The best home decor to shop for at thrift stores.

I absolutely love to thrift home decor! So often people purge their homes and donate things that are in great condition and thrift stores sell them at a fraction of the cost. This, my friends, makes thrift store decorating one of the cheapest ways to get a stylish home.

I know for alot of people walking into a thrift store can be overwhelming… There’s stuff everywhere, the shelves are packed, and if you don’t have a game plan, it can seem like too much.

That’s why I’m sharing with you what aisles I focus on and what items I always search for. That way, next time you’re doing your thrift store home decor shopping, you’ll know where to go and just what to look for at stores.

Why shop for home decor at thrift stores?

-Buying second hand saves money.

-Used decor can easily be made to match your style.

-Thrift stores often have vintage or unique items.

Yes, it’s true, I’m one of those thrift store decorating blogs. I’ll always be sharing with you fun ways to decorate your home with designer style on a thrifters budget and thrifting home decor is a great way to do that.

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8 Best thrift store home decor items.

Baskets

The basket selection at thrift stores is huge. Be picky about the ones you get. Only get ones that have a purpose in your home- whether that’s simply as decor or as an organizational tool.

My preference is to find ones that have a larger weave and are made of sea grass, but there are definitely some wood ones that catch my eye too.

Also, as a general rule, shy away from things with color or patterns. Natural colors are more versatile.

Get it

  • Flat, tray like baskets that can be used as a tray, propped up on a shelf, or hung in a wall gallery.
  • Round, two handled baskets that can be placed on the floor or shelf to corral groups of things like shoes, towels, or books.

Leave it

  • Baskets with a single large handle (unless you’re making Easter baskets!)
  • Colored baskets.
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Lamps

There are always tons of lamps available, but be sure the ones you get are in good condition. Damages to watch for are scratches on the base, missing parts around the bulb insert, and dents and tears in the shade.

Get it

  • Stylish full lamps.
  • Fun bases.
  • Individual lamp shades in the size you need.

Leave it

  • Lamps that are broken or missing pieces.
  • Lamps that are the wrong style or size for your space.
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Dishware

I always persue the dishes aisle, but the place I typically find what I want is on the end caps. The thrift store staff sets up the end caps to display their “nicest” stock, so be sure to scour each of them.

Even if they’re grouped by color, you maybe surprised to find a great piece of white decor on the purple themed end cap.

Get it

  • Small plates that can be used as trays or propped on shelves as decor.
  • Groups of small colored dishes that can be displayed on an open shelf or in a hutch.
  • Unique dish items that match your current dishes style.

Leave it

  • Generic dish sets – mugs

Greenery/florals

Be sure the greenery you purchase looks realistic. You don’t want to fill your home with greenery that’s obviously fake, rather invest in quality faux items.

Also, thrift stores tend to place larger greenery items (like faux trees) with the large furniture, so don’t forget to there too.

Get it

  • Realistic looking floral stems.
  • Stylish faux potted plants.
  • Twig or stick arrangements.

Leave it.

  • unrealistic looking stems.
  • Gaudy floral arrangements.
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Linnens

A lot of times stores will donate their stock that doesn’t sell to local thrift stores.

Our goodwill actually gets old stock from target, so there are frequently new and unopened curtains, throw blankets, sheet sets, and pillows for sale at thrift store prices.

As with all things, check for damage, and don’t forget to make sure the curtains are the right length for your windows or the sheets are the right size for your bed!

Get it

  • Unopened sheet sets.
  • Unopened throw blankets.
  • New throw pillows with original store tags.
  • Unopened table cloths or cloth napkins.

Leave it

  • Used or damaged linnens.
  • Anything with an unpleasant odor.

Frames/art

The frame aisle generally contains a lot more than just basic picture frames.

You can find excellent art (both framed and even on canvas) and mirrors (that can easily be spruced up with a coat of paint) mixed in with the frames.

Get it

  • Picture frames.
  • Mirrors
  • Wall art

Leave it

  • Cheap or damaged frames.
  • Frames or art that doesn’t match the style of your space.

Wood decor

While there are lots of aisles filled with all sorts of decor at thrift stores, I definitely take my time searching the section of wood decor. I typically get 1-2 items from this aisle every time I shop at a thrift store. There’s always great stuff!

You’ll also find that other types of decor might be placed here. So still be on the look out for greenery, baskets and other items while your looking through the wood decor too.

Get it

  • Decor signs
  • wood bowls or trays.

Leave it

  • Decor that doesn’t match the style of your space.
  • Items that you don’t have a place for in your home.

