A Simple Guide to Thrifting

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Vintage Pooh Book | Cross Stitch Flower Art | Bunny Bank | Vase

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Bless This House Cross Stitch Art | Wood Shadow Box

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Bentwood Chair | Black Desk | Speckled Stone Vase

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Blue and Grey Vintage Pendleton Throw | All Botanical Art

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Copper Strainer | Woven Basket | Enamelware

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Stella’s Bed | Floral Art

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Woven Chairs

Let’s chat about dusty treasures, vintage gems, and old things that can make your sweet little house feel a bit more homey. Bur first, go pour yourself a cup of tea or glass of wine, and then we’ll dive into this thing they call thrifting. In this post I am going to share some insight with you in how I tackle the thrift store, along with the in’s and out’s of bringing old items into our home.  I’ll share what materials I gravitate to and what items I always end up combing over while thrifting.

Buying older, second-hand items is a really wonderful way to add charm to a space in an inexpensive way, and because people are always getting rid of things, what you can find on the thrift store shelves is in constant rotation. I have been thrifting for years now, some months a bit more intensely than others, and I’ve learned some things, most of which I’ve discovered by means of doing it over and over with small kids in tow. Which is FUN. Sometimes when I’m feeling ambitious I’ll go with the kids, other times I’ll sneak away on a Sunday afternoon with a coffee in hand and more time to browse. Either way I get to do it, thrifting is so much fun for me.

 

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Various Books | Basket for Magazines | Pottery Bowl

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Picnic Basket | Measuring Geese | Kitchen Scale | Old Ball Jar

 

First of all, why thrift?

  1. Charm: The old adage, ” one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” rings true for me. I enjoy mixing both new and old when it comes to decorating our home, keeping our newer things neutral to let the antiques with their aged patina really shine. Mixing the two can create so much depth and character while giving your home that extra bit of warmth if your style is on the minimal side like ours. By thrifting you can keep things simple AND cozy.
  2. Save Money: You can save a lot of money. If you don’t want to spend another forty dollars on another kid shoes, go thrifting. If you want an enamel pot that doesn’t cost a lot online, go thrifting. If you want a vintage piece of art without the Ebay price, go thrifting. If you want some fun but inexpensive seasonal decor, like brass candle holders or apple baskets, go thrifting. If you want to save money, go thrifting. And then go to Aldi, where you’ll save a ton more money.
  3. Your Stamp: When you shop second-hand you are able to create a look that is your own and something other than what’s advertised in magazines or dare I say, the sameness of Instagram. It’s easy to go to Target and outfit your home, but what you’ll end up getting is a look that is just like everyone else on the internet. Buying eclectic pieces that can’t be bought elsewhere adds something special to your home.
  4. Quality: You know those old ladder-back chairs that look just as good, if not better, as the year they were handmade? We have several and they are as sturdy as ever. Things were just made better back then and it’s no reason why our grandparents still own a good majority of the things they bought years ago. With all of the mass-produced factory-made things floating around, most of which ends up breaking and being tossed, we could all use a few old-fashioned items in our homes.
  5. Quantity: Because things bought at the thrift store are less expensive if you purchased them new, you can afford to get things you really like in greater qualities. Example of this for me would be: baskets for storage, kitchenware, vintage skirts, quilts, kid’s clothing, and pretty fabric. I always stock up on these things if I come across something good because a few too many of these items are never a bad thing.

 

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Old Food Crate | Vinyl Records

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Green Side Table | Apple Basket for Toys

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Floral Cross Stitch Art | Mirror

 

What’s worth thrifting? 

While I think this is a personal topic and differs given your style, there are some wonderful thrifting staples anyone can appreciate.  There are odds and ends I always seems to gravitate towards when I am thrifting just to see what’s there that week or month. I have realized I take the same basic approach most everywhere I go, combing through this or that in a rhythm that works for me and suits my decorating tastes. Here’s my plan of attack:

