If you have been reading my blog for a long time, then you know I like decorating with thrift store finds. The thrill of the hunt – the hunt for decorating treasures that cost only dollars. The treasures that you can find and transform in your own style by shopping thrift stores, yard sales, and church basement sales gets me excited.
I am often asked how I always find good stuff. I hear from my friends and readers –“I go to the thrift store and never find anything”. “It is all junk”. “ I don’t have a good eye” to “It’s gross” and “ Can I go shopping with you?”
I have even been told that I should not shop at thrift stores because they are for people that are poor and really need the items. If I buy it – nothing is left for them. I responded to that one right away, since that is not the case – most stores use the money made in the store to give to charity. So when I shop these stores, I am in turn giving to the charity or the non-profit organization that runs the store.
In my area –yard sales are not the best, but I am lucky to live 10 minutes away from the best thrift store ever. It is called 2nd Avenue. If you have been there – you know why I go at least once a week.
ReStore in Bucks County, Pa
My other sources are the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and church flea markets. Church sales are better than a yard sale because there are dozens of people selling their stuff in one place and the prices are truly bargain basement. The ReStore is the best for finding home improvement items like interior wood doors for $10. Boxes of white tile for $5.00, and glass blocks for $1.00.
I have found a lot of goodies lately and wanted to share my tips on how I end up finding stuff to decorate my home with.
Decorating With Thrift Store Finds: Tips on How to Find the Good Stuff
Tip No. 1: Keep your mind open for anything and everything – you may go in looking for a piece of furniture for your dining room, but…
…see a modern and unique glass vase that is only $1.60.
Modern and unique pairs nicely with old-fashioned hydrangeas on my bedside table. If I didn’t do a quick stroll around the store last week after looking at the furniture, I would have never seen this vase.
Tip No. 2: Know your style. You have to know what you like and don’t like – otherwise everything just looks like junk.
When you know your style – you will know that by removing a part of an item, cleaning it up, or painting it – it will look like something right out of a home decorating catalog. I used white chalk paint on the base of the candle holders.
Tip No. 3: The Good Stuff Goes Fast When thrifting with a group of friends there is always going to be one item that all of you will reach for immediately when you see it. This happened to me and my friend when we saw a very Marthaesque looking glass cake stand for $4.90. I let my friend buy it knowing that eventually another one would come along. It did, a year later. It was not exactly the same, but close. I knew if I still wanted one a year later, it was a good buy for $4.90.
Tip No. 4: Lower your expectations – When I am not in the mood or have nothing in mind to buy – that is when I stumble upon good stuff. These little tables were $6. I removed the crystals and added pretty paper to the tops and edges.
Tip No. 5: Shop often – Mark it on your calendar. I go at least once a week. Find out when they put out new items or get deliveries. This way you get a better chance of finding something sought after.
Tip No. 6: Look for items that are useful - have good lines and shape. It is also important that they are in good condition and can be cleaned up with soap and water.
SOLD! for 90 cents. I will be showing you soon what I do with this.
Tip No. 7: Don’t overlook anything – just because the color of the item doesn’t float your boat, or it is just plain ugly. Remember this little brown table? I looked past the brown fake wood and the plastic wheels. I saw a solid piece with a modern vibe.
A little DIY and I made it mine. Everything can be changed with paint or by removing or adding something to it.
Tip No. 8: Don’t Give Up – Keep searching until you find it. It took me a few months of searching before I spotted the simple brass chandelier that I was on the hunt for.
With some spray paint and candles it became a beautiful way to light up my deck in style.
Tip No. 9: Look beyond the decorative furnishing aisles – I always look in the book section for books with unique pages. I used the pages of a calligraphy book I bought for 50 cents to line my desk drawer.
Tip No. 10: Shop for seasonal items year round - To collect all the glass trees I needed to decorate my mantel last Christmas, I looked for the glass trees on every shopping trip I took, starting about 7 months in advance. By the time the holidays arrived I had more than enough of the trees to add glitter and candles to decorate my mantel. If you wait until the holiday or season, you may miss out.
Bonus Tip: Edit, Edit, Edit - This could be the most important one. For every thing I bring into the house – one thing or more has to go out. Since I have edited like this, I have found the things that I keep – I really, really love. Editing my stuff has helped me pinpoint my style, too. I keep a box in the back of my car that I put the unwanted stuff in so when I go to the thrift store I drop the contents off. It is fun sometimes to see stuff that was once mine on the shelves.
What Doesn’t Make it into My Cart - Upholstered furniture, pillows, electrical items that have not been tested (lamps – unless of course I am going to be taking the electrical guts out of the item) as well as anything that cannot be thoroughly cleaned.
I spotted this big basket as soon as I walked in the door of 2nd Avenue last week. I have been looking for one like this for a long time.
A bit pricey at $6.90! But….
…it is huge!
Can you guess what I am going to use it for? You are going to have to wait and see.