Never sure what to take home when you are out second-hand shopping? Or even what to leave behind since there are SOOO many things there. I agree it can be daunting to make the best buying decision. While everyone’s décor needs are different, I have discovered in many years of second-hand shopping that preparation is the key to success. So here are my tips.

Tip #1

Look for Potential

In general, when you are looking to buy furniture from a thrift store, second-hand store, you want to look for potential. The perfect piece rarely comes across your path. But with a little inspiration and time, you can often transform a piece of outdated furniture into something new and unique.

Tip #2

Early Start

Go early and often. I have set days where I head to the local thrift stores, and usually have a route that I travel, so I can efficiently get the most shopping done in one day.

Tip #3

Lists and Measurements

Before you start looking for a piece of furniture, take measurements of the spaces around your home and bring them with you. Whether you are looking for a desk, a chair, a table, or a drawer—know what size the furniture needs to be to fit the room. I always write notes with pieces needed and measurements in my phone and take a picture of the empty space. That way I always have the information handy.

Tip #4:


Be selective, but don’t overthink things! We often say, “If in doubt, don’t.” But I can’t tell you how many trips I’ve taken to the thrift store where I have found something I loved, only to talk myself out of it. I always return for it the next day, and, of course, it is never there. So my rule of thumb is that if I am really tickled with an item, I will buy it.

Tip #5:

Search for Solid Items

Keep your eye out for furniture with what I call “solid base.” A piece of furniture with “solid base” has a solid structure, but might need a little cosmetic work to make it perfect. If a piece of furniture is sturdy and has a solid structure, you know it will last. Then, you can always modify the color and even the functionality of the piece to make it work for you.

Below are photos of my latest vintage founds – I played a bit with layout and accessories. Not finished thou, still need to find a drawer, and I think its time to go thrifting again!

I stay away from

Moldy items

Large scratches in the wood

Items missing parts

Taller pieces like dressers that are unstable

Items with sloppy repair work already done

Must haves

Lightning – always oodles of lightning to choose from

Chairs of all kinds – mix and match them at home, one can never have enough chairs or lamps …

Tables – dining tables, sofa tables, side tables, you name it.

Candlesticks – all kinds, shapes and materials.

Drawers – perfect to elevate overall feel in the room.

Mirrors – love the color of dated mirrors.

Oddities – my rule is to have at least one oddity per room, and there is no better place to look for oddities than thrift shop.

Written by: Katja Butala

Photos by: utopiast

Interiors selection:

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