Learn how to decorate your home on a budget with thrift store finds. Discover tips, creative ideas, and DIY projects to transform secondhand items into stylish decor.

Decorating your home on a budget doesn’t mean sacrificing style. With a little creativity and some savvy thrift store shopping, you can transform your space into a beautiful space without breaking the bank.

This guide will explore the best thrift stores for finding unique home decor, share tips on selecting quality items, and provide creative ideas for upcycling your thrifted treasures.

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china cabinet hutches found at the thrift store - Thrift store finds for the dining room

Benefits of Thrift Store Shopping

Why shop for your home at the thrift store?

For starters, you can save big-time bucks! Thrift stores offer items at a fraction of the cost of new ones, making it much easier to decorate on a budget. You can also find unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that add lots of character and charm to your home.

And buying secondhand helps reduce waste and supports sustainable living. Just because something has been used before, doesn’t mean we can’t find the good in it.

Best Thrift Stores for Home Decor

In my experience, I’ve found that thrifting is much better in New England than it is here where I live in New Jersey. Sure I’ve found some great spots to find deals, but there are more opportunities near our cabin in Vermont.

And they have the best stuff with historic value! I haven’t found as many rustic, vintage pieces here in New Jersey like I have in New England.

So if you are thrift store-challenged like me, here are a few places to look for that are near you.

  • Habitat for Humanity Restore: Great for finding furniture and home improvement items.
  • Goodwill: Offers a wide range of home decor items at affordable prices.
  • Salvation Army: Known for its diverse selection of furniture and decor.
  • Local Consignment Shops: Often have high-quality, gently used items.
wood china cabinet and hutch from thrift store -Thrift Store finds for the dining room

Tips for Finding Quality and Affordable Home Decor

While you are shopping around, keep these cheap decorating tips in mind so you find the best items for your home and garden. Not everything is in great shape so really check out what you are interested in and don’t be afraid to negotiate the price! There is always some wiggle room.

  • Inspect for Damage: Check items thoroughly for any damage or wear.
  • Look for High-Quality Materials: Opt for items made of durable materials like solid wood or metal.
  • Be Patient and Visit Frequently: New items arrive regularly, so visit often to find the best pieces.
  • What to Avoid: Avoid items with severe structural damage or those that are beyond repair.

Thrift Store Decorating Ideas: Getting Creative

It’s essential to look beyond an item’s original purpose and envision new, creative uses for it in your home. This mindset opens up endless possibilities for unique and personalized decor.

For instance, an old ladder can be transformed into a trendy bookshelf, or a vintage suitcase can become a stylish side table. You can repurpose decor pieces like using old frames to create gallery wall. Or you can refurbish furniture too. Sand and paint a vintage dresser to give it new life.

By repurposing items, you not only save money but also add character and charm to your space with pieces that tell a story and reflect your creativity. This approach fosters a sustainable lifestyle by reducing waste and encouraging reuse.

close up of price of china cabinet at thrift store - thrift store china cabinet from the thrift store
What a deal this cabinet is for $112!

How to Refurbish and Upcycle Thrifted Items

One of the joys of decorating my home and garden through the years has been the thrill of discovering thrift store finds and transforming them into beautiful, functional pieces. Creating your own affordable home decor adds that unique touch that new items simply can’t replicate.

Here’s how you can breathe new life into your thrift store finds.

Refurbishing Furniture

Depending on what you find, here are some secondhand furniture makeover tips to get you started.

  • Cleaning: Start by giving your item a thorough clean. For wooden pieces, use a mixture of mild soap and water, and for upholstered items, consider a fabric cleaner suitable for the material.
  • Sanding: If your piece is wooden and you plan to repaint or stain it, sanding is crucial. It helps remove the old finish and prepares the surface for the new one. Use medium-grit sandpaper to start, then finish with a fine-grit for a smooth surface.
  • Repairing: Check for any structural damage. Tighten loose screws, fill in cracks with wood filler, and replace any missing hardware. I’ve found that antique stores or even other thrift shops often have replacement parts.
  • Priming and Painting: Apply a primer to ensure your paint adheres well and provides a smooth finish. Once dry, paint your item in the color of your choice. I love using chalk paint for a vintage look, but latex paint works well for a more modern finish.
  • Finishing Touches: After painting, consider adding a protective top coat to seal the paint and add durability. For wooden surfaces, a clear polyurethane or wax can provide a beautiful finish.

