Face Time: Lara Spencer

“Good Morning America” anchor, vintage buff

May 25, 2012

As an anchor on “Good Morning America,” Lara Spencer chats up people both famous (Tom Cruise) and infamous (the Kardashian sibs). She also did time in hard news and hosted “Antiques Roadshow” for two seasons. But the vivacious journo is just as good at tracking down vintage bargains as she is at sussing out stories, a stylish fact shown off in her new decor book, “I Brake for Yard Sales” ($25, Stewart, Tabori & Chang). The photo-filled tome reveals how Spencer uses flea market bargains to outfit luxe-looking rooms.

You haunt yard sales, flea markets and estate sales. How do you get good deals at them?
You have to go often and not get discouraged. Keep going back to sales, and don’t be afraid.

Your look is mixing antiques and modern pieces. Why do you think it works?
It’s a fun way to express yourself. It makes your home an extension of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with opening a catalog and ordering an entire room, but it’s not going to say much about you.

But can you mix too many things into one room?
You mean create a hoarder’s nest? To avoid that, don’t fill every single nook and cranny in your house — let pieces breathe. Before you buy something, ask, “Do I love this? Do I have space for it?”

Part of your message is that you can create a rich look on a tiny budget. What’s the secret?
Be creative and inventive. Like, if you see a chair with beautiful lines but ripped and stained upholstery, bring it home, have it re-covered and painted, and it’ll sing.

But how do you know if something battered and vintage is worth saving?
Look at the piece and the lines, and ask yourself if they’re solid. Open the drawers of a chest to see how they’re constructed, then give the piece a good shake.

Any tricks for rescuing less-than-perfect furniture?
One of the easiest ways to transform furniture? Have a piece of mirror cut to fit the top of a table that needs refinishing. It creates a glamorous finish for next to nothing.

Any tips on navigating estate sales? I know some folks are put off by them.
Usually estate sales are run by companies, and they price everything and curate it, so you’ll pay a little more. I know some people think estate sales are morbid, but I try to think that these pieces have been loved, and I’m going to give them a new home.

What about Craigslist? How can I be the person who gets the great piece for cheap?
It’s that old mantra: You snooze, you lose. If you’re intrigued by something, call right away, because there is someone right behind you.

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The Manolo · May 25, 2012