Whether you call it thrift-store chic, vintage décor, or an eclectic style, the thrill of the hunt—and eventual capture—of can’t-beat-the-price, one-of-a-kind, second-hand gems is hard to beat. You might decorate with flea market finds to compensate for a small budget. Perhaps you love vintage style, or maybe you simply enjoy transforming what someone else considered trash into your own treasure. Likely, it's a combination of all three. But whatever the reason, when it’s done well, the end result is the same: a room that looks wonderfully quirky and delightfully full of the owner’s personality.
But even a bargain is no real savings if it isn’t practical or isn’t you. So here are tips to help
you successfully shop for secondhand treasures:
Establish a budget
Sure, you’re looking for rock-bottom prices and the best place to find them is at FB Marketplace and thrift or antique stores... But that doesn’t mean you can’t still overspend if you’re not careful. A dollar here and a dollar there can quickly add up to a lot of dollars. Before sending Venmo willy-nilly, know how much you can afford and stick to that amount.
Keep an Open Mind
The fun of antique store shopping is that you never know what you’re going to find. Of course, that’s also what makes it frustrating! Maybe you are looking for a new nightstand, but spot the perfect bench for the foot of your bed instead. Be ready to change gears on a moment’s notice. If you spot something you love at a thrift store, either ask them to hold it for you or go ahead and buy it. Waiting means that you’ll likely lose it to the next person who loves it enough to buy it on the spot. That’s even truer for online marketplace sales too.
If you let your imagination run free, you’re far likelier to see the gold hidden underneath the garbage. Keep a repurposing mindset; how can you use this item in a way that is different from its original purpose? A bass drum as a nightstand? An old wooden ladder as a blanket rack? Vintage clothing as wall art? A planter as a kitchen utensil holder? The sky is the limit when you get creative.
Pre-loved or not?
While many pieces of secondhand wooden furniture only need cosmetic help to be serviceable, some are broken beyond easy repair. Leave behind anything that is missing a vital piece, is cracked or warped, has severe damage, or smells strongly of smoke or cat urine. YUCK! Think long and hard before buying an upholstered piece that needs new fabric—while recovering the fabric seat of a chair is generally a simple DIY job, reupholstering an entire armchair is a challenge best left to a professional.
Don’t Overdo It
It takes patience and perseverance to succeed in the frugal secondhand hunt. That means you need to hit up FB Marketplace on a fairly regular basis and keep your eyes peeled for stop-worthy thrift stores and flea markets. However, be careful not to cross the line from “Wow, my room looks great!” to “Wow, my room is so full of random stuff!” Too many secondhand purchases can easily push you over that line. Once your room feels done, you’ll either need to resist the desire to keep adding new things or else get rid of something old each time you bring something home.
Know You Limits
Yes, combining a variety of decorating styles is a fantastic look when done skillfully. But eclectic style is well planned, not a hodgepodge of mismatched accessories and furniture. Avoid decorating seasickness by hiring a professional decorator (ahem, like me) to style your home with all of your treasures.
Leave me a comment about the best secondhand find you've scored!