What to Look for and How to Use Thrifted Items

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What To Look For And How to Use Thrift Store Items

First thing first, don’t get overwhelmed when you walk into a thrift store you need to start off organized and by organized I mean make a list. If you go in without being prepared you will just wander around, get off track, and pick up things you don’t need or want.

Most of the time I know what I’m looking for and can find things that fit into my plan or things I can transform and make-work for pennies. For instance if your home is in need of new artwork consider purchasing an ugly thrifted painting that fits your space, give the frame a coat of paint, have a favorite photo made to fit the opening size of the frame and use spray adhesive to adhere it over the ugly painting. The ideas are endless you just have to get a little creative and have a little vision. Don’t drag home a piece you don’t have a plan for. You certainly don’t want your house becoming cluttered with Goodwill items.

Here’s a list of my favorite things to look for when thrifting, and mostly because they’re easy to transform and you can pick them up for next to nothing.

Artwork: Frames are expensive in stores and dirt cheap at thrift stores; most of the time you can find a way to use the pieces by turning them into a framed chalkboard, add kids artwork, or add photos it’s a good buy for a few bucks.

Furniture: If the frame is in good shape and it doesn’t smell like the neighbors stinky cigar you can recover it with a slip or if you’re really handy you can make your own. If it’s something like a wooden kitchen chair you can paint it and add a cute cushion or pillow to change up the look.

Home Décor Items: For $1 you can find some great things like vases and knick knacks if you don’t like the color just get out that can of spray paint and turn them into a work of art. You do have to look past ugly colors at times but learn to see what it can become not what it currently is. It’s amazing how white or silver spray paint can make something look fresh and new again.

Vintage Items: If you collect vintage Pyrex, pottery, Mason jars, or enamelware keep your eyes open thrift stores are a great place to pick up those vintage finds to add to your collection.

Dishes: I love to pick up an occasional drinking glass or pitcher to use as a flower vase and the nice thing is when you get tired of it you can donate it back to the thrift store because you don’t have a lot of money invested.

So remember to shop with a purpose, and visualize what you will do with the piece before you drag it home and your thrift store experience will become a pleasant trip out. Below you will find how the All Things Creative Team have turned thrift store things into beautiful treasures. All you need to do is click on the thumbnails to see the complete project. 


Some exciting news the ALL THINGS CREATIVE team has our very own Facebook page and we’d love for you to drop by and join in. For the next 30 days we’ll be sharing daily tips, inspiration, and DIY ideas for thrifting and we’d love for you to drop by and share your thrifted posts, and if you don’t blog come by and post a photo of your best thrifted project. You can find us here: ATC and we can’t wait to see you! 

All Things Creative Facebook Page

Also don’t forget to follow the ALL THINGS CREATIVE Pinterest board, it’s loaded with fantastic ideas. 

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Domestically Speaking | A Little Claireification | Debbiedoo’s | The DIY Village | Creative Cain Cabin | The Happier Homemaker | Redhead Can Decorate | On Sutton Place | Cottage at the Crossroads | Tried & True



  1. says

    Artwork is always top of my husband’s list, he has got some paintings by his favourite local artist at very reasonable prices.
    I always look for dishes and glassware to make items for the garden.
    Off to check out your group Facebook page.

    • says

      Linda what a great idea to pick up the dishes for the garden to use as art. I’ve picked up some local artist things for $5 I bet the would cringe if they spotted their things in a thrift store.

  2. says

    Great tips Dawn….now I find that I have to make a list…as when I enter a shop that has lot of great things, I get overwhelmed and forget what I am truly looking for!….

    • says

      Shirley if I don’t make a list I just wander around not knowing what to look for and end up picking up things I have no use for. Now I have a plan and if they don’t have what I want I come out empty handed.

  3. Kris says

    I guess we all have our methods! I am, by nature, a very organized person. But when I thrift, I have a method to my madness. I pick up everything that I think I even MIGHT want. Then I cull out the things I am not taking, and leave only with the must haves. It is a fun hobby!
    xo Kris

    • says

      Kris your method works girl you always have great thrifted stuff. I believe your thrift stores are much better than the ones around here. I would love to thrift with you 🙂

  4. Theresa says

    Hi Dawn. I love thrift shopping too. Thanks for the tips.
    I also just wanted to let you know that we have Netflix. Awhile ago I had saved When Calls The Heart, so I could watch it later. After reading about how you were hooked on watching it, I decided to go ahead and start watching it too.
    Well, I am hooked now also, ha,ha. As of now Netflix only has two season listed. I am not sure how many seasons there are. Do you know?
    Theresa- Ohio

    • says

      Theresa I believe there are 3 season but you’re right only two are on Netflix now. Im also waiting for them to release season 3. It’s such a wholesome show that makes you feel good after watching it.

  5. says

    Dawn, these are some great tips! My storage building does indeed look like a thrift store because I see so many things at the auction that must come home with me. (Sometimes I get things for free because they are just left behind! )

    • says

      Jane I love to go to auctions, hubby and I would buy a box for next to nothing just because I wanted on piece in it, but once I got it home there normally was a hidden treasure amongst it all.

  6. Cheryl Major says

    Dawn, I am a big fan of thrift shops. There are great deals to be had if you are patience and with a plan. Thanks for the tips and inspiration .

    • says

      Cheryl I stopped today and found an apple green vase for spring and a milk glass piece.

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