Decorating With Thrift Store Finds

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.

Decorating with Thrift Store Finds and how to find the best stuff.

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.

Thrift-Store shopping tips

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.

How to make a Reversible-Folding-Screen Using Doors From the Thrift Store

How to Make a Decorative Folding Screen Using Doors From the Thrift Store

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…

Thrift Store vases

…see a modern and unique glass vase that is only $1.60.

Thrift Store Vase

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.

Thrift Store Candle Holders Transformed with Paint

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.


My Perfectly Imperfect Table

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.

Thrift Store Shopping tips

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.

tissue boxes at the Thrift store

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.

Wooden-Tissue-Box from the thrift store

SOLD!  for 90 cents.



Add some pretty paper and you have a chic new tissue box cover.


Tip No. 7Don’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.

DIY Chalk paint recipe transformed this thrift store table

 One  Thrift Store Table – 4 ways

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.

Pottery-Barn-Knock-Off- Outside Chandelier

How to Make a Thrifty Knock-Off Outdoor Chandelier

With some spray paint and  candles it became a beautiful way to light up my deck in style.

How to Line-a-Drawer with book pages

How to Line a Desk Drawer with Book Pages

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.


Glittered Glass Trees

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.


Thrift Store shopping tips

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!  Smile  But….

Thrift Store Shopping tips and tricks

…it is huge!

Can you guess what I am going to use it for?


Click here to see how I turned it into a Christmas tree stand cover.


So now is the time to mark a weekly visit to your local thrift store on your calendar each week.  The thrill of the hunt is Fun!



  1. Lisa says

    I found you on Pinterest :-)
    I think you’re now one of my most favorite blogs! Love your style, tips, ideas and all the inspiration! thanks for sharing.

  2. says

    Love it! Let me know the next time you’re up for a thrift store trip and I’ll meet you there! Or there’s a bunch down by me too– Impact, Liberty, and another ReStore. ;-)

  3. says

    Diane, you forgot to include UNDERWEAR in the list of what not to buy! Ha!

    Everything in my house is thrift store makeovers, including my $12 dining table, and my whole thrifted craft room. :)

    Thrift Diving

      • says

        Hi Julie – I have been know to peek into a few dumpsters in my life, too. :-) It is like going on a treasure hunt! I don’t hesitate to stop along the side of the road and pick stuff from people’s trash when I see something good. I have found quite a a bit doing this. The best was the desk in my studioffice.

  4. Jill says

    Monday and Tuesday rock for thrifting in our community because people take their leftovers to our local charity thrift stores after weekend yard sales and cleaning frenzies. I love the future home owners earning equity at the Restore. I know you pass an encouraging word their way. Also have you checked out your local library book sale for awesome books and exciting prints? Love your inspirational ideas and thoughts!

  5. says

    Hey there!
    You are going to Haven, right? I’ll see you in a couple weeks?
    Here is my question. . . with all that thrift shopping – how do you keep from ending up with too much stuff?? I’m not trying to be cute – I’m dead serious. I’ve been collecting for quite a few years now. . . and I’ve got about as much “stuff” as I can handle. . . I don’t really have room for any new pieces. . .

    • says

      Hi Breida – Yes I am going to Haven. Looking forward to it and seeing you again :)

      Even though I go to the thrift store a lot, I do not have a lot of “stuff” around my house. I can’t live with clutter and many of my surfaces, tables, etc are left empty. I used to collect things and had them all around the house until one day it dawned on me – that Life is too short to be the caretaker of the wrong details. From that moment on I streamlined my decor. I only buy what I need or absolutely love. I have two collections – matchbooks and white dishes. The rest went to auction when I purged everything. Some of it – china and tea things – my youngest wanted. It is boxed up with her stuff in my basement for when she moves into a new place in January.

      I should add one more tip in the post that states – 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.

      See ya in less than 2 weeks :)

  6. Beth says

    Thanks for the tips….I am notorious for passing by something that is in my eyes ugly. next time, I will take a second look before a cast judgement!

  7. says

    I love Thrift stores & have gotten many good deals & projects to work on but lost them all during Hurricane Sandy. Time to start again & also hitting Estate & garage sales. Love your website!!!

