bags, bubble wrap and packing blankets are always in my trunk. There’s nothing worse then getting your piece home and finding it broken.

I hope that you have enjoyed my flea market tips! It was nice to be a guest on decor8 – thank you for having me Holly! If you missed Part One, click here.

– Raina

(images/text: raina kattelson)


  • Reply Sarah @ Mocha May 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I love the image of those cobalt blue and turquoise vases and vessels. What beautiful colours!

  • Reply dervla @ the curator May 31, 2013 at 4:50 am

    Ooooh I’m dying to make it up to Brimfield one of these days. Thinking of making it to Elephant’s Trunk on sunday and sigh, i guess i’ll have to get up early :)

  • Reply julia-lifeonchurchill June 1, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    visiting via camille styles. thanks for the tips! this makes me want to visit a flea!

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