I have that compulsion that’s growing pretty common among crafters and eclectic decorators. I love thrift stores. A lot of the coolest stuff I own comes from the thrift store. Clothes, collectibles, glass, nick knacks, and art! This post is devoted to wall art and decor, for the sake of brevity, so I’m going to share my favorite collected pieces and how to find your own cool stuff.
For starters, a bit of my collection
The first image seems to be something handmade by a ceramics hobbyist, depicting the zodiac signs around a sun. Love! The two lovely ladies are art prints of Amy Brown faeries, which I recognized immediately. There were originally five, which I got on half-price day. Next over is a print of a vintage political cartoon, “Tiddy Doll” on wood. Then we have Tevye, on a hanging music box which plays “If I Were a Rich Man” when you wind it. There’s also an Arthur Court platter, framed with elephants. Along the bottom are a hand carved cockatrice, and some pewter figurines (these came from an estate sale, but I’m going to allow it). Then some super rad punctuation statuettes I repainted, and a hand painted rain stick for my noise-making needs.
Lastly is my favorite thing I’ve ever thrifted, a painting of Arthur Rimbaud the poet on weird green fabric. The next photo is the back of the painting, on which there’s a personal message from the artist to whomever he gifted this painting. I will never understand why someone donated it, but it certainly has a loving home now.
Well sure it is! But I am fascinated with astrology, I’m very nostalgic about Amy Brown, and I worked at a youth theater which had just finished running Fiddler on the Roof. The point is, it’s personal.
I feel like a house should be full of things you love. Every space in your home can be filled with something that makes you happy. And looking at my art reminds me of my favorite things.
But how do you find the “perfect” thing?
There are different answers for different types of items, but again, I’m focusing on wall art and random decor here. So here’s how I manage to collect things that are designed as if they were made for me, without collecting more than I can handle.
Keep an Open Mind.
That platter wasn’t designed to hang on a wall, but all it took was a little hardware. Try to see things differently, or see the potential in them for decoration. Does it just need a little paint? A new frame? Other commonly uncommon decorations include fans, fabric, dishes, window panes, gear (like fishing poles or tools), bottles, and anything that can fit inside a shadow box! Think about the things you love to see and use in your everyday life, and use them to make any space your personal haven.
Know your Favorite Colors.
When skimming along a shelf at a crowded thrift store, you can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer volume. Knowing what colors you want in your house can help narrow your focus. Having specific colors in mind can also keep you from acquiring more than you need or actually have plans for.
Pick Things Up.
Thrift stores aren’t known for having the most effective display. Take the time to hold things, move them, really inspect them. They should feel exciting to touch. You should feel reluctant to even set it down. That’s when you know you really have something. Too many times I’ve bought something because it was cheap, or I thought I’d resell it for profit, but ultimately just ended up getting rid of it. The things you should acquire should truly feel like they want to come home with you. It’s perfect, or it’s no-go!
Expect Great Finds.
The difference between lucky people and unlucky people is that lucky people believe they are lucky. Or, the reason some people feel lucky, is because their outlook allows them to be receptive to good things. And that’s not magic, it’s psychology (side note: new blog idea, “It’s not Magic, it’s Psychology”). You won’t find a diamond every time you go, but you will find something if you look hard and don’t become discouraged.
It can be hard to tell what’s worth bringing home and what isn’t, especially if you’re crafty. Crafty people see the potential in everything, and that is beautiful, but it isn’t your responsibility to flip the entire store. Hand made crocheted blankets are awesome, but you don’t need to rescue them just because somebody made them. They served their purpose and brought joy to the maker. Someone who really loves the colors and pattern may happen along later. Do not “pity buy” things. Don’t buy things solely based on how cheap they are. And most importantly, don’t buy anything that doesn’t fill you with joy every time you see it. Having too much stuff means you can’t even enjoy the things you really do love, because you’re shrouded with items of mediocrity. Be picky!
Find your Niche
I love glassware of all kinds, but if you’ve been to a thrift store lately, you know it’s always the most over-stocked shelf. So I made myself a rule: I only collect vintage iridescent carnival glass, or vintage depression and uranium glass. If you love dogs, limit yourself to one particular breed, or figurines of one particular medium (metal, glass, china). Trust me. What we do is absolutely akin to treasure-hunting. You are rooting through a deserted island, like a pirate, seeking long forgotten treasure. Treat the things you find like such treasure. Don’t stop to pick up trash along the beach just because you haven’t found the chest yet. The rush of finding the perfect thing is way better than collecting too many somewhat-ok things.
These tips are a little generic sure, but I hope you are now willing to search your local thrift stores for your own diamonds in the rough. And don’t forget about other second-hand ways to find cool stuff, like garage sales and estate sales. If you surround yourself with only things that are perfect, you’ll feel perfect in your house. And it’s not a bad way to decorate on a dime, either.
What are your experiences with thrifting? Leave a comment below!