How To Thrift for Home Decor and Furniture (+Best Thrifted Finds)
Do you get overwhelmed at thrift stores and garage sales? If you want a beautiful home, great deals can be found at your local thrift shop. Some of my favorite furniture in my home has been found thrift shopping.
I’ve spent many years visiting secondhand shops. I’ve learned how to look past the junk and discover the best home decor items.
Read on for my top 14 categories to find the best thrifted furniture and home decor. Of course it’s at a fraction of the price of retail stores!
Why Thrift for Your Home
In the early years of being married, we didn’t have a lot of money for furniture and home decor. As time went on I learned to spot a great find and unique pieces.
Now no matter what our budget allows, we still love a comfortable and cozy home. Ok, maybe one of us is a bit obsessed with interior design and rearranges the furniture like a maniac.
If new items aren’t in the budget, I’ve found good quality secondhand items for every room in my home (and garden too).
Your local thrift store is a great place to find a piece of furniture that’s well made and at affordable prices!
Best Places to Shop for Furniture and Home Goods
Does your heart beat a little faster when you see a beautiful home full of vintage furniture and unique items? Then there is a good chance we can be friends!
I’ve been thrifting for great pieces of home decor since, well, let’s just say for decades! I’ve seen trends come and go. But furnishing your house on a budget can be done, no matter what the current style is!
There is always the option for new pieces found at big box stores or the furniture store. Sometimes, this might be your best deal for a specific furniture piece.
Home goods are easily found at chain retailers. However, I find that mixing some vintage finds in with the new pieces gives a high end look.
In general, I find that solid wood furniture is a much better price at a secondhand store.
A fresh coat of paint can go a long way on these thrift store finds. All of the great furniture paints out there make it a breeze to get a professional finish. I have several videos and posts on furniture makeovers to help you out!
The good (and bad) thing is that thrifting for home decor and furniture has become very popular. Not the case, when I began my thrifted treasure hunting many years ago!
The good part is that there is so much inspiration, and even products that have been developed (furniture paints, etc) that can help you achieve the style you want, for less!
The bad part is that everyone is doing it! I’ve watched used furniture go up in price by at least four times. However, I’m so happy to see furniture get used and loved, rather than end up thrown away!
So if you love the idea of furnishing your house, apartment, or condo on a budget, keep reading. I’m going to share some tips to get you started in the right direction.
Plus, I’ve made lots of videos of thrift hauls, DIYs, and home styling, over on my YouTube channel.
Where to Shop for Thrifted Home Decor & Furniture
My most asked question from newbie bargain hunters is, “where do I find the good stuff?”
I’ve found the best furniture and home decor, well, everywhere! I’ve shopped at thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales.
I’ve also been known to rescue antiques from the trash, that someone left at the end of the driveway. I’ve even had the homeowners thank me for taking it away!
My latest rescue was a HUGE copper pot that we now use by our fireplace for wood. I did some research, and they sell for a minimum of $450. online. Score!
The point is, don’t limit yourself to just one source for great home decor and furniture!
How to Shop for Thrifted Home Decor & Furniture
A common question is also, “how do I find good, quality pieces among the junk?”
I get it! Walking into a packed thrift store, estate sale, or even a garage sale can be overwhelming.
I tend to be stressed out by too much clutter. So focusing on certain categories helps me to see through the mess!
Below I’ll go over the main categories of home goods and furniture that I look for.
First you must start with an open mind. I may have my dream piece of furniture for a certain room. But often I find something unexpected.
I find this one of the more fun aspects of second hand furniture shopping. When I find a great option for the room I’m furnishing, it sets my creative wheels into motion.
So many of my thrifty finds were not what I expected. As an example, I’m going out this afternoon on the hunt for a pantry cabinet for my kitchen. I have in mind what the perfect piece looks like. But I also am open to anything that fits within the measured space I need it in!
