How To: Thrift shop – Chotchkie/Home Decor Edition

by Rachel

I love to decorate. I love to style pretty much all surfaces (vertical and horizontal) of my home. I do not have a lot of money (I do not love that), but I get by with my well developed thrifting skills. It took me some time, and a lot of patience, but it has now come to be a bi-weekly, if not weekly, occurrence for me. It’s cheap, and it’s great for the environment because you aren’t buying new crap, just reusing someone else’s old crap.

However, everything is so cheap that it is reallllllly hard not to go overboard. Here are a few ways that I avoid buying too much shit.

  • If you see something you think you might like but aren’t sure, leave it on the shelf. Let fate decide! And sometimes, by the end of your shopping trip you will have forgotten about it, meaning you probably didn’t want it that bad anyways.
  • Look for chips, cracks or any unnatural imperfections that will definitely annoy you. Some people have a hard time throwing stuff out, so they just give broken stuff to thrift stores. If I see any of that, it goes right back on the shelf (same goes if you are looking for dishes). Would you buy something broken at a regular store? No. My only personal exception is unless it is absolutely the coolest, one of a kind thing and you don’t think you will ever find another.
  • Try to picture where you will put the piece. This may help you decide if you want to buy it. Another option, buy it regardless because it is probably pretty cheap! If you can’t find a spot, gift it to a friend so you can enjoy it at their place. Or, just send it back to the store on your next drop off!
  • Similar to the above, try to give anything you buy a purpose. If it’s just a random little dish that strikes your fancy, use it as a soapdish or ashtray. If you find a cool pitcher but don’t even use pitchers, use it as a vase! Found an awesome bowl that’s too small for baking, but too oddly shaped for soup? Use it as a catchall at the front door. That really rad plant pot can be used as a garbage bin if you don’t have a green thumb. If you can’t think of a use… leave it. It’s a good tactic to avoid getting too much junk.
  • Lastly, perhaps the most important and most freeing is if you bring something in, take something out. This allows you to buy as much as you want… as long as you get rid of an equal amount of other things in your house to make room!

Another issue is not finding ENOUGH cool things, so here are some tips for the opposite problem

  • Go in knowing that you MIGHT not find anything at all… it’s just a risk you have to take when thrifting.
  • If you like the shape of something but hate the colours, I have two words for you: SPRAY PAINT! Don’t give up on a cool piece just because it’s ugly. You can paint almost anything black or white and it will look tres chic.
  • Brass and silver is very easy to polish.. there are tons of cool trays and figurines in these materials.
  • When it comes to art and picture frames, try to look at them separately instead of together. Sometimes, there is a really great art piece hidden by a hideous frame, or a really great frame that looks like crap because of the art… And again, if you love the shape but hate the colour or texture… SPRAY PAINT!
  • Same goes for lamps… found a cool lamp but not sure about the shade? Picture it with a cool modern shade.

General Thrifting Tips

  • Always take a basket. If you see something you really like, GRAB IT! If it’s so cool it stood out for you, it will for someone else too and it might be gone before you are even done at the store.
  • Think to yourself, “if I leave this, am I going to think about it later and then come back tomorrow for it?”. If the answer is probably yes, just go for it!
  • If you do miss out on something you really like it, always remember that of all the thrift stores in all of your town (and maybe surrounding towns) + the incredible turnover of items you will either find it again or find something you like even better!
  • Find out what days your store gets shipments, and when they put out new merchandise… first dibs!

It’s important to remember you want your home to look nicely decorated, not like your opening up your own thrift store.

It’s not a good deal if you don’t need it -Harvey’s Mom

(sometimes I disagree… most of the time I disagree…)

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