Fall is here, and while the new season may first call to mind images of strolling through a pumpkin patch (pumpkin spice chai tea latte in hand, natch), the changing leaves are a sign of activities beyond choosing the perfect jack-o’-lantern. As we settle into sweater weather, you may also notice a pick-up in weekend flea markets and antique sales — and that means extra opportunities to spruce up your space at a substantial discount. With a little creative vision and DIY elbow grease, you can turn abandoned furniture gems into the stars of your home. The best part? It gives you an excuse to grab some friends and go on a fall hunt… for something other than pumpkins!

California’s Terra Louis has seen her share of the trash-to-treasure process. Along with her husband Mike, Louis uses online marketplace OfferUp to purchase old and worn furniture, then works her DIY magic and flips the items to turn a profit. In general, she recommends that aspiring flippers do their historical homework to get a sense of how to date pieces, look beyond dirt or rust, and get creative by considering ways to upcycle items in unique ways other than their original purpose.

If you’re ready to get specific with your treasure hunting, Louis recommends being on the lookout for these five items:

1. Nightstands: For the novice DIY-ers out there, Louis says a nightstand is the perfect starter piece. They’re on the small side and will give you a smaller surface area on which to practice basic skills like sanding, staining, and refinishing. If your flea market of choice has more than one for sale, you may even be able to scoop up two or three, squeeze them in your car, and have them flipped within a few days!

2. Dressers: “Once you’re comfortable with DIY-ing after working on smaller projects, dressers are a great way to get into bigger projects,” Louis says. Dressers also tend to be higher-ticket items, which will pay off whether you decide to flip the final project and pocket the cash or to keep it for posterity.

3. Coffee Tables + Side Tables: One downside to refinishing nightstands and dressers is the fact that these pieces often have various drawers and compartments. Not so with coffee and side tables! Testing your DIY chops on these items is a good way to develop your skills without the need for extra hardware or additional steps.

4. Storage Crates: Thanks to Pinterest (and Joanna Gaines), there’s a whole decorating aesthetic that takes its inspiration from rustic, refurbished wood pallets and storage crates. You’re bound to find these items at any garage sale or flea market, and chances are, you’ll be able to take them with you for little to no cost! “With just a screwdriver, some sandpaper, and a can of spray paint, you can transform a few stray boxes into a really unique table or storage unit without spending a fortune,” Louis explains.

5. Pictures Frames + Miscellaneous Decor: Antique sales are best known for the miscellany you can find tucked into corners if you’re willing to do some digging — and the pros agree. “Having a handful of decorative items like painted picture frames, statues, or sculptures can help tie together the entire look and make the [room] feel complete,” Louis says. Don’t give up your search for the small details!

What are your favorite items to pick up at garage sales, flea markets, and antique sales? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Terra Louis)