10 Things To Buy At Thrift Stores That Will Make Your Home Look Like A Million Bucks

There are two major reasons I like going shopping thrift stores. First, I love saving money. Budget decorating is my jam so anytime I can save a little cash I’m up for it. The other reason why I love shopping at thrift stores is because of the hunt. Finding a new (to you) treasure can be so fun. Some of my most unique and most loved decorative items in my home are thrift store finds and I can’t help but want to share with you my favorite things you should buy at the thrift store.

10 Things You Should Buy at Thrift Stores

Best tips for shopping at the thrift store

While treasures can be found at thrift stores, you have to weed through a lot of junk. That being said, there are 10 things that I go to thrift stores in search of:

1. Furniture

Furniture at thrift stores is typically marked down significantly and you can get a pretty excellent deal on pieces. Fixer upper pieces of furniture that you plan to paint or hack are especially great to buy at thrift stores. It’s not all used stuff all the time. I’ve seen brand new pieces of furniture, with tags still on. You never know when you’re going to get lucky! Tip for furniture shopping: Ask a customer service representative about potential sale dates. Our local Goodwill has certain specials on certain days one of them being half-off furniture!

2. Trays

Trays are great for organizing and keeping things together. Whether it’s in your kitchen or on the coffee table, trays are great catchall pieces and they can be found for CHEAP at thrift stores. I always look around for trays while I’m at the thrift store. I found this tray for a dollar at the thrift store and painted it to give it a more updated look. Not a bad way to spend a buck!

3. Vases, Jars, Candlesticks

Thrift stores usually have an abundance of glass vessels like vases and jars. I usually go through them and look for any that have unusual shapes or colors. Any blue and white ceramic pieces usually find their way into my cart. If you are looking for mason jars, surely you’ll find them for around $.50 at the thrift store! I also found my favorite brass candlesticks at a thrift store and I just love them.

4. Baskets

Another one of my tips for shopping thrift stores is look for baskets! They always have lots and lots of baskets. My Goodwill has a section of baskets so I usually browse the selection there and grab any that are seagrass, hyacinth or metal, again looking for any with a unique shape or decent size. Medium sized baskets at Target or any home store is usually between $12-$20. So grabbing them for less than $5 at the thrift store is a HUGE score! Not only are baskets great for organizing at home, they are also great for gift giving. Once or twice a year, I have to whip up a last minute gift so having an inexpensive basket at home to put together a quick gift basket is a must.

5. Frames

I’m always looking for picture frames. Large sized frames can get pricey so I like to hit up thrift stores first to see if I can find any wood frames that can be repurposed. Not only for large frames but smaller ones for gallery walls. I look through the art section of the thrift store and consider any pieces that I could grab and just toss the art or photograph and keep the frame. That goes for frames of all sizes! You don’t have to keep the art, either – if the frame is in solid condition, buy it and pop in your own art!

6. Mirrors

Buying mirrors at thrift stores is another money saver. Framed mirrors make your space feel bigger so they are the ultimately accessory for your walls. That said, framed mirrors are expensive! $50 is about the going rate. You can save big bucks by finding one at a thrift store.

7. Throw Pillows

Okay, so you may have raised your eyebrows at this one but hear me out. It might freak you out to buy pillows from the thrift store but sometimes those pillows have high-quality down-filled inserts. You can purchase throw pillows for a couple of bucks, toss out the pillow covers, and use the high-quality inserts. Find affordable pillow covers here.

8. Lamps + Lighting

I always have my eyes peeled for good lighting when I’m at the thrift store. In the past, I’ve seen chandeliers and new pendants still in the box at thrift stores. So while you might not find something good every time, keep your eyes peeled. I usually look for lamps with a good shape, ones in pairs, and good quality shades. Lamps can be spruced up with paint so if you see one that works and is a pretty shape, scoop it up.

9. Flatware + Dinnerware

Another thrift store buying tip is to browse the dishes. Thrift stores always have an abundance of dishes and flatware. It can be frustrating going through it all but when you find a piece that is truly one of a kind, it’s totally worth it! I always look for serving platters, any white dishes, fine china pieces in sets, and flatware in sets.

guide to shopping at thrift stores10. Books

If I don’t find anything at the thrift store, I almost always find a book or two. Children’s books are usually my favorite. You can find the sweetest vintage children’s books that are gently used and in great condition. Additionally, I look for books that have uniquely colored covers to use in decorating. I also like to browse through cookbooks because sometimes it’s fun to make a recipe out of a book (opposed to on a screen)!

What are your favorite things to buy from the thrift store?

If you like this topic, you may enjoy reading about my top five favorite purchases I’ve made for my home. Some of them may surprise you! Read those here.

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  1. The thrift store is my favorite place to find project ideas! I like looking for storage containers of any kind — especially since they can be really expensive in other places. I usually stop by one of the two thrift stores by us once a week to look for things. Sometimes I get nothing, and other times I feel like I’ve bought up half their stock! It’s all about luck! I don’t usually look for lighting, but I’m certainly going to start now!

    1. Yes! You do have to shop often. I have slumps where I don’t find anything and then I’m rewarded with a big score haha!

  2. This looks like my thrift store shopping list!! I’m always on the lookout for new baskets and frames, and the white dinnerware and platters are always a top pick!

