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10 Must-Know Thrifting Tips For Home Decor Budget-Savvy Shoppers

You don’t have to break the bank when decorating your home when you follow these thrift store tips. You can transform your home into a stylish haven with the 10 must-know thrifting tips on thrift store shopping.

If you love the thrill of the hunt! Get your shopping carts ready!

Vintage store desk found at ReStore for cheap.  Thrifting tips to save money and budget-friendly shopping

What Does Thrifting Mean?

If you are new to thrifting, let’s take a look at what it means to go thrifting. In my opinion, it is the best budget-friendly way to create a curated, unique home decor style. You are able to purchase items that are slightly used for a fraction of the original price.

Thrifting can include home decor, tableware, clothing, toys, books, and more.

milk glass thrift store shopping tips.

What are the Benefits of Thrifting?

If you want to be a budget-friendly savvy shopper, these thrifting tips are for you. When you save money on your home decor, you free up your budget for the occasional splurge purchase.

In addition, purchasing second-hand is eco-friendly. When you recycle and reuse items that can potentially end up in landfills, you are helping to protect the environment.

Where should you go thrifting?

Most people think of thrifting as shopping charitable donation stores, such as GoodWill, Salvation Army, etc. However, any second-hand store, consignment shop, and even antique malls are great sources of second-hand treasures. Also, don’t overlook flea markets, yard sales, and festivals.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of shopping second-hand, read 17 Reasons for Shopping Second-Hand Charity Shops.

Today, I’ll answer my most frequently asked question. “How do you find such great deals at Thrift Stores”? First, all of my deals don’t always look so great at first.

What they say about one man’s trash being another’s treasure is true.

These thrift tips will help you find your treasures.

So let’s get started.

Solid walnut farmhouse table  for great thrift store tips.

Thrifting Tip – Go With An Open Mind

My number one thrifting tip is to go shopping with an open mind. Never go to the thrift store looking for that one special thing you want for that particular spot because you are most likely wasting your time. You can go online to Amazon; they most likely will have it. LOL

Begin with a mental list of things you’d be interested in finding. However, you have to search in categories, not specific items.

Example: I’m always looking for candlesticks; therefore, ANY candlestick will capture my attention. Although they may differ from what you’re looking for, ask yourself these three questions.

  1. Can I paint it?
  2. Does the design style work with my space? Or can I transform it to get the look?
  3. Is the price good?

Then, if the answer to all three questions is yes, and if you don’t already have a set like them, then they are probably a good investment. You can always use more candlesticks. Right???

Dining table filled with thrift store finds including candlesticks, bread boards, ironstone, and other vintage pieces.
A thrift store bench surrounds a table filled with thrift store candlesticks and tableware. Thrifted breadboards, wrought iron scones, and more thrifted finds hang on the wall behind the table.

(Posts on The Ponds Farmhouse may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See the full disclosure details here.)

Thrift Store Tips: Go Often

Yes, going to thrift stores often is one of my best thrift store tips. New items are being put on thrift store shelves every minute. Seriously, there is always a cart full of goodies in my way.

I’m not saying I stop every trip out. However, my car does seem to turn into the parking lot automatically for some reason, and I try to stop in as often as I possibly can because the fear of missing that one great deal is real. LOL

With a bit of chalk paint and a reupholstered seat cushion, the stool looks brand new.

If you’d like to create this stencil look for cheap, check out How To Make Vintage Feed Sack Fabric.

Know What You Are Looking For

This thrifting tip is to have a mental or physical list of items that you might be interested in.

This would include things you like to collect, as well as items you like to use in your decor. The most important thing is to not limit yourself when shopping for a thrift store bargain. Think beyond the way the item looks in the shop.

Here are a few items that are always on my list.

  1. Ironstone and Milk Glass
  2. Candlesticks
  3. Vintage Brass and Silver
  4. Vintage Copper
  5. Old Books (tiny books and classic books that I love with old, tattered covers and well-loved old Bibles)
  6. Vintage Rolling Pins, wooden spoons, and smashers
  7. Old Light Fixtures – See this trash-to-treasure makeover for inspiration!
  8. Handmade items such as baskets and needlework.
  9. Vintage dishes and glassware
  10. Chairs and stools
  11. Old Wooden Boxes, especially old shipping crates.
  12. Napkins, table clothes, and table runners for seasonal use.
  13. Mirrors and Old Frames, regardless of what’s inside the frame. LOL
  14. Vases, clay pots, and just about any vintage garden tool.
  15. Solid Wood Furniture, as well as candlesticks, boxes, shelves, and signs made of solid wood.

Thrift Store Tips – Look For Anything Solid Wood

A quality solid wood piece is worth checking the price. When the price is right, it’s hard to leave the piece behind.

