A friend tells me she had a real windfall at a garage sale last weekend. She landed a deal on an upholstered chair and ottoman. After her bargain-hunting buddy talked down the price, my friend brought them home with plans to place them in her sunroom.

But things didn’t stop there. Highly motivated by her new finds, she began cleaning the entire room and moving around the existing furniture. She weeded out her vinyl record collection and brought in a reading lamp to put on the table next to the chair. She took photos with her iPhone, to capture the moment. After the sunroom was done, she moved on to spruce up the bedroom.

“I did a lot of cleaning last weekend; I really worked on the house,” she told me.

To think it all began with a chance encounter with a chair and ottoman. A chair was the last thing she had on her mind when she woke up that morning. Since then, she can’t stop talking about it – and the projects it triggered.

When it comes to home decorating, one thing usually leads to another. It might be a garage sale chair for the sunroom. Colorful storage bins for the playroom. An inherited quilt for the guest bedroom. Or artwork or a handcrafted piece from a craft show or art festival that deserves a very special place in the home. Of course, to find that place, other things may need to be moved, rearranged, reconsidered.

Similarly, even a small housekeeping project can turn into one more ambitious.

For me, this often happens with closets. I’ll open the linen closet door to put away some clean folded sheets and notice that the stacks of pillowcases and blankets are all messed up. So, if I have the time, I’ll straighten up the entire closet as the dog sits close by and watches. Did he have something to do with this mess?

It’s the same with sweeping. You start on the front porch but then step down to the sidewalk leading up to it, still sweeping. Eventually, you sweep your way down the driveway to the street.

But, as with what happened with my friend last weekend, this surge in energy often is triggered by a purchase.

If that item comes from a garage sale, flea market or even a relative’s attic – something secondhand but with so much potential – creative ideas really get cranking. Years ago, a friend living out of town and I were at a flea market near her place. We spotted some framed prints we knew were perfect for her work-in-progress apartment. We had been on a do-it-ourselves weekend mission to fix up her place while I was in town. Moving this. Rearranging that. Shopping! There was no stopping us. Again, one small project seemed to lead to another.

We brought the prints back to her place and swung into action once again finding the best place to hang them. We had a great time.

All this reminds me of the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff, which I read to our daughter a thousand times when she was a preschooler.

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw ... it begins.

So, if a woman brings home a chair and ottoman from a garage sale on a whim, who knows what will happen next?