The thrift store is a wonderful place to find budget-friendly home decor and DIY items. The question is: WHAT to buy at the thrift store? Well, I’ve got an item for every day of the month! Here are 31 items you should always buy for your home at the thrift store.
I love decorating my home (and other people’s homes!) on a budget. It’s such a fun challenge to create a high-end looking space with a smaller price tag. Over the past few years, I’ve been turning to thrift stores and antique stores more and more to find items to decorate with or DIY. Not only are the items (usually) less expensive than buying new, but the thrift store is a more sustainable option than other stores. You’re giving items a second life as they are, or after a little bit of DIY! What a great way to get creative and help save our planet.
It can be overwhelming to shop at the thrift store. Here are some tips:
- Take your time. I find it best to go alone and give myself a lot of time to browse all of the shelves and racks. Some of the best items I’ve found have been hidden behind other items!
- Go often. Our thrift stores get new items all the time, so going weekly or bi-weekly helps me find the good stuff.
- Think of what the item COULD be. Cleaning a piece, painting it, or even reusing it as something entirely new can make a huge difference. Don’t get stuck on how dirty an item is, or what colour it is. Those things can always be changed!
Here’s what to buy at the thrift store for your home:
You can often find shelves upon shelves of used artwork at thrift stores like Value Village, Goodwill, or your local thrift store. You can clean them up and use them as-is in your home, or consider doing something as simple as painting the mat to give the art a more updated look.
You can also buy art at the thrift store solely for the purpose of using the frame only. Thrift stores often have solo frames for purchase, too. DIY a frame into a wall shelf (like I did here), use them to frame new / DIY art, or make a gallery wall of empty antique frames as a feature in your home.
Mirrors are very expensive to buy new, so if you ever see a large mirror at a thrift store… snap it up! You can always change the frame of the mirror, or re-finish the frame to make it match your aesthetic. Have a look at how The Lovely Drawer added a gorgeous trim to her thrifted mirror to give it a major update!
4. Wooden Bowls
I always love browsing through the wooden accessory section at the thrift store. You can often find large wooden bowls, trays, or even salad bowls to upcycle. Clean them, sand them, and use them as a spot to corral loose decor items in your home, or use them to make a unique centerpiece for your coffee table.
5. Brass decor accessories
Brass is a classic finish that is back in a big way over the past few years. Little brass decor accessories found at the thrift store can add some sparkle and character to your home. I was very lucky when I found solid marble book ends with brass inlay the other day at Value Village! Other brass items to look for are candlesticks and collectibles (I found a couple of brass ducks at the antique store for our Little Lake House!).
Thrifted candlesticks can be cleaned and used as-is, but you can also consider using them for other DIYs. Use wooden candlesticks to create DIY tiered trays like I did here!
7. Napkin Rings
I always find lots of napkin rings in thrift stores, and many times they’re of great quality. Look for metal napkin rings that you can clean and use right away, or wooden ones that can be sanded or painted to create a beautiful tablescape.
There’s something so special about incorporating vintage glassware into a beautiful tablescape. I love using coloured glasses and vases from the thrift store or antique store in our tables. I’ve found amber glasses, pink glasses, green wine glasses, and even gorgeous colored vases at the thrift store.
9. Wooden Spoon Racks
In our area, wooden spoon racks abound at the thrift store. You can use them for spoons – sure, but have you ever thought of repurposing one as a jewelry holder? Here’s how to turn a thrifted spoon rack into a jewelry holder!
Thrift store shelves are often JAM PACKED with vases of all shapes, sizes and colours. You can easily paint a vase with DIY plaster paint, so don’t be afraid to grab one in a weird colour to upcycle!
Like vases, old jars often abound at thrift stores. Wash, sanitize and use old jars for food storage, or get a little more creative. You can make cute DIY terrariums from old jars, use them as a container for gifts, or paint them with mirror paint for a faux mercury glass vase.
I always check out the lamp section at the thrift store. You can often find lamps to clean and use right away, or consider painting a lamp with chalk style paint and distressing for a vintage look. I love finding lamps like the one above with lots of texture that would pop if painted and distressed! You can either replace the lamp shade, or do something unique like I did and remove all the cloth for an industrial feel.
13. Vintage Books
I can’t get enough antique and vintage books. Every time I’m thrifting or at the antique store, I check out the book section. I like to collect books that are at least 50 years old and that have either green or blue covers. I have quite the collection, and use them often in my decor! They’re great as a coffee table addition, on a side table, or even stacked on a mantel.