Craft supplies

The crafting aisle definitely one that can seem overwhelming. There is a ton of stuff packed onto those shelves. Don’t be intimidated by that, but rather go this aisle with a purpose. Knowing what kind of crafting supplies you use and are planning projects for and focus in on these things.

Get it

  • yarn supplies
  • stamp supplies
  • paper crafting supplies
  • thank you cards
  • embroidery wreaths

Leave it

Ok friends, lets review.

Must have thrift shop home decor items.

  1. Baskets
  2. lamps
  3. dish ware
  4. greenery/floral
  5. linnens
  6. frames/artwork
  7. wood decor
  8. craft supplies.

I really hope this post helps you feel more confident in what to look for so you can do some great decorating with thrift store finds.

I mean seriously, after all of that information, how can you tell me you don’t feel like you could walk into a thrift store with purpose now?

Many of the most common (and frequently most expensive) home decor items are just waiting to be discovered at your local thrift store for a fraction of the cost – so go get em!

Designer secrets for how to decorate a Christmas tree.

Almost anyone can decorate a Christmas tree, but there are a few secrets that designers have learned to make a Christmas tree look like it belongs in a design magazine.

The best designers think outside the box and use creativity to set their Christmas tree apart from others.

They often follow some rules, but bend the rule a bit to add interest. Here are a few designer secrets that you can use to make your Christmas tree a show stopper this year. But feel free to put your own twist on it.

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The Tree:

Designers know that the secret to a good looking decorated Christmas tree is to start with a good looking tree.

The Christmas tree should look full and healthy with out any ornaments on it.

Real trees always look best, but are more challenging to decorate than artificial trees.

Taller and wider trees are more dramatic.

Your tree must look full, so make sure to fluff your artificial tree. If you are using a real tree, don’t purchase your tree too soon, it may dry out and look dead by Christmas.

If your tree is not as full as you would like, a designer secret is to add some fillers. You can add a greenery swag that is simple evergreen or something with flowers, berries, or pine cones.

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The Lights:

Christmas lights make your tree sparkle, so don’t skimp on the lights. It’s nearly impossible to us too many lights. White or clear lights are used most often, however you can get a designer look with colored lights.

A bare minimum number of lights to use is 1 strand of 100 lights per foot height of tree, so a 10 ft tree would get 10 strands of lights. Feel free to double or triple that amount. Even if you have a pre lit tree, feel free to add more lights. Make sure you put the lights towards the inside and outside of your tree.

One designer secret to make your tree sparkle is to use 1-2 strands of blinking lights that are spread throughout your tree, but don’t make all your lights blink.

Another designer secret is to use a few strands of larger bulbs to add dimension and depth.

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Garland:

There are many ways to put garland on a Christmas tree.

You can use ribbon garland, beaded garland, paper garland, or whatever you like.

In order to get your garland evenly on your tree and not knock off any ornaments, designers put it on after the lights.

Feel free to use more than one type of garland or ribbon with different colors or patterns.

When putting on garland, floral picks, ornaments, or amything to your tree, a designer secret is to stop every 5 min or so and stand back from the tree, evaluate how it looks, and make adjustments. Make sure you leave room for your ornaments when adding garland. Don’t over do it.

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Floral picks

In order to add a variety of texture to a Christmas tree (as well as fill in the holes, add color, and help the tree look more cohesive). designers use floral picks on a Christmas tree.

A designer secret is to put the floral picks in the Christmas tree in the same direction as the branches, not sticking up straight, for a more natural look. Spread floral picks through out the tree, but especially in any spots that might not look as full.

Ornaments

Simple round ornaments are great for creating a color story for your tree inexpensively.

A designer secret for decorating your Christmas tree with plain round ornaments is to group them together in clusters of 3. The ornament clusters are more dramatic than 3 standard sized ornaments by themselves.

Put some lesser expensive ornaments towards the inside of your tree to fill in the holes and nicer ornaments towards the outside of your tree to show them off.

Another designer secret is that the larger your tree is, the larger the ornaments you need. A 10′ tree needs bigger ornaments then a 6′ tree that can use standard sized ornaments.

Typically, smaller ornaments are placed towards the top of the tree and larger ornaments towards the bottom of the tree, however some designers have gone away from the rule in recent years i order to add drama.

Many designer Christmas trees have recently started using focal point ornaments that are 6″ to 12″ tall. Designers use about 1 focal point ornament per foot height of the tree. Ornaments over 12″ tall tend to look juvenile.

Yet another designer secret is to use ornaments of different textures. Shiny ornaments are nice, but also consider adding some that have a matte finish, are rough (like burlap), glittery, pearlescent, mirrored, or fluffy.

