The workers in my local thrift store know my face at this point. The best places to buy home décor aren't from retail stores, it's from thrift stores. But you can get a little lost with all the possibilities, so today I'm going to give you some focus with my list of 40 items to always buy at thrift stores.
Great Places to Score the Best Finds
All of my favorite things have been purchased secondhand. And while thrift shops are probably on the top of the list of best places to completely furnish your home on a budget there are other options too.
- Flea Markets
- Yard Sales / Garage Sales
- Antique Stores
- Estate Sales
- Facebook Marketplace
If you keep an open mind shopping for secondhand items is a great way to curate a beautiful home on a small budget.
With a little patience, you can find all the right thrift store finds and thrift store shopping can feel ineffective if you haven't trained your eyes. But that perfect piece is waiting for you to snatch it up and put it in its perfect place in your home.
Watch Me Introduce My Latest Favorite Thrifted Items
Furnishing Your Home with Secondhand Helps More Than Just Your Budget
We all know that purchasing things used is a more budget-friendly way to go no matter how you cut the deck. But did you know there are other great reasons besides money to do your shopping at thrift stores?
5 Great Reasons to Shop Secondhand
- Promotes Responsible Consumerism. The less we buy from overproducing stores, the less they will produce. Which then creates less waste, less trash, and less stuff sitting in a dump adding to the pollution problem.
- Supports Community and Local Charities. I try to stay away from bigger thrift stores like Goodwill. (I make an exception for Salvation Army, on occasion). And instead, choose to support small local thrift stores that support the community I live in and local charities.
- The Best Place to Get Older High-Quality Furnishings. The proof is blatantly obvious if you look at the furnishings in big box stores. Antique, vintage, and old things were made with higher standards as well as with better quality materials.
- Unique, Rare, Collectible Items. If you just want to recreate a look from a magazine you may not care as much about this. But I personally love finding those eclectic pieces that aren't a part of someone else's curated collection. But a part of the collection I'm curating.
- Guilt-Free Shopping Trips. With all these other great reasons to shop in thrift stores, or secondhand, you can shop 100% guilt-free. Not only can you have fun digging for the treasure, but the treasure is likely something your household actually needs. And if it isn't at least you got it for a steal.
Free PDF "40 Home Decor Items to Always Buy at Thrift Stores" + Thrift Wish List Printable!
Thrift Shopping with a Purpose: Yes and No's
You're already saving money purchasing thrifty finds at a fraction of the cost of buying them new. But did you know you can save even more money?
The good news is that thrift store decor guarantees you'll never pay full price. But there are a few tricks you might want up your sleeve. There are 5 main tips to help you snag that great find and help you know what you should leave behind.
If you want more tips and tricks make sure to check out my post How to Furnish Your Home on a Budget.
5 Top Tips to Find Great Pieces at Great Deals Every Time
01 Do Go Regularly. Don't Forget Some Stores Put Stuff Out Literally All the Time.
For the obvious reason. The more often you go the more chances you have of finding those unique pieces. Or the missing pieces, that special last thing you've got on your list, basically the golden ticket.
02 Do Pick the Day & Time Strategically. Don't Forget to Sign Up for Text Alerts.
Most thrift stores have markdown days or specific days they put out new stock. Increase your wins by showing up to your local store first thing the morning they're scheduled to put out all the new goodies.
Another perfect example of higher odds of winning the lottery is when you go during the week during their slowest shopping hours.
03 Do Keep a Wish List. Don't Buy Something Just Because It's a Bargain.
Be strategic about what you're looking for so you don't fall prey to the "good deal". It's always smart to shop knowing what you want or need. If you aren't sure about something, walk around with it until you know you can't live without it. It's easy to get caught up in the fact that it is not a lot of money, or is a fraction of the cost of new items.
04 Do Ask Yourself These Three Questions Before You Buy. Don't Buy Things Without Considering The Impact On Your Household.
- Is this specific item in good condition? And if it isn't in good shape and needs repair, am I capable? Will I realistically repair it?
- Do I have a home for it?
- Is this an item something I actually want? Does it fit my aesthetic? Think of your color scheme, the feel, and the style you're trying to achieve.
05 Do Establish a Route Around the Stores. Don't Be Disappointed if You Don't Find Anything on Quick Trips.
It would be amazing if we could always get to every section of the store every time, but sometimes that's just not feasible. So, try to establish a route so you can quickly hit your target areas without taking a long time.
40 Items to Always Buy at Thrift Stores
My entire home is basically 99.99% thrifted items. Very rarely do I feel the need to purchase something from a department store.
Curating an entire home this way can take a long time, but the best home decor items are found hidden behind things, on the bottom shelf at a small hole-in-the-wall antique shop, or the like.
Second Hand Furniture
Specifically antique or vintage pieces made of solid wood. Thrift store furniture can be the best pieces of furniture you'll ever own due to the fact that vintage and antique are typically better quality. You can also find unique items that aren't readily available any longer.
I have successfully furnished my entire home, every piece of furniture in my living room, dining room, and bedrooms being purchased second-hand. But haven't a single regret.
