Never wonder how to shop for home décor at thrift stores again! With my simple thrift store home décor shopping tips, you’ll know what aisles to go down, what to look for and what to get!
This post was originally published on February 5, 2018 and has since been updated.
I absolutely love to thrift home décor!
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 décor shopping, you’ll know just where to go and just what to look for at thrift stores!
Thrift Store Shopping FAQ
Why shop for home décor at thrift stores?
- Buying second hand SAVES MONEY.
- Used décor 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 décor is a great way to do that! 😉
What is the best day to shop at thrift stores?
While there’s no perfect formula for when the thrift store will have the best items, there are a few things to consider when you’re planning your timing to shop there.
Visiting on a Monday or Tuesday (especially after a holiday weekend) will likely give you more inventory to look through as people tend to donate on the weekends.
You could also consider shopping around the time when people are completing their annual “spring cleaning” – depending on where you live, this will probably be sometime between February-April.
Lastly, watch for special sales days. The staff will typically over-stock the aisles to get rid of more inventory on those days!
What should you not buy at thrift stores?
When it comes to decorations, consider passing on the following items:
- Furniture with Strong Smelling Fabric
- Furniture with OLD paint (that could contain lead)
- Nursery Furniture
- Upholstered Headboards
- Used Bed Linens
- Vintage Dishes (to actually use, not just display)
- Used Pillows
- Used Rugs
For more, non-home décor things to pass on, check out this more extensive list of things you should never buy at thrift stores.
8 Best Thrift Store Home Décor Items
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 décor 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!
- 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
- Baskets with a single large handle (unless you’re making Easter-baskets!)
- Colored baskets
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.
- Stylish full lamps
- Fun bases
- Individual lamp shades in the size you need
- Lamps that are broken or missing pieces
- Lamps that are the wrong style or size for your space
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 décor on the purple themed end cap!
- Small plates that can be used as trays or propped on shelves as décor
- 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
- Generic dish sets
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!
- Realistic looking floral stems
- Stylish faux potted plants
- Twig or stick arrangements
- Unrealistic looking stems
- Gaudy floral arrangements
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!
- Unopened sheet sets
- Unopened throw blankets
- New throw pillows with original store tags
- Unopened table cloths or cloth napkins
- Used or damaged linens
- Anything with an unpleasant odor
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.
- Picture frames
- Wall art
- Cheap or damaged items
- Frames or art that don’t match the style of your space
7. Wood Décor
While there are lots of aisles filled with all sorts of décor at thrift stores, I definitely take my time searching through the section of wood décor.
I typically get 1-2 items from this aisle every time I shop at a thrift store! There’s always great stuff, especially if you’re looking for thrift store room décor!
You’ll also find that other types of décor might be placed here – so still be on the lookout for greenery, baskets and other items while you’re looking through the wood décor too.
- Décor signs
- Wood bowls or trays
- Décor that doesn’t match the style of your space
- Items you don’t have a place for in your home
8. 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.
- Yarn supplies
- Stamp supplies
- Paper crafting supplies
- Thank you cards
- Embroidery wreaths (for DIY wall art!)
- Party supplies (get those at Dollar Tree!)
- Unneeded craft supplies
- Open or broken items
Ok friends, let’s review!
8 Must-Have Thrift Shop Home Décor Items
- Wood Décor
- Craft supplies
I really hope this post filled with thrift store decorating ideas helps you feel more confident in what to look for so you can do some great decorating with thrifted home décor!
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?? 😉
Be sure to check out my live Goodwill shopping video and my tutorial for decorating using thrift store finds.
Many of the most common (and frequently most expensive) home décor items are just waiting to be discovered at your local thrift store for a fraction of the cost – so go get ’em!
You could also shop at an online thrift store if that’s what you prefer too.
Let me know if you have any questions.