One of my most cherished projects in my home was refurbishing an old piano that was passed down to me by my mother. While I didn’t find it thrifting, it is a piece we got for free so that totally counts right?

Anyway, the piano had seen better days, but its potential shone through the layers of dust and chipped paint. I started by carefully cleaning it and sanding down the rough spots. Next, I chose a beautiful shade of off white chalk paint that complemented the rustic charm of my farmhouse.

After a couple of coats and some minor repairs to the keys, the piano transformed into a stunning focal point in my living room. It’s no longer the eyesore that it was and now brings a piece of history and music into our home.

Every project will be different based on the piece you are refinishing, but there are lots of great ideas and tutorials to learn from. Here are a few ideas of projects I’ve done to breathe new life into old pieces.

Upcycling Tips for Thrift Store Finds

  • Get creative with paint and fabric.
  • Use items in unconventional ways.
  • Combine multiple items for a unique piece.
thrift store china cabinet and hutch - thrift store cabinet for the dining room

This Week’s Thrift Store Finds

This weekend, we visited the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Manville, New Jersey to search for cabinets to hold my dinnerware. One would think my china cabinet and hutch would be enough to hold all of my dinnerware. And to some extent, it is.

But I have a bunch of table decor items that need way more storage. I’ve got a small wall in my dining room that I’m thinking about getting something to hold my linens. But I also have space in the front entry hall, which is directly adjacent to the dining room that can house a few unique pieces.

I’m not really sure what I’m looking for exactly, but I’ll know when I see it. Here are some of my favorite thrift store finds.

habitat for humanity thrift store china cabinet price
Can you believe you can purchase this cabinet for $93.75! Stripped down or painted, this piece would be gorgeous!

Old China Cabinets

I found several vintage china cabinets – I mean, they had ALOT. Some were a bit worn, but they had so much potential! Since I already have a large china cabinet and hutch, I wasn’t looking for another one of those. Instead, I was on the hunt for a buffet or low-boy type storage cabinet and maybe a small vintage dresser for my table linens.

Just to give you an idea of how much money you can save, check these out secondhand finds out! Look at some of these prices on the tags. It pays to refinish them with chalk paint or Fusion Mineral Paint vs buying new doesn’t it? Think about how much these pieces would cost brand new. Not to mention, newer pieces wouldn’t be as unique or well-made either.

Finding wood pieces with intricate details looks amazing and adds so much character after refinishing. Especially if you antique them by lightly distressing the edges or using a glaze to give it that old world feel. I know it’s sometimes hard to visualize what something will look like after it’s painted, but trust me, just because something looks dark and dingy now doesn’t mean you can’t give it new life!

Try to look past its current state and imagine how it will look lightened up. You can strip wood pieces using like I did for my coffee table makeover. And recently, I’ve seen bloggers use Easy Off spray to strip wood furniture, which looks really pretty when finished with a clear coat finish.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of stripping the finish off a piece, use chalk paint, milk paint, or Fusion Mineral Paint because you can do a lot less prep work that way.

Regardless of the refinishing method you choose, you can purchase an awesome, unique piece for a song and update it to make it better so it suits your decorating style!

Old Wood Sideboard

While thrifting around the Restore, I stumbled upon a fantastic buffet table. It had really dark wood but boasted beautiful features and intricate details. The craftsmanship was evident, and I could immediately see its potential with a bit of refurbishing.

However, since I already have similar pieces and wasn’t in need of another large furniture item, I ultimately decided not to buy it. Still, it was a great example of the unique finds you can discover and transform into stunning, budget-friendly home decor.

And let me just say, I really like this buffet and seriously considered it for the price. I mean, $35! But I want a piece with a little more detail. So I passed and kept on looking.

One of My Favorite Thrift Store Finds: Vintage Baby Carriage

This particular find was quite the adventure. I spotted an old vintage baby carriage at a thrift store and instantly knew it could be something special.

Do you remember a while ago when I mentioned that I wanted a vintage stroller to pot up, but my husband wasn’t on board? Well, he thought differently when we saw this vintage doll stroller for $30. It looks so much like the one we saw in Vermont not too long ago, and it is PERFECT for my home.

After cleaning and a bit of refurbishing, it became a charming planter with pretty purple fanflowers. Seeing it filled with vibrant blooms brings me joy every day.

