BLog Thrift store shopping

When I read of someone who hires a professional decorator to create her home’s interior, I feel a twinge of sadness. A home is so personal. To give up the opportunity to make it your own….well, I just can’t imagine doing that. My home isn’t about impressing anyone. It’s about creating an environment of joy and comfort for my family and visitors.

When thrift stores and consignment stores came into vogue in the past 10-12 years, it fit my timing and budget just right. Books such as “Shabby Chic” (1996) appealed to my personal style, but I wasn’t quite sure how people had found such amazing items, and I found it hard to “book learn” the topic. Since I’ve been doing this for a while now, here are my suggestions and examples to help you.

  • Give up any preconception of looking for a specific item. It’s not like shopping at Kohl’s where you’ve looked at their sales flyer and you head into the store to find the exact item in the exact color and size you need. When I wanted to find something colorful for my kitchen cabinet’s canopy range hood, I looked for several weeks before I found four  three-dimensional plaques patterned after old seed packets. I scooped those up for a grand total of $8. They are a focal point in my kitchen.
  • Be open to consider items outside of their original use. On my writing desk is a small container with a carousel horse cut-out on front and back. I use it to hold pens and markers. It had originally held a fresh flower arrangement.
  • Allow enough time to take it slowly. I pick up items, feeling their quality and texture. What looks appealing may not always feel so. I’m a pushover for heirloom dishes, and recently spotted a lovely meat platter. But in my hands, the weight was insubstantial.
  • Look past the current condition of a piece. Imagine what it would look like spruced up a little. In a box of “Everything is $5!” I found a filthy wooden welcome sign of two swans holding a heart. After the dirt was scrubbed away, it was ideal for my foyer.
  • Walk away from the compulsion to buy something just because it’s inexpensive. If an item doesn’t speak to your heart and you can’t imagine where or how you’ll use it, leave it for someone else. I often do not buy anything. To me it’s relaxing just to look.
  • Don’t be too quick to disregard old or unusual items. I have a vintage metal sign showing two innocent faces advertising “Sweet Sisters Jam.” Since I actually have two sweet sisters, I didn’t have to pause for a moment about that purchase. And I hope that you too find something just as special!


To my readers:  Tell us about your favorite thrift store find and what it means to you.