Decorating on a Flea Market Budget: Kitchen

Welcome to the second edition of my little mini-series: Decorating on a Flea Market Budget. One of the things my husband fell in love with when we first saw this house was the kitchen. This house was built in 1891 and many of the ceilings are rather low. Don is 6′4½″ tall. The kitchen, which is built on the back of the house, has a very high ceiling at the point it connects to the living room and then slopes downward to a standard height on the back wall. And there are lots of windows.  What this means is that there isn’t much cupboard space. The area with the most windows is designed for a kitchen table, as there is no dining room in this house. So: we had some cupboards, some appliances and some open, windowed space when we moved in.

Here are the flea market touches we added.


We found this cupboard in an antique store (for about  $80) when we were living in our rental, which had the smallest kitchen imaginable. We needed extra storage space and this piece fit perfectly. It came with that great beadboard backing. I changed out the handles.


I used to have an extensive collection of Fiesta, but I sold most of it. I did keep some of my very favorite pieces, like these mixing bowls and gravy boat. If you know anything at all about me, you know that there will be pottery and china from my collections displayed in every room of my home.


To the right of the cupboard is a bench that we bought from Heidi’s shop when we first moved into the cottage. I painted it red. The top lifts to reveal storage space. This is a small cottage and I need all the storage I can get. I originally planned to use it for shoes, but it has evolved into storage for tools, flashlights, etc. I added the pillows. The ones on either end are from Martha Stewart’s collection at KMart (long ago) and the burlap pillow is one I found in California. Very inexpensive.


Next to the bench is my chalkboard, made out of trim that I removed from the kitchen island. I had such fun making this and it’s one of my favorite things in the kitchen. Cost? A few dollars for some chalkboard paint. Everything else I had on hand. The Jumping Jacks are my husband’s collection. I made the hanger from some trim I had in the shed. Cost? A dollar or two for cup hooks.


When we first moved in, we used an antique wooden farm table in the kitchen. It was a chippy green and I loved it. But it was a bit rickety and I found myself wanting a circular table. My friend Heidi found one at auction that she was going to sell in her shop. I coveted it. I bugged her so much that she finally sold it to me for something like $75. It has 2 leaves. It came with a dark wood finish that we lived with for a few years and then I decided to paint it to match the island. Painting it made a huge difference, really showing off those fabulous legs. I eventually sold the green table on Craig’s List. Sob. I miss it, but we had no room for it anymore.

The chairs are from Heid’s shop. Maybe $80?

The old chain display stand that we transformed into a paper towel holder cost us $25 at auction.

Our kitchen lights are built into the ceiling and I like them. But I needed a light over the table. After living here about 6 years, I finally made one out of an old lampshade frame and some doilies I had on hand:


The cost? Everything was here already except for the red, cloth-covered cord and socket which I bought from Shandell’s for about $50. The red cord makes all the difference, as this is a swag light, with the cord coming from the wall out and over the table.


The Cottage Home sign was painted by my pal Rita. I bought it in California. You see it immediately when you walk in our front door.


With the high ceiling comes a nice stretch of wall right next to the living room. I always wanted to hang a sign there and we looked and looked for a vintage piece. Everything we saw was too expensive or the wrong shape. I found this reproduction via Heidi. It was perfect. I think it cost about $75 – maybe less.


We needed more storage space. Four years ago, after thinking about all sorts of possibilites for a kitchen island, I found this piece (a sideboard) at auction. It was finished in a very, very dark color, but it had drawers and cupboards and carving and I got it for $60. When I brought it home, Don was sure it would be too big for the space, so I immediately slapped some white primer on it to show him it would work. Then I painted it and every detail came to life. There was nothing but plywood on the back, so we cut a piece of beadboard and added trim. (The chalkboard is made out of a decorative piece of wood that was on the back edge of the sideboard.) I changed out the handles for some clear glass knobs that match the look of the cupboard.




I don’t know how we lived without it for so long. It’s my favorite piece. It cost next-to-nothing. The carving around the doors and drawers, the curved legs, all of it makes my heart sing. It has been pinned over and over. Why? Because it looks great and is SO easy to do, if you have the space. It gets a lot of use so I repaint it every year.