If you are drawn to a great piece, you may need to take it home. An example is this cute solid wood chest of drawers with a price that couldn’t be beat and pretty vintage hardware. Because I was drawn to it, home with me, it came.

After living with this as a side table for about a year, I finally decided how I wanted this piece to look. See Amazing Furniture Transformation Before & After!

Amazing furniture transformation - Thrift store tips.

Thrift Shopping Tip – Can It Be Repurposed or Upcycled?

The next thrift shopping tip is, can an item be repurposed or upcycled into something you need or want?

Again, this takes an open mind. Keeping your list of categories in mind will help you see the potential of something that doesn’t look like much in the shop.

This beat-up silverware box didn’t have much appeal. After gutting the insides, a fresh coat of paint, and adding music sheets to the insides, it is now unrecognizable. It sits in my living room beside the sofa and it a great stationary box, and the little bottom drawer holds the remote controls also. See the tutorial here.

Another thrifting tip is to consider repurposing into a needed item. You don’t necessarily have to use the item as originally intended.

I needed a solar light for the greenhouse, and this cheap thrift store chandelier was easily repurposed.

You can see how to repurpose a thrift store chandelier.

Handcrafted and Handmade Items

I’ve crafted all my life and know the hard work that goes into hand-crafted items. These handmade items are among the things I can’t leave behind when the price is right. My substantial collection of handmade items includes baskets, needlework, and painted pieces.

The detail in these needlepoint birds is amazing. Here’s one before!

All I did was paint the frames to make these cute birds fit right into my decor. They were professionally framed as well. Win-Win!

Using handcrafted decor items is a cottage core trend and adds to the authenticity of a well-curated home.

Thrift Store Tips – Don’t Overlook Old Mirrors and Old Frames

Have you priced new frames lately? Well, they are expensive, so looking for ugly prints with great frames is something to consider. The price of an ugly print will be extremely low, but the frame could be fabulous. You can remove the ugly print and use the frame in a new and interesting way.

In addition, mirrors are great to consider when the frame is excellent. I love collecting small mirrors because they are great as background for deep shelves to brighten the space. You can also lay mirrors flat to highlight a treasure. Mirrors are so versatile I have trouble leaving them behind.

I purchased a mirror for $5.00. I liked the frame, so I used the frame to anchor a smaller canvas painting. Alone, the painting was lost on the wall. By putting a larger frame around it created more impact.

Old mirror frame surrounds a church painting for thrift store tips.

Old picture frames can be upcycled for a gallery wall, used to frame any collection, or stacked for a unique shelf vignette. See more tips on how to upcycle old picture frames to decorate.

Best Thrifting Tips: Be Willing To Sit On It!

Obviously, if you are shopping in thrift stores, you probably are a vintage collector or at least a vintage lover.

Occasionally, you will find vintage and antique decor and furniture while thrifting. Just because it’s vintage doesn’t mean you are interested in it.

Remember always to keep that mental list in mind while shopping. That said, occasionally, you will run across such a great deal and know you can do something with it!

You’re just not sure what it might be, and you certainly don’t have a clue where you would put it!!!!

Antique primitive cabinet with green chippy paint was a great thrift store deal.

The above cabinet was only $35.00, and I pulled the tag off so fast it would make your head spin. LOL

Oh, the dilemma!!!!

Your mind is racing with possibilities, and you’re starting to panic!

Yes, I mean panic!!!

So what do you do???

You can’t go home and think about it because it will be GONE!!! (Note: At this point, I suggest keeping your hands on it. Seriously, someone may be lurking around waiting for you to make a wrong move.)

If you are experiencing any of these feelings, my advice is to BUY IT!

I can recall several of these moments, and believe me, I have nightmares about those pieces I let slip away. The second you move away, someone else will grab it, and THEN the light bulb goes off over your head! You now know precisely what you could have done with it.


Side Note: How appealing is an item with a sold sign on it???? Seriously, you don’t know how many times I’ve seen that sold sign and been so disappointed that I didn’t get there first. The funny thing is you probably wouldn’t have purchased it, to begin with. LOL

Here is one piece that I made the right decision on.

I saw it from across the store and was convinced the tag would say SOLD! Much to my surprise, it said $10.00 Solid wood folding bench!!!!! I didn’t hesitate; I didn’t waver; I ran to the checkout and then tried to figure out what I’d do with it.

It was stained wood with initials carved into several places on the bench. I promptly sanded and painted it with chalk paint. It’s been at my dining table ever since.

Wooden Folding Bench painted with old white chalk paint.

If you don’t know how easy it is to use Chalk Paint, check out all the details here.

Two More Thrift Store Tips: Inspect For Damage & Can You Fix It?