Typically, more is better when decorating a tree, but make sure to have a little bit of tree showing. Some people have gone overboard and have decorated tree that are comparable to someone wearing all of their jewelry at once- don’t do that!

Gifts

Designers know that gifts under a tree are part of your decorations. Purchase gift wrap of appropriate style that coordinates with your Christmas tree.

For a vintage style tree, consider using simple craft paper as wrapping paper.

For a more colorful tree, use 3 different wrapping papers and 3 different ribbons (that coordinate with your color scheme) used in different combinations for interest under your tree.

Larger graphic patterns (plaid, stripes, dots, ect) and solids work best.

How to organize your fridge to keep your food fresher longer. (And cut your energy bill.)

Tip: Your fridge isn’t just a closet for food – it’s a high tech device that helps you store all of your favorite snacks, condiments, and meal fixins in optimal conditions. Not only do refrigerators have different compartments that serve different purposes, they also have different temperature zones. This means that if your storing things in the wrong place, your not taking advantage of the modern miracle of refrigeration. And that leads to loss of food, loss of money, and less desire to cook at home. (Who wants to face down a crisper drawer of wilted greens? Talk about a bummer)

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Chill out!

Food needs to be maintained at cold temperatures to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microbes that make food spoil – and can make people sick. Refrigerators should be kept at 40F or lower and freezers should be set at 0 f. But even when the refrigerator is sufficiently cold, the temperature will vary in different parts of the fridge, depending on how close they are to the cooling element. Master the art of the refrigerator, and your food will last longer.

Your game plan:

Freezer

Lets start with the obvious stuff: Freezers are for storing frozen things (duh!) You’r ice goes in the freezer, as do frozen fruits, veggies, meat, stock and other items. You can also store a surprising number of other foods in the freezer for latter use, such as tortillas, pasta sauce, and even eggs. (note: you can freeze bread for up three months, but don’t store it in the fridge or it will dry out) The trick with freezers is to pack foods tightly in their containers, and keep things well organized, since this optimizes storage space and also saves energy. (And moolah on the energy bill) Rather then using glass jars, which can break, freeze food in stackable plastic storage containers or in plastic freezer bags laid flat.

Doors

Doors are the warmest part of the fridge and should be reserved for foods that are most resistant to spoiling. Keep condiments, juices and other foods that can stand up to temperature fluctuations here. (and remember, that even condiments have a shelf life). Since fridge doors can get warm (particularly when they’re opened often), eggs and dairy shouldn’t go here, even if you guzzle milk straight from the carton all the live long day. (although, if that’s how you roll, you have bigger bacteria to worry about)

Upper shelves

The upper shelves of the fridge have the most consistent temps, while lower shelves are coldest. One pro strategy from restaurant kitchens is to place foods that don’t need to be cooked near the top of the fridge. This includes left overs, drinks, and ready to eat foods, like tortilla hummus and deli meat. Herbs can be kept fresh by placing them upright in a vase or jar with a plastic bag. You’ll want to keep berries up here for easy access. See crisper section for more berry info.

Lower shelves

The lower shelves are your best bet for raw meat, eggs, seafood, and other dairy to be stored at the coldest temps. To prevent raw meats bacteria from spreading to other areas, assign a particular section of the fridge as your meat locker. Keep meat in its original packaging, and place it on a plate or in an improvised bin that is cleaned regularly.

Overall: Don’t over crowd your shelves too much. Unlike the freezer, the fridge shouldn’t be totally packed. Cold air needs to flow here, and if it can’t you’ll get inconsistent temps with pockets of heat and warmth. (Luke warm yogurt anyone?) Leaving a little wiggle room between your left overs will also help keep your energy bill down.

Crisper drawers

The purpose of crisper drawers is to maintain moist conditions that help preserve fruits and veggies. But don’t make the mistake of jumbling all your produce together in a fruit and veggie free for all. Many fruits, including apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cantaloupes, produce ethylene, a chemical that helps them to ripen. Unfortunately the ethylene produced can also promote ripening in other plants, causing veggies to yellow and go limp or even sprout. So keep veggies in one drawer and fruits in the other.

Fruits and veggies should be washed before eating, but too much moisture can cause foods to flip from ripe to rotten before you can get your antioxidents on. The goal is to was fruits and veggies when its convenient, but not so far in advance that they are likely to spoil before you eat them. When washing fruit, remove extra moisture by draining in a colander, blotting with a paper towel, or using a salad spinner. Berries are particularly fragile so handle with care. Once washed, put greens and herbs in a plastic bag or container with a square of paper towel to soak up extra moisture. Out the containers back in the crisper for longer term storage, or on the top shelf where you more likely to see them.

