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Locals Enjoy Their 'Chic on the Cheap' Finds

Area homeowners and home designers share tips on where to find used furnishings and how to make them better than good-as-new.

Some of interior designer Caroline von Weyher’s favorite furniture finds have been at a variety of Metro Detroit’s thrift shops and garage sales.

With a little elbow grease, a bit of creativity and vision and an open mind, von Weyher, owner of Von Haus interior design firm in Birmingham, has transformed many a castaway from dull to divine, from plain to pleasant.

“Garage sales and thrift and/or consignment stores can be great places to find a vintage light fixture or a piece of furniture that (with a little refinishing or reupholstering) can make a great addition to your home,” said von Weyher, who loves the in Birmingham. “Someone's discarded wood dining room chair can be totally transformed by painting it, say, red, and re-covering the seat cushion with a bold black-and-white check. Meanwhile, an old chandelier can be spray-painted or polished and rewired.”

One of her favorite finds was an old King Louis salon chair and ottoman that she envisioned as a wonderful seat for a bedroom. She called on a professional upholsterer and refinisher and chose some pretty fabric for its remarkable face-lift. In the end, von Weyher saved a lot of money by going the “used” route. 

Other finds have included beautiful gold-leaf picture frames.

“I don’t always like the art that is in the frames, but the frames themselves have lots of potential,” she said. “Store-bought frames can be very expensive.” 

More ideas

  • Light it up!  “I just bought a hanging light for my kitchen (in her Troy home) from the Salvation Army in Royal Oak for $25. I used to have the matching smaller versions at my former house and paid over $75 each for them. What a deal.” — Laura Scaccia of , Royal Oak
  • Sew good! I meet now and then with a group that’s called the Creative Clothing Club. The members usually put a bunch of fabric remnants on a big table and people can pick and choose what they might be able to use. I’ve reupholstered my couch with leftover drapes material.” — Carol Marshall, Bloomfield Township
  • Make a day of it: “The (and ) that’s a little gem. One of the rooms is full of framed wall art. They have decorative accessories as well. When one is done shopping there, they can walk across the street to .” — Suzanne Krueger of Troy  
  • Go West: “We have procured lots of stuff at thrift stores for our staging business. We find lots of framed prints, silk plants and ficus trees and the occasional piece of usable furniture. In the Ann Arbor area, we like the Salvation Army store, the PTO Thrift Shop and Recycle Ann Arbor’s ReUse Center — they’re all in one general area, too. We also work regularly with a consignment store called Westside Furniture Consignment Emporium, for selling our clients’ furniture and finding treasures for our inventory.” — Deborah Swartz, co-owner of A2 Home Staging Consultants, Ann Arbor

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