It brings me an immeasurable amount of joy to tell people how much my belongings cost.
Here, are my best tips for creating a gorgeous space filled with wonderful, cheap things – but not dying under a pile of bad oil paintings.
7 tricks to finding the best stuff in the thrift store
1. Keep an on-going list of wants/needs and measurements
Chest of drawers for living room – around 35 x 16 x 24
Hanging shoe rack for closet
Slipper chair for bedroom – neutral color, no taller than 30″
Vintage round table cloth – at least 50″
4 white saucers
And then if you’re reallllly serious, you get a tiny tape measure key chain so you’ll be able to measure all the slipper chairs you encounter.
2. Honor the ‘immediate yes’
Dude. You deserve clothes you lovelovelove and that make you feel like a gee dee super hero. It doesn’t matter how little the piece costs. If you don’t want to wear it out of the store or immediately rearrange your living room to accommodate it, leave it alone.
3. Practice one-in-one-out
Want to keep your closet relaxingly clear and your shelves not-overflowing? Each time you bring in something new-but-not-totally-necessary, swap out something else.
If your bookshelves are holding all they can and you really “need” that Little Women collection, maybe it’s time to get rid of those college textbooks. If all your hangers are occupied but you just found three vintage wiggle dresses, get rid of those sweaters you never wear. You get the idea!
4. Keep a donation bag going at all times
One paper bag in your front closet for catching all those duplicate vegetable peelers, the mismatched pillow cases, and the heels you never learned to walk in.
When it’s full, drop it off at your neighborhood thrift store, then come home and start a new bag. Each time you see it, you’ll think about winnowing and narrowing what you own down to only the best things!
5. Use IFTTT for Craigslist
Craigslist isn’t quite the same as Goodwill, but it scratches the same itch. IFTTT allows you to receive notifications anytime a new item is posted on Craigslist that matches your search. So go ahead! Set up a search for “midcentury coffee table under $50 within 15 miles of 55406” and wait for the notifications to ding through.
It works like magic, especially if you set your own work hours and own a hatchback so you can drive to the suburbs at the drop of a hat to pick up that recliner.
6. Go thrifting with an open mind
Thrifting is a bit like going to the farmers’ market. You usually have a loose idea of what you want to buy when you head there – some tomatoes, some fruit for your breakfast smoothies. But you’re open to seeing what looks good, what’s in season, and what opportunities present themselves. You want to be surprised!
The same goes for thrifting. If you need a pair of size 10 black cigarette pants by tomorrow afternoon, your local Goodwill is probably not the place to go. But if you’re approaching it from a ‘I need more sweaters’ perspective, you’re a lot more likely to find what you want.
7. Natural materials age better
To be filed under ‘duh,’ but worth a reminder: wood, brass, leather, wool, linen, silk, and pottery age beautifully and hold up forEVER. The 1970s wool blanket will last decades and the brass planter will develop a nice patina. The fiberboard desk and the secondhand Forever 21 dress won’t age as nicely.
Also, FWIW, things made with natural materials just looks … fancier. So if you’re hoping to fool people into thinking you spent a lot of money, leather, wool, or brass will do the trick!
Are you a thrifter? Tell us your best tips!