The Best Home Decor to Look for at a Thrift Store

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Never wonder how to shop for home decor at thrift stores again! With my simple thrift store home decor shopping tips and free cheat sheet, you’ll know what aisles to go down, what to look for and what to get!

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This post was originally published on February 5, 2018 and has since been updated.

Shelf of baskets at a thrift store.

I absolutely love to thrift home decor! So often people purge their homes and donate things that are in great condition and thrift stores sell them at a fraction of the cost. This, my friends, makes thrift store decorating one of the cheapest ways to get a stylish home!

I know for a lot of people walking into a thrift store can be overwhelming… There’s stuff everywhere, the shelves are packed, and if you don’t have a game plan, it can seem like too much.

That’s why I am sharing with you what aisles I focus in on and what items I always search for. That way, next time you’re doing your thrift store home decor shopping, you’ll know just where to go and just what to look for at thrift stores!

Why shop for home decor at thrift stores?

  • Buying second hand SAVES MONEY.
  • Used decor can easily be modified to MATCH YOUR STYLE.
  • Thrift stores often have vintage or UNIQUE ITEMS.

Yes, it’s true, I’m one of those thrift store decorating blogs. I’ll always be sharing with you fun ways to decorate your home with designer style on a thrifter’s budget and thrifting home decor is a great way to do that! πŸ˜‰

8 BEST THRIFT STORE
HOME DECOR ITEMS

Baskets

The basket selection at thrift stores is HUGE. Be picky about the ones you get. Only get ones that have a purpose in your home – whether that’s simply as decor or as an organizational tool.

My preference is to find ones that have a larger weave and are made of sea grass, but there are definitely some wood ones that catch my eye too!

Also, as a general rule, shy away from things with color or patterns. Natural colors are much more versatile!

GET IT!

  • Flat, tray-like baskets that can be used as a tray, propped up on a shelf, or hung in a wall gallery
  • Round, two-handled baskets that can be placed on the floor or shelf to corral groups of things like shoes, towels, or books

LEAVE IT…

  • Baskets with a single large handle (unless you’re making Easter-baskets!)
  • Colored baskets

Lamps

There are always tons of lamps available, but be sure the ones you get are in good condition. Damages to watch for are scratches on the base, missing parts around the bulb insert, and dents or tears in the shade.

GET IT!

  • Stylish full lamps
  • Fun bases
  • Individual lamp shades in the size you need

LEAVE IT…

  • Lamps that are broken or missing pieces
  • Lamps that are the wrong style or size for your space

Dishware

I always peruse the dishes aisle, but the place I typically find what I want is on the end caps. The thrift store staff sets up the end caps to display their “nicest” stock, so be sure to scour each of them.

Even if they’re grouped by color, you may be surprised to find a great piece of white decor on the purple themed end cap!

GET IT!

  • Small plates that can be used as trays or propped on shelves as decor
  • Groups of small colored dishes that can be displayed on an open shelf or in a hutch
  • Unique dish items that match your current dishes’ style

LEAVE IT…

  • Generic dish sets
  • Mugs

Greenery/Florals

Be sure the greenery you purchase looks realistic. You don’t want to fill your home with greenery that’s obviously fake, rather invest in quality faux items.

Also, thrift stores tend to place large greenery items (like faux trees) with the large furniture, so don’t forget to look there too!

GET IT!

  • Realistic looking floral stems
  • Stylish faux potted plants
  • Twig or stick arrangements

LEAVE IT…

  • Unrealistic looking stems
  • Gaudy floral arrangements

Linens

A lot of times stores will donate their stock that doesn’t sell to local thrift stores.

Our Goodwill actually gets old stock from Target, so there are frequently new and unopened curtains, throw blankets, sheet sets and pillows for sale at thrift store prices.

As with all things, check for damage, and don’t forget to make sure the curtains are the right length for your windows or the sheets are the right size for your bed!

GET IT!

  • Unopened sheet sets
  • Unopened throw blankets
  • New throw pillows with original store tags
  • Unopened table cloths or cloth napkins

LEAVE IT…

  • Used or damaged linens
  • Anything with an unpleasant odor

Frames/Art

The frame aisle generally contains a lot more than just basic pictures frames.

You can find excellent art (both framed and even on canvas) and mirrors (that can easily be spruced up with a coat of paint if they’re the wrong color!) mixed in with the frames.

At our local Goodwill, there’s actually two different frame aisles, so be sure to check if there is more than one place these items could be found.

GET IT!

  • Picture frames
  • Mirrors
  • Wall art

LEAVE IT…

  • Cheap or damaged items
  • Frames or art that don’t match the style of your space

Wood Decor

While there are lots of aisles filled with all sorts of decor at thrift stores, I definitely take my time searching through the section of wood decor.

I typically get 1-2 items from this aisle every time I shop at a thrift store! There’s always great stuff!

You’ll also find that other types of decor might be placed here – so still be on the lookout for greenery, baskets and other items while you’re looking through the wood decor too.

GET IT!