Don’t ask me about the tile counters. I can’t wait for the day we can replace them. I had this lamp sitting around and one day I covered the shade with some fabric I had on hand. I love the transformation. I found the flour container in a local shop for a few dollars. I fell in love with the color, the graphics and that bakelite handle.


The sign was painted by Paula of Castle and Cottage Signs. I got it for myself for my birthday a few years ago.

Throughout the space I’ve scattered pieces of pottery, especially my beloved McCoy pottery, and found treasures that make the kitchen a reflection of our style.








And once again, Scout managed to get in on the picture taking.

There you have it.

Nothing cost more than $100. Most things I had on hand or transformed with an idea and a coat of paint. It all came about over the course of the seven years we’ve lived here, after being in the space for a while and determining what it needed. And, of course, on a very lean budget. You can decorate with style and personality on a flea market budget. In fact, even if I had all the money in the world, that’s still the way I would decorate.

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Wednesday.


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  1. says

    I love all the vintage touched in your charming kitchen. I’m with you-I buy alot of Craigs List or flea market stuff and I never hesitate to paint anything. I think your kitchen is so cozy and the island is fabulous!

  2. Linda Spencer - Georgia says

    I love your kitchen. Your decorating style is so interesting and fun!! Your home is so cozy and warm.

    • Claudia says

      Thank you – I like my home to have personality and since neither Don or I are shy and retiring, we just go for it.

  3. Nancy says

    I love the look you have created. It is cozy, charming, shows the things you love, and isn’t overly done with the clutter of “things”. It shows your personality, and the things you love are special. While you haven’t invested a lot of $ in your decorating, many of the things you have collected will only increase in value.

  4. Betsy says

    Beautiful kitchen. This is exactly how I would love my kitchen to look but my hubby likes the warmer wood tones. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have my white cottage style kitchen dining area so I have to live vicariously through blogs like yours. :-)

    • Claudia says

      Thank goodness Don basically doesn’t care. There are a few pieces in our house that I would never paint but if the wood is scratched and damaged or too dark, I go for it.

  5. Judy Clark says

    Love all of your fantastic finds! You have so many neat things and I love the fact that they all mean something special to you. That’s what makes a house a home.


  6. says

    You make me want a cottage to live in so much! I love the look and your fabulous pieces that you find and paint are so interesting and unique! Makes your home so you! I love the pottery everywhere! I have some in most of my rooms also. I agree that the island piece is amazing. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us!
    hugs, LInda

  7. says

    Very nice and inspiring. Love the sunlight (I have one dinky window that faces east) and the “vintageness” of everything! Well done!

    • Claudia says

      We are lucky in that we have so many windows in the living room and kitchen. The bedrooms, on the other hand, have smallish windows. Ah well.

  8. says

    It is a blessing to be handy and have the knack and the eye. I have none of those things, unfortunately. Thrift stores and flea markets I’ve been to, although I don’t go often, always seem to have nothing. Maybe it is me. If I do see something, the price tag is usually outrageous. I avoid antique stores as they are the biggest rip offs. (No offense to any blogging dealers). There is nothing thrifty about living in NYC, JMHO. 😉 xo

    • Claudia says

      Well, you notice I’m not buying anything in NYC! You have to go outside the city to find a good deal.

  9. says

    I really enjoyed this tour as I have only seen glimpses of your kitchen and some of your pieces. You really have the DIY gene…the lampshade, island, table and chalkboard are all amazing! You vintage pieces make it so cozy and I like that you didn’t go too cluttered with it…each piece looks so special and perfect for your kitchen. I love the pieces of Fiestware here and there…I had some and gave them to my niece when she got her first apartment, I miss it sometimes. Great tour, I was looking forward to this!


  10. just cats says

    Your kitchen looks so welcoming and I always love to see your china cabinet. I am looking in there thinking “oh, I want to see that close-up. I just want to play with everything. I’m very ‘touchy-feely’ with china. I love high ceilings, too, so I know why hubby loves the kitchen. .”Hi Scout”

    • Claudia says

      I know you love china and pottery as much as I do! I feel the same way when I see some on another blog – I want to look at it up close, look at the mark, etc.

