the old barn

Thrifted home Decor including cabbage plate and green and white napkins are gathered on a round cutting board on an island in a white farmhouse kitchen

Home Decor Thrifting Tips | Unique Items to look for

March 11, 2022

It’s not always fun or easy to dig and sort through the clutter to find a treasure, but I’ll go over my home decor thrifting strategy for finding what you’re looking for, saving money, and knowing what to put back.

I walked up to the cashier with 6 wooden oars. Real oars. 5 foot long seemingly hard-to-miss oars. And the cashier said, “I have never seen these here before, how on earth did you find these?”

“I used my oar seeking goggles.” I told her.

See Tip #3 below for more info about finding exactly what you’re looking for


If you’re joining me from Robyn’s French Nest I’m so glad you are here! I loved seeing how she used the bread boards she thrifted!

Hello! I’m Jessica, wife to Cody, and mom to 2 boys and a girl, who are SO lucky because everyday with me is like an episode of carpool karaoke! They get a ride and a show! (What I lack in talent, I make up for in loudness and enthusiasm). I have a background in architecture and designed this home that we just built in a small Texas town. We self-contracted the build…and we are still finishing up a few projects. Oh! And our Floor Plans are available on this website. Most days you can find me on Instagram @the.old.barn so come say hi!

Where my Thrifting began

I have been shopping in thrift stores since I was in middle school. A vintage real leather jacket for $2.99 found me and I was hooked. I still have that jacket, by the way.

Goodwill, resale stores, and thrift shops have great finds

Why I love home decor thrifting

Growing up, money was tight and there was rarely enough for splurges and if my mom did spend big on something for me I felt guilty. And then, if in a few months, as my style and tastes changed (as they do with teenagers), I felt guilty again for no longer loving the splurge.

I believe this has led my love for timeless and classic styles in homes and design!

And I have found that thrift shopping allows me some freedom to experiment with styles, trends, and items I may love now, but might not love forever without feeling guilty over the money spent.

The green cabbage plate was thrifted at Goodwill

Some Other Reasons I love thrifting:

  1. Save money
  2. To find unique and one-of-a-kind items that everyone else probably doesn’t already have
  3. The thrill of the hunt
  4. Low prices make it easier to experiment creatively and change things often
  5. Recycling is good and keeps some items out of landfills
  6. Sometimes money goes to helping others/charity

Here’s a Home Decor Thrifting Video:

If you’d like to virtually browse the thrift stores with me, you’ll enjoy this video.

Home Decor Thrifting Tips:

  1. Go with a few things in mind that you’re looking for.
  2. Be open to finding something that is not on your list.
  3. Plan to go through the store twice
  4. Keep the unique items that you love
  5. Put back the projects and things you could “make work”
  6. Questions before checking out
  7. If you’re not sure, take a picture and leave it.
  8. Keep to your budget.

Go with a few things in mind that you’re looking for

I keep a list in my phone.

These are usually items I think I’d like but don’t want to pay full price for.

Sometimes it’s items that I know will be transient like trendy items, holiday decor, or a style idea I want to try but am not 100% sure about.

When you go to the store have your list handy. See Tip #3

There are some home decor items I like to keep an eye out for like old books, crocks, dough bowls, big glass ball jars, etc.

thrifted old blue books tied together with twine next to a thrifted milk jug
thrifted old blue books tied together with twine next to a thrifted milk jug

Be open to finding something that is not on your list

Thrift stores and resale shops are full of treasures you never knew you needed!

Sometimes they are even being sold for a fraction of what they’re worth.

Sometimes these are the best finds and add the kitschy quirkiness that makes your home fun, and uniquely you.

This is the fun part!

One day, I was thrifting with my daughter who was tired of shopping, so I challenged her to see which of us could find the craziest/creepiest item in the store. Let me tell you, she hit the jackpot of creepy!

It turned into a fun time that we won’t forget!

Plan to go through the store twice (or at least the Home Decor section)

The first time you go though a store, be laser-focused looking for only the items on your list. Repeat it’s name over and over in your head as you look. Is it a specific color or shape? Only allow your eye stop when it sees that color or shape.

The day I found 6 oars, I was only focusing on long slender items, I spotted rakes and newel posts, and porch posts and 6 wooden oars in 6 different locations.

Now go put your searched-for items by the cashier and go through the store again.

This second trip around is slower and more relaxed, looking for the other items that may speak to you.

The items that you never knew you always needed…Like these gigantic welded glasses I “needed” for my office (to remind me to stay focused)!

thrifted glass as home decor for office

Keep the unique items that you love

Weed your items out. Leave the likes, and keep the loves. If it’s unique and speaks you your heart, you love it. If it’s going to be added to a million others just like it, leave it.

Put back the projects and things you could “make work” unless you went in search of a DIY project.

Okay, do as I say and not as I do on this one.

I tend to bring home projects.

It’s fine if what you’re looking for is a DIY project but I’m usually not, they just find me.

This last thrifting trip I said no projects and of course, I came home with some things I needed to spray paint…and a table I wanted to strip.

I’ve done SOME of these projects.

It happens, but if you’re really not going to do the project within a week or two, don’t buy it.

Ask yourself the following questions before checking out:

Where is this going to live in my home and where will I store it when it’s not in use?

Am I going to have to fix it up before I will love it?

Is it a dime a dozen – or is it unique?

Is it in my budget? Try negotiating, especially if the item isn’t in perfect condition, but we willing to put it back if it’s still over budget.

Is the price really too good to pass up? or is the good price the only reason I’m considering it?

Is this a transient item (trendy, holiday, or style experiment) that would cost much more in other stores?

If you’re not sure, take a picture and leave it.

Sometimes just having a picture of something allows you to appreciate it without owning it. If you’re still thinking about it next week, it’s in your budget, and it’s still there, then go for it. The waiting has proven it’s not an impulse buy.

The skinny Chinese bench called to me in the resale store months before I bought it. I kept seeing others for sale in other places that were priced much higher. I figured out 3 different places I could use it in my home. Finally, I went back to the store and it was still there. It is now in my Stair Hall.

Stick to your budget

It’s really easy to gather up a huge haul and even with good prices, things add up and can go over budget. Be selective, negotiate, and stick to you budget.

It’s good to have this boundary to keep us in check and challenge us to find the best deal.

Do you thrift shop for home decor?

What is your favorite thrifting find? I’d love to hear about it the comments!

Be sure to check out all of these blogs about home decor thrifting:

The Pond’s Farmhouse: Thrifted Coastal Farmhouse Decor on a Budget

Dabbling and Decorating: Spring Thrifty and Things

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  3. Teddee Grace says:

    Loved this! I have almost stopped thrift store shopping because of inflation and my age…I just turned 78 and I had to laugh when I started to mis-read one of your precautions….Ask yourself this question before you check out…Will you live long enough to fix it? One of the lures of thrifting for me has always been those items that just need a little tweak, a little TLC to make them into something I really want in my home. Living now in a one-bedroom apartment and already renting two storage units, I think I’m finally at the point where the item has to be exactly what I want without anything but a good wash.

  4. Ann says:

    So many great tips here Jessica and I’m so glad you joined us here this month. Happy thrifting💃🏼💃🏼

  5. Jessica,
    I loved all of your creative tips and ideas. Your home is beautiful and I’m so glad you joined us this month.

  6. I’m so glad you joined us on the hop this month and shared this inspiring post!!

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