Are you ready for 31 days of posts all about thrift store transformations? I’m really excited about this challenge and my hope is that you all are going to check out thrift stores (or estate sales, garage sales, tag sales, or wherever else you can find used items) and will be inspired to look at all the
junk items there in a whole new way!
As a way of introduction, I thought I’d start the challenge by listing the top things I look for in thrift stores.
But first, there are a couple of guiding points that are important to thrift shopping:
- It’s important to have a running list of things to look for in your mind because the amount of stuff can be overwhelming if you feel like you have to look at everything.
- BUT this list should be generic – like “old books” and not a specific title, because if you go to a thrift store with something specific in mind you will come up empty-handed. Really- it’s like an unwritten rule or something! I’ve learned this lesson many times.
Having this generic running list in my head (or on a phone note, etc.) allows me to walk the aisles with intention – quickly if I’m in a hurry, or a little more slowly if I’ve got more time.
The Top 10 Things to Look for in Thrift Stores:
1. White Pottery. I’m not particular – it can be a platter, urn, vase, whatever – but I do look for a classic or fun shape that I can use somehow. All of the pottery I display is used at some point as vases or for serving food.
2. Vintage Boxes. Talk about useful – I use old boxes to hold everything from recipes, to photos, to craft supplies. And they up the decor value at the same time.
3. Flatware. I’ve collected cheap stainless that I keep in a caddy to use at large gatherings instead of plastic, and I always look for vintage bone-handled pieces as well as cool silverplate to add to mismatched place settings, as well as use for photo props.
4. Decor Items. I’ve been collecting amateur oil paintings for years to inexpensively add fun art to our walls, and most of my decorative items like candle holders have some from the piles ‘o junk you find at thrift stores.
5. Garden Items. Cement statues and urns, metal watering cans or tools – they all have a wonderfully worn patina that I can’t get if I buy new.
6. Clothes. Admittedly, I don’t have as much luck with clothes like others seem to, but what I’ve found I really love – especially the prices. I have the easiest time finding sweaters, coats, and shoes – less luck with pants and skirts.
7. Red Transferware. My
addiction collection grows slowly but surely with the pieces I pick up here and there at thrifts because I won’t pay the ebay prices (cough…).
8. Lamps & Lighting. Easy to find interesting singles to re-do – pairs is quite another thing. After looking for a year, I finally found a matching pair a few weeks ago – which you will see transformed in the coming weeks.
And the last two things I look for:
9. Old Books. What’s a shelf without a book? And old books with wonderful bindings are all the better. I also use old books to make book-page decorations for holidays and plain-ol’ decorating.
10. Furniture. We found most of our furniture at thrifts in the first years of our marriage and I still always look, even though I don’t need a lot now, ’cause there might be that one item – kinda like this one.
And a bonus (’cause I couldn’t keep it to just 10!):
11. Appliances. Usually small like slow cookers (and of course, cappuccino makers!), but occasionally larger appliances like a freezer.
What do you like to look for at thrift stores?
Like to see how I transform used items into home decor, gifts or something new? See them here!
Organize, Plan, Cook & Beautify Your Home with Free Printables
Enter your name and email and you'll get access to the AOC subscriber only library with printables, eBooks, checklists & more - with new things added regularly! Plus, the popular weekly newsletter with behind-the-scenes, updates, and useful links.