The Art of Thrifting

Spring is officially in the air here in Colorado. And that means it is time for garage sales. In fact, I went to my first garage sale of the season last weekend! While I was there I got to thinking about all the strategies I use while on the junkin’ trail, shopping at auctions, thrift stores, etc. So today I want to share a few of my tips and tricks for mastering the art of thrifting and furnishing your home with great finds. Yes, you CAN do it! It’s actually something I’m really passionate about–I’d choose an auction or antique shop over the mall any day of the week. But it’s not always easy. In reality, it’s a rather strategic process and one that I’ve spent many years perfecting. So I have lots to share! Plus I’m excited to tell you about a new app that has entirely changed the process of thrifting.

The Art of ThriftingHow To Furnish Your Home with Great Finds

1.Get Inspired

As with most things in life, you need inspiration to be a good thrifter. I highly recommend browsing Instagram and Pinterest for home decor inspiration before doing any thrifting. If your dining room is needing a little facelift, find a few you love online and take note of why you love it. I always take screen shots of the things/spaces I admire, that way I can easily pull those photos up when out thrifting. It’s a great reminder and will keep you focused on what you really want and need–which is important in thrifting. Plus it will give you ideas of what is possible with a little paint and creativity!

2. Know Your Abilities

For me, thrifting almost always results in a DIY project. Very rarely will I buy an item without needing to do something to it. And with that comes more time, money, and skill. Keep these things in mind while on the junkin’ trail. See a beautiful armoire you love, but it’s missing a door and needs a paint job? Take a few minutes to think about what you’ll truly need to do in order to make it something you want in your home. I’ve seen many items I wanted to purchase at yard sales and thrift stores, but ended up walking away because I knew it would take too much work/money/time to make it what I really wanted. Don’t get in over your head! A good example of this is the vintage dresser we recently purchased for a major bargain, all thanks to a wobbly leg that was very easy to fix. Here she is:

The Art of Thrifting

3. Look for Quality

The cardinal sin of any successful thrifter is buying junk. Now, let me clarify because junk is a subjective word. I do advocate for buying old, rusty, galvanized, vintage, antique, etc–items I know have value and worth if cleaned up and used in the right way. However, I never cross the line into buying actual junk. Try to avoid buying things made cheaply with particle board, plastic, etc. And also avoid things with an excessive amount of damage. Sure, a few dings and marks here and there can actually give a piece more character, but know when to draw the line. Do not buy junk! A good example of this is the farmhouse chairs I found for free a few months ago. Yes, free! They needed to be cleaned up, but they were solid wood and overall in great shape. Here’s the before:

Free Chairs Before

And the after:

The Art of Thrifting::Farmhouse Chairs

4. Shop Smart

Several weeks ago I came across Close5, which is a new app that allows you to buy and sell items easily and quickly in your own community. I was a little skeptical at first, given the fact that Craigslist has been my obsession for years, but I can honestly say this is THE easiest and smartest way I have found to buy and sell furniture and home goods. Plus you can use the app to find garage sales!
Close5 App Close5 App

It’s very simple to use. Just download the app, you can do that here, create an account (which takes about 60 seconds) and you’re ready! The app uses the camera on your phone so you can easily and quickly take photos of items you wish to sell. Or search for specific things to you want to buy. And the coolest part is you can search within an exact distance from your location, which is very convenient and will be especially handy for garage sales this summer!

Close5 App

After using it for almost a month now, I am completely obsessed! I love being able to do everything from the app on my phone and change the location easily, like I did last weekend on our road trip back home for Easter. I kept scrolling through different areas as we drove just to see if there were any treasures I couldn’t live without. And the buying process is very simple–you put in all offers and communication with the seller through the Close5 App, so there is no personal information such as phone number or email address being exchanged like with Craigslist. This is a HUGE plus for me. I really believe this creative app has changed the process of thrifting. So very smart!

5. Know Your Neighborhoods

This one is pretty simple and it applies specifically to garage sales. Know your neighborhoods! Every town has a variety of neighborhoods–some good, some bad. That’s just reality. So before heading out on Saturday morning, do your homework and figure out where exactly you should be looking for garage sales. I have spent many frustrating Saturday mornings driving around from one random sale to another with no luck. Instead I recommend focusing on one or two quality neighborhoods and visit every garage sale in the area. My favorites are those with older homes. In fact, I found the most amazing vintage chair at a garage sale in an older neighborhood a few years ago. I scored this baby for just a few bucks and didn’t have to do a thing to it!

Vintage Wooden Chair

I’ve found a lot of amazing things at garage sales, but this chair is probably my favorite find ever!

Vintage Wooden Chair

6. Only Buy What You Love

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone thrifting and not purchased a single thing. Now it wasn’t always like this. I used to fill our home with so much random stuff, just about anything I thought was “cute” in the moment. Thankfully those days are long gone. Now I know my style, what I truly love, and the feeling/vibe I want my home to embody. Do not buy things because you think they’re cute. Buy things you LOVE. Things you can’t wait to get home and work on because you know how great it will be. This has been huge for me and I think it makes all the difference when it comes to buying used items. Like this little vintage clock I found for $4. I literally started painting it the minute I brought it home because I knew it was going to be great.

Clock Before

And the finished clock:

The Art of Thrifting::Farmhouse Clock

7. Be Patient

Just like mama always said, patience pays off and it’s definitely an important skill in thrifting. Whether you’re at a consignment store, a garage sale, or even browsing on the Close5 App, know what you want and stick to it. I tell myself this all the time, especially when I have a specific project in mind and can’t find what I want. Like the French provincial dresser we need to finish off our master bathroom makeover. The waiting is killing me, but I keep searching because I know the right one is out there. Just wait, it will come. And when it does, you’ll love it even more.

That’s all folks. Those are my tips and strategies for being a successful thrifter. And having a home full of really awesome, unique pieces. Please let me know if you have any questions. Happy thrifting!

And thanks to Close5 for sponsoring this post.

Welcome!! I’m Sarah-- mama to three kiddos + wife to my high school sweetheart. I'm usually over-caffeinated, browsing Amazon + running on lots of grace. Grab a snack + get comfy!

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  1. 4.5.16
    Pam said:

    What great tips for finding those amazing treasures that are just waiting for me to buy! I love this app and am anxious to give it a try! I love the chippy furniture in your home and the warmth it brings to each room.

    • 4.7.16
      Sarah said:

      You’re so sweet, thank you for reading!

  2. 4.6.16
    Kim said:

    ‘Know your ability’ … AND ‘your husband’s willingness’. 😉

    • 4.7.16
      Sarah said:

      Exactly Kim, that’s a great point!

  3. 4.6.16
    Mindi said:

    Awesome tips!! I sooo need that app! I am in Colorado too! 🙂

    • 4.7.16
      Sarah said:

      Oh awesome, high five to a fellow Colorado girl! Thanks for reading Mindi.

  4. 4.8.16
    kellie said:

    great post! I didn’t know about the app! & congrats on the post! I’m so happy for you!

  5. 4.12.16

    Hey Sarah! Just found your beautiful blog from a Facebook recommendation. It is soooo beautiful! Seriously! I love all your tips. I am a fellow antique lover 🙂 I also hate the waiting game when you know exactly what you want but just can’t find it, but there is no suitable substitute for antiques.

    • 4.12.16
      Sarah said:

      Lisa, thank you so very much! I really appreciate your sweet comment and support!

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