April 9, 2013

My Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget

There are few things more fun than shopping thrift stores to find the perfect piece for your home. I know this because I've been obsessed with decorating our house with thrift store finds for a few years now (aka I've been broke and desperate). But nonetheless, over the past few years, I've learned that you really don't have to have tons of money to decorate your house. It CAN be done on a budget, and thrift stores are a great way to make that happen.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

 
So, today I'm sharing my top 10 thrift store shopping tips to help you create a stylish home on a budget. 
If I can do it, I know you can, too. You just have to get creative and be willing to get your hands a little dirty. 

Let's get started.


#1. Look For Colorful Accessories:

When it comes to accessorizing your house, it's all about waiting for the right pieces and collecting things over time. 


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Totally obsessed with tip #5.

Nearly every dish in our kitchen has come from a thrift store, and I've ended up with a much cooler collection of dishes than I would have if I had bought everything new. Here's a peek inside one of our cabinets.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget


And my collection just keeps evolving over time as I find stuff I like. 




If you're curious about those chalkboard cabinets, go here.

One of my favorite finds were these gold mugs for $1. 

Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget



#2. Keep An Open Mind:

 Have an idea of the things you need, but be willing to adjust your plan if you find something amazing.
For example, a few weeks ago, I went looking for end tables and came home with a brass lantern. Sometimes you don't find what you're looking for, but instead find something else that you can use. I love repurposing old outdated chandeliers, and knew the minute I saw this one that I could make it amazing. 


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget

I ended up spray painting the lantern and hanging it in the office


It was a super easy update and cost a fraction of the price that a new light fixture would have cost.
Spray paint tips here.



#3. Don't Be A Hoarder:

When you love thrifting as much as I do, it's a slippery slope to go from 'collector' to 'hoarder'. So, before you buy something at a thrift store, make sure it's something you need. Just because it's a great deal doesn't mean you should take it home and hoard it in your garage for 2 decades.
Like this bike.
My heart told me I needed it, but my brain said 'You haven't been on bike in a decade. 
And the tire is flat.'.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget

#4. Go Often & Be Patient:
 I don't always find something when I go thrifting. If I don't, it's okay. I just try again another day. 
So, if all you see is this weird Alf lamp...


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget

Just politely walk in the opposite direction and know that today wasn't your day. 
It will happen. You just have to keep trying. If at first you don't succeed, thrift, thrift again.

#5. Look For Quality Furniture:

Some thrift stores just suck when it comes to finding furniture with good bones. You know the sort of thrift store I speak of...the one that's been totally picked over.
But, they're not all like that.  
I have the best luck finding good furniture when I visit the thrift stores near the nice parts of town. Don't get me wrong, you'll still find tons of junk in those, too, but your chances of finding the good stuff are much higher there.
Look for pieces that have good lines, are in good condition, and can be easily be refinished/repurposed. I like to look for solid wood pieces with a good shape.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

Those pieces (above) are pretty typical of what I might find if I continually visit the 'good' stores for a few weeks. And below are a few ideas of what you can do with the stuff after you haul it home.
The possibilities are truly endless.
You can read about all 10 here.




The below picture is of a wardrobe I found last month for under $100. This would be a great piece to update with a little paint and some new hardware.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

Or take this thrift store dresser I found for only $60. I didn't purchase it that day, but ended up getting an almost identical one on Craigslist months later.

Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

Here's the nearly identical one I found. As you can see, all I did was paint it white with some chalk paint and update the hardware. All in all, a really easy fix that anyone can do with a little elbow grease.
Full tutorial here.


Another great example...this crappy little desk I found for $10...



I painted it and hung a mirror above it and now use it as a vanity table in my bedroom.

Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!




I did something similar with our bedroom dresser.
 When I originally bought it for $50, it looked like this.

Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

And now it looks like this.
Full tutorial here.

Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!


#6. Look For Classic Pieces:
 Like a fancy gold mirror.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget

That badboy cost me $7 and I hung it in our guest bedroom.

Maybe I hung it a little high, but that's beside the point. 




#7. Think Re-purpose, Re-purpose, Re-purpose:
 See beyond what's there. See a chair with nice bones, but hate the upholstery? No problem...just reupholster it. And I realize that sounds easier said than done. But, I promise you can do it. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing the first time I tackled an upholstery job. It was kinda time consuming, and definitely made me want to cry half way through, but I eventually put that bad boy back together again. And now, with a few upholstery projects under my belt, it's really easy.
In fact, see that green chair in the above picture?

I did that one in just an hour or so. It looked like this when I brought it home:



And then it eventually looked like the chair you saw in the above picture.
You can go here to see my super quick way to upholster stuff.