  1. Avoid the nicknacks and random bear statues and start with the kitchen items, mainly looking over the following materials with care:
    1. Wood – bowls, glasses, cutting boards, rolling pins, soup spoons, and wall storage.
    2. Brass – candleholder, bells and small dishes.
    3. Tin – strainers, bowls, and storage.
    4. Enamel – perfect for sauces and baking.
    5. Clay – check the bottom to see if it’s handmade.
    6. Cast Iron – pots and pans
    7. Silver – silverware
    8. Glass – Picardi glasses are wonderful for wine or orange juice.
  2. Then head over the basket area which will most likely be overflowing with goodness. Don’t forget to look inside them! I only buy baskets if they are pretty darn clean inside and out. My favorites are apple baskets, tightly woven bins, bread baskets, woven trays, and old picnic baskets. Skip on the laundry baskets as those are full of bacteria. We use our baskets for all kinds of storage for the kids and on shelves. It’s a simple solution to keep things where they belong and I never spend more than a couple dollars on one!
  3. Now mosey on back to the art section, where you’ll have to strap the kids in and get your hands a little dirty. They seem to always haphazardly stack art at second-hand shops, so I sort through them like I am looking for a recipe card focusing on these items:
    1. Mirrors
    2. Antique oil replicas
    3. Embroidery or cross stitch
    4. Botanical drawings
    5. Wall shelving
  4. After thumbing through the art I’ll go meander around the clothing section, looking in only a few places. This does change seasonally:
    1. Mom jeans
    2. Floral skirts
    3. Knits, the men’s area have great ones
    4. Winter coats
    5. Kid’s shoes – boots especially
    6. Kid’s warm handmade knits and long john jammies
    7. Kid coats
  5. Next up, peek at the following things and see if anything catches your eye. I don’t generally dig around in these areas too much, but if I see something intriguing I’ll scoop it right up:
    1. Antique wood chairs
    2. Cookbooks
    3. Vintage or collectable kid’s books
    4. Small furniture like desks and small tables
    5. Lamp bases
    6. Vases or milk glass anything
    7. Pillow cases
    8. Sheet sets
    9. Vinyl records
    10. Wood toys

A few more things to keep in mind: 

  • Don’t go with hopes to find that “magical thing”. Chances are you won’t.
  • Have an open mind.
  • Bring hand sanitizer.
  • Try things on.
  • Don’t necessarily go when there are sales, it’s always pretty crowded them.
  • Remember you are helping your community by both donating by thrifting!

I know it’s not for everyone, but I think carefully selecting older items can be a great way of helping turn a house into a cozy home. And for those who favor nostalgia and don’t mind an old ding or two, you’ll love all that thrifting can do for ya! Do you like to thrift? What are your favorite things to buy second-hand? And if you have any helpful tidbits about thrifting I’d love to hear.

*Everything listed below the photos have been thrifted! And remember, always wash and sanitize everything you buy. I use my thieves oil to do this on everything we bring into our home.

 

  • I love this post! I take almost the same exact route around the thrift shop, although as a vintage seller I dig a little deeper into the clothing section. Thanks for the tips, and I love your taste in home decor – very inspiring : )ReplyCancel

  • celica

    What a great post!! I myself love thrifting ever since I was a kid. Brings me back to when my grandma was alive and we go together. I love finding vintage suitcases, vintage pyrex and clothes.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Celia, my grandma likes to go too, it’s darling. Oh yes and vintage Pyrex! Those pastel colored ones are the best. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • I wish thrift stores were common here in Italy! We do have antique furniture stores and vintage clothing shops, but those are not really the kind of places you want to go to if you want to save money! Second-hand shopping is less expensive AND it’s so much better for the environment. 🙂

    agoldenhour.blogspot.comReplyCancel

  • Brianna Blacklock

    Yes! I love this. I mostly follow suite, although your post inspires me to dig through the kitchen supplies a little more diligently. I find great things in the gardening section! Lots of solid wood hand shovels, tera cotta pots, etc. Also, I found out that Tuesday afternoon is the best day to hit the children’s clothing racks at Blessings Abound in Overland Park. The lady who sorts the children’s wear brings her new rack out every Tuesday around lunch! 👌ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Brianna, I’ve never been to Blessings Abound! Gonna have to check that place out. 🙂 x AmandaReplyCancel

  • This post is incredibly inspiring! My buying habits shifted two years ago when I started buying most of my clothes and home goods secondhand from thrift stores. Your pictures illustrate how it’s possible to create a beautiful, unique, and welcoming home with secondhand goods. Thanks for a wonderful guide and sharing your beautiful home!ReplyCancel

  • Beth

    Great post – I deeply enjoy thrifting. I never go looking for one thing – I just go with open eyes, and I’m guaranteed to find a treasure. Just last week I found a pair of perfect LL Bean snow boots for $10! Holla!

