16 Design Enthusiasts Share Their Best Free Home Decor Finds, and They’re *Almost* Too Good to Be True

published Nov 10, 2022
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As an avid secondhand shopper, I’m always excited to see what my friends and favorite Instagram follows have snagged for a song at the flea market or thrift store. Sometimes the coolest finds of all time though are actually ones that cost $0 — that’s right, whether they’re from an anonymous curb donor, handed down from a family member, or found for zero cost on the internet (aside from maybe having to travel to pick something up and bring it back home). I polled 16 home decor enthusiasts on their favorite totally free finds, and let me just say, I’d happily incorporate any one of these pieces into my own apartment. You won’t believe the amazing scores below, and I hope they inspire you to keep your eyes peeled when you’re driving or walking through your town or city, scrolling on Facebook Marketplace, and beyond. Your next zero-cost find could be right around the corner!

1. A wooden side table turned entertaining station

“My mom found this in someone’s trash and brought it home to me. She thought it would be fun to make it into a plant stand, which is a great idea, but I decided to create a mini chiller and wine glass storage for her house [instead], since she has a smaller space. I used two different colors of paint for a little contrast. I glued on a mini metal trashcan for wine, and I attached wine glass holders underneath with a couple of screws. Now, it’s a pretty little trash rescue piece for entertaining!” — Instagrammer Sarah Teresinski of Redeux Style

Credit: Natalie Wong

2. A vintage Chinoiserie armoire

“I did come across a really excellent curbside find in my grandparents’ suburban neighborhood: a beautiful vintage Chinoiserie style small armoire! I was out on a walk and spotted it down the street sitting on someone’s front lawn by the curb. Nobody was outside, and the home looked empty. I got home and somehow convinced my mom’s best friend to meet me back at the armoire 20 minutes later. We were somehow able to cram it in the back of her car and get it back to my parents’ house, where it now sits in their storage shed living rent-free until I can figure out what to do with it!” — Instagrammer Natalie Wong of La Girl310

3. A “cheeky” poster

“My favorite free find was this wonderful, very cheeky (pun intended!) piece of art. I went to the estate sale of the late artist and found a folder full of artist proofs and original sketches just sitting on the floor of the closet. There were 10 of these very Christopher Wool-esque text pieces inside (plus, other odds and ends). I brought the folder up to the checkout with all my other finds, and the estate sale company said I could have the ENTIRE folder full of art for free! So I left with literally dozens of free pieces of art, including this, um, astounding find.” — Instagrammer Virginia Chamlee

4. A bed frame that got a green upgrade

I found this beauty hitching a ride on the side of the road once. [It} turned into such a cool statement piece for our daughter’s room after a little bit of paint. — Instagrammer Heather Thibodeau of Heathered Nest

5. Chairs that became a bench

“These two old chairs were headed for the dump, but someone listed them on Facebook Marketplace for free instead. I repurposed them by using extra pallet wood (also free!) on the seat to create a colorful upcycled chair bench for my backyard!” — Blogger Chelsea Johnson of Making Manzanita

6. A “work from bed” station

“I found this portable desk in the trash outside of my building. Something about the wicker and wood felt luxurious to me, so I took it home, gave it a good cleaning, and repaired some broken wood pieces with hot glue, threw a ribbon on it, and it was good as new! I even hot glued a wicker cup holder to the top, so I could drink water in bed. It became my wedding planning desk; I loved being able to slide my books and journals into the nooks on the side.” — Instagrammer and TikToker Clare Sullivan

Credit: Anna Weaver

7. A stylish secondhand sofa

“If you are fortunate enough to find someone downsizing, then you have reached the end of the secondhand rainbow! This is what happened to me last year: A neighbor knew of my obsession with rescuing secondhand furniture and passed along my name to another neighbor. I eventually became the adoptive mother to a number of her beautiful lamps, art, pillows, and other smaller pieces. When she took me to the garage, my husband got the call he dreads: Clear your calendar, we’re moving a sofa! I could tell from the perfectly upholstered feet that this would be a stunning addition to our family room. The room isn’t finished, but with the addition of a free sofa, I have some extra fun money to complete all the details.” — Instagrammer Anna Weaver of Anna Weaver Interiors

8. A special lotus drawing

“I scored one of my most treasured pieces of art for free in a dingy antique mall in Foley, Alabama. I fell in love with this drawing of a lotus flower, which was signed ‘K. Säwert’ and dated 1902, but it was a little out of my price range. Instead, I decided I would get this beautiful painting of fishermen. I kept going back to the seller’s booth to ask way too many questions about the lotus drawing. Eventually, the seller told me that he snuck over the Berlin wall into East Berlin when he was younger and bought the lotus drawing in a thrift store. He ended up showing me a huge collection of finds he snuck out of East Berlin during the Cold War. At the end of our conversation, I bought the painting of the fisherman, and he threw in the lotus drawing for free! They both hang in my gallery wall now, and I always think of how far they travelled to end up in my kitchen.” — Instagrammer Lily Barfield of Lily’s Vintage Finds

