When decorating you home with pre-loved items there are just certain thrift store decor items you should be buying. These finds will save you money and look fabulous in your home.
Finding The Right Thrift Store Decor
The thrill of the hunt.
One step in and you know you are in a place where treasures can be found. The air is perfumed with the scent of pre-loved and somewhat stale items. You take a moment to adjust to the artificial lighting. Your eyes settle on the first over laden shelf and for a moment you feel a mixture of overwhelm and excitement.
Ah, the delights of thrift shopping. Who doesn’t love to stand in front of loaded shelves jammed packed with used items. Standing and scanning. Searching for that one items that can be transformed into something amazing.
Over the years I have learned that there are definitely some home decor items you should buy at thrift stores when you have the chance. These are the items that are almost always worthy of picking up. They will either save you money or they will offer unique decorating possibilities..
But before we get into the list of items let’s first go over a few thrifting basics.
What are the Benefits of Thrift Shopping?
Thrift shopping has several benefits, especially when it come to shopping for home decor. Some top reasons for finding home decor items while thrift shopping include:
Thrift Store Decor You Probably Shouldn’t Be Buying at Thrift Stores
Although, I obviously highly recommend shopping at thrift stores for your home decor there are a few items that I think belong on the pass list.
This is of course a very personal thing. If you are ok with buying these items or you can’t afford to buy these items brand new then just make sure that you first bring them to the laundromat and wash them really well. This should take care of any possible issues.
Items I prefer to leave on the shelf include:
35 Thrift Store Decor Items You Should Be Buying
Thrift shopping is a process. It is a skill that improves with practice. As you learn to navigate the stores and figure out the tricks and tips of thrift shopping you become more confident, faster at finding those hidden treasures, and better at imagining certain items possibilities.
Baskets are one of my favourite things to get while thrift shopping. They can be really expensive when purchased brand new. A quick wipe down and maybe a bit of paint and you have the perfect decor item for your home.
Wire baskets or crates have a multitude of uses. A few ideas that pop into my head are: mounted to a command station for gorgeous mail collector. Use them in the pantry to attractively store items. Fill with seasonal accessories and flowers. Place a candle, a vase of flowers, and a few leather bound books in one and use as living room table decor. So many ideas; so little time.
Grape vine wreaths can be really expensive to buy brand new. So if you see these in good shape or are oversized, buy ’em up. Remove any unwanted decor elements and you have a great wreath form to work with for next to nothing.
High end faux flowers, succulents and plants can be found at the dollar store. They certainly carry some nice flowers but the really good stuff is found at the more high end craft and decor stores. So, if you find these at the thrift store buy them up. Use them in wreaths, centerpieces, 3D floral wall art, and seasonal table decor.
Frogs and I don’t mean the slimy, kiss into a prince kind. By frogs I mean the kind that you use to hold flowers up in arrangements. These are so useful not just for arranging flowers but also as a way to store pens and markers, organize jewelry or simply as shelving decor.
Vase R Us
Vases are so easy to makeover it’s almost embarrassing. I challenge you to look the next time you are the thrift store for a vase with a shape you like but the appearance and colour repulses you. Take it home and spray paint or chalk paint it white or cream. I guarantee that once your done you will love it!
Pitchers are another item where I want you to look past the ugly. If you don’t love the look of the pitcher take into consideration its shape because this too can be easily switched up with chalk paint, spray paint, or textured paint.
Good quality plant pots can cost a fair amount brand new and there are so many awesome ways to change them up. Try making it over with the ol’ trusty spray paint, textured paint, or rope. Add embellishments, stand bases, or texture with intricate medallions. You will have amazing plant decor and for next to nothing.
Light It Up
Candle holders in my opinion, are always home decor items you should buy at thrift stores. You can turn these into tiered trays. use them to elevate plant pots, or as a base for DIY Christmas globes. Attach a pie plate and you have a kitchen soap tray, or simply spray paint the candle holder and give it a fresh new look.
Lamps are definitely another home decor item you should buy at thrift stores. Sometimes the lamp shade can be saved but really it’s the base that matters. Look past the ugly and pay attention to the shape of the lamp base. Spray paint can give a great shape a new lease on life.
Candle chandelier look fantastic in front porches, hung in trees as outdoor lighting, in pergolas, verandas, or gazebos. Want to get really adventuress? Turn a candle chandelier into an outdoor solar chandelier.
Glass hurricane chimneys are fabulous finds. If you are into the look definitely search and decorate for the whole antique lamp but don’t reject the best part. You can often find the glass chimneys for next to nothing when on their own. Use these in hanging candle chandeliers or you can make outdoor terra cotta beach candle holders.
Christmas stocking holders can cost a fair amount at the retail stores. And they are so easy to makeover, touch up, or personalize. So even if your not digging the colour a can of spray paint with switch that up in no time.
Small wooden sleds are too good to pass up. Even if you don’t have any little ones these tiny wooden sleds make fabulous winter decor. Use it to holiday up the front porch, pop it under the Christmas tree for a whimsical touch, use it to add height and interest to a holiday sweets table, or place it near the fire place with a pair of delicate white skates and some Christmas greenery as a gentle reminder of all the fun to be had.
Seasonal items are hands down thrift store decor that you should be buying at thrift stores whenever possible. Seasonal items costs a lot and the big box stores know you’re going to buy it so they aren’t afraid to charge for it. Enter, the thrift store. You can find incredible decor items for every holiday and season. It’s great. Your decor will be unique and high end and your wallet will thank you.
PRO TIP: Always keep your eye out but keep in mind that the best time to find seasonal and holiday items at the thrift store is either in the weeks leading up to the event, the month after the season or holiday has ended, or during those time of the year that many people are organizing and purging. Such as, spring or fall cleaning.
