Flea Market Flip

Students give furniture new life and sell at flea market

Mia Rossi,

Everyone who took Dan Ebner's History of Furniture class this past semester at Northampton Community College got a chance to work on a very unique project. Inspired by the show "Flea Market Flip" on HGTV, the assistant professor of architecture decided to try something new with this interior design class.

Ebner assigned a project on the first day that he felt would get the students more engaged. The object:  bring a piece of old, used furniture to life by re-vamping and re-selling it at an end of semester Flea Market Flip event.

"I wanted to get students excited about history and this class," said Ebner.

The students were given a $50 budget to spend on a piece or pieces of furniture to transform into something completely different, the goal to make something for clients in a cost effective way.

"The purpose was to learn how to re-create something new on a limited budget to save clients' money. That's an important skill to know in the real world," Ebner said.

Students were given the opportunity to do a pre-sale of their pieces prior to the Flea Market Flip, held on November 29 at the Bethlehem Campus. Sophia Dao was one of the students who sold her piece in a pre-sale. She put up her desk and chair on Craigslist. For her flip, she was inspired by retailer of hand-painted furniture MacKenzie Childs. Sophia played off of the Victorian style. She stripped the paint, sanded, primed, and pray painted the furniture black, adding flower accents as a finishing touch. She spent $10 on both the desk and chair, and sold the pieces for $500, which definitely earned her bragging rights!

Another piece that was sold in a pre-sale was created by Rosa Giola and Isabella Possinger. They re-upholstered a chair they got from Habitat For Humanity's Restore for $14, with their purchase going to a good cause.

Morgan Meckes even sold her set of two chairs to her professor! Ebner purchased them for his breakfast room.

Two students kept it all in the family. Grace Warner, whose family owns a vineyard, took two barrels and turned them into chairs. Deanna Dieterly took a piece of her father's furniture, who passed a year ago, and made it into something special. Her aunt purchased the flip.

How do you grade an assignment like this? "If the students doubled the money they spent on creating their furniture, they get an A," Ebner said.  What a perfect motivating challenge for students - and for buyers!