  3. Great list! All of these are so true. I’d like to add… clothes and kid’s games! I admit, I might buy everything except for food at thrift stores. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Lol! This is me too. My kids are always dressed nicely (albeit full of stains on some days!) but they get all their name brand stuff from the thrift store! People are usually surprised but I won’t stop shopping there for their clothes until they think they’re uncool because of it ?

      1. That’s so great, Emily! My daughter is really rough on clothes so getting them on the cheap at thrift stores is a great option.

    2. Yes! Kid clothes for sure – especially for play clothes/school clothes! I haven’t considered games but now that my daughter is getting older I will have to check those out as well!

  4. You’re right on here! Nothing is better than a serious browsing of a local thrift store. My fav is a church sponsored store in an affluent area. What deals! Recently I browsed thru a Rehab store and prices are starting to escalate dramatically. But I’ll never give up on the ‘free stuff’ on Craigslist! Have a great weekend!

  5. I look for many of the same things as you but I also find jewelry, no not to wear but to use in my mosaics. I use glass jars for storing many craft items but especially jewelry that’s been taken apart and beach glass, broken china, tile, whatever I’ve found that I’ll use in a mosaic. The jars let me see what’s in them and keeps the items clean. Storage is always on my list too and when I went on a no-sew method of using t-shirts to make reusable bags, I found t-shirts of all sizes at the thrift stores. Oh, I also look over clothing for unusual buttons; jeans are great for all kinds of crafts. I love the wreaths made out of Christmas ornaments so I also get ornaments & other supplies when I find them.

    1. Hello Chelsea,

      Debbie in Edmonton says;

      I am just working on starting to put a blog together, and am going in to many directions and need to focus on a few only…..However as far as thrift shopping goes, I have been thrift shopping since I was a kid. I look for all of the items you have listed and also I find great designer jeans for around $7.99, and sports sweaters/ jackets, T shirts and dresses. Also I’m looking for interesting vintage stuff, boxes, music boxes, picture frames, some brass, stencil patterns, cross stitch patterns and even sewing patterns as they are usually $.50 as apposed to $9 to $12 each. I have found some great vintage jewelry which i use on my Boho bags and, or I had a sale at work over Christmas and I sold most of the vintage jewelry I was not using. I love the books, craft, cooking or outdoor patio furniture all good and a fraction of the cost of new.

  6. I actually deal with the same struggle. I am not a designer so completely changing things every few years isnโ€™t feasible but would I love to! Iโ€™m doing a Florida house now I think you provide a great list.
    John Peter at Mandala Wall Tapestry

  7. I love to weave wall hangings so I am always looking for yarn, twine and raffia. I also look for wooden frames and make my own looms from them.
    Also, I check the wooden items. I have made several furniture pieces for 18″ dolls.
    A little sanding, paint and sewing mattresses, or cushions goes a long way. My Grandaughters think I am a magician!!!!

  8. I like to check the fabric and upholstery remnants; easy sewing project for runners and pillow covers. I’ve also had good luck with finding curtain panels; have found World Market and IKEA panels. Also brand new aprons and tea towels.

  9. I like to purchase fabric tablecloths from the thrift store. I have purchased several beautiful cloths that fit my dining table that seats 12 for only $3 or $4. I buy smaller ones for our family room or to use under a centerpiece. Also, because the tablecloths are so inexpensive, I have used them to toss on a picnic table at a barbecue or in the park. If they get stained, they can always be washed. If the stain doesn’t come out, oh well; I still haven’t lost a thing! Also, with 11 grandchildren, tablecloths can be used to make great forts!
    Tablecloths would be #11 on my list!

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  11. Great post, Chelsea! I LOVE to thrift-store shop, too….and the thrill of the hunt is always so much fun! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. The 2 best finds I’ve ever found are a taupe pair of over-the-knee boots made of the softest buttery leather that fit like they were made for me for $7(!) and a sun dress made of “Indian,” cotton that flows around me as I walk. I live in Tucson so any find that is stylish AND cool is a gem! I get compliments regularly and I always say, “thank you, I got it at Goodwill… for $2!”

  13. Thanks for the information. Our church has a bake sale once a year and I purchase vintage plates, platters, etc. to put the baked goodies on. Most only cost a quarter & I share. I spray paint lamps (put an old light bulb in socket before spraying) AND lamp shades. I’ve found cut glass, sterling and way too many cool vintage items. Yes, solid wood furniture needs some or a lot of TLC, but boy oh boy! The hunt is so much fun.

  14. Great list- I look for all the same items but also pottery and ceramic planters, as it elevates the look of your plants by foregoing the cheap plastic pots. Ive always only bought ceramic planters but now that were a single income- homeschool family, thrift shops deals allow for champagne taste on a beer budget.

  15. I love second-hand stores, and get tons of great things from them. It helps that I work across the street from a big one, so my colleagues and I are there a lot! I would be careful, though: Bed bugs are on the rise and are very hard to get rid of — now that we don’t have DDT (a good thing) to zap the critters. They make their home in tiny places in wood, in stuffed furniture, even books. You can do a search and look for the telltale signs, but I’d recommend you avoid stuffed furniture in particular, and just be careful with other things.

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