With my recent post on clearing out you would naturally wonder whether I've stopped bringing new things into our home. While I've always been particular, lately I'm more responsible about what I buy; most are thrift shop treasures. We're fortunate to live in an area where there are a number of good stores, including some I haven't explored yet. Thrifting is my way of having a little retail fun while exercising financial practicality AND limiting the lure of well-designed merchandising campaigns.
Here's a few guildlines and things I try to keep in mind on my outings:
SOME THOUGHTS ON THRIFTING
1. Buy only what you absolutely love. This is my most important rule. I won't just buy something because it's inexpensive; I apply the same standard that I do on any other purchase -- new or not. Admittedly I've made a few mistakes, like the fabric I got home and decided I don't love it after all. Oh well ... little spent; little lost.
2. Be super selective with items that need an update or overhaul. Re-upholstery, re-finishing, painting etc. has an associated cost, whether it be out-of-pocket for hire, or in your own sweat equity. Then there's the TIME factor, so be sure you believe that piece will (when finished) satisfy the love itrule. Lately I've minimized big project purchases like furnishings, with the exception of the little boudoir chair I'm having covered for my closet. It was the perfect scale and proportion for the space.
3. Second-hand items add instant history. The Patina of an old mirror, or the classic graphics on your 1970s board games bring a familiar warmth of a well-loved, inhabited space. Details like this add character and charm, especially to new drywalled spaces like apartments.
4. You will find truly unique things.I love Ikea, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel etc. for certain foundational basics, but a few funky or special items can lend instant personal style and fresh life to an otherwise basic decor.
5. The hunt + bargain high. The satisfaction of shopping on 25% off day, on top of what are already super cheap prices is nothing short of thrilling to me.
6. For those with crafty ingenuity thrift shops are a great source for materials. Consider alternative uses for things. This patchwork quilt made entirely of blue pinstriped dress shirts, at Inchmark Journal, is a great example of reconfiguring something in a fresh way.
7. It's very much hit or miss. Sometimes I come away thinking why would I ever buy new again? while other times I'm deflated and kind of grossed out by the whole thing. You just never know what you're going to find, which is what keeps me going back again and again.
THINGS I'VE BEEN SEEKING LATELY
:: Frames, books, prints, albums: You can find some real gems. I understand most donation drop-off locations are now trying to make sure that any real valuables aren't being undersold. They can't be experts in everything, however, and I've been fortunate to find some beautiful Christmas story and illustration treasuries. Remember these ring binders? Or my December daily album cover? Both re-purposed.
:: textiles: I've been scoping the menswear isle for sizable pieces of herringbone wool in suit coats to sew into tote bags and patchwork projects. I've also been looking for a couple of cool rep stripe neck ties to use as belts with linen pants and tees this summer. Recently I found a crisp, blue, striped Ralph Lauren sheet that I'm using to make window treatments and matching applique' monograms on white towels for the kid's bathroom.
:: Old technology. My daughter loves her cassette player, but doesn't want her brother to use it. The little guy loves his polaroid camera and now the girls want one. The film is expensive, yes, but I promised a lesson in framing through the lens sometime this summer when we head out to an open space. Bound with some book rings their photos will make a fun little collection. The cassette player gets used to record interviews with one another, and guitar practices, which are fun to hear her progression from the tapes from last year.
:: Junior-sized serve ware. I like setting the table with cute little bowls for single servings of vegetables, dipping sauces, or pancake syrup for the kids. I found some tiny holly print Christmas glasses last year, and at that price it made sense to use them only seasonally.
The lovely way Meg (elsie marley) features her thrift items.
Do you have a favorite second-hand buying tactic or approach to share?