Speaking of chairs, last time I went thrifting, I saw these two chairs. They had great bones, but gross upholstery. 
There's so many things you could do to spruce up these chairs. They had a beautiful wood back, so I would remove the upper cushion, reupholster the seat cushion, and spray paint the entire wooden frame a bold glossy color...think navy or red.

Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!


#8. Think Spray Paint:
When buying thrift store decor, spray paint is your best friend. If you like the shape of something, you can always spray paint it. This applies to almost everything: lamps, art, accessories, small furniture, you name it. One of my favorite things to spray paint from thrift stores is old lamps. 
Here's an example of my latest lamp redo. All I did was spray paint the base silver and add a new lamp shade (with some black ribbon glued around the top and bottom).
Full tutorial here.




#9. Know Your Thrift Store:
 Ask the employees when they get new stuff and when the sale days are. I find the best stuff on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because that's when my favorite store puts out new stuff. Every store is different. 
Also, figure out the 'sweet spots' in your favorite store. My favorite store is huge, and I usually beeline to certain places when I first get there. Like the art wall.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

You have to think creatively. I saw this boat painting (which reminds me of this print that I found at this store years ago) and loved it. Had I bought it, I would have taken out the canvas, cut it smaller and framed it in a matted white frame. It would be really cool as part of a gallery wall in my hallway.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget


#10. Save Money on Frames:

I buy most of my frames at thrift stores and spray paint them. I save tons of money this way. Look for frames with nice detail and with a nice mat, then spray paint the frame AND the mat.
For example, I brought home this junker for just a few bucks.



Then I took it apart 
Remember that frog they made you dissect in 8th grade? 
Put that useless semester to WORK.

Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

And then I spray painted the frame silver and spray painted the mat white.


And then I painted over the original artwork and added some sequins. And so this is just one idea of what you can do to old thrift store art.
Full tutorial here.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!


Another thrift store art idea? Just take an old painting (like this one) and paint right over it with some more vibrant colors and some gold leaf.


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!



Alright, ya'll. That's all for today. Thanks for being here, you know I appreciate it.
For more thrift store ideas, you can check out the below post here


Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!

'Til next time!







Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How To Decorate on a Budget. Such great ideas! Tip #5 is GENIUS!



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52 comments:

  1. You forgot #12 - Invite Virginia to come do your thrifting for you!

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    Replies
    1. LOL! I love that, Sarah! That is the OFFICIAL #12! :)

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    2. Good, when will you be in Nor Cal? :)

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  2. This post is amazing! I love going to Good Will, but I always forget the furniture! I'm there for dishes 9 times out of 10. Thanks so much for all the great tips and reminding me what's possible with a little work and a whole lot less money than retail!

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    Replies
    1. You're so very welcome, Julie! Glad I could give you some ideas!

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  3. I loved this. You made me giggle over the bird. Thanks for your wonderful ideas!

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  4. Fabulous tips! I can just imagine you cutting up a boat picture ... hmmm

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  5. I LOL'ed at "some more nice legs" you are too funny.

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    Replies
    1. HA! DeeDee you totally win the prize for being the first reader to notice that!! :)

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  6. Great post! You would be so much fun to go thrift shopping with! :) I usually go by myself.

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    1. Thanks Julie! I do, too! I would totally enlist you as my thrifty partner! :)

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  7. We need to go thrifting together. Do you want to come to Texas or should I pack up my toddlers and invade your light colored clean home? That's what I thought, Texas it is.

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  8. Those lamps look exactly like the gross lamps we had growing up ... minus the navy banding ... and the bird. *yak*

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  9. This is another awesome list just as the TOP 10 Home Improvement Ideas!
    Love this one as well!

    Love, Midsommarflicka

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  10. I'm working on #3. Working on it HARD!

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  11. Thank you for a great post! I like the way you think!

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  12. Great post! I have decorated my home with mostly thrift store items too!

    retrospendthrift.com

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  13. Hey, I own that wardrobe piece in my home...and I am sooo tempted to paint the heck of of it this summer! It's over 13 years old...looks brand new, but I am getting tired of the plain-jane of it all! :) Love your blog and your designing!

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  14. I just had a stroke of good luck at my favorite store yesterday. Can't wait to get started on my new china cabinet. She is going to be so pretty. Loved your tip about asking what days they put stuff out.

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  15. Oh my!!! Every one of these ideas is even better than the next...and the photos are fantastic!!! Thanks for this big, fat dose of inspiration!!!

    - Jess
    Sparkles and Crafts

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  16. I love your post! And your whole blog actually :) your fun, humorous tone is so awesome. I keep it light myself, "irreverent diy"? I am your newest follower and big(est??) fan haha! Come say hi sometime! :)
    Alyssa
    myclevernest.com

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  17. Thank you Virginia for the amazing thrifting post! Lots of useful info to inspire me AND help me from ending up on hoarders!! I love your blog!

