It's pretty common knowledge at this point that I love shopping secondhand. Most items in our house were found at a thrift store, yard sale or online classifieds like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. There are many reasons to love thrifting; whether it's the thrill of the hunt, trying to be mindful of consumption in regards to sustainability and the environment, or as an affordable way to outfit yourself and your home. My reason for thrifting is a combination of all three plus I love to decorate my home with unique items that no one else has. I've been a thrifter since high school and I am often asked how I find such good stuff secondhand. I wrote this post to share what I've learned over the years and my best tips for thrifting housewares and home decor items.
Every item in this photo is a secondhand find with the exception of our dining chairs.
Where to Shop
For smaller home decor items and housewares, I find that thrift stores and yard sales are really the best place to shop. For bigger items, I'm a fan of Facebook Marketplace and Craiglist (I'll be sharing my tips for shopping on those sites soon!) but in my experience the best prices and selection on smaller home goods aren't going to be found online. Familiarize yourself with the secondhand shops in your area and go frequently. People have told me that they would love to thrift but just don't have the time. Thrifting doesn't have to be super time consuming! After you've been to all your local spots once, you'll know which ones are worth making return trips to. I try to squeeze in a little thrifting if I'm out running errands and I'm going to be nearby one of my favorite shops. I don't spend hours shopping or look through every section every time I go. I've decided on certain parameters for myself that help narrow down what I'm looking for to save me time and make it more manageable to find what I'm looking for.
Have a "Wishlist"
So you can't really go to a thrift store once with a list and expect to find exactly what you're looking for. But I do recommend having an idea of what you might need or want for your house ahead of time for the simple reason that thrift stores are crowded and you won't see what you aren't looking for. Every time I think of something I could use for the house, I put it on a note in my phone. Right now on my list are new cereal bowls and wooden peg racks for our kitchen and laundry room. In addition to making it more likely that I'll find what I'm looking for, this list also helps keep me focused on buying things I could actually use. When items are priced at $0.99 it's tempting to just throw everything in your cart, but I'm still trying to be intentional about what I bring into our house from a clutter standpoint. And also, you're not really saving money if you're buying something you weren't planning to already, you know? That being said, there are some items that I always keep my eye out for because they are versatile for decorating and/or have some practical or organizational use. Pin this list to refer to the next time you're out thrifting!
Know Your Style
Another way I save time at the thrift store is by really knowing my style and the types of materials, patterns and colors I want to include in my home decor. I prefer natural materials like wood, wicker, ceramic, stone, leather, linen and cotton so I keep my eye out for those materials whenever I'm out thrifting. I like classic patterns, like stripes, plaids, gingham and vintage florals. I also have narrowed down the color palette I buy for my own house, sticking to mostly neutrals like white, cream, tan, brown and black with some blues and greens. For wood, wicker and leather I stick with medium red-brown finishes. For metals, I mostly buy brass and black. For you, it might be light/blonde wood finishes, warm colors, and copper metallics. Whatever your style is, coming up with a palette that you stick within for your home will make it easier to narrow down the selection while shopping secondhand and will also help your house feel more cohesive, and not like a thrift store itself!
Thrift shopping has become a big hobby for me. In addition to being an affordable and environmentally friendly choice, shopping secondhand for home decor has helped me to refine my personal style and create a look for our home that's collected, eclectic and feels unique to us. If you've never tried thrifting before, I hope this post inspires you to hit up your local stores! And if you are into thrifting already, I hope my tips help you find more of what you're looking for.