How to Decorate with Items You Can Always Find at a Thrift Store

This roundup of decorating ideas uses items that are readily available at thrift stores, including books, frames, lamps, and more.

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Frames

With a little inspiration, old picture frames can dress up any room. When shopping, look for designs with character. Don't worry too much about scrapes, nicks, and chips—those issues are easily fixed with a bit of TLC and a coat of fresh paint. We love the idea of using frames of varying shapes and sizes to hold jewelry. Basic hooks keep necklaces and bracelets in line, while metal wire stretched across the frame holds dangling earrings. 

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Flowerpots

Terra-cotta is timeless, but this go-to garden material can look a little blah. Give basic pots a makeover with paint, stencils, fabric, and more. These marbleized pots, for example, are made with spray paint, water, and stir sticks. When choosing planters, make sure that they're in good condition. A little dirt or garden debris is fine, but look out for chips and cracks. 

10 Upscale Ways to Make Over Terra-Cotta Pots

Vases

Flowers look pretty in any vessel, but a decorated vase makes an ordinary bouquet extra special. Spend next to nothing on vases at resale shops, then add style with rope, paint, glitter, or any other craft supplies you have on hand. This DIY vase couldn't be easier to make. Simply wrap the desired amount of rope around the width of the vase, and secure with craft glue for a rustic meets nautical update.

Baskets

Baskets are the optimal decorating tool. They come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and weaves, and they can be found secondhand for only a few dollars (or less!). When choosing baskets for your home, consider your needs. If you need wall art in your kitchen, choose bright baskets to hang over a banquette. Or, if you need more storage in the bedroom, look for large, wide baskets to stash extra linens and pillows.

Dishware

Dress up a hutch or China cabinet with a spread of vintage glassware. Most thrift shops have an entire section designated toward dishes. If you keep your eyes open, you can bypass the cheap, chipped pieces and go straight to the good stuff. We love this diverse collection of silver-plated serveware, elegant serving plates, and teacups and saucers. Before you buy secondhand dishware, cutlery, or glasses, make sure you have a theme in mind for your display. Pick pieces that revolve around the same color scheme, or hone in on one style.

Lamps

Whether it's the full fixture, just the shade, or only the base, there are so many ways to refresh a secondhand lamp. A custom design made with an oil-base paint marker embellishes this colorful lamp base. Flower decals, rope, embroidery floss, felt, and other crafting supplies are other ideal tools for transforming a boring lampshade. 

Editor's Tip: If you're purchasing a lamp base, most stores will let you plug it in before you buy to make sure that it works. Just ask at the register. 

17 Ways to Update a Lampshade

Books

Nearly every thrift store doubles as a used book shop. Cookbooks, self-help books, and best sellers of yesteryear fill shelf upon shelf. With a little creativity, old books have the power to become chic home decor. This table runner, for example, is made of taped-together pages that received a decorative punch around the edges. When selecting books, choose those that are sentimental. Consider picking a beloved classic, or if decorating for the holidays, choosing a Christmas story.

More Ways to Decorate with Old Books

Toys

Don't ignore the children's section at secondhand stores. With a little love, toys can become cute and creative decor. Plastic figurines, for example, transform into toothbrush holders by drilling a few well-placed holes and applying a coat of spray paint. Or, for instant farmhouse style, add a few air plants to the bed of a vintage toy truck for a quirky indoor planter.

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