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My Favorite Thrifted Finds Plus Best Shopping Tips

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The thrill of the hunt is a real thing, my friend. And today I’m sharing some of my best thrifted finds plus some tips for finding the good stuff and great prices.

vintage decor and faux hydrangeas

Best Thrifted Finds

I was thrifting when thrifting wasn’t cool. My mom, sister, and mother-in-law have all had homes with second-hand finds and they were always so cozy and welcoming. We all love vintage items because of their charm, character, and quirkiness, and they really just don’t make things like they used to. Know what I mean?

tiered tray with white ironstone and vintage silver

Thrift shopping is a year-round sport, but yard sales and estate sales are more prevalent in warmer months so I thought it would be fun to share my favorite finds. I’ve been bargain shopping for things for our home since we got married way back in ’91 and have accumulated quite the collection. Let’s take a look at some of them and I’ll give you my best shopping tips!

Best sources for thrifted home decor

  • Yard sales
  • Thrift stores
  • Church rummage sales
  • Estate sales
  • Buy Nothing group on Facebook
  • Etsy and eBay can sometimes have decent prices
  • Online auctions of estates – you can search by item or location from thousands of sales and multiple vendors. You might have to buy a “lot” or group of items.
thrifted home decor styling and shopping tips

1. Vintage Dishes

If you know anything about me, then you know that I have way too many dishes. I blame it on my mama. She has too many as well. I scored a set of 8 Blue Willow dinner plates at a local thrift store a few years ago and have really enjoyed displaying them in our China cabinet. They go with so many different colors and seasons. See more ideas for your hutch here: Antique Hutch Decorating and Styling Ideas

painted china hutch with blue and green dishes

And I don’t think I ever met a piece of vintage white ironstone that I didn’t love. I started this collection 20 years ago and have slowly built it up. I don’t think I’ve paid more than $10 for anything you see here.

antique oak hutch with vintage ironstone pitchers and dishes

Tips for finding ironstone and other vintage dishes

  • It doesn’t have to be Made in England to be part of a beautiful display. Many of my pieces have no mark on them.
  • Don’t be afraid of pieces that have small chips or crazing/cracks. They won’t be food safe but are fine for display and are usually less expensive.
  • Also, dirt and grime washes off so don’t shy away from something that’s a little dirty.
  • Look for a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles for an interesting visual display.

2. Vintage Artwork

I’m also a sucker for pretty vintage artwork and currently have more than I can display. (I might sell some soon, so stay tuned for that!) The watercolor tulip is one of my favorite finds. I adore the colors and funky green frame.

vintage watercolor tulip and paper heart garland

Sources: paper heart garland // wall hooks // artwork (similar)

Most of the artwork on our living room gallery wall is actually my photography, but the two paintings in the center were estate sale and antique store finds that were very affordable. And I just purchased a few new pieces of original artwork from another local estate auction and will share them soon.

living room with gallery wall and bright accent colors with thrifted decor

Tips for scoring good thrifted artwork

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so look for whatever it is that you love.
  • If you’re trying to create a galley wall, consider sticking with a theme (flowers, landscapes, etc.) or color scheme. But again, buy whatever speaks to you artistically.
  • Keep in mind the price of framing a piece that isn’t already framed. It can get expensive. Canvases don’t have to be framed to be beautiful.
  • Be patient if you’re looking for a particular theme. But also be open minded.

3. Architectural Salvage

Architectural salvage is a little trickier to find but always makes such interesting decor. A good piece can have the same sort of effect as a piece of sculpture. I especially love old corbels and spindles like I have on our living room fireplace hearth below.

See my favorite ways to use salvaged items here: Ideas for Decorating with Architectural Salvage

thrifted architectural salvage on white painted hearth

Sources: faux hydrangeas // white corbel (similar)

Old fireplace mantels are great finds and add character to a boring fireplace. The rustic one on our deck doesn’t fit any of our fireplaces but looks perfect out here.

salvaged thrifted mantel on outside wall

Tips for finding architectural salvage:

  • The best pieces are found in old houses so if you’re shopping at an estate sale, look in the basement, garage, or barn for remnants of past remodels.
  • Shop curbside for broken items that can be upcycled. See all my best ideas for re-using items here: 29 Repurpose and Upcycle Ideas for Your Home
  • Don’t be afraid to ask to look through construction/remodeling trash if you see a home that’s being worked on. You just never know what you might find.

