Are you looking for items to give your kitchen “farmhouse style”? Antique, thrift, consignment and small-business shops are open. Going to garage, auction and flea-market sales is possible, too. Bring hand sanitizer, and wear a mask. Keep in mind that not all go around spraying down items with a spray sanitizer, and do try to keep distance from others, as some shops have marks on the floor to do so.

How do I get 'farmhouse style'?

I talked with a few shop owners to see exactly what they have now to give you farmhouse style. Some have called it “farmhouse junk,” making items into cool decorative items, such as turning crates into kitchen storage shelves, mounting metal baskets on the wall to hold farmers market veggies and breads, or taking that flea-market quilt and hanging it in the kitchen on a ladder. Even an old barrel can become a wastebasket.

In today’s market, outdoor items, such as garden potting cupboards, tables and wall décor, are made from barn board, and old paint-peeling shutters, doors and windows come inside. Indoor items such as coffee tables are made with barn board or salvaged doors, with chucks of steel as the bottom frame and legs, or chicken crates are used.

Talking about kitchen islands, your parents' old “Mediterranean style” bedroom dresser or the old buffet from the dining room could become a kitchen island.

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Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah's Uniques and Jim's “Man”tiques in St. Charles: “I have a lot of farmhouse kitchen items in the shop! Old wire egg baskets are about $22, and work well to hold your cookbooks, your dish towels, or your fresh produce or fruits. I also have a lot of original kitchen items that can still be used today. Old plastic or tin canister sets are very popular. Old chicken waterers can also be used — I’ve seen some of the old glass chicken waterers be used for a cat water bowl or a dog water bowl, selling from $10-$30, depending if they're metal or glass. I have a beautiful chicken nester in the shop for $275 that has been repurposed and would be wonderful in the kitchen to hold everything again from cookbooks to towels to rolling pins and utensils! Cupboards galore, and usually range in price from about $100 to about $400.”

Melissa Klema, of Adourn in Chatfield: “I do a lot of custom work for clients. They’ll bring me their piece, and we’ll decide on color and finish and if farmhouse style. I also find all of my pieces for the shop to rehab by going to auctions, estate sales, thrift stores, flea markets, etc.”

Jenna Lubinski, of The Refinery Co. in Winona: “Joanna Gaines with her hit remodeling show 'Fixer Upper' and owner of the Magnolia Market, started a revolution with farmhouse. 2020 called for simple! Less is more, and we have that simple line for your farmhouse décor.”

If you’re on a tight decorating budget and you like this style of decorating, you really don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the look you want, you just need to have some time on your hands.

How do you determine what an item is worth?

If you are a regular reader, we have discussed this before, but for a new reader: We look at the age, condition and rarity — how many were made and how many are still on the market. Finally, what is one willing to pay for the item? If you want it bad enough and you're willing to pay big dollars for an item, well, now the value of that item has increased.

Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at