13 Ways to Decorate With Thrift Store Treasures

By Staff
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13 Ways to Decorate With Thrift Store Treasures

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

Looking to refresh your home for spring? Take a detour from the big-box stores and head to the nearest flea market, junk shop or yard sale instead. With creativity and some elbow grease, you can furnish and decorate a home that looks uniquely yours, for not too much cash. Here are 13 ideas to get you started.

Maureen Stevens Design, original photo on Houzz

Dip vintage bottles in white paint. So simple, but so pretty! Small glass bottles are plentiful in many vintage shops — clear or blue glass would work well for this project. Pour a small amount of white paint into each bottle (do this one at a time), and tilt and swirl until you achieve a look you like. Allow to dry completely before using. These are lovely as is, or fill them with cut or dried flowers — just don’t drink out of them.

Embrace rusted chic in the backyard. Old, rusted twin bed frames, chaises and chairs can often be found for a song, and pieces too far gone to use indoors can work beautifully in the yard. Plump up old seats with new cushions and pretty textiles.


red: modern lines . vintage finds, original photo on Houzz

Craft unique lights from old fishing nets. The lights shown here were created by a talented pro, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try your own spin on the look if you’re feeling crafty. Pick up a lighting kit at the hardware store and use wire to create a form to attach your fishing net to. Just be sure to keep the frame well away from the bulb for safety.


Sarah Greenman, original photo on Houzz

Update vintage furniture with painted legs or stripes. What might look like a fussy old dark-wood-framed sofa in the thrift store could be incredibly chic with its frame painted crisp white. Likewise, if you spot a little table with a cute shape but an awful color or finish, try to see beyond the surface — neatly painted stripes, like on the side table shown here, can completely transform a piece in a weekend.


Whitney Lyons, original photo on Houzz

Use a schoolroom map as flat-screen-TV cover. Looking for a creative way to disguise the big black box when you’re not watching TV? Try tracking down a vintage school map or chart (the kind that’s meant to be mounted to the ceiling) and hang it an inch or two in front of the TV. When you’re not watching, simply pull the cord for instant wall art.


Whitney Lyons, original photo on Houzz

Reupholster vintage chairs with burlap sacks and blue jeans. From the same creative Portland homeowner who hung the map in the last photo, here is a great budget-friendly upholstery material: old blue jeans and burlap coffee bean sacks. Start saving up your family’s old jeans instead of tossing them (or pick some up cheap at a thrift store) and ask your local coffeehouse for a few burlap bags.

Use discarded apartment building mailboxes as storage. When hung on a wall instead of flush mounted, a row of old mailboxes makes a unique little storage unit. Hang it in the kitchen and keep spices in it, or put one in the entryway to sort incoming and outgoing mail.

Put an old door to work. On its own, a wooden door in a fun color works as unique wall art; add a row of hooks to the bottom to make it functional, too. You could even string a grid of ribbon between the openings where glass once was and use it as a message center.

Hang a cluster of mismatched vintage mirrors. Can’t find just the right mirror to fit your space? Try collecting a bunch of small rectangular vintage mirrors instead. Hung flush together, they’ll look like they were meant to be together, even if they all have different finishes.

Hang target practice paper as art. For quirky and slightly subversive wall art on a budget, you can’t beat target practice paper. Framed in a simple poster frame, it will take up lots of room on a big wall and is sure to start conversations.


Lucy Call, original photo on Houzz

Rig up bar shelving with old crates. Alternating between open side out and back side out makes this arrangement of wooden crates especially appealing. Hung behind a bar or kitchen counter, or above a bar cart, these shelves provide rustic storage for your best bottles and an assortment of mason jar glasses.

Turn a gum ball machine into a lamp. Using a lamp wiring kit from the hardware store and a store-bought shade, you can transform a vintage gum ball machine into a unique lamp, perfect for a kids’ room or fun living room. If you are not comfortable working with wiring, ask your electrician or handyperson to put it together for you.

Put theater chairs to work at the dining table. Old metal and wood theater chairs that come in rows can make a fun alternative to a bench seat at the dining table. And because the seats fold up, you could also keep them propped against a blank wall, at the ready for extra guests.