Some of the best prices will of course be found when thrift store shopping. However, don’t rule out Flea markets, a consignment shop, antique stores, or an online marketplace such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, be patient. Depending on how flexible you are, it could take a long time to find the exact furniture that you want.
For me, this is where furniture makeovers come in handy. Often I can find furniture that is in good condition and will fit my space.
A fresh coat of paint or new fabric makes it into something that I can live with. I’ll use it until I find exactly what I’m looking for.
The best part is that I can sell the made over piece for a profit!
Now that you know my strategy for unique finds, let’s look at some of the categories of home goods that I look for.
Bookshelves, coffee tables, your kitchen table, and bedroom dressers are all considered case goods. A lot of times you’ll find these pieces of furniture to be a really good deal. Especially when you consider that a lot of the older pieces are solid wood. While those at your local store are a lot of pressed wood or laminate.
Make sure that your thrift store find is in great condition.
I steer clear of anything with missing pieces or that isn’t sturdy.
Really look it over and make sure there is no mildew or soft wood. Keep in mind that there will always be another piece in your price range! But also realize that if it’s a fair price and better quality, you could lose it just as soon as you walk away. Thrift store furniture of good quality tends to move quickly!
Most of the case goods in my home are second hand furniture. It’s a no brainer for me when I can get really good quality at a fraction of the price!
I just love coffee table books and vintage books as well.
Searching at estate sales is where I’ve had the best luck finding these.
However, keep your eyes open at yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets. Usually they can be had for a very fair price.
I often look for curtains, quilts, duvet covers, and throw pillow covers when I’m out thrifting.
One of my favorite recent finds were two velvet pillow covers from Pottery Barn. They’re a gorgeous Olive green and I paid five dollars for the pair!
I immediately wash everything in hot water and add some oxiclean to brighten it up.
Look for natural fabrics such as linen, velvet, cotton, or wool. These usually are the best quality and will add a high end look to your rooms.
I couldn’t possibly make this list without including baskets. Vintage baskets are some of my favorite finds!
I use them for plants, storage, and even have some on my wall. I like to visit Pottery Barn or other retail stores that carry beautiful (and expensive) baskets. I look at the construction and materials so I know what to look for when I’m out thrifting.
Gorgeous baskets can be had for a fraction of the price. I could go on about the texture and patina that baskets add. I have an entire video devoted to my basket finds.
When it comes to upholstered furniture, it’s important to know good quality. Searching on Facebook Marketplace and other places like it are your best bet.
Here you’ll find people that are moving and just want to get rid of great furniture that is nearly new!
They paid retail prices and now you get to pay second hand prices. It’s fun isn’t it?
However, just like with any thrifted finds, check them over thoroughly.
Look underneath sofas to check that the frame isn’t broken (or had a repair). Inspect all of the fabric and check for rips, stains, or smells. Also look for signs of, dare I say, bug infestations.
With upholstered items, we’ll use our steam cleaner on them in the garage before bringing them into the house.
I’ve had some great luck with upholstered items in recent years. Check out my restoration hardware sofa find (from The Salvation Army) and my chair makeover here!
Light Fixtures & Lamps
Lighting can be an expensive part of your decor. Why not save some bucks and thrift some beautiful lamps and even chandeliers?
I always watch for nice lampshades at a fair price as well. Burlap ones are my favorite. They start at twenty five dollars and up in a retail store. I’ve only paid a few dollars for each of them. Many times I’ll find a great lamp with a dated shade. Easy fix!
I’ve also “made over” the base of lamps to fit my style.
There is a similar one at Pottery Barn for three hundred dollars plus. I paid twenty dollars plus paint. I had one of my favorite burlap lampshades on hand.
I also thrifted my dining room chandelier. I had wanted a beaded chandelier for quite some time. Eventually a brand new one was offered on Facebook Marketplace. I ended up paying two hundred dollars for it.
The retail for the exact same chandelier was around eight hundred dollars. Quite a savings!