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  18. All right, Now I'm just going to HAVE to know which stores are your favorite. I don't even know how to find good thrift stores.

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  19. Come shopping with me! You have an amazing talent. Sometimes, I will admit, I wonder if I am slipping down that steep slope to hoarderville when I thrift. Yikes!

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  20. Great tips! I have to say I am a little shocked you took the bird off the lamp... Portland is probably shaking its head in shame now. :) I love shopping at thrift stores and I recently have been posting about what I find, now I can take your tips and bring them to the store with me!

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  21. You are now my new favorite Blogger as I, too, share a love of fat cats :)

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  22. I've been poking around your blog for the last hour and love all your creative ideas. As a former editor (and complete grammar freak), "chotskies" is actually spelled "tchotchkes." Sorry. I couldn't help myself. Now I need to go finish spray painting my lamp I started 6 months again. Procrastination is the biggest hurdle for my DIY projects. I need your energy to get it done!

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  23. Super love your blog! Found u on Pinterest and now Im following u on bloglovin!!!

    This is awesome, I just got married recently and moved in to his apartment and boy that place really need a makeover! I need to find a way how to do it in low budget and tadaaa I found you (and some GREAT ideas)!!! Thanks :D

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  24. Love all your ideas - being on a budget can get you down sometimes but these awesome ideas are really helpful! You won a new follower :)

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  25. I just found your blog through I heart organizing. I'm already hooked!

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  26. You just made my DIY house reno dreams come true!! I am heading in to my local Value Village and Salvation Army thrift store ASAP to find some inspiration!
    Thanks for sharing the genius ideas.

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  27. Wish you could come to my home in Australia and I can take you 'op-shopping' - which is what we call it here! :) love your site - just stumbled across it! :)

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  28. Now you have really put me in the mood for a trip to the thrift store! These tips are so true!
    Sara

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  29. I can totally relate to this. I have to be very firm with myself or I'll come home with a ton of "just in case" items. My rule is that if I have no immediate need for it (unless it's really awesome) it doesn't come home with me. Outside of shopping, I even have the occasional hard time throwing things away - "gosh, that's a really nice box, I should save it for...." *eyeroll* On a general note, I haven't seem them all but your site really stands out for the usefulness and quality of your DIY projects!

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  30. Wow!!!! I am soooo glad I came across you on Pinterest!!! Your stuff is amazing!! I just got started redecorating and am obsessed with DIY techniques and thrift store shopping!! Thank you!!!!!

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  31. You are a DIY genius! Truly inspirational.

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  32. Where can I find a thrift shop in winston salem, nc. Looking for furniture for guest room.

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  33. I'm new to your blog but I could read it for hours. You make me think I'm super woman and can makeover EVERYTHING!! I'm not so sure my husband thinks the same! I am wondering if you have a list of your favorite thrift stores? Thanks for the inspiration!

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  34. I absolutely LOVE your blog!! I've been glued to this site for the past 2 days. I nearly peed when you described your old kitchen light fixture as a boob! LMAO!! Ha ha, that's exactly what they look like...boob...LOL!

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  35. I just discovered your blog, and I'm in love! I can't wait to explore more. The thrifting Gods are definitely on your side;)

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  36. I am in love. I am stealing every idea you come up with. Don't hate, I have no taste of my own so...thanks in advance.

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  37. Just moved into a new city and a new house. Found my way here via Pinterest as I'll soon me on the hunt for my own thrift store finds. Your tips are going to be a solid reference. I can't wait to explore the rest of your blog.

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  38. This makes me want to go to a thrift store like right now! Great tips! I have a new house to furnish and plan on spending a lot of time in the thrift stores!!!

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  39. I love how you have re-imagined so many of the items to make them beautiful! These tips are genius. Thank you!!

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  40. I love the reference to Alf....but I do sort of like that lamp :) A real conversation starter! My next thrift store search will be for a kitchen table and chairs to redo!

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  41. Love all of your ideas. Come to the Hudson Valley..Woodstock Area and we can shop..shop..shop. Karen

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  42. Not sure exactly how I ended up here but that's how the internet works sometimes and today I'm so glad it did! I love your site and your sense of humor which is so much like mine. :) I will be sticking around I have some old furniture and stuff that I now believe I can transform all by myself thanks to you!

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  43. Great post, I love all your tips, as well as the humour which you injected in the subject - brilliant! Also, as a big fan of thrift store shopping I couldn't agree more about not being a hoarder; it is so easy to be seduced into what seems like a cool purchase at the store and then to realize at home one has no idea what to do with the item! Thanks for sharing!

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  44. Thanks for the tips Virginia - I have re-pinned. Now where did you go to cursive write your name in print? Thanks, Deborah

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