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On top of the fridge.

If you’ve been using the top of your fridge like a food attic, stacking bottles or merlot or loaves of bread up there, stop! Even if you kitchen is tiny and that spaces feels super convenient, its not a smart idea. To regulate cold temps inside, the fridge’s condenser coil pumps warm air out, and heat rises around the appliances cabinet. Results: It gets pretty warm up top. Heat is krytonite to wine. And it will make bread mold faster. The best use of this space? Store appliances or supplies like paper towels or a stack of cook books.

To fridge or not to fridge…

One of the tougher questions is figuring out if something goes in the fridge in the first place. Certain foods don’t belong in the fridge. Tomatoes will turn mealy and odorless in the fridge – keep the comfy at room temp. Onions, squash, and potaotes do best in a cooler environment with low moisture, so store them in a dark cupboard or other place outside the fridge. Avacado’s and many fruits are just fine being left on the counter to ripen, but can also go in the fridge to slow the process down if needed. Herbs can be kept in the fridge in a vase or the counter top. If they’ll be used in a few days.

Then there’s the gray zone: Foods that can be refrigerated to maintain maximum freshness and quality but don’t have to be refrigerated, if you use them quickly. For example, nuts, nut flours, nut butters, are just fine to store in the cupboard, but refrigeration will help maintain the natural oils. So refrigerate if your house is warm or you wont be using with in a few weeks.

Like wise whole grain flours and oils such as canola, safflowers and olive oil will last longer if stored in the fridge away from warm temps. Bottom line: if these products are laying around your home for a long time. Putting them in the center or upper shelves of your fridge (or freezer) will help prevent off flavors that can develop over time.

How to host Thanksgiving on a budget.

If your going to host Thanksgiving this year, you may be concerned that this will be an expensive experience. This can leave you too stressed to enjoy the Holiday for what it really is. A lovely time to get together with your family and appreciate your blessings.

Would you be surprised to hear that it is entirely possible to host an amazing, delicious Thanksgiving dinner, even when your on a budget? These tips can help you have a wonderful celebration and save money.

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How to host Thanksgiving on a budget.

Pot luck time.

I’ll be honest. I am not always a potluck fan. When I invite people over for dinner, I want them to be able to just show up and relax. I don’t want them stressing over having to bring something.

But, if you are normally the Holiday hero, taking care of every item on the menu, you might consider taking a step back. A big Holiday meal might just be a time to set aside any pot luck missgivings you might have. After all, its a great way to ensure that everything is taken care of without having to break the bank or over doing it in the kitchen. The good news is, everyone will get something they love.

Make a list.

Write out a budget and a menu and stick to it. This is a great way to ensure that you stay on track with your spending and you don’t go overboard with the menu. If you create your lists far enough in advance you can even make sure that you pick up certain non-perishable or freezable items on sale, saving even more.

Cook from scratch

When you buy pre-packaged items, you are usually going to pay more for lower quality products. Instead of those instant mashed potatoes or boxed stuffing make it all by hand using ingredients you most likely have in your pantry.

Give high priority to must haves.

Its entirely unnecessary to have 20 different side dishes at Thanksgiving. Pick a few you fell you must have and forget the rest. There is no need to go overboard and it will save you money and food waste. And, if you are serving less you will be more like;y to opt for the “from scratch” option, saving you even more money.

Consider varying your main dish from the traditional. Isn’t it really the experience of gathering the family around the table to break bread together that really matters? If you can’t afford the spiral sliced ham you usually serve, opt for something less expensive this year.

Use decor you already have.

Going overboard on decor and table settings can quickly destroy your budget. Instead of heading out to buy trendy new items each year, use what you have on hand. In fact, there’s something special about bring out the familiar year after year.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match too! This may include versatile plates and serving dishes, plain napkins and glasses. By not going for a matchy match look, you can use a variety of items and add some extra color and texture to your table setting.

When creating a center piece, you can easily use what you find outdoors. Freshly fallen leaves, decorative squash and pine cones can go a long way to making your Thanksgiving table beautiful. You could even task the kids with going outside to gather up the items for this.

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to break the bank to be fun and delicious. One year, my daughter and I were unable to cope with a big feast. So we opted for a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. We had a mish mash of simple foods and treats we enjoy and and it while watching movies. It was one of out favorite holidays ever. If you just keep your eye on whats important and simplify as needed you might even create a new tradition.