Growing up I had never stepped into a thrift store. Then in my early twenties I would occasionally pop into one for a costume, but it wasn’t until my mid-twenties when I really got into interior design and had my own home that I started hitting thrift stores pretty regularly. In all of those years I now consider myself a pro! Before kids I use to drive all over Long Island finding treasures on a weekly basis. Now with the boys I can’t go on a weekly basis to all of my favorite haunts, but I do try to pop in frequently and luckily for me the boys and Jon love it as well! As a family we call it treasure hunting and give the boys a small budget to get them excited! Now, I know many people are scared of thrift stores and don’t think they have anything to offer, but I’m here to share my tips and help you shop a thrift store like a designer!
I know when you walk into a thrift store and see a selection like this, you probably think there is nothing here for me. I totally get it. Who needs another beanie baby or hair dummy! Don’t get stressed if this is what you see when you first walk in. Grab a shopping cart and start in the housewares dept and patiently go aisle by aisle.
One of my first stop in housewares is the basket area. You see them everywhere in home decor. Some people mount them on a wall to make a big display, grab a basket or a wicker planter and add some pom pom trim and use it to house magazines or toys. Grab a wicker tray and wrapped the handles with yarn. Dip a basket in paint and get something that revivals a beauty from Serena & Lily.
Next I move on to the vase area. Now many times you can just find vases that you would typically find at a dollar store or free vases that come from a florist, but hidden in the vase section are nice thick vases that would typically cost at least $10 at your local craft store. I always pick them up especially square ones! They are so expensive in stores and when you like doing your own floral arrangement they are nice to have for less than $5.
Throughout the house ware aisles I’m also on the look out for anything chinoiserie inspired. So, plates or ginger jars with an Asian flare to them. Now this ginger jar checks off many of those boxes, but I don’t love the colors on it. You can easily spray paint it whatever shade you like.
You could also flip it over and display it from it’s backside.
I also always look for brass items. If you have a side business reselling vintage items then brass items are always an easy sell. From brass animals to candlesticks and bowls! You see them all Chairish.
Give them a scrubbing with Bar Keepers Friend and you will have a new stylish piece like this bowl.
I also love going to the china area. It’s full of dinnerwear, tea cups and glasses! I love doing entertaining pieces for the blog and styling tablescapes. So, I always pick up unique finds like this fun tea pot.
My next stop is always the mirrors and artwork. Many times the artwork is not your style, but if you find a frame you like and it’s a good price then I would grab it. I do like picking up vintage artwork pieces like this 70’s piece that would adorable in a gallery wall. I would probably paint the frame a bright white to give it some new life, but it’s chic as is.
Mirrors area always a good find as well especially if you want something on a larger size. They tend to be around $10 and have good bones. A dose of paint and you can bring into current style.
This beauty would be good left as is or have a little fun and lacquer it!
Next up is the furniture area! This is where I find many beauties that I want to save and bring home and give a new life to them! Only problem with that is space! If it’s a crazy amazing find then I always buy it in the hope that I can find a client that needs it or simply resell it.
Isn’t this a stunning piece! Love the cool lines and since it’s in good space I would leave it as but it would also look amazing painted.
When I look at furniture I check out a couple of things. If it’s wood I check on the varnish job. Sometimes it’s so thick that there is no way I could repaint it properly so, I need to decide if I want to leave it as. Many pieces are also mdf with a faux wood laminate on top of it. If it’s in good condition then that’s a good deal, but if it’s chipping or pealing then it’s harder to repaint and I will probably leave it behind.
I love the style of this coffee table. It’s a great scale and amazing shape. Swap out the hardware and give it some new paint and you are in business.
Thrift stores are also a great place for smaller furniture pieces. Vintage goodies are normally smaller scale and that is perfect for NYC apts! Again remember to not worry about the color. If you don’t like wood tones you can easily repaint and get a weathered farmhouse look or go high gloss for a lacquered finish.
Finding vintage pieces also means finding unique pieces that no one else has. I love this headboard for the the wood frame and even the pretty citron fabric. Pretty bummed I left it behind! Another thrift store tip is if you love it then you must buy it. It’s unlikely you will find another! I also hoard everything in my cart and get hold signs put on furniture until I make my final decision. If I see something I like in someone else’s cart then I have been known to follow them around and see if they place back on the shelf! A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!
Last furniture tip is if it’s rattan or faux bamboo, real bamboo then I typically buy it! It’s always good as an accent chair and they always resell on bigger sites like etsy or Chairish so, it’s easy to unload if you don’t need it.
From housewares and furniture I move onto tablecloths and curtains which are typically in the clothing dept. Many times I pick up vintage curtains and use it simply for fabric and get pillows made out of the material. Other times you can find custom pieces that someone had in their home and could possible work in yours like this contrasting color border gingham panels.
Valances are also great to use for fabric. This over-scaled floral fabric is on trend and would look amazing as a pillow with cute tassel corners.
I never really shop for clothing at a thrift store. I’m too focused on the home related items, but I do manage to always look at the handbags. What can I say! I have a soft spot for vintage purses. I also look for purses I can zhush up for a blog project. This summer tote was around $6 and could easily be dressed up with tassels or pom poms or both! Easy and on trend!
Last stop? Books! I always check for fun finds for myself and the boys and look for coffee table books for styling and vintage beauties with pretty bindings for styling bookcases.
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