Large painting canvases. Ok, I get that this one can seem a little intimidating but stick with me. Large painted canvases cost a ton of money brand new and there are a lot of simple ways to create high end wall art really easily. So if you come across a huge canvass that needs a overhaul snatch it up and let your inner artist fly.
Mirrors are another example of home decor items you should buy at thrift stores because they are often so costly brand new. Just like anything else a minor makeover when needed can make a world of difference and you will save boat loads of money by not purchasing these looking glasses at retail price.
Picture frames can be expensive when purchased brand new and they are so easy to switch up with a little paint or a hot glue gun. Try adding decorative items like beach glass, decorative picture mat, paint, fabric, or stain. Or get really creative and turn them into 3D wall art, cork boards, decorative serving trays, or faux lanterns.
Jarring Thrift Store Decor
Wrought Iron, whether it’s a decorative wall piece, a decorative accessory, old bed frame, an old fence, or an old air vent if you spot wrought iron buy it! Paint it, hang it, or use it in the kitchen. I have an ornate old wrought iron vent cover that I love to use as a hot plate in the kitchen. I get so many compliments on it.
Candles in glass jars untouched is definitely a great buy but don’t turn your nose up at the half melted, jarred candles. It’s so easy to make new jar candles. They will look store bought but will cost a fraction of the price.
Mason jars – I can’t even begin to list the number of ways that I love to use Mason jars. Definitely a need to buy thrift item. A few go to uses for Mason jars include: using as flower vases, as drink glasses for BBQs, outdoor lighting by adding LED battery operated string lights, or as candle holders.
Wooden baby toys that are newer can make great decor and not just in a babies room. Use to decorate for Christmas, as porch decor, or as a display item on open shelving.
Small wood stools are so sweet and nostalgic and they are getting harder to find so if you do come upon one make sure you buy it. A simple sanding and coat of paint is a simple refresh. Or leave as is for a more rustic look. Use these stools as a plant stand, book shelf, mini bathroom table.
Like Porcelain Baby
China pieces are awesome to mix and match. Display them on a floating selves in the kitchen, use the delicate china cups as beautiful, short flower vases or turn these intricate cups into candles holders. Try creating a stunning feature wall with china plates of different patterns and sizes but all in the same colour. All of these ideas look absolutely stunning.
Ceramics are a fantastic find at thrift stores. If it’s not a piece you love as is you can easily make them over with spray paint, chalk paint, or textured paint.
Pottery just like with ceramics, is a great thrift decor purchase. Again, it you don’t love the original look of the piece you can easily make it over with spray paint, chalk paint, or textured paint.
For more ideas on how to change up an old vase into something a bit more modern you may want to read how I made over a 1960’s vase and the frog shown above with baking soda paint.
NOTE: You do need to use caution when purchasing china and wooden toys. Antique items may contain lead. Just make sure you know what you are buying and if you aren’t sure then use it as decor only and not for eating off of.
Serve It Up
Platters is something you can never have enough of and if you can get them for a song and dance, why not? Platters can be used to decorate a party food table, create one of a kind tiered trays, or collect several antique platters and create a beautiful wall display in the dining room.
Wooden or metal tray make fantastic storage decor. Unlike a platter, a tray has sides to it to keep things in place and they often come with handles. I recently made over these old wooden trays and they turned out great!
Corbels are a rare find, so if you find some at the thrift store, at a garage sale, or in an antique store buy them up. These add a custom touch that is hard to beat. Attach these to wall shelving, under kitchen cabinets, as book ends, or as the base to floating bed side table.
Wooden crates are a great find so snap them up. Use as shelving, kitchen storage, flower centerpieces, as attractive storage in the entryway or mud room, or to stage decor on the front porch.
Large wood or metal letters can cost a lot at craft stores or home decor stores so if you find one second hand snatch it up. Don’t worry about which letter it is because there is always the perfect fit for every letter. Paint is the fastest way to switch these up but you can also add decorative gems, buttons, sea shells, or beach glass to make the letters more interesting. Use these in wreaths, above children’s beds, as book ends, as stocking holders, or as a 3D table sign.
Thrift Store Decor Misfits
Curtain rods, finials, hooks, and rings are more items where purchased new the quality vs the value isn’t always there. If you can get these tiny, pricey items for next to nothing at the thrift store then take advantage. Remember, pay attention to the shape and the overall look because a can of spray paint can work wonders if the colour is wrong.
Plastic fruits are often cheaper at the thrift store than they are at the dollar store. Change these plastic fruits up with textured paint. Use them in decor centerpieces, in bowls as table decor, or in seasonal wreaths.
Humidors are humble wooden boxes are great for storage. Freshen it up with stain, paint, or craft paper and Mod Podge. Use it to store TV remotes, candles, napkins, jewellery, or craft supplies.
Old books are great to use as table decor, to prop up items on open shelving, or stacked as a quirky, as a way to create height on a display table. Cut them up and make holiday banners, Christmas ornaments, or picture mats.
Decorating and life style magazine are certainly among the quintessential decor items that you should buy at thrift stores. Old and outdated decor and life style magazines provide so much inspiration and cost next to nothing to buy second hand.
I have a stack of ancient Martha Stewert and House & Home magazines that I read and reread all the time. Every time I read them I find something new that inspires me. The magazine rack is always the first place I head when I am thrift store shopping.
Jenny’s Finishing Thoughts Thrift Store Decor
Having a beautiful home doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The thrift store is an amazing place to find decor items at next to nothing. Knowing which home decor items you should buy at thrift stores is half the battle. Armed with this knowledge you can confidently conquer the overwhelming feeling thrift shopping can cause and open a whole new world of amazing possibilities.
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