1. Wood Furniture
While I have several rules for this category that I will share in a minute, my favorite place to look for dressers, side tables, night stands, dining chairs, dining tables (you name it) is at my local thrift store.
While I don’t know that I would ever buy an upholstered piece of furniture from a secondhand store (again) unless I knew it’s history, wood furniture is my favorite. There’s just something about antiques that you can’t get these days.
I have a story to share, and it’s a little embarrassing… One time I did buy a couch from a secondhand store. It was so pretty, beige linen looking slipcover… It looked like it belonged at Pottery Barn. My husband and I were getting married soon, at the time, and I was trying to stock up on budget friendly (but super cute) furniture to fill our first apartment.
This couch looked perfectly clean and was only $75. What a steal. I still lived at home, so that’s where I took it. Looking back, I’m 98% positive it was clean, but at the time, I kept seeing these little bugs on it. I did so much research trying to figure out if they were bed bugs (gross, I know) or not.
I ended up putting the couch on the curb for free, because I just couldn’t figure it out. It was a really sad ending… But. Since then (it’s been several years), I’ve seen a few of those exact same bugs every now and then, on curtains or the back of a couch (mainly near a window, I don’t know if that’s a key factor here or not) and I’m positive they are not anything but a normal little bug.
Anyway… poor couch. I hope he found a nice new home with a family to love him.
My furniture buying rules
So I mentioned before that I have rules when buying furniture. You better believe I do.
- Look for quality pieces – dove tailed drawers are the main thing I look for when buying a piece with drawers. Usually this shows that it’s well-made. Otherwise, just make sure it seems sturdy.
- Make sure it’s in good condition – I’ve made the mistake, several times, of buying furniture that wasn’t fully functioning, because I had intentions of fixing it. Well guess what I never did. Yup, never fixed it. So then I just had a crappy piece of furniture that was partially broken.
- Make sure you have a home for it – There’s no point in buying furniture if you don’t have a place to put it. If you love it enough, then I’m sure you’ll figure it out, but otherwise, leave it for someone else to love.
This piece below is actually from IKEA, but I found it for $40 secondhand.
I’m not really talking like dinner plates and soup bowls as much as I am like serving platters and salad bowls (even though you can totally find good dinner plates and soup bowls there). I love to find old tea cups and saucers, pretty serving bowls, serving trays or platters, pitchers, vases, even mason jars.
This is one thing that can be washed when you get home and it’s good as new. And I love the look of an eclectic mix of kitchen ware. Maybe that’s just me, but anyway…
3. Cotton Blankets
There have been several times where I’ve seen thick cotton blankets for next to nothing, so I grab them. Assuming they don’t have any stains, you can just soak them in the washer with a little bit of vinegar or baking soda and your laundry detergent, and then either throw in the dryer or line dry, and good as new!
This is one thing that costs so much more from the store, and the older ones are usually more quality or more likely 100% cotton anyway.
4. Copper or Silver
This is one thing that’s super “in” right now. Copper! What better place to buy then at the thrift store?? Keep an eye out for Copper or Silver items, if that’s your thing!
5. Wood boxes/crates/candlesticks
Every now and then I find really cute wood items. I’ve scored some amazing crates, boxes (small or big), candlesticks. You name it. And for so cheap. Who doesn’t love that? These kinds of things, you just have to frequent your thrift store and keep an eye out.
6. Lamps (or Light Fixtures)
You better believe that the majority of the lamps in my house are from thrift stores. I usually just buy the base (assuming you can make sure it works first) and then buy a new shade from Ross, Target, Walmart, you get the idea. I’ve spray painted the lamp base and I’ve also left it as is. The possibilities are limitless, really.
This lamp was $4 from the thrift store (It’s a matching pair). I just picked up a new shade and voila.
7. Pictures Frames or Artwork
Picture frames can be so dang expensive sometimes. Chances are, the thrift store has frames that someone else paid an “arm and a leg” for, so you don’t have to.
The thrift stores around me always have an insane amount of frames. I buy them and a lot of the time just wipe them down and spray paint them. So much cheaper than buying one frame for $30 at Target.
Especially if you’re creating a picture collage, look for some thrift store frames! You could even mix old and new frames, if that’s your style.
As for artwork, I’ve gotten a few really cool pieces of art at the thrift store before. So definitely keep an eye out for that.
8. Old Books
One of my favorite things to decorate with is a big stack of old books! What better place to get these then the thrift store.
My husband calls them “fake books”, because we don’t actually read them… But I assure you, they are very real 😉
9. Baskets and Planters
Baskets. One of the things that I think are almost always overpriced. I always struggle to pay that much for something that’s main use is practicality. But organizational tools are so important.
I’ve heard that you can put baskets in the sun to sanitize them. You can also spray them down (or sometimes I just take them out back and hose them down and then let them dry in the sun).
Planters are also something I never have enough of. Something I’ve learned is that you don’t have to pot a plant in something that’s technically a planter. Get creative and use whatever you want to use 🙂
10. Cast iron
Cast iron is something that lasts forever. It’s so easy to take care of and it’s literally indestructible. It also helps with iron deficiency, because it actually adds iron to your food when you cook in it.
If you find cast iron, go for it! Even if it’s rusty, you can fix that easily. You just put it in a fire for a little bit or use steel wool to get it off.
Don’t be afraid to keep your eye open for things beyond what you’re looking for, because you just might find something really cool.
Unless you’re like me, of course, where you go into the thrift store with no idea what you’re looking for… oops.