Dishes and Kitchen Essentials
This is a category that my thrifting partner (hubby) and I can go overboard. We both love to cook and host family for holidays. Many of our serving platters and bowls are vintage thrifted finds. We also have a set of mid-century drinking glasses that we use everyday.
Table linens, serving pieces, silverware, pots & pans are all easily found while thrifting. Sure, we have new kitchen essentials as well. But we always look in the kitchen section at Estate sales especially.
We know that a great kitchen find is something we’ll use over and over!
There is endless amounts of home decor to find while thrifting. Picture frames, vases, wall art, trays, mirrors, or decorative throws are great home decor items to save money on for your home!
Some of my favorite finds are original oil paintings. It seems that others are loving these as well. They seem to be more scarce these days. But definitely worth the hunt!
Garden & Patio Items
Large urns, planters, all weather wicker, and metal tables are some of the garden items that I’ve found while thrifting. Most were five to ten dollars!
Gardening tools are another outdoor item to be on the lookout for.
Save money and have a unique look in your outdoor space!
Almost every thrift store I visit has a large craft supplies area.
Fabric yardage, patterns, paints, brushes, yarn, crochet hooks, knitting needles, and needlepoint supplies.
Before shopping retail for your next craft project, check out your local thrift store first.
These days I stick to nature finds for my seasonal decor.
However, if I’m wanting a little bit of holiday decor, I’ll definitely look for vintage pieces while I’m out thrifting.
Mixing these finds in with your newer holiday decor adds a touch of nostalgia and a beautiful mix (in my opinion).
There are lots of planty people out there like myself! We tend to take cuttings and make new plants (just because we can)!
Apparently, other people run out of room for their indoor plants as well. These spillover plants end up on Facebook marketplace, at garage sales, and even at rummage sales.
I’ve bought (and sold a couple) plants at all of these places.
Usually the price is much lower than your local greenhouse or nursery.
Your home office is an easy place to save money with the thrifted furnishings. We actually just purchased four file cabinets off of marketplace for twenty dollars.
We used the two short ones topped with plywood for and industrial style desk for Rob. I then sold the two tall ones for thirty dollars! We already had the plywood from another project.
Boom! Free desk.
My desk is made from thrifted sawhorse style legs and weathered wood that we bought at a garage sale years ago. They had all of their clothes for sale folded on this great wood. I asked to buy the wood and got it for next to nothing! Keep your eyes open!
Of course chairs, sofas, printer/console tables can all be thrifted for your home office. Don’t forget about chalkboards, whiteboards, and memo boards as well.
Bookshelves and cabinets can be added in for storage.
To summarize, you don’t need an “antique furniture” budget to find great quality furniture and decor for your home.
Over time you can furnish your home to reflect your style without spending retail, or heaven forbid going into debt!
Whether you dream of mid-century modern pieces or perfectly cozy cottage, you can accomplish it with thrifted finds!
Be sure to find a friend to share in your thrifting adventures. It can be a great time and good memories. Plus, reusing second hand home goods is a great way to keep them out of the landfill.
I say if a piece of furniture is going to be thrown away or painted and loved again, get out the paint!
I’ve been thrifting for my home for over thirty years. Hopefully passing on my experience has given you some inspiration and helpful tips.
Thrifting for your home is a great way to save on the budget, have a unique home, and recycle!
I’ve shared with you just a few of our favorite thrifty finds. I consider our house as my home decor lab. It’s always changing and there seems to always be a project in the works!
Thrifting has helped me to be creative and express myself without killing the budget.
Be sure and subscribe here and on my YouTube channel to see the latest. I really appreciate all of my subscribers. You make it possible for me to share what I love.
My goal is that you get lots of ideas for our own home, whether it’s a tiny apartment or a sprawling house!
Now it’s your turn. Let me know in the comments what your best finds are (or what you’re on the hunt for)!