The great thing about purchasing used furniture is it is extremely easy to give it a different look if it doesn't appeal to you as-is. Therefore updating a piece can be as simple as giving it new hardware (spray paint the old hardware). Or refinish it by stripping a little paint, or giving it a fresh coat of paint.
A few favorite secondhand furniture I've purchased include:
- 01 Vintage Bed Frames
- 02 Vintage & Antique Solid Wood Dressers
- 03 Vintage & Antique Chairs
- 04 Vintage & Antique Buffets
- 05 Solid Wood Bookcases
- 06 China Cabinets
- 07 Dining Tables
I recently redid a few pieces for my own home (I am always recently redoing pieces for my home). So, if you're interested check out these posts about refinishing furniture.
- Vintage Washstands turned End Tables
- Vintage Dining Room Set (My current Dining Table Set)
- How to Repair and Refinish a Thrifted Chair
- Refinishing An Empire Secretary Desk
- How to Refinish a Painted Antique Wardrobe
- Refinishing an Antique Piano Stool
- How to Train a Dragon Dresser Makeover
Vintage & Antique Brass
One of my absolute favorite things to pick up if I happen upon it is solid brass. I pretty much love it in every form, but there are definitely a few specific types of pieces I gather in greater numbers.
Why brass? It's heavy, typically well constructed, and lasts forever basically. In addition, I love the warmth it adds to any room and how well it pairs with literally every style. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that several of these items are on my list of 15 Functional Decor Ideas for Your Home.
- 08 Solid Brass Lamps (Floor Lamp, Table Lamp, etc.)
- 09 Hanging Light Fixtures
- 10 Wall Decor (Wall Candle Holders, Ornate Frames, etc.)
- 11 Candlesticks, Candelabras, etc.
- 12 Bowls & Pots
- 13 Ornate Brass Trinket Boxes
Antique & Vintage Books
One of the best things in the entire world is books. This is a hill I will die on. I don't read nearly enough and I will likely never read my entire personal library, but I fail to see a problem with that.
The best place to find beautiful unique, rare, and affordable antique and vintage books is at your local thrift shop (or library book sale). Therefore, the book section is one of the first places I stop in my established route.
- 14 Antique & Vintage Books
- 15 Coffee Table Books
- 16 Antique & Vintage Recipe Books
Fabrics, Linens, & Inserts
There was a small time in my life when I somehow missed the fact that you can save a ridiculous amount of money if you purchase your fabric, linens, and even kids' clothes at thrift stores.
In fact, I have become somewhat addicted to sifting through piles of sheets, curtains, pillow cases, blankets, napkins, etc. You too can become a fabric and linen addict!
- 17 Bedding (Pillowcases, Sheets, Blankets, Duvets & Inserts, etc.)
- 18 Antique and Vintage Fabric (Upholstery, Quilting, etc.)
- 19 Quilts
- 20 Down or Alternative Down Feather Pillow Inserts
Vintage Dishes & Kitchenware
Whoever designed china cabinets understood that dishes aren't just for eating and serving food. But they are in fact a piece of art to enjoy looking at as well and can definitely be a type of functional decor.
They could easily be considered a type of wall art. There are so many great options for vintage and antique dishes, utensils, and kitchenware tools that look beautiful on display.
And not only are many are they still fully functional and useful in today's kitchens, but most are also made of better materials and constructed better than today's counterparts.
- 21 Vintage Glassware
- 22 Ironstone Dishes (Pitchers, Tea Sets, etc.)
- 23 Vintage Utensils (Ladles, Spoons, Flour Sifters, Mashers, Egg Beaters, etc.)
- 24 Canning Jars
- 25 Glass Jars, Bottles, and Cannisters
- 26 Copper Pans & Pots
- 27 Milk Glass
- 28 Vintage Cutting Boards
- 29 Crocs and Ceramic Bowls
- 30 Vintage Silverware (Singles, Sets, and Serveware)
Wall Art & Other Decor
Anyone who knows me knows I have a weakness for wall decor. They're some of my favorite vintage finds and thrift store items to score. And though I've come a long way with my ability to abstain unless I really really love it, I do occasionally still give into temptation.
Like my most recent splurge, two matching antique metal ornate frames, from Italy no less. They were $20 each and I knew the minute I laid eyes on them if I didn't bring them home they'd be one of those "Why didn't I buy it?!" regrets that haunt you.
- 31 Architectural Pieces
- 32 Seasonal Decorations
- 33 Faux Flowers & Wreaths
- 34 Cedar Trinket & Jewelry Boxes
- 35 Wooden And Metal Picture Frames
- 36 Baskets
- 37 Old Clocks (I personally love old Mantel Clocks)
- 38 Vintage Artwork (Oil Paintings, Sketches, Watercolors, etc.)
- 39 Solid Wood and Metal Mirrors
- 40 Old Windows
Thanks so much for stopping by today! I truly hope you gained some encouragement and tips to help you get the most out of each thrift trip. Add all of our good finds together and we can build better homes one thrift trip at a time.
Hi, I'm Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→