The thrill of the hunt, am I right? When thrifting (or flea market-ing or estate sale-ing or yard sale-ing), we always joke that you don’t know what you need until you find it. Perhaps that’s why an awesome secondhand find is so thrilling! It’s unexpected, it’s uniquely yours, and more often than not, it’s an amazing deal, too.*
* Above, the velvet chair that was a wedding gift to my grandparents. It has been reupholstered multiple times, with each fresh swatch of fabric breathing new life into this sentimental piece.
Apparently, we love finding a vintage globe when heading out to the flea market. The walnut wood and brass globe, above, was an immediate yes! from both of us, and now, Lucy spins it round and round while asking questions like, Is this Chicawwwgo? We also have this mini lucite globe in her bedroom!
Below, the leather lamp that stopped me in my tracks! It came shade-less, and it took me several tries to find the right proportion, but now it smiles back at us in our Tree House bedroom. It’s like, I earned that. I worked for that!
This is another round of Collective Q+A, a blog series focused on sharing voices other than our own to promote new ideas and encourage outside-of-the-box thinking. Today we’re asking: What has been your favorite secondhand find, and what’s your best tip for thrifting success?
I love to thrift in different states than where I live to get a variety from different regions. — Lea Johnson
Lea Johnson, @creekwoodhill | My favorite secondhand find would be this vintage equine watercolor. Also, this cabinet, that I found as a 5 piece bedroom set for $150! Total score!
The best thrifting advice I can give is to go frequently. There are new treasures to be found every day. I am lucky enough to have 5 thrift stores within a 3 mile radius of my home, so I try to visit them all at least twice a week. Thrifting has become so popular now so things go very quickly. I also love to thrift in different states than where I live to get a variety from different regions.
Being flexible with how you can repurpose second hand finds opens up so many possibilities in your home. We have a desk as an entry table and a dresser in our dining room! — Hannah Hamburger
Hannah Hamburger, @hamb.home | My burl and gold tables have to be my most favorite secondhand find. I originally purchased one table, but as soon as I got it home I messaged the seller and turned back to get the second! I love the substantial size of them and have used them together as a coffee table, and separately as side tables. They are so unique and add quirky vintage vibes to our otherwise traditional living room.
Being flexible with how you can repurpose second hand finds opens up so many possibilities in your home. We have a desk as an entry table and a dresser in our dining room! When looking for a second hand piece, focus on the size and shape, not necessarily the intended use for it – you may just be surprised with what you find!
Follow along with Hannah on Instagram @hamb.home!
The best finds always have wonderful stories, from kind owners to trudging through dirty and creepy warehouse basements, to expensive pieces for pennies on the dollar. — Gwen Hefner
Gwen Hefner, The Makerista | Asking me to pick my favorite secondhand find is almost like asking me to pick a favorite child. ;). The truth is, the best finds always have wonderful stories, from kind owners to trudging through dirty and creepy warehouse basements, to expensive pieces for pennies on the dollar, to finding something no one else has! My home is filled with thrifted things, from furniture to clothes. 95% of the mirror wall shot is thrifted, and most of the mirrors were under $20.
My best tip would be joining Thrift Club. You’ll get a chance to follow me on all of my thrifting journeys and learn all of my best tips and tricks and be a part of a community of thousands all of the world who share knowledge, finds, and friendship. The best thing I can say to a new thrifter who might be feeling overwhelmed is go with a list of two or three things to look for and be ok with leaving empty handed. The hunt is half the fun!
Having an idea of what you’re looking for and doing a quick daily search, perhaps during your morning coffee, is the best way to make sure you don’t miss it when it pops up. — Shavonda Gardner
Shavonda Gardner, SG Style| Shopping thrift and trolling CL are my fave ways to find unique and beautiful accents for our home. I’ve stumbled upon some treasures, but my fave second hand finds (it’s a tie) are absolutely our Eames inspired lounge I scored on Craigslist in perfect vintage condition for $100, and our hand carved three wise monkeys I found at an amazing open air antiques faire. I couldn’t believe my luck with the lounge! There wasn’t a scratch on it, it came with the ottoman and the leather feels like butter. It’s so comfortable. It’s from the late 60s/early 70s from what I can tell, and it’s just so good! The monkeys are one of the most commented on pieces in our home. They’ll have to pry them out of my cold dead hands!
My best tip for thrifting success is to be consistent and look daily! Things pop up at any minute, and the good stuff always goes fast. Having an idea of what you’re looking for and doing a quick daily search, perhaps during your morning coffee, is the best way to make sure you don’t miss it when it pops up.
Keep an open mind. If you don’t like the color of something, you can change it! — Hattie Kolp
Hattie Kolp, @hattiekolp| My favorite thrift has to be this dresser I bought for $50. I found it on Etsy, it was located in Pennsylvania. Being in NYC, I don’t have a car and renting one would have cost more than 4 times the price of the dresser itself, so the seller directed me to a service called UShip that delivered it to me for $70. So in total, I paid $120. When the dresser came to me it had been painted with a thick coat of white chalk paint, and I decided to paint it blue as a piece of “accent furniture” the longer I lived with it, the less I liked it because it did not feel “me” enough. One day, I naively decided to strip the dresser down to the natural wood, thinking it would take me a day or two. I quickly realized stripping it wasn’t working, so I bought a sander. A month and a very dusty apartment later, I had the dresser of my dreams!
Best tip for thrifting is to keep an open mind. If you don’t like the color of something, you can change it! (Just please do not use chalk paint in case you or someone else wants to strip it in the future.)
Follow along with Hattie on Instagram @hattiekolp!
Thank you for supporting the creators that inspire us every day! You can also dig into our Collective Q+A archives for more, if you’d like.
PS! Tips for navigating the flea market with a toddler, let’s go to the flea together!, and these are our favorite secondhand furniture stores in Chicago.