Thrift Store Treasures: Tips For Finding And Refinishing Second Hand Decor

Thrift Store Treasures: Tips For Finding And Refinishing Second Hand Decor

Finding Hidden Gems at Thrift Stores

Thrift stores have long been a favorite hunting ground for bargain hunters, but they are also a treasure trove for those seeking unique and vintage home decor items. From furniture to artwork, you can find a wide range of second-hand treasures that can add character and charm to your space. However, finding and refinishing these items requires a keen eye and some know-how. In this article, we will explore some tips and tricks for uncovering thrift store treasures and transforming them into stunning pieces for your home.

1. Research and Prepare

Before embarking on your thrift store adventure, it is essential to do your research and prepare yourself for the hunt. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure a successful shopping trip:

  • Research local thrift stores: Find out which stores in your area are known for having a good selection of home decor items. Read reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family.
  • Make a list: Create a list of the specific items you are looking for. This will help you stay focused and prevent you from getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options.
  • Set a budget: Determine how much you are willing to spend on each item. Thrift stores can be a budget-friendly option, but it’s still important to have a limit in mind.
  • Bring measurements: If you are looking for furniture, it is crucial to bring measurements of the space where the item will be placed. This will help you determine if the piece will fit and save you from any disappointment later on.

Thrift Store Treasures: Tips For Finding And Refinishing Second Hand Decor

2. Keep an Open Mind

When it comes to thrift store shopping, it’s essential to keep an open mind and be willing to see the potential in items that may not look perfect at first glance. Many pieces can be easily transformed with a little bit of creativity and elbow grease. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Look beyond the surface: Don’t be deterred by scratches, dings, or outdated finishes. These can often be fixed or updated with simple techniques.
  • Consider the bones: Focus on the structure and quality of the piece rather than its current appearance. Solid wood furniture, for example, can be sanded down and refinished to look brand new.
  • Think outside the box: Look for items that can be repurposed or used in unexpected ways. An old door can become a unique headboard, and a vintage ladder can be transformed into a stylish bookshelf.

Thrift Store Treasures: Tips For Finding And Refinishing Second Hand Decor

3. Inspect Carefully

When browsing through thrift store items, it’s important to inspect them carefully to ensure they are in good condition and worth your investment. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Structural integrity: Check for any wobbling or loose joints in furniture. If an item is not sturdy, it may not be worth the effort of refinishing.
  • Signs of damage: Look for any signs of water damage, mold, or pests. These issues can be challenging to fix and may affect the overall quality of the piece.
  • Quality materials: Pay attention to the materials used in the item. Solid wood, metal, and high-quality fabrics are more durable and can withstand the refinishing process.

Thrift Store Treasures: Tips For Finding And Refinishing Second Hand Decor

4. Refinishing Techniques

Once you’ve found your thrift store treasure, it’s time to unleash your creativity and transform it into a stunning piece for your home. Here are a few popular refinishing techniques:

  • Painting: One of the easiest ways to give new life to a piece of furniture is by painting it. Choose a color that complements your decor style and use high-quality paint for a professional finish.
  • Staining: If you want to enhance the natural beauty of wood furniture, staining is the way to go. It can bring out the grain and give the piece a rich, timeless look.
  • Decoupage: This technique involves applying paper or fabric to the surface of an item using a decoupage medium. It can add texture and visual interest to furniture, trays, or even lampshades.
  • Reupholstering: If you find a piece of furniture with a solid structure but outdated upholstery, consider reupholstering it. Choose a fabric that suits your style and follow online tutorials for step-by-step instructions.

Thrift Store Treasures: Tips For Finding And Refinishing Second Hand Decor

5. Don’t Forget the Details

When refinishing thrift store finds, it’s the little details that can make a big difference. Pay attention to the small elements that can elevate the overall look of the piece:

  • Hardware: Consider replacing old, worn-out hardware with new knobs, pulls, or handles. This simple swap can instantly update the look of a piece.
  • Trim and molding: Adding trim or molding to furniture or decor items can give them a more polished and sophisticated appearance.
  • Finishing touches: Don’t forget to add the finishing touches, such as decorative knobs, stencils, or distressing techniques. These details can add character and make your piece truly one-of-a-kind.

Thrift Store Treasures: Tips For Finding And Refinishing Second Hand Decor


Thrift stores offer a world of possibilities for finding unique and affordable home decor items. By doing your research, keeping an open mind, carefully inspecting items, and using various refinishing techniques, you can transform second-hand treasures into stunning pieces that reflect your personal style. Remember to have patience and enjoy the process of uncovering and refinishing thrift store gems. Happy hunting!