Growing up in Texas, sisters Amie and Jolie Sikes were taught a love of things with history, an appreciation of sweat equity, and the concept of "granny economics," the idea of using what you have instead of buying something new. As they share in their latest labor of love, their first book, (Simon & Schuster, October 2016), it's these lessons that led them to become the "junk gypsies" we know and love today.
In advance of appearing at the Ikaroo Fair in Atlanta on October 22 for a talk about their junking journey and a book signing, the Sikes sisters took some time off from searching flea markets and DIYing junk into treasures to spill a few secrets about the success behind their Americana-inspired design empire. Here's how you can be a junk gypsy, too:
1. Finding a "diamond in the dust" is about being persistent, not lucky, and enjoying the hunt.
"I think if you're looking for one specific, not damaged, not chippy-peely, completely perfect item you are going to get discouraged," Jolie says. "You need to be open minded and learn to love the imperfections, because that's what makes them so special and what gives them more soul and more character. Open your mind to things you didn't even know you needed, and find things that are fun or make you smile."
2. Be honest—really honest—with yourself about what can and cannot be fixed.
"With upholstered furniture, if you're looking for something easy to just recover or paint the fabric, you just want to make sure it's comfortable," Amie says. "And unless you want to reupholster, the thing we always say is that the smells are forever. I'm always going to bend down and smell a sofa or a chair. I've bought too many things over the years that had cat pee or had been in a smoker's house."
3. DIYing is as much about the sacred process of using your hands to create something as it is about the finished project.
"It boils down to one word and it's empowerment," Jolie says. "I think people do stuff with their hands when they are younger, but then, as they grow up and get settled into typically a desk-type job, they forget the rewards of creating things with their hands. Whenever anybody gets in a rut, I think if they grab a hammer, a drill, a sander, pulled their hair back into a ponytail and just started sanding something, it really does just put your mind in a better place."
4. Glitter should be a staple in your junker's toolbox, right alongside your hammers, paintbrushes and orbital sander.
"Of course, that's kind of tongue-in-cheek, but Jolie and I always say, 'Hmm, something is missing. Oh yeah, this needs glitter!'" Amie says. "Glitter fixes everything. It's kind of like duct tape. We'll paint an old lamp and throw some glitter on it, and all of a sudden it makes people happy."
5. Sign your work in a secret place like the craftsperson you are.
"That's something our dad taught us that old carpenters used to always do," Jolie says. "If you look at old houses, when you're pulling off the wallpaper you'll often find signatures. It's just an old-fashioned thing, so it's partly passing on old-school traditions and it's a little mysterious thing that nobody knows is there but you."
6. Choose inspirational words to guide your design projects and make your home uniquely you.
"Whatever it is that really speaks to you, whatever quote it is, or a movie or a song or whatever story you want that room to tell, just go into it with that in mind," says Amie about how she and Jolie start every Airstream makeover project with an inspirational quote. "We don't go into it with a theme exactly, just an idea of what will really resonate with that person. It should be your place, not what you saw in a magazine or on TV, or what the newest thing is supposed to be. It's your place, and whatever that is, it's not wrong."
See Amie and Jolie Sikes at the Ikaroo Fair in Atlanta, Georgia, at on October 22. The Junk Gypsies will be talking about their big dreams, roadside treasures, and down-home design aesthetic on the Main Stage at 11 a.m. and signing their new book, Junk Gypsies: Designing a Life at the Crossroads of Wonder & Wander, at the Ikaroo General Store from noon to 2 p.m. The Fair will be open October 21 to 23 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily, offering great shopping from 200 vendors; cooking, crafting and DIY demonstrations; locally sourced, artisanal food; and a chance to meet our editors and other special guests! You can buy tickets in advance at .