Why I Like to DIY and Go Thrifting

Now that the warm weather has returned here in the northeast, so has my get-up-and-go energy to go thrifting early on the weekends routine.  I know some wouldn’t be caught dead poking around in a dumpster or think thrift stores and yard sales are only for people who are down on their luck.

While I could fit into that category since my husband has been one of the unlucky ones who lost his job 3 years ago when the economy took its downhill slide, that is not the reason I like to head out early on Saturday mornings to find cast-off treasure.

Yes, I DIY and go yard sale hopping to save money, but that is only one small part of it.  With the right skills and tools, I can turn a broken chair into something useful and beautiful.

Quotes on creating

Allora Handmade.com

The trendy term for it is “up cycling” – but to me it is about designing an object to fit with my aesthetic sense, style, and overall vision.   Bottom line – I need to create.

Why I Like To DIY

I enjoy going thrifting to search for objects with good bones to makeover into something of my own design. I will never be given the opportunity to design product lines like Philippe Starck or to work as a furniture or fabric designer with a line of goods with my label on them.

I also do not have the bank account to set up a tool and die shop to make the components needed to design items from scratch, so I must make do with what I can find and go from there.  Thrifting and DIYing enables me to create an exclusive line of decorative goods for me alone, while at the same time – feeding my need to create.

I also enjoy the thrill of the hunt and have been enamored with thrifting since I went as a kid to my mom’s annual Women’s Club – Trash to Treasure sale. My mom would give my sister and I some money and let us roam around by ourselves through all the sale tables to buy what we wanted.

I remember always finding cool stuff and when we returned to my mom, she would always ask  – What are you going to do with that junk? – my reply, “make things”.

Quotes on creativity


Why do I DIY?  Because DIYing allows me to get exactly the look and style I want. In today’s world of mass similarity, home is the place where we get to express our unique style, show our personality and live among the things we love or something that we put our heart and soul into creating.

I subscribe to the philosophy that personal style reigns over trends.

My eye delights in seeing unique and gets bored with mass merchandise.  I find character beats all in the pieces I choose to work on. There are no rules when you are the designer – only respecting your aesthetic sense and being confident in your choices.

A Recent Thrift Store Find

On my recent trip to my local thrift store I came across this side table for $5.90.  I have been searching for quite some time for a table that would fit perfectly next to a chair in my family room.

Furniture transformations

With a few changes and a coat of paint, I will finally have the perfect table for my space.

Furniture Before and Afters

Sometimes the design of the objects I find are perfect just as they are and need no changes whatsoever.  Check out how I transformed this table with paint and mirrors: Thrift Store Table Makeover


On my recent trip to the local ReStore, I came across 5 glass blocks.  $1.00 each.  They are not the typical square ones, but brick shaped.

Simple objects in a classic design that I cleaned up and re-purposed into doorstops.  I like to keep the windows in my house open in the warm months and if I don’t have a stop on the doors– they slam shut.  These blocks offer a cohesive, unique, and inexpensive way to have a doorstop by every door.

Repurpose ideas for Glass Blocks

So the next time you need something for your house, consider not only rescuing something from your local thrift store, garage sale, trash bin, or grandma’s attic that will save you money, but also will enable you to add your own unique signature to your surroundings.  By sticking with the found, free, or flea mantra you’ll not only save money, but truly design a personally designed space that you can proudly call your own.

Here’s to finding treasure this thrifting season. Happy Hunting!

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  1. Loving the table and the glass blocks. I never can get that lucky in Northern VA. Everything is over priced here.

    1. Hi Karin – Down in the city there are pricey stores, but in my area I have 3 really great thrift stores that get new items in daily. They are like department stores where everything is all neat and highly organized. At one store on Sunday and Mondays most items even go to 50% off. The Habitat for Humanity stores are amazing. I never even knew there was one one in my area until I did a Google search and found not one, but two. Try doing a Google search and you may find one in driving distance to your house.

  2. Ashlyn@Pinecone says:

    You always have the best ideas and knowledge to pass along Diane!!

    I hope you are doing well!!! xo Ashlyn

  3. I love that table Diane! I’ll always have fond memories of going to yard sales with my Mom and my grandfather was an auctioneer, so they always lots of treasures around their home. My Mom was fortunate to hold onto some things when both of my grandparents passed, but the house wasn’t big enough for everything – what I would do to get my hands on some of that stuff now.

  4. It’s nice to “meet” other people with the same obsession! I, too, like my home to be a reflection of my individual self and not something out of a catalog. There’s nothing like the thrill of finding something “cool” in a thrift shop and making it your own. Unfortunately, I don’t have a re-store in my small town. Love the glass blocks as door stops! Also, love all your great time-saving ideas…and …well…just your blog in general! I also just posted something over at Southern Hospitality. Thanks for the tip!

