Top 10 Thrift Store Decorating Tips

Written by: Editorial Staff

May 15, 2012
Filed Under Drink 


thrift store decorating tipsContributed by Info Guru Korina Rossi

Whether you’re an amateur decorator with a fierce budget or a professional interior designer, thrift stores are a gold mine of decorating ideas and materials.

Second-hand and consignment shops usually have a huge amalgamation of furniture and knick-knacks from every decade and a smattering of styles, so try to find pieces that harmonize with each other and the space in your home that you’re designing.

Here are my top ten thrift store decorating tips:

10. Furniture

vintage furniture

Choose a piece of vintage furniture at the used furniture store and grab a few artsy paint brushes to bring it to life. Consider painting it a contemporary color, or if it’s solid wood, try a different shade of wood stain. Solid woods can be distressed by banging the wood with a chain or dressed up by gluing a sheet of pearl overlay to the top.

9. Musical Instruments

musical instrument

If an oil painting is out of your budget, homemade sculpture is a colorful and unique decorating option. Shops that cater to thrifters usually have a corner dedicated to broken or superannuated musical instruments. Pick a brass instrument, like a trumpet or trombone, and give it a layer of gold paint, and it can easily be hung on the hall as memorabilia.

8. Typewriters

For fans of classic cinema and the 1940s, finding an old black typewriter to embellish a desk is a thrifters score. Just remember that pre-electric typewriters look best: pea green, electric typewriters from the 1970s are usually not as romantic.

7. Trunks


No piece of bric-a-brac gives a room a manly, seafaring flavor as much as an old trunk, preferably with distressed leather. Use a trunk in a corner with an animal print tapestry slung over it if your theme is safari, or place it in the center of the room as a table.

6. Tennis Rackets

tennis rackets

To give a room the sports treatment, pick up a few wooden tennis rackets from your favorite bargain-hunting shop and use them as knick knacks. Hanging a pair of old boxing gloves from the back of a chair is also a sterling touch.

5. Antique Photographs

antique photographs

Many decorators use old black and white photographs, which you can sometimes find for pocket change, give a room an antiquarian charm. Try collecting photographs along a certain theme—oceanside photographs, family portraits, or even car advertisements. Don’t forget to use unique frames for your new collection.

4. Glassware


Premium crystal can be found by an eagle-eyed shopper. Animal sculptures and paper weights are most common, but see if you can unearth a decanter with whiskey glasses to instantly spiff up your living room. You can find a replacement glass or two at a store that sells discontinued crystal to complete a partial set you uncover while treasure hunting.

3. Shabby Chic Chandelier

shabby chic chandelier

Make your own artisan chandelier to give your room a shabby chic look. Old candleholders, beer glasses, or mason jars can work as funky light holders. Use your imagination as you dig through potential treasure, and then buy an economical wiring kit at a home improvement shop.

2. Repurposed Upholstery

repurposed upholstery

Many a designer with a shoe string budget has made new cushions for pennies by buying the fabric from an old sofa or easy chair. And most second-hand places will give you a deal if you’re looking to fleece a piece of furniture that is broken.

1. Leather cases

leather cases

Leather, especially old leather with crazed patterns, always brings a certain distinction to a room. A briefcase or suitcase from another era can be given a new life as an end table with the addition of a few legs.


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