Thrifting is always an excellent way to score amazing home goods at a fraction of the retail price. If you’re looking to get your thrift on this year, keep reading for a roundup of the best types of items to look for as you shop, according to secondhand fanatics. As you browse, keep in mind that there are so many ways to creatively transform pieces into newfound objects, too. “If you’re into DIY, think of what the item could be,” Kapris Castillo, of The Building Castillos, says. “Sometimes it takes a good cleaning, a new paint color, or using it as something new to make it special and your own. I’ve been known to use wooden bed risers as candle holders!”
Feeling extra motivated to shop for some thrifted goodness? Here’s what you should look out for at your local store.
Makenzie Ervin, of Kenzie Marie Home, likes to shop for brass candlesticks when thrifting. Note that even more tarnished pieces can be given new life with a bit of TLC. “One thing I keep in mind is that brass has a natural patina and it can almost always be cleaned up with Brasso or other brass polish,” Ervin says. Castillo is a big fan of all things brass and it’s something she often searches for at thrift stores. “A small brass accent can change the decor in any space.”
Shopping for books shouldn’t wreck your budget. The thrift store can be an excellent place to go to purchase books for both entertainment and decor purposes. “Even with Etsy and all the discount book sites out there, finding pretty hardbacks in a specific color can still be an expensive endeavor,” Kate Dreyer, of Kate Decorates, says. “That’s why I always spend time in the book section of all the thrift stores I go to, taking the jackets off to see if the binding is the color I’m looking for.” As Dreyer notes, thrift store books often run just a couple of dollars each.
There’s no need to shell out for wine glasses that run $10 a pop when you can grab a chic set for just a few dollars total. “Crystal and cut-glass coupes, tumblers, and wine stems are other biggies for me,” Amy Hughes, a stylist and owner of Maplewood Mercantile, says. “The aisles are full of it—and prices start at about $0.50 a glass!” Hughes offers a helpful tip to ensure you’re not bringing home a damaged piece. “Check for chips by gently running a finger along the rim and base of the glass,” she suggests. “I’ve yet to cut myself and I’ve been doing this for years.”
When shopping for glassware, keep in mind that it’s helpful to snag an extra glass or two, just in case. “Look for complete sets of four, six, eight, or more,” Hughes says. “But be sure to grab that matching straggler as insurance against future breakage.”
4. Wooden Bowls
Castillo always finds herself gravitating toward wooden dining accessories at the thrift store. “The cost of anything that is wood is so high that if I see it at a thrift store, it’s immediately placed in my cart,” she says. “I always find large wooden bowls, trays, and salad bowls.”
Wooden furniture is ultra hot this year, and you can easily embrace this trend without breaking the bank. One of Ervin’s go-to thrift store items is solid wood furniture. Even a slightly worn piece can have tons of potential. “I keep in mind that the paint and stain can always be changed, but if the structure is substantial, it is a great piece,” Ervin says. “I definitely give my furniture flips a good wipe down and cleaning before I bring them inside, and of course sanding also takes off any gunk that may be on the piece.”
Serena Appiah, of Thrift Diving, likes to look for wood furniture as well as metal cabinets when thrifting. “When shopping for wood furniture, look for pieces that are heavy, which is more likely to be true for pieces made of solid wood instead of cheaper particle board,” she says. “You can also tell quality from junk by looking at the joinery of drawers. If they are constructed with dovetails, it’s a good quality piece of furniture.”
When shopping for furniture of any kind, be sure to examine it closely before bringing it home: check for bugs or any damage that might affect the piece’s longevity. “Bring a flashlight with you when shopping and look for red or black colored stains on the furniture, particularly in crevices, the backside, seams, or on wood frames,” Castillo suggests. Sarah Hidalgo, of Her Story Retold, also has helpful advice for searching for bugs in your thrift furniture: “Steam cleaning or vacuuming will only remove surface bugs; they can burrow deep into the upholstery, so always check every crack and crevice and look for the signs on the fabric.”
Vases are another of Castillo’s favorite items to source while thrifting. “Thrift stores are packed with vases, and you’d be surprised at the ones you could find and pay little money for,” she says.
7. Artwork and Frames
Unique Artwork doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny. “Big Box stores sell mass-produced artwork that thousands of people have in their homes,” Hidalgo says. “Thrift stores are filled with original and one-of-a-kind pieces. Unique art is always a conversation piece when friends and family come over, too.”
Don’t hesitate to buy a piece with a frame that needs a little love—you can easily give it a quick upgrade at home. “It only takes a few minutes to clean the frame up,” Castillo says. “Feel free to use paint and a brush to flex your painting skills and add colors to your art that suits your style.”