These two thrift store tips can really save on your home decor budget. Be sure that you inspect images for damage.

I actually like to look for damaged items that can easily be repaired. Those items are usually priced at rock bottom. If you’re handy and know you can repair an item, then go for it. However, if your talents lay elsewhere, then it’s important to keep in mind what the cost to have something repaired might be.

In conclusion, it’s not a great deal if you spend a fortune on repairs.

One of my favorite finds – before!
This is one that I let sit until I had a plan for it. Because I knew it was going to be a lot of work, I had it for almost a year before I tackled the project.

thrift store antique chair for only $5.00 and be deconstructed and recovered.

If you’ve never deconstructed a chair, you have to check out The Real Truth about Deconstructing a Chair.

After I tore all the old fabric off the frame and painted the frame, I recovered the piece with drop cloth fabric that I stenciled and aged to look like vintage sack fabric. Please take a look at how to make vintage sack fabric here.

Cheap deconstructed thrift store chair with new upholstery made of stenciled drop cloth fabric and Chalk paint.

Another example of repurposing a thrifted piece is this Wooden Shelf Flip.

Is the price right?

One important thrift tip is price. Unfortunately, many thrift stores have realized that some donations are valuable. LOL

I’m always amazed by some of the prices. However, it depends on the day. You see prices all over the place. Items that I would give less than $5.00 for will be priced at $50.00, and then again, I see something I’d pay much more for, and it’s dirt cheap.

In addition, items that appear to be broken are usually priced to sell.

This cabinet was priced to sell. The glass shelves were missing from the top of the cabinet. It was a great solid wood piece.

Fortunately, my husband cut some boards for shelves to fit the cabinet. In addition, we removed all the out-dated doors, and spray-painted the original hardware with black paint.

We refinished this piece for my daughter and loved the transformation. This is a great example of getting a good price because of damage and being able to make the necessary repairs yourself.

Cheap Thrift Store cabinet repurposed. Thrift Store Tips for savvy budget-friendly shopping.


Here are some of my favorite sources when refinishing a thrift store find.

  1. Hardware replacement – D. Lawless Hardware
  2. Spray Paint – Rust-oleum
  3. Stencil Brush – Home Depot
  4. Spray Protection – NeverWet
  5. Chalk Paint & Wax – Vintage Cottage

You can see these fun tablescapes that use vintage thrifted finds almost exclusively. Here is a Promise of Spring Tablescape and Memories of Mom Tablescape

10 Tips on Thrift Store Shopping

That is at least 10 tips on thrift store shopping, I think! Shopping second-hand is very on-trend, and you will find that you can create a unique curated decor style while saving money. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and let me know if find anything wonderful.

I appreciate you for stopping by and letting me ramble on about thrift store shopping. By the way, these methods work equally well at flea markets and yard sales. I hope you’ll share some of your finds with me by leaving a comment below. Your comments and input are so appreciated. Have the best day!

This is one of my first thrift store-related posts; I’ve written several more. Here are a few that might interest you.

10 Thrift Store Shopping Deals of 2021

What to Look for in Thrift Stores this Year!

Fall Decor For Home – What to Thrift For

The Best Thrift Store Decor Ideas

My Best Thrifting Tips – Where to Shop

9 Unique Vintage Bedroom Ideas

Pin It To Remember It

Did you find some great ideas you’d like to save for future reference? Hover over the images you’d like to save and pin to your favorite Pinterest Boards when you see the PIN button.

10 must have Thrifting Tips for home decor budget savvy shoppers


Tuesday 16th of January 2024

Great post. You always find such amazing things. Blessings to you.


Wednesday 17th of January 2024

Renae, Thank you for stopping by.


Thursday 5th of January 2023

Great tips. Thrifting is one of my favorite pastimes. I love your finds. Hugs to you, my friend.


Thursday 5th of January 2023

Renae, I really appreciate this.


Thursday 5th of January 2023

I love this post! It gives me so many ideas!


Thursday 5th of January 2023

Susan, I'm so glad you found this helpful


Saturday 5th of February 2022

Another thing I consider ..does it take alot of storage space ? If it doesn't and I know it will take me some time to enhance it.... it is mine, lol,,. Paint is the most incredible resource out there😍 It is hard because I have a small house and don't want to be a hoarder... I am getting really good at organizing my stash.There are lovelies I have left behind and agonize about them. You have some beautiful pieces.. I also consider it to be a Mental health therapy for me🤭


Sunday 6th of February 2022

Lorri, Oh I agree. I try to rotate my finds to use them through out the house.


Thursday 15th of July 2021

Fantastic tips. I need to take this list with me this weekend! Pinned

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Friday 16th of July 2021

Cindy, Thanks so much for stopping by.