  8. Sheryll & Critters. says

    We have not had anything in my area till recently and I have my mind set to go to the two I saw while coming home from HD a bit back.

    I recommend to everyone to listen to you, because you are the best at seeing the potential in stuff that I sure would not have seen.

    I still have a long list of ‘stuff’ I want to copy that you have done. Like that dresser in your guest room and that blue one with the fabulous pulls you made over and so many more….

  9. Julie says

    What a great post! Just have to add my recent find to inspire your readers. A month ago I spied a mid century wall sculpture in perfect condition that I snapped up for 60.00. It is a signed Curtis Jere selling online for over $5,000. I am sure I will never find such an item again!

  10. says

    Did you buy the dresser/buffet under tip #1? That is exactly like what I am looking for to use a buffet/sideboard. If you didn’t buy it, did you take the picture recently? I live in Maryland and could possibly get there this weekend if there is a chance it is still available.

    • says

      Hi Elizabeth – I loved the sideboard – great size and in good condition. It was $90. The inside was a bit dried out, but easily cleaned up. I took the photos on Wednesday. Here is the phone number to the store so you can find out if it is still there. 215-822-2708

  11. says

    This is a GREAT post as it really shows that simple effort can pay off big time! As for the big basket – I would guess a blanket holder (aka cat bed!) or for newspapers and magazines? Looking forward to learning the outcome!

  12. Cindy says

    Hi- I just came across your post via Mrs. Heines Class… I really enjoyed your thoughts on thrifting. I do like to thrift though I don’t always have the vision for what something can become…but I still love to go! My daughter actually manages a thrift store that supports a Christian based recovery program. I think I’ll talk to her about editing…not her strength :) I’m guessing your basket might be for guest towels in the bathroom??

  13. Nicole says

    Have you ever given something to the thrift store and then repurchased it at a later time :). I enjoy your blog – I ran across it a few months ago and forgot to bookmark it and couldn’t remember what it was called. I found you again today through the painter’s tape series. Yeah!

    • says

      HI Nicole – I have not repurchased any of the stuff I donated, but I do smile when I see them turn up on the shelves :) Thanks for finding me again. The painters series has brought me a lot of new readers. It was a great promotion to be a part of. XO

  14. melinda ke says

    Diane, I’m jealous that your locations have such a good selection and low prices! From the photos the aisles look clean and organized, too! Every now and then I come across a gem at a great price, but lately the thrift stores here have really upped their prices and a lot of the items are heavily damaged with broken pieces that are beyond my skills of filling and refinishing. Great post, I love seeing how you update your thrift store finds. :)

  15. says

    What a great post- I, too, can see the potential in most things. I see that you do not purchase pillows at thrift stores. I don’t either and I don’t know why but I have an aversion to them fro some reason. I edit constantly, too. That’s what “saves” me! xo Diana

  16. Mary Alice says

    Don’t over look buying pillows at the thrift store – if they are down filled. If they are down filled, you’ll be able to remove the down pillow insert from the cover and wash it. Then use this down insert to fill another pillow sham/cover. If you’ve ever priced down pillow inserts, you’ll see what a bargain this is. And since it is machine washable, it perfectly sanitary.

    • says

      Hi Mary Alice – thanks for sharing the tip on the down pillows. I never thought about that. You are right – down is expensive – I will have to update my pillow buying strategy from now on.

  17. Vikki says

    Diane…Love all of your uber cool thrift store finds. My daughter is moving from her very small 1 br apt to a much larger 2br apt and will need some inexpensive furniture, etc. I’m looking forward to hitting Salvation Army and Goodwill to see what I can find. If I need help with my “vision” I will post a picture and beg you to offer suggestions. Yours is one of my best loved blogs. Thanks for all the inspiration. Vikki in VA.

  18. Terri J says

    I have decided to downsize from a house to an apartment. After reading this blog though, I am rethinking what to sell and what I can transform into another useful item in my new place – yet to be found. You always give the best advice, show how to repurpose an item just right. I am so glad I found you, and even shared this one on FB.

  19. Cindy says

    I just discovered we have a 2nd Avenue about 30 min from where I live! I’m always looking for new places to thrift so will visit there very soon.