4. Pottery Pieces

Since 2019, I’ve been making (very amateur) pottery pieces at our a local art class. And I’ve really grown to appreciate beautiful pottery. Stoneware coffee mugs really hold heat and make your coffee or tea stay warm longer. Vases, bowls, trays, and sculpted pieces are great additions to any home too.

I found this pretty antique Majolica pottery at Goodwill for $3.99 a few years ago and absolutely love it.

antique majolica bowl with corks

Tips for finding pottery pieces

  • Mugs are pretty easy to find in thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales for a bargain
  • Original pieces usually have some type of signature or stamp on the bottom and are great for creating a unique collection

5. Old Cameras and Hobby Supplies

No, this old camera doesn’t work but isn’t is cool? I think I paid $5 or $10 for it and love the character of it. Old cameras look great as display pieces. (See how I made the artwork in the background here: Affordable DIY Artwork Inspired by Pottery Barn)

antique camera on stack of blue books

Hobby and craft supplies are another great thing to find while thrifting. I got this old wooden palette box full of supplies a few years ago and it’s such a fun thing to look at in my craft studio. You can see how I gave that space a new look here: $100 Craft Studio Makeover

thrifted vintage art palette

Tips for finding hobby and craft items

  • Thrift stores often have a section with craft items at great prices.
  • Check Facebook marketplace “Buy Nothing” groups for freebies
  • Yard sales often have crafty items so be sure to look there too

6. Quilts and Throw Blankets

Full disclosure – I only buy blankets and textiles if I know where they came from or I can wash them in hot water. I’ve been in hundreds of homes over the years and not all of them were clean. I’m talking hoarder episode candidate on a few. 🤢 Anyway, if you can wash a blanket, then grab it if it’s a good deal. I adore quilts and plaid throw blankets and have found several at good prices.

thrifted plaid throw blankets in vintage radio flyer red wagon

I absolutely love old quilts and have several that my great grandmother quilted. They look nice stacked in a glass-front hutch or hanging on a quilt rack.

thrifted quilts in white metal basket

Tips for finding throw blankets and quilts

  • Check for stains, tears, and rips
  • Do the sniff test – not all odors will come out in the wash
  • If shopping at an estate sale check the linen closet or bedroom closets for blankets and quilts

7. Furniture

Second-hand furniture is a great way to get classic pieces for a fraction of the cost. All-wood pieces can be cleaned up or painted without too much difficulty. But keep in mind that the cost of having an upholstered piece re-upholstered will be several hundred dollars. It can still be worth it though.

The two wing-back chairs in our living room below (along with pretty much everything you see) are some of the first things I ever bought at an estate sale. My oldest (who’s almost 28) was a baby and she was with me in a little baby backpack carrier. I’ve had them reupholstered twice and both times, the man who recovered them for me commented on the quality of the chairs. I got both of them for $300. And I recently snagged a nice one for my youngest daughter for $50.

living room with wingback chairs

This vintage metal drawer cabinet is one of my best finds. I snagged it at a warehouse sale held by a local estate auction seller. They shared preview photos before the sale and I saw it and knew I wanted to at least see how much is was selling for. I made sure I was one of the first people in line for the sale and made a bee line for it. Would you believe that I got it for $40? Morale of the story – get there early if there’s something you really want. (See how to make prints like this – How to make Sun Prints)

how to make sun prints

Tips for thrifting furniture

  • Wood pieces are easier to refresh and older ones are usually built well. Look for dove-tailed drawers as a sign of quality.
  • I would probably steer away from heavily used upholstered pieces due to the expense of recovering them.
  • Estate sales often have a good variety of furniture. Many sales will hand out numbers (for your place in line) an hour before the sale. Get there early for the best selection. Shop the last day for the best prices. See all of my estate shopping tips here: How to Shop Estate Sales Like a Pro

8. Textiles/Linens

If you haven’t noticed yet, I love old things. Some of my favorites are monogrammed linens and pretty napkins and tablecloths. What happened to the days when people had nice linens? I guess maybe we got a little too practical. But finding sweet monogrammed linens like the one below is a real treat.

vintage monogrammed hand towel

And I did a little happy dance when I found this old hand block printed table cloth. It’s big enough to be used as a lightweight bedspread! I got it for an amazingly low price of $5 at an estate sale. Score!

vintage block print tablecloth

Tips for thrifting table linens

  • Be sure to check for stains, holes, tears, etc. Some can be washed out.
  • If shopping at an estate sale, look in the linen closet, kitchen, bedroom, or dining room for linens.
  • Make sure the item is washable. You don’t know what it’s been through (or what’s been on it).

