5 Things to Look for at the Thrift Store
Thrift
April 25, 2022

5 Things to Look for at the Thrift Store

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I love to thrift shop, but I know it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not used to thrifting. To help make things a little more manageable for you when you’re there, I’m sharing 5 things to look for at the thrift store to decorate your home.

black and white dot wall. pink chair with a corgi sitting in it. Lots of house plants. side table and lamp.

Cooper the Corgi even enjoys my thrift store finds! He’s still sad that I got rid of his favorite pink chair…

I have been thrifting for years. For me, thrift shopping can mean going to an actual thrift store or anywhere I can buy things secondhand—garage or estate sale, junk shop, antique shop, even “shopping” the side of the curb!

While I love the idea of thrifting, I know that for some people, it’s overwhelming. They’re not used to doing it, they don’t know what to look for, and they’re not sure what to do with the items that they find. Sound familiar? If it does, keep reading!


I know that not everyone will thrift shop for their home like I do. Almost everything I use to decorate our home with is secondhand. It’s not that I don’t love Target, TJ Maxx, Walmart, Anthropologie…the list goes on…but I notice that when I bring home too many pieces from a regular store, they stick out in our home. I prefer a much more eclectic design style, with age and character.

I do occasionally buy home decor items from current retailers, but I like to pepper them in with all of the thrift store treasures. To make shopping for and decorating with thrift store finds a bit easier for you, I’m sharing 5 things I always look for at the thrift store. Let me know if any of these are things you already look for or will in the future!

If you’re already a thrifter, you might not feel like you need this list, but I always find it helpful when others share their thrift wish lists and finds. They may have something on their list that I haven’t thought of yet and I can always use more inspiration for decorating our home!


I love decorating with books, but they can be expensive to buy all new…especially if you’re not necessarily going to be reading all of them. I’m always on the lookout for coffee table books at the thrift store. They are generally a nice big size and can be filled with amazing photography! I also look for unique titles, pretty covers, and subjects that I enjoy.

I also tend to gravitate toward cookbooks, although, I rarely cook out of them. The covers tend to be really beautiful on them and they’re filled with pretty photos as well! Not only do I look for bigger books, but I’m constantly adding to my collection of vintage Reader’s Digest books. They have colorful covers with fun (and unexpected) patterns on them. If you see them at the thrift store, be sure to look under the dust jacket—you’ll be surprised at what you might find!

I also look for vintage books in general. I love the aged color of the pages and tend to decorate with the pages pointed out, to show it off!

The Puffin In Bloom Collection is one of my favorites to display! It’s four nostalgic and classic books from my childhood with covers designed by Rifle Paper Co.


Accent furniture is something I’m always looking for at the thrift store. Most pieces are budget friendly and they’re a great way for me to change out the look of our home without having to move around anything too large. I also like buying them to flip, as they do well on both Facebook Marketplace and in my antique mall booth!

I know people get a little weirded out about thrifting furniture, especially anything that is upholstered, but it really is ok! Most thrift stores are very clean and are super picky about what they take in as donations. I always give things a good sniff test, in addition to pulling up cushions, looking for stains, and checking for anything that looks off.

I’ve thrifted a lot of “soft” items over the years…including rugs…and I’ve never had any issues with smells or bugs (or anything else) coming home with them. If you’re really worried about things like that, you can of course leave the upholstered items at the thrift store. Don’t let it stop you from buying other pieces of accent furniture—they’re totally safe to bring home!


I get most of the decor for our home at the thrift store, but I know that everyone has different taste when it comes to that. One thing that I think can span different decorating styles, though, is milk glass. It’s just like it sounds…an opaque white glass, used to make lots of decorative objects around the middle of the last century. (How weird is it to read that statement???)

While a lot of milk glass pieces are delicate and tend toward the cottage core trend, there are also plenty that could work with a cleaner and more minimalist style. Milk glass can also work for farmhouse or European or whatever we’re calling it these days, as well as, eclectic design—more like my style!

You can use milk glass en masse to showcase your collection or even just a piece or two scattered around your home. It looks great styled on a coffee table, open shelving, or as a display on a bookcase.


I will always and forever believe that people need real art in their homes. I know there are a lot of options out there for reproduction art, signs, etc., but the real magic happens when you incorporate original, weird, and non-perfect art into your design style.

There is so much good thrift store art out there! I mean, to be fair, there is a lot of bad stuff too…but let’s not focus on that… Art is another way to change the look of your space without making a major switch or spending a lot of money. The bet part of thrifting art is that you will have a wide array of pieces to choose from, which means you’ll more than likely find something that will work in your home.

Not only do I look for thrift store art that I love, but I keep my eyes out for great frames too. Don’t love what’s in them? You can easily pop the art out and add something that you do love. You can frame digital prints you’ve purchased online or even put some fabric or pretty paper in them.

Rub ‘n Buff is one of my favorite ways to update a frame that needs a little refinishing or that I don’t love the color on. Want to know more ways to use Rub ‘n Buff? I have a post with 5 ideas for your home!


Holy cow…have you priced mirrors lately? They are definitely very spendy, especially for one with good quality glass. Wonder what I’m talking about? Cheaper mirrors might look nice, but they can end up having sort of a fun house type of effect because of the cheap glass in them.

Vintage and antique mirrors might have cloudy or spotted glass, but it’s a cool effect, instead of the weird plastic-y glass in a less expensive, newer mirror. I love the etching that some older mirrors have and don’t even mind the “desilvering” that can happen, meaning the reflective coating they put on the mirror has started to flake off over time.

Much like all the other thrift store items, my number one reason for thrifting mirrors is so that I can have them as a unique element in my home. I am on an ever-quest to find one of a kind vintage pieces to bring into our home, making it beautiful and to stand out against the crowd.



I hope you have found this post to be helpful! Whether you’re brand new to thrifting or have been doing it for years, I always like to have inspiration for what I should be looking for at the thrift store. Not only that, but it’s nice to see how others style their secondhand finds! If you’ve thrifted any of these things for your own home, I would love to see! Share a picture in your Instagram stories and tag me! You can find me on Instagram at @hilaryprall.

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