    I’m curious how you clean your items? You mentioned Thieves – do you just spray all your items with a basic Thieves spray?

    xxReplyCancel

    • admin

      Beth, if it is hand washable, I will do that. Most things are and I make a thieves bath and let things soak for a bit before scrubbing them. If they are not hand wash, like most baskets, I will use my spray on them. We have a big bottle of thieves cleaner diluted in water and I use that like a sanitizer. Work well and is pretty quick! x AmandaReplyCancel

      • Alicia

        On the thieves cleaner you mention – is that the same as pure thieves oil? And if so, can I ask the ratio for diluting with water? Thanks so much for all the tips!ReplyCancel

  • Love this post! I’m an avid goodwill thrifter, we’ve got a great one by us! I started thrifting in highschool at this tiny thrift store we had. Back then it was still so strange to most people that I bought second handed clothes. It was the only way I could afford cool clothes and I loved the thrill of the hunt! Now I search more for home items and damn, that thrill is still just as strong as ever! And the baskets?? I sprint to that area first. I have a mental list of everywhere I search too, helps organize the chaos! Anyways, love love love the post, thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Christine

    I LOVE thrifting! It’s so fun. I had to make up a rule about stuffed lovies for the kids though, because they give me the heebs. And still, they hold them! Oh well. My globe collection is entirely thrifted, and I’m always so glad I started it whenever I dust the living room. Lovely post.ReplyCancel

  • I love this post!

    Thrifting is so fun, reading this almost made me feel like I had gone. So fun to find those treasures, fit them into your home and think of them fondly every time you see them.

    Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica

    You have found such beautiful things. Thanks for this streamline guide and all the tips. It’s so helpful to have a basic plan going into a Thrift store.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel

    Loved this! I’ve got a similar thrift groove too. Such a good tip about the pottery, I’m a potter myself and I’m always stunned by the beautiful, old handmade ceramics I find. I love when the artists sign the date too, I found a 50 year old mug at our local shop! I also look for coffee table books of artists I love. I found a big Whistler book and I just cut the prints right out and put them in frames I’ve thrifted. Just add a white mat and you’re good to go!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel

    I want to go thrifting with you, Thrift Queen! It’s been years.

    PS-What a sweet blog!

    <3 Rachel from SchoolReplyCancel

    • admin

      Heeeey, Rachel! Let’s do it sometime, I’d really love that. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Do you have any tips on where I can find vintage gerber long johns? I so want a pair for my baby boy but I haven’t been able to find them.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Rachel, I have found all of ours at Goodwill. I have never been able to track any down when I want them of course, only when I happen to see them on a random trip. Isn’t that how life always works? Best of luck mama! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Callie

    Amanda,
    Thanks so much for this post! I have grown up loving thrifting and I loved to see what you go for and look for first. I remember my sister getting into thrifting before it was considered “cool”. Ha! Now, my mom, my sister, my mother-in-law, and I are all avid thrifters – it’s just so much fun! I used to think baskets were outdated and silly (not sure why), but in the last five years or so, they have been one of my favorite things to collect. I really like those made out of grape vines – they have a timeless appeal to them. Our first baby is coming next week and I want to use baskets for toy and baby storage . . . they way you show yourself using them is helpful to see for ideas. It does sound like you might have better thrift stores where you live than we do here in the Inland Northwest . . . more cool old stuff. 🙂 Thanks again for the fun post!ReplyCancel

  • Ali

    Hello Amanda!

    Just a note that this week (Dec 7-14) Aldi is selling a large set of Anchor Hocking storage containers under the Crofton label for $12.99! Unbelievable, even for thrifting standards!

    Unfortunately, my thrift stores in central Florida are less than stellar. But we have cut our grocery bill in half by shopping at Aldi!ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Ali, what an amazing deal! Thanks for sharing, I may just have to pick some up! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Sarah

    Yes! I am proud to look around my home and see so many items that have been thrifted or passed on from family members, including every bed in the house (not the mattresses), our armchair, dining table, sewing table, piano, dresser, all of our bookcases, the tv console (pulled from the trash!) and all sorts of kitchenware. I aim for simple wood items I can paint white and anything made of silver, copper, ironstone and glass. I’ve slowed down on thrifting in the past few years, unless I need something really specific, as I am trying to keep our home simple. I’ve been donating lots these days! Just read this post as I catch up over my winter break from teaching…ReplyCancel

  • cara

    That candlestick wall sconce is so simple and pretty! Doesn’t look like that’s a thrift find. Would love it if you can share where you got that from? Ü Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Karen

    I love this post! I do practically the same as you when I thrift. My problem is I have too much. I try to purge every so often but it’s so difficult! It’s great to see someone else is as passionate as me.ReplyCancel

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