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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