9. Vintage Gardening Tools

To be honest, I’m not much of a gardener and my yard shows it. But that doesn’t keep me from loving old gardening tools. Hand rakes and flower frogs are some of my favorite finds.

In addition to being fun to stack on top of each other, the spiked metal flower frogs are a unique way to display tiny art like postcards and notecards.

vintage Easter postcard and spike flower frog
vintage silver baby cups with flower frogs used as easels for notecards

Tips for finding gardening tools –

  • I don’t usually see these at thrift stores but you can sometimes find them at yard sales or estate sales.
  • Look in the garage, shed, patio, or possibly kitchen areas when shopping at an estate sale.

10. Old Wooden Crates

Way back in the days of old, there was no cardboard. Of course there was no Amazon, UPS, or internet either so we didn’t have lots of excess junk. Anyway, items were shipped in wooden crates and the crates were re-used for years. They’re perfect for storage and organizing, or stacking on top of each other for a unique and rustic display.

If found the one on the bottom a few years ago when I went to drop off some recycling. Someone had dropped it off by the dumpsters and I got it for free!

vintage wooden crate

Tips for finding wooden crates –

  • These are more difficult to find and don’t last long when they’re for sale at a good price.
  • You might have better luck at a junk store or antique shop, but they could get pricey.

11. Baskets

I must admit that I have way too many baskets. But I have way too much “stuff” and am always trying to organize it, so I NEED more baskets, right?😄There are so many unique and pretty styles ranging from picnic baskets to fishing baskets. And they’re really easy to find at good prices.

I got the fishing basket below and another one that’s a smaller version for a steal a few years ago. I’ve had them all over the house and enjoy hanging them on the wall or displaying them on a shelf.

vintage fishing basket with faux hydrangeas

Larger baskets are perfect for storing extra throw blankets, pillows, or filling with a seasonal display like the fall basket full of pumpkins. I found the one below at a church rummage sale for $5.

thrifted basket with pumpkins

Tips for finding baskets –

  • You can almost always find good baskets at thrift stores, estate sales, rummage sales, and yard sales.
  • If shopping estate sales you might be able to get a better deal if you buy several of them together.

12. Old Colorful Books

Old colorful books add instant character to any shelf or table. And they’re not too hard to find for a good price. I like stacking them on top of a dresser or mantel for an extra pop of color.

dark green decor

The vintage milk glass vases and plant mister were also thrifted finds. Aren’t they fun for a spring display?

spring decor with vintage books and milk glass vases

Tips for finding old books –

  • The best prices are usually at thrift stores and church rummage sales.
  • You can also find them at estate sales and antique shops but will pay a little more for them

13. Christmas Decor

You can almost always find Christmas items at thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales. Everyone has too much of it, lol. Years ago I bought several boxes of colorful vintage glass ornaments from an estate sale and have thoroughly enjoyed them ever since.

Christmas tree with vintage shiny brite ornaments

Sources: area rug // navy and white check ribbon // faux fur tree skirt

In addition to using them on our Christmas tree, I like to put them in bowls and set them on shelves. Learn more about them here: Shiny Brite Christmas Ornaments

See the rest of my colorful Christmas decor here: Colorful Vintage Christmas Decorations That Will Make You Smile

vintage mercury glass shiny brite ornaments

And I know this isn’t for everyone, but I wanted to give you an example of thinking outside the box. I’ve always loved displays of small colorful bottle brush Christmas trees but couldn’t bring myself to buy them. When I saw this lot of old serger thread cones come up for auction I knew exactly what I would do with them. I got them for a steal and put them on our mantel in a rainbow arrangement. Do they look like Christmas trees to you? Please say yes. 😄

What great finds have you found at bargain prices? Leave me a comment below and let me know, along with any tips for finding the goods!

5 Comments

  1. You have a wonderful assortment of thrifted items and boy your quilts are beautiful. I love the flower frogs and yes! I see colorful Christmas trees, not serger thread. 😊. The metal beverage glasses and pitcher in front of your sofa instantly brought back childhood memories of drinking from the ice cold metal glasses ❤️ my mom had stretchy, knitted covers that slipped on the bottom so you could actually hold them. I adore those.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you saw trees and not cones! My nana had aluminum cups like those and I always think of her when I see them. I actually have some of the little covers too! Have a great weekend. ~ Angie

    1. Thanks, Rachel! Can you ever have too many vintage dishes and linens? I had fun writing this. Have a great weekend!

  2. You have a wonderful collection of thrifted finds and love the way you decorated with them, thanks for the inspiration.

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