Many people donate their extra fabric to the thrift store. Don’t overlook this section, as you can often find large pieces of fabric that might work for your DIY or decorating project!
The same is true with yarn. I’ve found lots of yarn in the craft section at the thrift store, and you can use it for all sorts of DIYs like this tassel banner. If you’re worried about the smell of used fabric or yarn, you can leave it outside to air out, or wash it if it’s washable. I always wash (and sanitize, if possible) everything I get from the thrift store before I use it.
16. Leather Belts
You might not think of leather belts as something you can use for your home, but it’s true! I’ve used thrifted leather belts for DIY tray handles, and even for dresser handles. You can cut them easily with a rotary cutter, punch holes in them with an awl, and use screws or bolts to attach them to things.
17. Leather clothing for crafts
Like leather belts, you can also use used leather clothing for DIY decor. Use scraps from an old leather jacket to make throw pillows or poufs. Leather clothing scraps can even be used to reupholster a chair seat!
Often overlooked, the placemat and tablecloth section can be full of treasures for home decor DIY ideas! I found a set of 4 green textured placemats at Value Village, and then sewed them all together to create a pillow cover for Spring.
19. Sheets for crafts
You can also use thrifted sheets for crafts. Consider turning them into throw pillow covers, curtains, or even clothing items like skirts. I’ve often found some adorable, patterned sheets in good condition at the thrift store.
20. Vintage Doilies
Thrifted doilies are also fun to use for a variety of different DIY ideas. I made a wall hanging from a doily, and also used Mod Podge to add some to book covers.
Not only are baskets a wonderful way to add texture to your home decor, but they’re also practical for storing items. You can usually find lots of different baskets at the thrift store, and don’t be afraid to strip them or paint them to make them match your decor aesthetic.
22. Dining Chairs
Thrifted dining chairs are usually quite easy to clean up and / or paint to match your home. You could even thrift a set of dining chairs that don’t quite match, and then paint them to make them look more cohesive! You can also use old dining chairs as a plant stand, or combine two to make a bench.
Old dressers and cabinets – even those made of MDF! – are great pieces to paint and upcycle. I used some chalk style paint and handles from Home Depot to turn this old filing cabinet into a campaign style dresser for my office.
Like dressers, nightstands are a fantastic thrift store find with a ton of upcycling potential. Clean them up, sand them, stain them, paint them, add new hardware… the options to update them to suit your style (or re-sell!) are endless.
25. Vintage Sheet Music
You can use vintage sheet music for some beautiful crafts like these DIY wreaths. You could also consider using sheet music to frame as artwork for your home, or using old music books as coffee table art.
26. Copper Pots
I love how copper items look, and I especially love vintage copper pieces that have a charming patina. I found this antique copper pot at an antique store, and use it to make simmer pot mixtures on the stove. You can also look for copper items like coffee presses, decor accents, and tea kettles.
27. Tea cups
An eclectic collection of thrifted tea cups is always fun to use and display, but you can also use them for cute little DIYs like a mini fairy garden. I’ve even seen people upcycle pieces of broken teacups into jewelry or mosaic table tops!
28. Old sweaters for crafts
Thrifted sweaters can be upcycled into so many lovely things! Use a damaged, thrifted sweater to make things like DIY knit mittens, DIY throw pillow covers, or even mason jar cozies. You can use almost every part of a thrifted sweater for some sort of craft so you’re not wasting any part of it.
29. Ceramic decor accents that can be painted
Look in the ceramic decor accent section for seasonal accents (Easter bunnies, tiny statues etc) or things like Christmas village pieces. You can clean and use as-is to decorate your tables or shelves, or paint them with chalk style paint to update them.
30. Stools (foot stools and counter stools)
In the furniture section at your thrift store, you can often find old foot stools or counter stools. They’re usually quite easy to reupholster, and cleaning and / or painting the legs is a simple update. I’ve even taken a counter-height stool, chopped off the legs, added a faux fur top and turned it into a fun little foot stool!
31. Old doors
These are a little harder to find, but antique or vintage solid wood doors are so much fun to upcycle. I usually find these at my local ReStore center along with the other used construction and home improvement finds. You can clean, sand and repaint doors for use as countertops or even command centers to organize your home.
Now, go forth and thrift!
I hope you found this list helpful as you consider what do buy at the thrift store for your home decor. If you find anything amazing, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Happy thrifting!