Google+ House Revivals: Thrift Store Shopping Secrets

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thrift Store Shopping Secrets

Most of my readers know I am an avid thrift store shopper.  When my family was young, it was a necessity.  Thrift store shopping was simply part of a frugal lifestyle that allowed us to send my husband to grad school, put the kids in assorted lessons and sports, and pay off debt.  After a while, living frugally just becomes a habit.  When I speak of frugality, I mean it in terms of stewardship, generosity, and abundance -- not in terms of being miserly, selfish, or self-denying. Good stewardship of our resources allows us all to be more generous -- with ourselves and others, and forces us to live more creatively.

When thrift store shopping these days, I keep my eyes open for items to make over, and for items to use when designing craft projects.  Often these types of things are passed over by other shoppers.  Occasionally, you can find lovely vintage papers, such as this vintage Dennison Crepe paper.  Check crepe paper for odors and pliability.  If it was stored in a smoke free environment, chances are it is not brittle, and will hold up well to crafting.  I once made over two hundred corsages from vintage crepe paper for a ladies' Christmas brunch.  I found out later, that they were the only corsages some of those sweet ladies had ever received!

Some of you may remember these garlands I made from vintage crepe paper last year.  They were a fun, frugal way to herald the coming of spring!

I also used pages from thrifted books, lengths of thrifted crochet thread, and thrifted buckram. When shopping for vintage papers, keep your eyes open for old maps, books, record covers, ledgers, wallpaper, and so on.  You never know what will spark your next BIG idea!

Keep your eyes open for vintage textiles.  These retro curtains still had the original Sears price tags on them when I found them at a local thrift store.  I originally bought them to sew into shopping bags, but they are actually being used, temporarily, as... well..., curtains! 

Embroidered textiles, are a favorite find, as well.  Preferably something damaged, as it will be cheap, and you can cut it up guilt free!   I like damaged quilts for the same reason.  This quilt cost about two dollars from the local Goodwill Outlet. 

I'm not sure what the quilt will become, but I am feeling inspired by this Folk Art Flock, from Wisteria,  and a tub of old wooden peppermills and candlesticks left over from another project....

This vanity bench was part of a bedroom set in really poor condition.  It is maple and super sturdy.  Most would pass this piece by, but I think I might fashion a new seat for this piece using burlap upholstery straps, and use it,either as a table with a tray, or at the foot of one of the twin beds in our sleeping loft.

Here is another vanity bench that just needs some TLC.  The veneer is in poor condition, but just look at those lines!  I will most likely patch the veneer with wood putty, paint it, and cover the seat with a fabric remnant.  It can serve as an extra landing spot for luggage and such in one of our guest rooms at the beach house.

Basically, everything except the greenery on our Christmas mantel last year was from a thrift store!  The vintage books, the crafts made from vintage book pages, the chalkboard frames, the mercury glass ornaments -- all of it was thrifted.  

These honeycomb ornaments, made last Christmas, were made from the same book pages used to make woven stars the previous year.

The trick to finding a used book suitable for crafting is to look for paper that is still strong and pliable -- pass on by the books with really brittle pages.  Also, rare books, expensive books, and some religious books might not be suitable for crafting.

I do occasionally use religious books, carefully and respectfully, in a way that adds meaning to the piece being created.

When shopping for vanity mirrors for our master bath last fall, I found two of these retro seventies mirrors at a local Habitat ReStore.

With some sanding and painting and distressing, they were perfect in our bathroom!

This clock reminded me of school days...

These vintage Christmas lights will eventually find their way into wreaths -- even the cords will be used.  The gently aged colors or so gorgeous!

The stove we installed in our beach house kitchen came from a ReStore.  The nice thing about a vintage stove is that it doesn't "date" your kitchen remodel.  It's a classic piece that will look great in two years or twenty years -- and where else can you find a forty-two inch, six burner gas stove for only a few hundred dollars?

My advice to new thrifters is to keep an open mind while also being practical. If you live in tight quarters, you may not want to bring home a giant cookstove, but a couple of vintage books or maps, or some vintage embroidered pieces, won't take up much space.  On the other hand, if you need to furnish a house, there is no better place to find good quality pieces at affordable prices.  Skip the particle board, and check pieces for soundness.  Reupholstering is expensive, but slipcovers can usually be found affordably.

Try to see things as they might be, with a little paint, a new seat cover, or new hardware.  Maybe those ugly window treatments can become a funky new apron or shopping bag?  Or, in my case, maybe they will pinch hit as... curtains!

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  1. I love old curtains and have them hanging all over. I LOVE these. That fabric is priceless.

  2. I am with you 100% on the reasons for being thrifty - it can add a lot to life! You have some great ideas, especially for using the old crepe paper and fabric - lots of inspiration here.

  3. I *luv* this, Amanda! Sometimes I feel a bit inadequate to do the jobs needed to refinish stuff, but perhaps once my children are a tad older...I do enjoy cruising the resale shops when possible!

  4. Thanks for your post Amanda. YOU have given me some new inspiration, now I think I need to go thrifting :) Hmmm... maybe I should start in my own stockpile first LOL.
    Have a great day,

  5. Great post! Well said about thrifting becoming a way of life. I think thrifters do the world a great service by not adding extra demand on the world resources. It's amazing what you can find at the thrift!

  6. Such great ideas, Amanda! Thrifting is just another way to "go green." You have offered us so many ways to do just that!!!

  7. I too love Thrift Store Shopping and have many things from Goodwill in my home. I also buy my work clothes at Goodwill. Alot of times I find clothes that are new with tags. It is amazing. I also buy some things to sell on ebay. I have done very well on that. Usually buying for $1.00 (I just sold a $1.00 dress for $35.00) It helps fund my next thrift shopping trip. Several of your finds would bring big money on ebay.
    Almost all my crafting purchases are from Goodwill too. If you're patient, you will find it sooner or later.

  8. I love Thrift Store Shopping. My 12 year old loves to cook and bake. We have found things to make fancy cakes with. I have found for myself pyrex pans. I am collecting many sizes. I like them better then metal pants. We have found curtains for the kids rooms for around $5. My kids love looking at thrift shops, too. My 15 year old son has found many games this year. Old pinball games and others for very cheap. In the past I have bought wool sweater and made soakers "baby pants" to where over diapers. Love you blog.

  9. Thrifting is a win/win. We are reusing/repurposing items, saving them from ending up in a landfill and thrifting also encourages us to use our creativity and we save money for our favorite charities. Excellent tips and attitude Amanda! And I luuuuuuv your stove. Just saw an AGA legacy stove in a showhome this weekend...let's just say that you scored big time in savings!

  10. Hi Amanada, I love thrifting too and I have found so many wonderful things at reasonable prices. I love the mirrors in your bathroom. Hugs, Sherry

  11. Chock full of good ideas, as always. I love garage sales, especially estate sales. Although there should be estate sale police because honey, if you're not selling a bunch of pieces in someone's house, it ain't an estate sale. It's a garage sale "with many estate pieces". C and I should apply. With all the garage sales we've gone to, we should open the academy!
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-Host of the April A to Z Challenge
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

  12. Hi Amanda, first time visitor! That's incredible that you could do all these crafts. I admire people who can do things with their hands like this.


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