Thrifting unique vintage finds like this baby carriage not only adds charm to your decor but also makes your home uniquely yours. Whether it’s a vintage dresser, an antique sideboard, or a whimsical piece like this stroller, transforming thrift store finds can be a fun and rewarding experience.

Unique Framed Artwork

Chris and I poked around to see what else this Restore had. I found these gorgeous oversized amaryllis prints for $50. You know how I love my amaryllis! The detail on the frame was exquisite, with intricate carvings and a beautiful, aged patina that added so much character. The artwork itself featured an amaryllis flower, painted with vibrant colors that made it stand out.

I considered painting the frames and antiquing them, but don’t really have the right spot for it.

Although I didn’t ultimately buy it, I was captivated by its charm and the craftsmanship. It’s a perfect example of the unique and beautiful finds you can discover while thrifting, each piece telling its own story and adding a touch of elegance to any home decor.

Vintage frame - thrift store finds art

Vintage Dinnerware

I came across this stunning set of vintage dinnerware. The delicate floral pattern and gold trim immediately caught my eye. Although I didn’t ultimately buy it, I couldn’t help but imagine how perfect it would be for a supper club theme or a special occasion table setting.

Each piece has a timeless elegance that would add charm and sophistication to any gathering. Thrifting unique items like this dinnerware set is such a fun way to elevate your home decor with a touch of vintage beauty.

dinnerware found at thrift store

Lighting Ideas

Since I never met a lamp I didn’t like, I carefully perused the lamp aisle to see if I could find something that resembled pottery. Even if it wasn’t actually pottery, I knew I could refinish something to make it look like it.

As I walked through the aisle, I found a few pieces I liked, but ultimately didn’t buy anything. The selection was intriguing, though, and I left with plenty of inspiration for future lighting projects. Because even if you don’t like a particular style, you can refinish it too so it reflects your personal decorating style.

So don’t shy away from something if it’s not the right color or look, because there is always some way to make it work for your home.

thrift store light fixture options

More of My Thrift Store Finds: A Success Story

Thrift store shopping is always a fun ride that is filled with the thrill of the hunt and the joy of discovery. I’ve been inspired by other thrift enthusiasts who have transformed old dressers into bathroom vanities and created beautiful wall art from reclaimed wood.

Decorating your home on a budget couldn’t be easier if you can look past the imperfections and envision the possibilities.

Over the last year, I’ve shared my thrifting adventures with you, and many of you have been curious about the pricing of these unique finds. So I hope you found this post helpful in seeing these deals you can find when thrifting around!

While it’s easier to hop online and decorate a room with the click of a mouse, there’s something special about taking your time, letting a space marinate, and finding budget-friendly, unique pieces to decorate your home.

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling
close up of thrift store price tag

How My Friends Are Decorating on a Budget With Secondhand Items

My good friend Jennifer from Cottage on Bunker Hill thrifts in New England and found some great finds for her spring decor.

Today, she’s sharing how to decorate for spring with her thrift store finds.

Now that we are heading into late February, I’m ready to kick winter to the curb and decorate for spring.

This was the inspiration I needed to get started!

close up of farmhouse vignette with wood rabbit

Want to Thrift With Me Some More?

Wait until you see what I found on these thrifting adventures and discover more budget friendly decorating ideas!

close up of price tag at thrift store
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Then the Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide is for YOU

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  1. I would have grabbed the dishes…I had to expand the pic to check out the price…$60 is a steal!! That 1st cabinet next to the 2 big hutches would be a good project…I can picture it with caning on the doors.
    Love the little carriage and that was another steal!!

    1. Isn’t that carriage adorable? Those dishes are so pretty – I was with Chris – he would have had a bird if I bought another set of dishes. hahaha Need to shop alone next time!

      1. I’m definitely going to the Habitat for Humanity Restore not far from us.

        I look forward to it.

        Love the baby carriage

  2. I can’t believe the incredible deals you found Stacy. I really loved the dishes and that price! And that sweet little carriage. What a fun post Stacy.

    1. Thank you I love that carriage its the cutest! I may use it on my porch this year – I love how it looks with the exterior of the house!

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  5. So many great ideas, that should make everyone looking for all the thrift stores in their neighborhood and beyond! And I’m an apartment renter, with a smaller patio space, but these ideas definitely work for all sizes inside and outside..Thanks again