Under a cerulean blue sky, on the outer banks of North Carolina and about a million miles away from her busy life in High Point, Elizabeth Harris sat quietly alone, listening to the sea, when a call for entries I’d posted to Facebook and Twitter popped up on her phone. Summer had just begun, and I was on the hunt, this time for a bedroom with good bones I could make even better with furniture and accessories from the world’s longest yard sale, the 127 Corridor.
A couple of emails later, and I was convinced. As a third generation Southern Living reader, Elizabeth understands the importance of tradition. When she bought her bedroom set, shortly after getting married, she was simply doing as her mother had done and her mother before her.
But over time, as Elizabeth found her own style, she couldn’t help but dream of a lighter, brighter room, a tranquil retreat that she and her husband Odie could truly call their own. To start, I headed to Calico Corners, where I found a wonderful Jacobean print in a sea-inspired palette of coral, pale blue, and white. A buffalo check brought a more masculine element to the mix.
Armed with fabric swatches, paint chips, and measurements, I picked up the famed 127 Yard Sale in Union, Kentucky, and headed south more than 300 miles to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in search of furniture, lighting, and accessories that would add one-of-a-kind charm to Elizabeth’s bedroom.
Over the next several days, in the sweltering summer heat, I stopped everywhere and often, scanning fields, rifling through bins and digging for treasure. Check out these two videos here and here, full of my very best tips on how to shop yard sales like a pro. In the end, I scored big with a van full of finds, but nothing was more memorable than the nice people I met along the way.
Before heading home, Jaithan and I made a quick stop at Southern Living's offices in Birmingham to show off my treasures.
While I started revamping my finds from the yard sale, a talented team of professionals helped transform the room into a fresh, clean canvas with Benjamin Moore paint and white Dixie Home carpet. Brightening up Elizabeth's bedroom set with high gloss paint ended up saving the most money, since new furniture would have cost thousands.
Good-bye dingy carpet, drab paint, dark furniture, and fussy drapery.
Hello color, pattern, and light!
I had a woodworker install canopy rails around Elizabeth’s four-poster bed, then hung tailored panels in the blue buffalo check from Calico Corners to make it feel like a cozy room within a room. And on the bed, out went the dated comforter...
..in came a colorful mix of bedding from JCPenney, HomeGoods, Calico Corners, and Sue Wong for English Home. That dazzling painting above the bed is from talented artist Mallory Page, while the white fur throw and benches are from Lillian August.
Remember that faux bamboo chair we picked up along the way?
I thought it would be the perfect perch for Elizabeth to read her favorite blogs and catch up on correspondence. She and her husband had already decided they wanted a place to unplug, giving up television in the bedroom and the large armoire that housed it.
Here are my best finds from the yard sale and how I revamped them!
I bought most of these pieces so Elizabeth could take full advantage of having a fireplace in the room. Instead of feeling cozy, it looked forlorn with only a few accessories and a dark print hanging over the mantel.
Using the fireplace as a focal point, I carved out a cheerful space for reading and relaxing with two freshly painted chairs anchored on a coral patterned rug from Lillian August. To brighten up the area, I added antiqued mirror to the fireplace surround. I found two fireplace sets for $40 at the yard sale, each with missing tools, then combined them into one. The large peony print above the mantel is from Artaissance’s New York Botanical Garden collection, framed by Larson-Juhl.
In Kentucky, just south of Union, I found a rusty, old cigarette table for $25, painted the base, handle and underside of the tray a dark shade of coral, then gold-leafed the top. To freshen up a set of nesting tables, I scraped off the paint from the backs of the glass tops, then used clear craft glue to adhere marbelized paper.
Down in Tennessee, I'd almost whizzed past this faux bamboo mirror.
I'm glad I didn't because it was just the piece I needed in this corner of the room.
After brightening up Elizabeth's traditional dresser with paint, I hung the bamboo mirror, flanked by wall brackets, then added figures and foo dogs, all from the yard sale, for a glamorous, well-traveled feel. The porcelain canister lamps I bought for $10, changed out the bases, and had a professional turn them into working lamps.
Huge thanks both to Terry Manier for documenting the 127 Corridor with great enthusiasm and to Miki Duisterhof for capturing the finished room so beautifully. Here's one, last look at the room before the transformation.
Here it is all finished!
And finally, on the ceiling of Elizabeth's bedroom, framed in a canopy of white, a cerulean sky opened up around her.