Call it what you want: secondhand chic, furniture upcycling, vintage repurposing or simply thrifting, the practice of buying used furniture and home décor is part of a growing desire to increase sustainability around our homes. Plus, the thrill of the hunt of those-just-can’t-beat-the-price, one-of-a-kind, DIY-makeover, second-hand gems is hard to beat.
Ask Kristen Psihogios and Ashly Bowers of Neck of the Woods Home Goods, a Vintage & New-To-You e-commerce site founded in 2016.
“Thrifting started as a hobby for both of us, and it’s become a bit of an addiction!”, laughs Kristen. “There’s a thrill in finding unique fashion and home goods that not everyone has, and in seeing the possibilities they present. Trends are cyclical: from 70s macrame making a comeback, to the 90s fashion in every store right now, it all comes full circle.”
So why thrift? Maybe you need to compensate for a small budget. Maybe you adore the look of vintage style, or maybe you relish the
transformation between an item someone else considered trash into a treasure of your own.
But even a bargain is no real savings if it isn’t useful, isn’t safe, or isn’t you. We’ve assembled some tips to help you successfully shop for secondhand treasures.
Pinch pennies: The best place to find the lowest prices is at garage sales, antique shops, flea markets, thrift stores, even along the side of the road. But that doesn’t mean you won’t overspend if you’re not careful. Know what you can afford and stick to that.
Carry cash instead of credit cards—it’s easier to track what you’ve spent and if you’re visiting garage sales or flea markets, you’ll need cash anyway.
Think creatively: The fun of this kind of shopping is that you never know what you’re going to find! Say you’re on the hunt for a pair of bedside table lamps, but spot a great nightstand that simply needs a fresh coat of paint (for ideas, check out quaintandpaint.com). Time to pivot!
Beware hesitation: If you spot something you adore, ask for it to be held or go ahead and buy it. Waiting means that you’ll likely lose it to the next person who loves it enough to buy it on the spot (this is even more true at a garage sale or flea market).
Keep a repurposing mindset: How can you use this item in a way that is different from its original purpose? An old wooden ladder as a magazine rack? Vintage clothing or a rug as wall art?
Be ready: You never know when you’ll drive by a treasure on the side of the road or spot a garage sale or secondhand shop too good to pass up. Keep a measuring tape, bungee cords, and an old towel or blanket in your car. You’ll be able to check if that funky chair will fit in the corner and you’ll be able to secure your trunk shut while driving it home.
Shop the right places: It makes sense that upscale areas often have thrift stores filled with upscale castoffs. You’re likelier to find quality furniture, nice artwork, and desirable accessories where people can easily afford—and therefore, easily afford to replace—these items.
Know when to let go: Secondhand purchases often need a little love to bring back their shine. But sometimes they need a LOT of love; make sure you’re ready to DIY. If you’re new to flea market decorating, start with something easy; it’s easier to hone your painting skills on a small, simple bookcase, rather than an ornate mirror or dresser. Leave behind wooden furniture that is missing a vital piece, is cracked or warped, is severely damaged, or smells strongly of smoke or mold. And proceed with caution when buying an upholstered piece that ‘just’ needs new fabric—recovering the seat of a chair is generally a simple DIY job, but reupholstering an entire armchair is a challenge best left to a pro.
Avoid the dreaded hodgepodge: Combining a variety of decorating styles is a fantastic look when done skillfully. But it’s a style that needs to be well-planned, not a hodgepodge of mismatched accessories and furniture.
Neck of the Woods Home Goods
Mission Thrift Store