From Trash to Treasure: Thrifting Tips

Remember all of this? And all of this?
It's been a long...
and messy process...
but I lived through it and am here to tell you all about it.
Thrift store, garbage pickup dining room

With a little creativity and a lot of luck, your home can be delightful on a VERY thrifty budget.

Vintage postcards jazz up a bathroom frame

When I first posted some before pictures, so many of you said,

I wish I had a thrift store that was not just a pretty name for a garbage dump so I could find some fabulous goodies, but I don't. So I look at your pile and drool.

You have really good taste! I don't know that I would have the artistic eye to pick up all that great stuff!

I haven't been lucky enough to find a thrift store worthy of more than one visit in my area, I will keep searching though!

You truly have a gift for thrift. I can never seem to find anything!!

Ladies, it is your lucky day...I am here to tell you my tips, secrets, and junk finding ways...

Candle chandelier in backyard

1. Yes, some thrift stores are secretly doubles for a junk yard...or a high end boutique.

I hear ya, and you are right. Give them a couple chances and if they do not prove themselves worthy, don't waste your time. Whether it is junky or waaaayyy overpriced (like I can find the same thing at Ross for a better price), there are a handful of places I go to in hopes of finding something great only to be disappointed in the end. I don't even bother.

2. Because of #1, search for a good thrift store.

This takes time. Sometimes things are picked over. Keep on going back, find when they get new shipments, etc etc. Stop at thrift shops you see on the side of the road. One of my favorite stores is about 20 minutes away from my house but right off the freeway when I drive downtown. I do not drive by much, but when I do, I make sure to stop (even if I am about to be late to a meeting!). Sometimes you have to go out of your way for good finds.

Wall hanging birdcage turned picture memo board

Another thing to keep in mind is where the junk comes from. This particular store that I love has a religious affiliation where I think all the great home decor comes from. Middle class families with women who decorate their home...donating goooood stuff. Something to keep in mind. Another store I like does not take donations. I have no idea where the stuff comes from but it is not from the same people (me) who dump their junk at donation sites. Just being honest. ;)

Love these keys!

3. Once you have found a gem, get to know it.

Some stores price down their items to circulate items out quickly. For example, there is this darling quilt I have found that is a little pricey. Right now it is yellow tag priced at 25% off. Next week it will be 50% and the following 75%. I am waiting on 75% and am crossing my fingers it will still be there! I know all of this because I watch when the certain colored tags get reduced and the employees will tell me orange tags are new and just came in this week. What are there hours? When do new shipments come in? Do they ever have any type of clearance or sales? All good things to know, so you are one up on the crazy thrifters (cough, me).

Plate holder? How about trivet holder!

It is also beneficial to know where things are in the store. I just found out that there is furniture hidden in the back corner of one of my favorite stores. I also did not realize that the bedding area also includes aprons, table linens, and window treatments. A new world of shopping has been discovered! The kitchen and table wear stuff is also divided into two sections. One is a much pricier "antique" display. Over time I have found that this stuff is a little over my price range so I don't even bother to look there any more...I go right to the cheap stuff! ;)

Garbage day gem

4. Don't buy it just because it is cheap.

It may be junk for a reason. Do you really need it? Do you have room for it? If this was higher priced, would you still buy it? I have to constantly keep this in mind...almost anything can have potential but just because it is cheap does not make it always worth it. Things at a small price add up quickly so be wise in what you buy. If you are unsure, make sure to put it in your basket to think about it. That way it is in your hands so no one else can grab it but you can still put it back if you change your mind.

5. See the potential.

Now for those of you without problem #4, this is for you. Look for things with good shapes, designs, and condition. Try to not focus so much on color. Most home decor items can easily be spray painted for cheap to match your decor. Probably everything but like three things in this post were spray painted...

Please excuse the spackling...

6. Make a list of things you are on the look for.

Do you need candle holders, frames, plates, art for the walls? Have at least a mental list of things and places in your home where you would like to add some thrifty finds. This will help you focus and not get lost amongst all the glorious things they have to offer. The more you shop, your eye will become trained to look for certain things. And if you don't find what you are looking for, come back another time. This is a mental hopeful list, not a "I need this now" list. You never know what you might find thrifting so it is good to keep these things open for whatever you might find.

Slip covered free couch

7. Get a second opinion...or stalk someone.

Do you have a creative or design savvy friend? Invite them with you. Sometimes another eye can help you see new potential. Don't have a friend with you? Find a fashionista right there in the store. One time the girl in front of me in line had really cute pink shabby stuff. I was like, "where did she find that?" Convinced I missed something, I went back around and found some other cute stuff. Just seeing the lady's stuff inspired me to look with a different eye and I was able to spot out a few more fun things!

I am in love with these gloriously long window panels

8. You can clean it.

Is it washable, hose-able, or at least febreeze-able? Thrifting is may have to clean it. But it is most definitely worth it...and with a little elbow grease, can feel like new.

9. Get ideas for what is "in."

Isn't this why we blog? Isn't this why we look at magazines? Now, I am not saying you need to conform to the latest trends. But things I may not think are that cute, actually are really cute when I see someone else put it together. Can you believe I used to not like how plates looked hung on walls? I know! Now, we have to take them off the wall just to eat! I also am afraid of the color green...and yellow. It didn't look right with all my white, blues, and pinks. But thanks to Spring and blogging, I saw so many inspiring ideas of how to add subtle hints of these colors. Those green moss balls? Would have never picked those up had I not seen them all over blogland the week before. And now I am not so afraid of green... ;)

10. Know how much things cost retail (or if you are like me, Ross).

You cannot know if it is a deal until you know how much things cost in "real life." And it will help you determine if buying a new one is maybe a better choice depending on what it is. It is also good to know how things compare to other thrift stores as to how to find the best price.

Make your own wall art

11. Stock up on goods.

Binders, Wilton pans, glass jars, frames. Things I can always use. When I see them at a good price, I grab them up.

Clusters make a big statement on a bare wall
12. If nothing else, have fun.

The more you do it, the better you will get at finding gems. Plus the more often you go the more likely you are able to find things before they get picked over. Go into it light hearted. Some days are successes and some I leave with nothing. It all depends. But for me, that is the part of the hunt I love! Finding something spectacular at an extraordinary price will keep you just have to find that one item that will ring you in. And once you are there, I am sorry, the obsession has just begun!

Don't worry...taxes are done ;)

Do you have thrifting secrets?