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Home improvement - the thrifting way

By Leigh Anne Butler

Home is the place we make our own. It can be tempting to decorate your home based on what you think will be appealing to others. In the end, your home is about you and should reflect you and your lifestyle. 

Decorating your home can be overwhelming. It can also be expensive. Both of these factors can keep people from creating spaces that they truly love. You can achieve a beautiful home on any budget by having a plan and thrifting!

Thrift stores, yard sales, Facebook Marketplace, estate sales and antique stores are filled with affordable options to decorate your home at a fraction of the cost of buying new. When you thrift, you are giving new life to old things as well as adding a personal touch to your home that is truly unique to you. Thrifted items add depth and character to your home as well as adding personality. Your home should be about what you love and what feels like home to you.

Before you begin, it is helpful to create a list of items you need or want. Categorize these items by room and take measurements of what size pieces will work in your space.  It is also a great idea to keep a few photos of your home on your phone for reference when you are out looking. Take a small tape measure as well as paint and fabric swatches (if you have them) for reference.

A great rule of thumb when thrifting is to go (or look if searching online) often. When visiting thrift stores, early morning on weekdays are a great time to shop. Stores often restock first thing in the morning and usually people donate items over the weekend.

When shopping it is important to keep an open mind and think creatively. Try to look past finishes. Paint can transform an old piece into something magical. Also look for quality. Is the piece sturdy? Is it made from solid materials, like wood, metal or stone?

If you are new to thrifting, the following items are great starters and are easily accessible at most places; books, mirrors, furniture, frames and lamps. 

Books are obviously good choices for reading, but are excellent for decorating.  They can give height and interest to table décor as well as add interest to bookshelves. A great tip is to take the book jacket off and look at the spine of the book. Does the color work well with your décor? Vintage book sets are perfect for bookshelves to create a cohesive look and fill space.

Mirrors are usually readily available and are a décor item that can be used in so many places; an entryway, bathroom, or as a “wall-filler” when you have a large expanse of wall to decorate. Vintage mirrors are usually always better made, more attractive and an affordable option to get a lot of bang for your buck.

Furniture is always abundant when thrifting and you can really save a lot of money by choosing second hand furniture.  Hard furniture, especially small hard furniture, like tables, chairs and bookshelves are wonderful items to finish your space and save a lot of money. Look for how sturdy the piece is as well as the overall size and style. You can always paint or refinish a piece to get the desired look you want to achieve. Be careful when purchasing upholstered items. You should be very conscious of pet and smoke odors.

Another favorite thrifting trick is to look for custom framed artwork. Often the art isn’t your style or is dated but the quality of the frame is usually top notch.  It is so easy to take the artwork out, clean the frame and glass, replace or paint the mat and add your own photographs or artwork. You can find free or inexpensive artwork on the internet, download it and have it printed at your local photo lab or on your home printer. 

Lamps are readily available at thrift stores. When looking for a lamp, pay attention to the size and shape.  Lampshades and color are easily changeable. Most times lamps are missing the shade or need replacing.  You can add a new shade or even a different thrifted one. The base can be painted, stained, cleaned or polished to achieve a look that will work in your home. Most thrift stores check to make sure lamps work before selling them, but you can always ask to try it out before purchasing.

Now, let’s get thrifting! You can have a home that is styled specifically for you without breaking the bank.

- Leigh Anne Butler has a degree in interior design from The University of Alabama. You can follow @nobleroadabode on Instagram for more thrifting and decorating ideas.