Credit: Lowe Saddler

9. A stunning vintage lamp

“I snagged this vintage flower petal lamp from the curb a little over a year ago, and I love it just as much now as I did when I first saw it waiting for trash collection day. I have to say, it was utterly gross when I first spotted it (think cobwebs and years’ worth of caked-on dust). I cleaned it up A TON, and now I feel like it brings the perfect Hollywood Regency/Art Deco-ish style to my living room. Plus, I’ve done a little research, and people usually sell vintage tulip lamps like these for over $1K. The resale value would be unmatched if I ever thought about selling.” — Instagrammer Lowe Saddler of Hot Sunday Home

Credit: Jess Ziomek

10. Vintage fabric

“A few years ago, I was at an estate sale, and the daughter of the home owner overheard me marveling over the vintage fabric for sale and all the things that could be made from the incredible collection. Before I knew it, she was loading up an entire box with yards and yards of fabric for me to take because she thought her mom would have wanted someone who appreciated it. I’ve used that vintage fabric stash for countless projects throughout my house: pillows, lampshades, napkins, etc. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving! Pictured is a DIY pleated lampshade I made with some of that fabric.” — Instagrammer Jess Ziomek of Thrills of the Hunt

Credit: Heather Bien

11. A university classroom chair

“I walked past this chair for about a week on the sidewalk. It rained. It poured. And this thing just sat and sat. The cushion was completely destroyed and, for whatever reason, no one — including me — had seen the vision it could become. Finally, one sunny day while I was carrying an estate sale mirror, I passed the chair once more and had an idea. Of course, at the most inconvenient, arms full moment, I decided I needed it. So I hauled both items back over two sweaty blocks, and, as soon as I got home, I opened up Etsy and tracked down two yards of Rifle Paper fabric that perfectly matched the wallpaper I’d used in a room at our cottage. A few days and a staple gun later, the chair had a new life. Plus, it has a quirky story. I turned the chair over, and it’s a classroom chair from the University of Alabama with a “Do Not Remove From Classroom” sticker on the bottom, printed in an iconic mid-century font. I’m not sure who removed it, but I’m happy I could give it a new home 12 hours away.” — Instagrammer Heather Bien

Credit: Stacy Harvie

12. An IKEA piece that got a makeover

“I found this console table on the side of the road one morning in my neighborhood.  It’s an IKEA piece and was originally bright red. I had some leftover wallpaper and used it to cover the table. I absolutely love it. This sits at our front door and is used as the drop-off point for glasses, keys, and backpacks. I love not being particularly worried if something happens to the piece in this high traffic area of my home since it was free!” — Instagrammer Stacy Harvie of Capitol Vintage Charm

13. A vintage lucite bar

 “I was looking for a unique piece to hold extra dinnerware and serveware for our dining room while participating in the One Room Challenge. Our dining room is long but narrow, so it needed to be a very specific size. Browsing through Facebook Marketplace, I found an authentic Charles Hollis Jones vintage bar! Major score — love that it’s lucite so it visually takes up very little space!” — Instagrammer Tiffany Barino of My Eclectic Nest

14. A beautiful bamboo dresser

“While living in Chicago, I stumbled upon a free vintage faux bamboo Stanley style dresser in great condition on Facebook Marketplace. As a frequent buyer and seller, it’s rare to see a listing like this.  I was skeptical at first, but it was perfect in every way! It came painted in a high gloss black and fit in perfectly with our coastal style bedroom. ” —Instagrammer Lindsay Lewis of Grandmillennial Mama

15. A hooded wicker chair

“Years ago, my neighbor put a hooded rattan chair out for trash pick-up. I just happened to be leaving to go grocery shopping, saw it, and promptly put it in my truck. It’s now my check-out stand chair at my store. People asked to buy it all the time but it’s not for sale!” — Designer and Instagrammer Ariene Bethea of Dress My Room

16. A bar cabinet with good bones

“A favorite find of mine is a wood cabinet that came from Facebook Marketplace. This cabinet to the bare eye really was nothing special — it had a terrible yellow finish, and the back was falling off — but I had a vision and felt like it had the right bones to bring my antique bar cabinet dreams to life. When stooping or browsing Facebook Marketplace, to find the best stuff sometimes you have to look past the piece’s current condition. For example, is it a paint color you hate? That can be easily changed. Is it a quality piece? Does the curvature and shape of the wood draw you in or remind you of a piece you are inspired by? Now that’s how you know you’ve found a winner.” — Instagrammer Madeline Scalzi of Tulips for the Table