5 Things You Can Buy at a Thrift Store to Organize Your Kitchen

published May 13, 2021
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Repurposing is a sustainable, economical, and unique way to store and sort kitchen essentials. Plus, it feels good when you can score a good deal while breathing new life into unwanted items. From holding utensils to keeping necessary things handy, vintage goods can make your kitchen a more pleasant place by turning someone else’s trash into your treasure.

So why not scour thrift stores, flea markets, antique shops, and yard sales for your next organizational find? Beware: Thrifting is addicting, especially if you find a bargain. But don’t be afraid to splurge, either: Depending on the condition, rarity, and motif, some one-of-a-kind finds can cost a pretty penny.

Each of the five suggestions below are commonly found in resale retail, and they just might be what you need to organize your kitchen.

Credit: Viv Yapp

Stoneware Crocks

Price Range: $10-$30 and up, depending on detailing
Original Purpose: Crocks stored food before the time of refrigerators.
Repurpose: Use stoneware to hold utensils, towels, and potholders.

Stoneware varies in price greatly as some have decorative, painted designs in shades of blue. However, those can be hundreds of dollars and are for display, so choose a plain one to hold your wares instead. Crocks initially stored food, such as butter and salty meats. Stoneware was thrown on a potter’s wheel, which means these pieces are one-of-a-kind, handmade relics.

Due to their height, crocks are ideal for holding tall utensils, such as spatulas and whisks. For another purpose, roll your display-worthy dishtowels, and place them inside stoneware to make them readily available. Crocks can also hold kitchen collections, such as a plethora of cookie cutters. P.S. Thrifted drink pitchers can also serve the same purpose as stoneware pieces.

Soda Boxes

Price Range: $25-$40, depending on the brand name
Original Purpose: Soda companies delivered their bottles in sturdy, wooden crates.
Repurpose: Organize your spices in a jiffy inside of the sections. 

Before the days of throwaway plastic, beverage companies placed their glass bottles into divided wooden boxes for storage and delivery. Many of these carriers survived and have recognizable names painted onto the sides, such as Coca-Cola and 7 Up. 

If your spices are in trendy containers, lay the crate flat and place the bottles inside. Don’t worry if you don’t fill up all of the sections, as you can easily insert a small plant or rolled-up dishcloths in unused portions. For spice canisters that are less than attractive, lay the soda box on its side. Next, fill the crate with the top of the bottles facing inward, so you only see rows of container bottoms filled with spices. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Cake Stands

Price Range: $10-$25 and up, depending on the design
Original Purpose: Cake stands are perfect for displaying celebratory desserts. 
Repurpose: Let these elevated dishes take the place of a tiered tray. 

Of course, you can still use a platform for the original purpose of presenting beautiful cakes. However, tiered trays are a staple in farmhouse decor, so purchase an elevated stand instead. You can pick up these platforms relatively inexpensively, although pieces from the Depression era or handpainted stands can cost quite a bit more.

Use a cake stand to hold your salt and pepper shakers, stack dishcloths, or keep fruit handy for grab-and-go. Besides being fabulous for organization, you can intersperse candles, decorative items, and small plants in with your functional pieces. Another plus is that you can save counter space by using an elevated surface. 

Tea Tins

Price Range: $4-$20, depending on the pattern
Original Purpose: Tea caddies and tins held tea bags for presentation.
Repurpose: These little cuties can organize anything small.

England has a long heritage when it comes to tea, and caddies originated in the 1600s and were often made of porcelain. These now-expensive treasures morphed into boxes made out of wood, and eventually, companies manufactured tins to hold tea. Many bear beautiful, decorative patterns and have hinged lids to keep up with the tradition of presentation.

You can, of course, use unique tins to hold tea bags but the tins offer seemingly endless options for organizing tiny things. Free up your junk drawer, and use these decorative metal containers instead. Vitamin bottles, small kitchen tools, and teaspoons can also take up residence inside a vintage tin. Other functions include holding flour and sugar and storing snack bars. A metal container can serve as a vase in a pinch, but just be sure to place your flowers inside a glass before tucking them inside the metal. 

Locker Baskets

Price Range: $15-$40
Original Purpose: Wire baskets once helped to organize belongings during sporting events.
Repurpose: Keep dishtowels and stray cups organized and handy. 

Locker baskets may seem like an odd addition to a kitchen, but they prove to be quite helpful. What once held sneakers can perform a plethora of functions in cabinets and on your kitchen counter. 

Use locker baskets to store travel cups or organize storage containers with their accompanying lids. These wire holders can beautifully display folded dish towels or keep bagged lunch snacks within easy reach on your countertop. Store multiple cake pans or cutting boards on their side inside of a locker basket. No matter how you choose to incorporate thrifted items, kitchens are the perfect place to experiment with giving new life to repurposed vintage goods.