  20. says

    I think your thrift store shopping advice is going to be very valuable for me. I’ve made so many mistakes, and sometimes things I buy turn right around and go back the very next day! I also shared your post on my Friday Finds today. Thanks so much, and have a great weekend!

  21. Jennifer says

    Hello. I clicked on your pin from CleanMama and ended up spending quite a bit of time on your site. I’m hooked. I am wondering what your opinion is about something. You made a good point in this post about how buying from thrift stores, even though you are not poor, helps out the organizations that run them and the communities they serve. How do you feel about buying from thrift stores and remodeling things to sell? I am trying to quit my full time job soon to be a SAHM but will need to try to supplement my husband’s income. I love doing reupholstery, painting, crafting, making old things look new. I have been encouraged to resale some of my projects, and I have sold a few things. I’m curious to know what you and some others might think about the practice of thrifting, remodeling and selling.

    • says

      Hi Jennifer – I say go for it. You paid for the items and the charity was benefited. I think it is a great idea and know many in my area who sell what they buy and make over. Once you get your business up and running, you can donate back something you transformed to the store. They could then sell it for a lot more and you will be giving back in a nice way. On the business side of things, doing this will also help get your name and skills out to the public. I know from my experience if you can reupholster, you can get a lot of business. Best of luck with it. It will be nice to be a SAHM. I was for 20 years and enjoyed being home with my daughters.

  22. Marcia Buroker says

    Came across your blog on Pinterest and will be following! I go to Goodwill every weekend (there are 2 in the town where my dad lives) and 2 Habitat ReStores nearby. The funny thing is when we moved in our house 3 years ago, I bought mostly new furniture…now it’s being replaced with OLDER, repurposed, much better quality furniture! I do find some things I resell, but mostly it’s just a first time home owner having a great time decorating her home with creative and thrifty decor! Thanks for a great blog!

  23. says

    I just found your blog. I love all your thrift store finds. Like you, I also am constantly checking my local thrift store for items I can redo!

  24. says

    I love to find things for my house at the thrift store! So many bargains, and if no one asks, they never know you didn’t spend a fortune. I have to admit, I did buy an upholstered chair at the thrift store and am excited about fixing it and recovering it. Love all your find! Thanks for sharing them and the tips.

  25. says

    I’m so glad I came across your site. I love to do the exact same things! Treasure hunt and then decorate my home with my finds. I love all your ideas. Thanks for sharing

  26. says

    I just came upon this post and totally loved it. I too decorate my home with all my thrifty finds. Just recently I started a blog to share this passion. Thanks for encouraging the hunt and then sharing it

  27. says


    I wonder if we were twins and got separated at birth? As I read your column I realized that those are the very things I tech my students to do when they go “thrifting.” I even have a class I teach called “Let’s Go Thrifting!” I have been an avid Thrift Store Bargain Hunter forever it seems. Probably before it was chic to shop there. I learned from a very young age how to re-purpose and recycle with my grandmother’s rental properties. I did not know we do not have a lot of money. I never felt poor. We would repaint and redo so many things to create special and fresh vignettes in her rental properties. she was on a very tight budget as a widow when she was forty with seven children and thirty- seven grandchildren. We always had plenty because of her creativity and sewing for all of us. Now, I am sharing my experience with so many others in my various classes I teach through The Color & Redesign Academy. I have worked with seven thrift stores and helped them to improve their visual merchandising. I continue my love of doing several award winning Christmas trees and decor from thrift store finds to this very day. I had to laugh as I read your blog, because it sounded so much like me, ha. You never know we may have gotten separated at birth!

  28. Jana giraud says

    I just wanted to pop in and and say how much I enjoy your blog. I am a thrifter at heart and I love going and shopping at our local goodwill stores. There are 3 very close to me. I find awesome fabrics and some really cute vintage sheets that I use for fabrics. I have been told that going to habitat for humanity was a great place to shop also. I am going to have to find our local one. Anyway, just wanted to say hello and thanks for some awesome ideas.

  29. JeanMarie says

    Such lovely ideas, but two problems for me, looking for suggestions:
    No ideas on how to decorate – not crafty, do not know anything about DIY
    Live in an apt – no place to paint, refurbish, etc.


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