I’ve been working on this post for a couple months now…there always seems to be something else to add! I’ll probably write more complete versions of this post as time goes on, but this is it for now…
Think about the things you’ve donated in the past. How much of it was perfectly good (maybe even pricey) home decor items you simply didn’t like anymore? Guess what? You’re not the only one! Yes, thrift store shelves do hold lots of cheap, damaged, smelly, old junk. But they also hold just about everything you need to decorate your home at fractions of retail store prices.
Why decorate with thrift store finds? Because “big box” stores sell often cheaply made mass-produced products at a ridiculous markup. Because once you pay these high prices you feel trapped into liking something long after you’ve grown weary of its cheapness. Because everyone is out buying the same trendy decor at retail stores.
There’s nothing wrong with trendy or retail. I’m in love with the “farmhouse” trend that’s hot right now. I do a ton of shopping at big retail stores. I also do a ton of shopping at thrift stores and have decorated my home with mostly thrifted items. Whether your tastes are more mid-mod or more rustic or more farmhousey there’s something for you at the thrift store. Here are a few tips for navigating your way through the junk and finding the gold. *cue Macklemore’s hit song Thrift Shop*
Look for high-end items. You’ll be surprised at the amount of expensive items you’ll find on thrift store shelves. Check for labels and Google to find estimated value. Just the other day I picked up a gorgeous blue and white garden stool for $6 that retails for about $160 on Wayfair.com. I also found some beautiful white ceramic pots and a faux sage bush from IKEA for a total of $2.50.
This perfect little “catch all” for any home used to be plain light wood. Boring. Some black and silver paint, a little chalkboard paint, and some stenciled numbers instantly updated this into a modern storage piece that looks expensive. Multi-purpose storage/organization items are always a thrift score!
Chalkboards are all the rage in home decor these days and you can make your own with just a thrift store frame or mirror and chalkboard paint (I love Krylon’s chalkboard spray paint). Instead of paying top dollar for small decorative prints, print some of your favorite free online printables on cardstock and frame in a thrift store frame. Get creative!
Look for seasonal decor. Everyone loves adding a few seasonal touches to their home but it can add up and be hard to store season to season. By purchasing those little pumpkins or bunnies at thrift stores or by switching out seasonal printables in your painted, thrifted frames you can add season-appropriate touches without breaking the bank. If you don’t have room to store them you can always re-donate.
Look for vintage beauties. If something strikes you as beautiful, especially if it’s an antique piece, find a way to incorporate it into your home! I have a weak spot for milk glass, vintage cocktail glasses, and silver trays. I’ve upcycled my finds into succulent displays and coffee table arrangements. Silver pitchers make great vases, canning jars hold utensils or cottonballs, architectural pieces make unique wall art, model planes are super cool suspended from a ceiling in a kid’s room, copper punch cups hold boxwood spheres…
Look for inspiration. If you find something that inspires you in some way, even if you’re not sure what to do with it right now, go ahead and take it home. You’ll find a use for it! I’m always drawn to vintage picnic baskets. I gave this one a soft, weathered look with some white wax and my mom ended up falling in love with it.
One of the best things about decorating with thrifted finds is that if you get tired of something or don’t quite like it as is you can always touch it up with some paint or start new without feeling too bad since you didn’t spend a whole lot. With a pinch of creativity thrift store finds can be upcycled and repurposed into some of the best home decor and you won’t look like you decorated on a budget!