Pro Tip Tuesday: Transforming Your Thrift Store Finds

Hello Everyone and Happy Tuesday!

I am especially excited to share today’s Pro Tip with you, as it happens to be one of my most favorite things to do.  If you follow me over on Instagram, you often see my thrift and yard sale finds, as well as what I transform them into, or how they play into my own home decor.

What I haven’t shared is my thought process and how I pick and choose during my thrifting treasure hunts.  So often I am asked “How do you know what to look for?” Or “How in the world do you come up with ideas on how to use those finds?”  Today I am going to share a few of my most recent finds and how I go about turning my “steals” into home decor that looks like a “splurge.”

First Pro Tip to Thrifting- Be the early bird.  While I can’t always make every yard sale or estate sale advertised, I try to be the first one to the sales I can make.  I aim to arrive about 10 minutes before the sale starts so that I can be the first one in with access to pick and choose the best of the lot.

You  may have seen the picture below over on Instagram and Facebook.  This sale was just a few blocks behind our home, and while it wasn’t a big sale, the few items I did find were top notch!  I bought 2 vintage wool blankets, a handwoven rug, one pillow, and 3 vintage bottles and vases ALL for $19.50!


Second Pro Tip of Thrifting- Know what to look for.  While I always approach sales with an open mind to what treasures I might find, I definitely keep in mind items on my wish list.  Because I stage homes and offer interior styling services, I am constantly in need of small accessory items like flower pots or decorative bottles to dress up a mantle or bookshelf.

The two bottles pictured below were $1 each.  The silver mercury glass bottle adds a touch of sparkle and bling that highlights a bookshelf display.  The larger indigo bottle can be dressed up with a stalk of branches or flowers (I’m picturing hydrangeas) and placed on a fireplace mantle to add some color and height to a display.


Third Pro Trip of Thrifting- Keep an eye out on current home decor trends to guide your thrift purchases.  As much as I visit antique and thrift shops, I also make routine stops in home decor stores like Crate and Barrel, West Elm, and Pottery Barn.  My budget cannot afford much of the beautiful decor these leading home decor stores offer, but I can get excellent ideas on what I like and how I can interpret those trends using thrifted finds.

Recently I stopped in Crate and Barrel for a tortilla press, which is whole blog post in itself, but couldn’t help peruse their new home accessories for fall.  The neutral beige and grey color story is a bit subdued for my taste, but in this display I love the texture and patterns pulled from both the vase and the wool/hemp pillow.

In case you can’t see the price tag, that pretty pillow is $59.95.  For one.  Don’t get me wrong, its a beauty, but I can’t imagine ever spending that on one pillow!


This wool blanket I found for $5 at an estate sale offers the same texture and neutral tones as displayed in the pillows found at Crate and Barrel.  The blanket had several moth holes which I can work around when I transform it into throw pillows.


I wrapped the blanket around a spare pillow to get a better visual.  Adding the two other pillows helps me visualize the whole story.    It gives a very similar feel to that $59.95 Crate and Barrel pillow, but with this blanket I can make around 5 pillows for half the price of that one splurge pillow!


This U.S. Navy blanket has a similar story.  A quick search on eBay for “vintage US Navy blankets” returns several results, with prices anywhere from $25 to $150.  I scored this one for $5, most likely because it is worn and has several moth holes through the middle.

My grandmother was in the Navy and I have many of the pins from her uniform during her time served.  I am hoping to use this blanket in combination with some of her other items, but I haven’t decided just how.  Something more special than a pillow or shadowbox, but I am still working on the plans for that one.


I like finding places to display my treasures until I come up with ideas for their transformation.  In this case I rolled the navy blanket and added it to a stack on the fireplace.  It brightens up the fireplace and adds another layer of interest.   fireplaceafter

Fourth Pro Tip of Thrifting – Live with your items for awhile before starting their transformation.  This is something I also tell people who want to paint and decorate the moment they move into a new home.  A person needs time to live in a home and learn what areas they use the most, or what isn’t working before taking on design projects.  I feel the same about transforming thrifted finds.  Occasionally I find that perfect piece that already has a reserved spot in my home.  Most often though, I move my thrifted finds all over the house and wrap them around pillows or furniture before they find a permanent home in my decor.

Currently, one of my biggest vintage obsessions is handwoven rugs and textiles from South America, as well as Native American or Southwestern textiles.  The green and multi-color one you see hanging on our wall started the obsession.  This red one you see draped over the stair rail was a steal at $2!  The original owners have tacked a wooden strip to one end with picture hangings, so it is ready to go up on a wall.  However, I am running out of wall space for textiles, so this one might find another use.


It is incredibly hard for me to cut into vintage textiles, especially when they are in excellent condition, like this rug.  However, I immediately loved the idea of this chair re-upholstered using the rug.  Because the rug is so thick, I am not sure it is ideal for covering a chair, but possibly an ottoman?  More than likely a wall hanging though– I just don’t think I can cut into such a pretty piece!


Fifth and Final Pro Tip of Thrifting- Be sure to incorporate your personality.  Home decor trends are much like fashion trends– each are constantly changing and not all of them are a fit for everyone.  Don’t be afraid to take a home decor trend and add your own spin, as I did below.

I don’t typically shop at Pottery Barn, but I took a quick pass through the store, looking for fall home decor inspiration.  I was immediately drawn to these terra cotta pots, especially that gold!  I love the color and texture, but I don’t have any idea of what I would put in either of these.  Each of the vases also retails around $34 which is beyond my budget for home accessories that get switched out with the seasons.


At a recent garage sale I picked up this pot in a very similar gold for $.50 cents!!  The smaller cactus pot I have had for so long I don’t remember where it came from.  While the Pottery Barn vases are beautiful, these vintage scores filled with greenery are a much better fit to my style and personality.  These thrifted finds incorporate the same color and texture as the Pottery Barn items, but being one of a kind, they add a layer of interest to my home decor I wouldn’t otherwise have.


That’s a wrap for this yard sale find!  All those goodies in one quick stop just two blocks from home!  Inspired to hit the yard sales and flea markets now?  Here is a quick re-cap and your go-to checklist before heading out to thrift shop this weekend!

5 Pro Tips to Transforming Your Thrift Store Finds:

  • Be the early bird
  • Know what to look for
  • Keep an eye out on current home decor trends to guide your thrift purchases
  • Live with your items for awhile before starting their transformation
  • Be sure to incorporate your personality

Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date on where I am finding my treasures, and to follow along the transformation process!  And as always, please share in the comments below your thoughts!  Would love to hear what you are looking for when you are out thrifting!


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