  5. I think it’s the “making it my very own” that has me into DIY and homemade. When I knit a scarf (and I only know one knit stitch), make a tablerunner or quilt, cook a meal, paint a room, etc., I’m putting my life and energy into a thing. Or maybe it’s just “New Puppy Syndrome” – I may just have the need to tweek things and call them “MINE” the way a new puppy pees everywhere to mark its new home…

  6. Rita@thissortaoldlife says:

    Love this post–and wrote on the same themes myself yesterday. Like several others, I always turned up my nose at the idea of shopping in a thrift store. When I divorced several years ago and had to furnish a house from scratch, I turned to Goodwill, craigslist, and yard sales because that’s all I could afford. Now I go to those places because I want to, not because I have to. It seems so wasteful to buy new things (that are often poorly made) when there are so many good, old things that just need a little love!

  7. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    I am so with you on this way of thinking, Diane! I got used to spending my dollars carefully as a young SAHM, since that was the only way I could stay at home. It just stayed with me throughout my life, even when I didn’t have to be as careful with my dollars. I think I get more satisfaction out of fixing or transforming something. Plus, I think you’ve got a more unique piece for your home. This table was a great find; I love the design on the sides. The wheels will make it handy to use wherever you might need a table, too. I’d love to see it when it’s done.

  8. Serena@ThrftDiving.com says:

    Diane!! This is exactly what I do! :) I absolutely love thrift diving! It’s why I created my blog called Thrift Diving, because it’s about the stuff I find at thrift stores (or free, CL, or yard sales) and the adventures in decorating my house with it!

    In fact, I found a desk next to the dumpster and refinished it……bought my dining table, solid wood, from the thrift store for $12 and refinished it…….so much! I’ve got about almost 20 projects stacked in my garage waiting for me. Hahah where to find the time to get them all done!

    If you want to see what I have found at the thrift store, check our my blog, and clIck the tab UPCOMING PROJECTS. You would never believe the stuff that people throw out! How wasteful for them, but awesome for me! Lol


  9. scotta anderson says:

    Sometimes it’s more fun and sparks a great deal more creativity when you have to be very careful with how much you spend. You end up with an end result that isn’t “off the rack”. It’s completely individual and unique. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that.

  10. liz@peaceofhome says:

    i’m obsessed with that table! I can’t wait to see how you paint it!

  11. Steph @ The Silly Pearl says:

    Great finds, Diane!
    I love what you said about personal style over trends. Thrifting is one of the best ways to achieve that!

  12. Marisa Gingrich says:

    Great post! I remember my mom used to shop in second hand shops and then re-create her findings. I always thought it was so lame and gross. And I shunned the idea well into my 20s. Now that I’m a mom and a poor teacher, I shop thrift stores all the time. I, too, enjoy the thrill of the hunt and really LOVE finding good deals. And re-creating makes me feel good. It’s good for the environment. Your post put my sentiments into words exactly!!

  13. Excellent post Diane! When I was growing up, my mother used to say “use it up and make do”. My mom once ripped the skirt out of an old ’50’s bridesmaid dress (that had about four yards of fabric in the skirt) and whipped up Easter dresses for me and my sister. My mom could have gone to the store and bought me and my sister dresses, but she liked to create. Sadly, our throw-away, consumer society does not encourage this kind of thinking. I love that my mom encouraged me to use my imagination to create something instead of always buying something mass produced.

    I also love to thrift and to find new uses for somebody else’s castoffs. My husband cannot understand why I love to hunt through dirty, dank thrift stores when “we have enough money so you don’t have to do that”.

    I always tell him that I love the thrill of the hunt and the fun of creating something that is really “me”. Oh, and I’ll admit it, I’m cheap and hate to spend a boatload of money if I don’t have to.

  14. Love the brick shape glass blocks . . . Perfect!

  15. I’m with you. I like my home to reflect me and I also like to be able to try new things. If I were to purchase things at retail prices, I’d have nothing in my home :)

    I love that table, it is perfect. I’m wondering if you are going to keep those wheels on?

    1. Hi Mel – the wheels are plastic and not very pretty. They also make the table too high for the chair it will be placed next to. I removed the wheels and the height is perfect. I decided to keep them though as they are easy to just slip right back into the sockets on each leg. The table is going to go right by a door to the deck outside my house. I may want to use it as a serving cart when entertaining outdoors :) Presto Change-o when needed.

  16. Love the idea of those blocks as doorstops!

    1. Hi Kim – when I first spotted them I knew exactly what I could do with them. Do you have a ReStore in your area? It is unlike other thrift stores in that they have tons of building supplies like these glass blocks. It is one of my favorite thrifting destinations.

  17. I like the table you found. Looking forward to seeing it painted. Happy thrifting!

    1. Hi Glenda – I will be posting about the table transformation soon.

  18. Liz Chaisson Thompson says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It expresses EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to clarify for myself. It’s wonderful being able to see my self and philosphy in words – even if I wasn’t the one to write it!

    1. Thanks Liz – Love knowing that I am not alone in my philosophy. The post came about after someone asked my husband if I was looking forward to shopping in a real store once he was re-employed. He knows me well and answered – she shops at the thrift stores so she can create her own stuff – not to only save $$$. He put it in one sentence what I could never quite express. I worked on writing this and decided it would be a good post to showcase recent finds to link up to Rhoda’s party.