  • Decor signs
  • Wood bowls or trays

LEAVE IT…

  • Decor that doesn’t match the style of your space
  • Items you don’t have a place for in your home

Craft Supplies

The crafting aisle is definitely one that can seem overwhelming. There is a TON of stuff packed into those shelves. Don’t be intimidated by that, but rather go to this aisle with a purpose.

Know what kind of crafting supplies you use and are planning projects for and focus in on those things.

GET IT!

  • Yarn supplies
  • Stamp supplies
  • Paper crafting supplies
  • Thank you cards
  • Embroidery wreaths (for DIY wall art!)

LEAVE IT…

  • Party supplies (get those at Dollar Tree!)
  • Unneeded craft supplies
  • Open or broken items

Ok friends, let’s review!

Must-Have Thrift Shop Home Decor Items

  1. Baskets
  2. Lamps
  3. Dishware
  4. Greenery/Florals
  5. Linens
  6. Frames/Art
  7. Wood Decor
  8. Craft supplies

I really hope this post helps you feel more confident in what to look for so you can do some great decorating with thrift store finds!

I mean seriously, after all of that information, how can tell me you don’t feel like you could walk into a thrift store with purpose now?? πŸ˜‰

Head here to see the my live Goodwill shopping video and then head to this post for some great thrift store decorating ideas too.

Many of the most common (and frequently most expensive) home decor items are just waiting to be discovered at your local thrift store for a fraction of the cost – so go get ’em!

Let me know if you have any questions.

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32 thoughts on “The Best Home Decor to Look for at a Thrift Store”

  1. I’m not much of a thrift store fan but I do shop for baskets. I enjoy dreaming up themed gift baskets; paying twice as much for the basket as the things inside, not so much. Just yesterday I picked up three of varying sizes and shapes: $5 for the lot and that included a $1 donation! All three baskets are in good condition. Two need a little cosmetic work but that’s why high gloss spray paint was invented.

    Reply
    • Absolutely! I’m the same way – love giving gift baskets and the thrift store is my favorite source for the baskets. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Great list. Loved all your ideas. I do A lot of sewing and can usually find some interesting buys on fabrics and notions. I do but used sheets, curtains, pillow cases, and table clothes the can easily be fashioned into dresses and night clothes for family. I have bought many fancy dresses and fashioned then into princess costumes. Also make gift baskkets. Wish I knew how to post on pincrest- but I am old and not so good on the computer.

    Reply
    • Princess costumes from fancy dresses! Many times I have considered such, but I don’t have your skills. You should consider opening a shop on Etsy!

      Reply
  3. Just from the pictures I love that Goodwill store! Where might it be? I can’t go past our local store without stopping in. I have found so many great things there. Love your blog!!

    Reply
  4. I do like baskets painted white or blue and occasionally in colors for Christmas, so iI wouldn’t pass up a colored basket that I could spray paint, if it was one that I really liked. But otherwise I like all of your ideas. Great post!

    Reply
  5. Very interesting post!
    But I have one more question.
    I’m visiting NYC next month (I’m French and live in France permanently) and would like to bring back some typically American thrifted souvenir ( 15 years ago, I brought back a lovely Oreo cookie jar there’s not way to find here!)
    What would you advise? I was thinking about old letter-press blocks, maybe, but would welcome any idea.
    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  6. Great tips!!! But about your advice to avoid lamps that look like they need repair, if you like the lamp–grab it!!! It’s super easy to rewire a lamp and only costs a few dollars. At your local hardware store, look in the electrical sections (not the light fixture section) because you can buy just the parts you need and skip the lamp repair kit that sometimes is 3X the price!

    Reply
    • That’s a great idea Eileen! Many people aren’t handy enough to know how to replace the electrical, but I agree – if you feel comfortable, then go for it!!

      Reply
  7. Wow Rachel! Hi πŸ™‚ I’m really in a hurry (not that you should care) but I just had to take a moment to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Your ‘leave it, ‘get it’ suggestions are so incredibly helpful. I can’t wait to come back and read more like this! Thank you πŸ™‚

    Best Wishes,
    Kristi Kirk Trent, Oklahoma City

    Reply
  8. It really helped when you mentioned that, when looking for decorative lamps, we should consider its size and if it is applicable to the room where I will place it. I will be shopping for home decor items this weekend, and I am grateful that I’ve found your article which made me prepared for my decor hunting. We will be redecorating the living room since summer is here. Currently, the house still looks like it’s still winter. So thanks a lot for the tips!

    Reply
  9. I agree with your Thrift Store Plan of Action totally. I am an in-house national registered museum Event Coordinator and have decorated for many in-house programs. I have used your TSPA every time and have gotten rave reviews. Keep up the good work. You are a true inspiration to everyone.

    Reply
  10. I too am an avid thrift store shopper. I love finding hidden gems! I also love finding stuff to DIY, it transforms old stuff into something totally new and different. Great ideas you have here!

    Reply
  11. Very informative! Thank you for sharing the do’s and don’ts of thrifting! Baskets have always been my thrift store go to, I collect the ones that look like they’re made from actual twigs. They make a beautiful hanging ceiling display . Thanks to you, I now can venture into other sections without feeling so overwhelmed.

    Reply

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