10 Common Thrift Store Finds (And Ways to Use Them for DIY Projects)
We often hear people complain that they’re no good at thrift store shopping—they have an aversion to dirt, no patience, or just bad luck. The truth is that anyone can be a good thrifter if they keep an open mind. It’s as simple as recognizing when an object needs a good cleaning, a coat of paint, or even just a new context. Here are a few common items to keep an eye out for the next time you’re at the thrift store.
- Dishes: You can find mismatched dishes in a range of colors and patterns at any thrift shop. Use them to build a collection, hang a wall of plates, or make them into mirrors.
- Artwork: If you’re thinking of hanging a wall of clustered artwork, thrift shops are a great place to build a cheap, out-of-the-ordinary collection.
- Shelves and Secretaries: Storage pieces are always useful around the house. Clean up shelves with paint or wallpaper. Although old-fashioned, secretaries are really useful pieces that can easily transform into a home office, bar, or linen closet.
- Sweaters and Blankets: Have these dry-cleaned, and then use them to add some coziness to your home by reupholstering a chair seat or covering a footstool.
- Trunks, Suitcases, and File Cabinets: Industrial trunks and storage pieces or vintage suitcases are easy to find at flea markets and thrift shops. Clean them up and use them as occasional tables.
- Dining Chairs: Whether you’re looking for a whole set or a single side chair, dining chairs are always waiting to be scooped up at second-hand shops. If your chair needs a little love, try painting it, reupholstering a seat, or staining it.
- Dining Tables: Simple thrift store tables can be used for kitchens, dining rooms, or repurposed as a desk. If the table is scuffed or needs some DIY love, try restyling it with paint, fabric, or even just a tablecloth.
- Lamps: Sometimes all a lamp needs is a new shade and a good cleaning to make it brand new. If you find a broken lamp at a thrift store, you can always try rewiring it.
- Rocking Chairs: We can’t tell you how many Thonet rocking chairs we’ve found at thrift shops around the $30 mark, usually in excellent condition. Rockers are great for a child’s room, a porch, or even a corner that needs a big piece. If your chair is a little dull, try painting it.
- Fabric: If you’ve got basic sewing skills, thrift stores are the perfect place to look for fabric scraps to use for pillows, napkins, tablecloths, curtains, and any other project that could use a stash of mismatched prints. Just make sure to wash your fabrics before using them.
Re-edited from a post originally published 02.8.2010