I wanted to share how I view thrifting and antiquing and what I like to buy. I also want to discuss the big home stores that we all buy things from too – nothing is wrong with that, we need to mix old and new and more often than not, we want a new couch and desk! The goal is to have a collected home that resembles you and looks nothing like other’s IG feed because it’s uniquely you!
Whether thrifting or antiquing, the items have already lost their value so by the time I purchase it, it is a bargain. If I want to resell it, it’s not a lot of money lost. Unlike if I purchased a new chair from let’s say, Restoration Hardware, it would be hard to convince someone to buy it for close to the same amount I spent on it or even half.
I wrote a blog post about my favorite places to shop for thrifting and antique shopping as well as dining – check it out!
What I like to search for and purchase at thrift stores
- Silver plated pieces – serve ware, trays, bowls, dishes, utensils
- Crystal and glass bowls and vases
- Special Commemorative Plates
- Baskets – I don’t like to spend more than $10 on a basket – and for $10 it better be one heck of a basket!
Tip on thrift stores: If you see it and you want it, GET IT. Don’t wait. So many people are thrifting and within a few hours it can be gone. If it’s a cheap and you like it, just get it!
The deal is made when you buy and at thrift stores, it’s all about getting those good deals!
Christian stores, hospice thrift stores, and Salvation Army as well as Goodwill are great places to thrift. Check your neighborhood garage sales as well! And when in doubt, ask friends if they have favorite spots. I have found that thrift stores close to larger cities have some great traditional pieces – if you go out into the country you’re going to find more country items.
Also, if you find a great framed piece of furniture like a settee, consider updating it with an upholster with an amazing fabric that will express who you are opposed to a piece of furniture that’s not as great quality and made overseas! I guarantee if you thrift well, you can spend the same amount if not less on a unique study piece of furniture that even with painting and upholstery cost, may make it worth it and even cheaper than a new piece – and it’ll be one of a kind!
Antiquing, like thrifting, is treasure hunting only it can be a bit more pricey. Unlike thrift stores though, items aren’t as cheap. When I go into antique stores I know I will spend more and I’m OK with that because I am looking for specific items at a specific quality as well. But – you can still find bargains!
What I like to buy at antique stores
- Wall art – paintings and mirrors
- Blue and white porcelain
- Unique pieces that are from a specific time period
Antiquing tip: When it comes to larger purchases – like the item is over $200 or it’s a large item like I’d have to replace other furniture, or take up big wall space, I take a photo so I can think about it. I take a photo, measure it with my measuring tape (if you don’t have one, ask the front desk, every antique store has many to let shoppers borrow), and I text myself the measurements and the price tag. Then I come home and I sit with the photo and look at the space I envision it. If I can’t stop thinking about it and worry it might disappear, I know I have to get it the next morning. But most of the time, my photos don’t get revisited and I’m so glad I wasn’t impulsive. When you know, you know, and if you don’t know for whatever reasons and you need to double check, take a photo and sleep on it for 24 hours.
And if time passes and I don’t think about those items any longer obviously it’s not meant to be. I also consult a few friends and check to see their thoughts and here’s what I’ve learned – if I’m meh about it, it shouldn’t go in my home and my friends feel the same, it’s like they know! It’s like we know it’s not worth the spend even if it’s a bargain.
Always be prepared to overlook flaws because the items you look at will be old. I was hesitant about a wood mirror but my friend Farrah who is an antique lover and owns many French antiques said it’s to be expected. But remember, it doesn’t mean it has to be beat up. If you can’t live with the crack or broken leg on a chair, then shop new. That’s ok!
But when you are antiquing you are probably already keeping that in mind and want the piece to look like a heirloom that has been around for 100-200 years because in fact, it has. Just call it patina and love it! You may have one of the last ones left in the world.
I ended up buying the mirror for $289 and I swapped it with a mirror I had on the wall for a while that still had the price tag on it – $99!! I was shocked I even paid so much for a new basic oval mirror. Sure this antique mirror is 3x more, but for an extra $189, I think anyone would agree this mirror is worth it so I say live with a blank wall and save your pennies for that amazing piece.
I have a PB card for the rewards, because I shopped Pottery Barn a LOT, I was also a RH member. I don’t shop them as often as I used to, but mainly because my big pieces of furniture are still with us – the couches and rugs. Those were investments! Some pieces you do have to buy new – our dining room table is RH and our couches and rugs are mainly PB. But we throw in the antiques – like a vintage sideboard from One Kings Lane.
When it comes to discount home decor stores (Home Goods, TJ Maxx), I will buy pieces at good prices that I know I may donate a few years later. To me these big box retail stores like Home Goods tend to be similar to fast fashion for me, they are fast home decor and I enjoy it while I can! I still find things I love despite the cheaper price tag – it’s like thrifting but new items!
What I buy: Couches, glasses, tables, dishes, and rugs. I think thick wool rugs are a win at these stores, they are plush and great quality. These are pricier items that will stay around for at least 10 years in our home. You can check out outlet stores like PB Outlet or RH Outlet for some deals.
For bigger ticket items like a couch from Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware, I must sit on the furniture. I will rarely buy a chair without having sat in it before – unless I really really love it and cross my fingers it will be comfortable when it arrives. I look at these big pieces of furniture pieces as investments.
What I sell/donate
To summarize, hold onto and buy items that represent who you want to be. If you have an object that is too modern or too boho and that’s not you anymore, then donate it.
Diana Elizabeth will sometimes pop into a thrift store because she’s bored – she is on the road and thinking a small detour might be fun, and it always is.