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7 Savvy Tips for Finding Thrifted Treasures

Once Spring hits, my brain goes immediately to the thoughts of garage sales & thrifting. We finally come out of Winter hibernation to get our feet wet and hands dirty in the garage by upcycling and transforming those blah finds to be beautiful.

7 Savvy Tips for Finding Thrifted Treasures - Tips + Tricks + Ideas for finding the perfect 'something'... Some of these simple ideas you may never thought of.

Hitting up a weekend garage sale or visiting a local thrift store is a great way to introduce unique, interesting, and inexpensive décor into your home. That “something special” is unlikely to be the same piece your neighbor picked up last week. Thrifting allows the opportunity to bring elements into a home that are meaningful and/or have the potential to be transformed or upcycled for little money. With the warmer days to come, it’s the perfect time of year to find some new fun and fabulous thrifty treasures.

With some garage sale + thrift hunting experience under my belt, these are 7 tips + tricks that I find helpful to find the perfect thrifted treasure…

1. The Best Spots for Thrifting
There are various types of venues to find used and/or thrifted items, including but certainly not limited to: thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, antique malls, and even the side of the road (my personal favorite because the “treasure” is usually free – major score!)

Here’s my favorite side-of-the-road before & after

Thrifted treasures can be found anywhere. A garage sale, thrift store, or even the side of the road. That's where this chair beauty was found. Check out the before & after!

Thrifted treasures can be found anywhere. A garage sale, thrift store, or even the side of the road. That's where this chair beauty was found. Check out the before & after!

2. Keep a List
Looking for thrifted treasures can sometimes be overwhelming when you finally get to your destination, so having a list is key to staying focused. Either keep an ongoing list (I keep a list in myphone) or create one before you leave home. It will help keep you focused and evaluate what things you really need. If you have your eye out for a piece of furniture, take wall measurements ahead of time, so you’re fully prepared and aren’t questioning the size when you finally find “the one”.

3. Look for Good Bones
When on the prowl for thrifted decor, especially furniture, look at how it’s constructed; be sure it has good “bones”. The stability and structure of a piece of furniture is important for it’s longevity. If it gets the approval, using it as is or giving it a fresh new coat of paint will make the perfect addition in your home.

I found this beauty on Craigslist.  It had dovetail joints on the drawers and felt very stable.  At $50 it was a great score.  After a paint makeover, it was perfect for my boys room makeover

To find awesome thrifted treasures, look for good bones in old furniture!

Before & After Craigslist Desk. With some paint & TLC this desk got a complete makeover.

4. Think Outside the Box
When on the search for a new treasure, look beyond the items current state and imagine what it could be with a little TLC. Whether you decide to upcycle, repurpose, or revamp, think outside the box at the items potential.

Take a step back from an object and ask:

  • Can I paint it?
  • Can I reupholster it?
  • Can I use it for a different purpose it’s original intent?

This is my FAVORITE part of thrifting… finding an ugly duckling that just needs a little DIY love!  Like this clock to mirror makeover…

Before & After: Clock to Mirror

Before & After: Clock to Mirror

5. Look High. Look Low. Look Everywhere in Between.
Finding a secret treasure can sometimes be a challenge, but in the end, the result is often worthwhile. When shopping at a thrift store or garage sale, take an extra minute to scan all surfaces – the lower shelves, the higher ones, and every spot in between. O, and since the back corners are usually forgotten, they often have the best, hidden treasures.

Thrifted Treasures are all around you - high, low, in every nook & crannie

6. Do you really need it?
When thrifting, having your list in hand will help you stay on track. When you find something, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” or “Where and how will I use this?”. Even if the item is a great deal, it’s worth nothing if it can’t be used. And if you’re unsure, take a minute to think about it.

My most recent find which fell short of a treasure because of the price tag, is this awesome life-size metal windmill.  How cool is it?!  I spotted it while driving by a local shop & had to take a closer look.  I asked myself, “Do I really need it even though I love it?”… At over $500 I passed, but I’m still thinking of a way to make it myself!

Thrifted Find

7. Negotiate.
One of the beauties about garage sales or thrift stores is the possibility of getting your treasure for a lower price than marked. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If they say no, then you can ask yourself if the item is really worth it and how much money needs to go into it, if any. Again, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

The best garage sale finds are usually snagged right away, so grab a cup of coffee and start your day early. As for thrift stores, if you want a great deal, ask them if there are specific days they put out new inventory (I do the same thing with stores like HomeGoods & TJ Maxx). If you’re looking for something specific, ask them to call you if the item comes their way.

I hope these tips help you prepare and get you excited for thrifting season. And don’t forget, shopping is always better with others, so put on your comfy shoes and team up with friends or family who also enjoy a finding a treasure!

What have been your favorite garage sale or thrift store finds?

Old Lamp. New Life.

One of my Saturday favorites is to hit up some local thrift stores for unusual finds and inspiration.  Unfortunately it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but a few weeks ago when the kiddos were with the grandparents, the Mister and I hit up one of my go-to places.

We scored a couple of cute things, like a brass owl bell (which my kids love to ring) + a new chair (which will soon get a spray paint makeover)…

Thrift Store Finds

…as well as this brass wall sconce for $15.  It was something that I’ve been searching for, but others I almost bought (new and old) were much more expensive.  I was thrilled to find this treasure and I knew the perfect place for it!

Wall sconce - thrift store find

The blue room (a.k.a. my home office / family room) has been complete for over a year, but I’m always ‘changing things up’ and switching out the layers of pillows + accessories.  One element that I was on the search for since finishing the space was a wall sconce to attach to the side of the painted bookcases.

My new found treasure worked out perfectly…

Home Office / Family room with new wall sconce on the side of the bookcase. The perfect thrift store find brought back to life!

Here’s how I gave this old lamp new life…

The back of the lamp had no “guts”, which worked fine for me because I took a piece of scrap wood and cut it to fit snug inside the round plate.

Thrift Store sconce

Thrift Store sconce

Once I knew the fit was just right, I took the piece of wood out of the lamp.  I determined where I wanted the lamp to sit on the bookcase, and then attached the piece of wood to the side of the bookcase with wood screws.

Once the wood was secure, I stuck the lamp base onto the wood.  The round base fit so snug that there was no additional screws needed.  The base simply is held in place by tension…

And voila, it was complete (almost)…

Process of bringing a thrift store found wall sconce back to life...

After giving the brass a good shining + adding a new lampshade (the old one was garbage bound), this was the result…

Home Office / Family room with new wall sconce on the side of the bookcase. The perfect thrift store find brought back to life!

Home Office / Family room with new wall sconce on the side of the bookcase. The perfect thrift store find brought back to life!

And how the room looks now with this new found treasure…

Home Office / Family room with new wall sconce on the side of the bookcase. The perfect thrift store find brought back to life!

And the best part, it works…

Home Office / Family room with new wall sconce on the side of the bookcase. The perfect thrift store find brought back to life!

From start to finish, the lamp literally took minutes to install + there was no electrical needed.  The cord was attached to this thrift store find and all I had to do was plug it in.  And a little tid-bit ~ to keep the cord taught on the bookcase, I used a piece of duct tape to keep it in place.

Thrift store wall sconce

I’m simply smitten over my new trash to treasure!

Home Office / Family room with new wall sconce on the side of the bookcase. The perfect thrift store find brought back to life!

It’s amazing what a little outside-of-the-box thinking can do.  I’m thrilled that I waited it out to find just the right piece and in the end, it only cost $15!

What have been your favorite trash to treasure finds either from a garage sale, thrift store, or on the side of the road?