  11. says

    Just gorgeous, Claudia, if I lived there I think I would spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Maybe not cooking so much (not my fave) but sitting at the table reading and looking out the window at the gorgeous view. Your island is just beautiful, just so beautiful.


    • Claudia says

      Me, too, with the cooking, Mary. Not my favorite thing to do and the cook in this house is currently in California.

  12. says

    I enjoyed the post today — I totally agree on decorating with this and that – that you collect over time. It’s how we “feather our nest”. We’re heading off for Chinese lunch and then to see Lincoln. Can’t wait!! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  13. tracy says

    I love your decorating style. I find that the rooms that sing to me are most often rooms that have grown over time and were Not all bought with a credit card from an internet mass market store.

  14. Donnamae says

    I love your kitchen…it’s so you! Especially your sideboard/island…great idea. You are lucky to have such a large kitchen, it’s so light a d bright! All the better to see the snow fly…just kidding! Snow is flying here..lots! 😉

    • Claudia says

      Today, the temps are in the low fifties, everything has melted so it is a sea of mud, and it’s foggy and damp. Gee, the weather gets warm and we can’t even enjoy it! Tonight and tomorrow, lots of wind and colder temps.

  15. says

    Your kitchen is so inviting, Claudia! I think making a space your own this way, over time, makes it a home so warm and personal. You’re lucky to have so many sunny windows, and to have the privacy to be able to leave them without curtains! I love that!

  16. Francine says

    Your kitchen is so nice and inviting, Claudia!! It has all the things you have lovingly collected over the years and it doesn’t look cluttered. I think your island is so nice and adds extra storage and a working area to the kitchen. It all looks very nice, Claudia! Francine

    • Claudia says

      I like homey and cozy, but I don’t like too much clutter. There has to be some ‘air’ between things.

  17. says

    Thanks for the tour!! Love your style and the fact that both of you love the look. Also love the view out the windows! I just painted my kitchen walls yellow yesterday and am going to have fun adding some new colours and pieces to my kitchen decor… as my budget allows of course! :)

    • Claudia says

      It’s damp and foggy today and after sending packages at the Post Office, doing the recycling and running to the grocery store I am settling down for some cuddling with my girl.

  18. says

    I have seen bits and pieces of your home over time, Claudia-but I am reminded, once again, how very homey it is-how everything has a story and how much I would feel very at home sitting there- You did good, girl, very, very good! xo Diana

  19. says

    All the money in the world couldn’t buy the charm that this kitchen has…unless the person with all the money was you! I would list the things I love but the list would be so long. However, the McCoy vases are perfect in the kitchen.

  20. says

    I have to agree with you, Claudia about decorating just the same no matter how much money I had – of course, then I could get more of it :-). Your home always says, just that to me, “home” and the picture of Scout in the kitchen seals the deal. Just lovely. Ann

  21. lori says

    Your house is so charming…you really have a way with displaying and decorating. So much cheerfulness in every room. Scout adds just the right touch!


  22. says

    That was a fun little tour of your “stuff.” I liked it. One certain dog of mine is always photobombing me. I swear he’s in nearly every picture I take in the house. Funny.

  23. says

    Love your kitchen because it’s charming and unique and comfortable and pretty and artsy all in one! You didn’t mention the flooring in your kitchen, but I see it in the last photo…gorgeous wood floors! I’m assuming they’re the original of the house?

  24. says

    Love your space and all the things in it. It certainly looks like a home put together over time, with things you love:)

  25. says

    I love your style Claudia! I would also love to do similar things here but I have a husband with an aversion to vintage and what he calls eclectica. I’m still working on him but we’re advancing only slowly!

  26. says

    You have a beautiful sense of style. I love shopping for vintage accents for my home, too. I found your blog via sunny simple life, and am glad it did. I’ll stop back by many more times. Thanks for the inspiration.

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