Tour a Colorful Home Packed with Made-Over Vintage Find

Steal the thrifty ideas from this Wisconsin home for a happy abode that doesn't break the bank.

dining room

A Wisconsin thrifter found (decorating) love online. Craigslist is her main squeeze, but she also makes time for yard sales, auctions, and secondhand stores to give her home its unique personality. Follow her lead with tips for catching quality pieces from Craigslist, garage sales, or any secondhand shop.

Vintage furniture and accessories make a statement in any home. Above, an '80s chandelier glitzes up this midcentury-modern dining table and chairs. Grosgrain-ribbon curtain panels add another chic layer of style to the space. To achieve a similar look, simply hot-glue ribbon to plain curtain panels.

Mismatched Magic

dining room

Pairing mismatched dinnerware is an art in the thrifting world. Choose one or two colors -- such as the navy or gold hues in each of these pieces -- and repeat them in dishware you collect from flea markets, Craigslist, or garage sales. To prevent your spread from looking cluttered, stick to clear glass for drinkware.

Archetypal Fabrics

blue chair

Heavy woven fabrics go a long way in vintage-inspired homes. The color, material, or pattern can tell guests the era you're trying to imbue. Subtle linen toile may portray Colonial style, while chenille jacquard indicates a taste for Gothic Revival, and velvet fretwork speaks of 1920s and '30s Art Deco. This homeowner mixes midcentury-modern fabrics such as microsuede, leather, and mohair with traditional prints and patterns.

Masterful Mix

living room

This living room is an assemblage of secondhand finds -- a brass and acrylic coffee table from a yard sale, chairs that have been reupholstered (they were originally plaid), rewired lamps, and old artwork that's been given second life. Make an art piece seem larger and less cramped in its frame with a wide mat.

Paired with Paint


The side tables in this living room were found at different times on Craigslist and originally didn't match at all. They were different colors, so the homeowner united them with black spray paint and a gold paint pen to detail the drawer fronts. This chest's lacquer-look finish is simply Rust-Oleum spray paint.

Revive with Reupholstery


Finding nice furniture secondhand is easier than you think. Look past the condition of the fabric; reupholstering works wonders. As long as the framework is in good condition -- or with nicks or wobbles that are easily remedied -- new fabric or fabric paint can transform a chair or sofa into a statement piece. When choosing fabric for secondhand furniture, note that patterned fabrics take more yardage than solids in order to align the shapes.

Just a Touch

multi-colored design on bedspread throw pillows

Are there tiny nicks and scratches on your flea market find? Do as this homeowner did, and you can avoid entirely repainting your furniture. Her nightstand needed just a few touch-ups, so she took one drawer to the paint store to find a color match. Save further by requesting a sample size of paint. Usually 8 ounces, a sample is much less expensive than a quart or gallon.

Pops of Color

living room

With a variety of colorful pieces, white walls give you flexibility for furniture arrangements. In this family room, rehabbed chairs look lush in navy velvet, while green pops off the bookshelves behind. A piece of thrifted art pulls together both the navy and green while allowing for light blue and coral accents. Stacks of books prove pretty pedestals for art displays.

Vintage Find or Fix?

blue leather chair

If you're considering vintage leather furniture, like this armchair and footstool set, check for pen marks, as they can be hard or even impossible to remove. If you decide the leather is beyond repair but the chair still fits your needs, you can have it reupholstered. To get an idea of the right amount of fabric, time frame, and cost, this homeowner sends a photo of the furniture piece to a reupholsterer before bringing it in.

Perfect the Imperfections


Vintage, thrifted, and secondhand fabric items can be iffy (or smelly), which is why this homeowner recommends reupholstery. A key question to ask a seller before you buy: Are there pets or smokers in the house? A good tip for musty upholstery or bedding -- such as the throw pillows, desk stool, and valance here -- is to air it out in the garage, then vacuum and wipe it with disinfecting wipes. If the old odor remains, reupholstery may be your best bet.

Buff and Shine

jewelry tray

Many wood and metal pieces you pick up secondhand are going to need a good spiffing up. Try brightening chrome or brass -- like this jewelry tray -- by gently rubbing with an all-purpose cleanser, polish, and wet cloth. Looking to score (or confirm) a designer find? Look under cushions, on the insides and outsides of drawers, and on the backs of dressers for markers or stamps.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles