When it comes to shopping for home decor, there are the stores you can count on when you need something practical (hello, Ikea and Target), but when you’re on the hunt for something that’s more of a “want” without breaking the bank, sometimes it takes just that: hunting. And there’s no better place to go decor hunting than Goodwill or other local thrift stores.
Let’s be honest: Finding good decor at stores like Goodwill is not easy. There’s a lot of junk to sift through, and even when there are good-quality pieces, you might look right past them when they’re out of context and not styled or, let’s face it, even 100 percent clean. But all it takes to bring home something amazing is knowing what you’re looking for and a little patience to find it.
Interior designer and HGTV host Tiffany Brooks swears by using a mix of high and low decor in her projects and seriously knows how to find the goods. Here are some of her best tips for going thrift shopping, including the eight things you should never, ever pass up when you’re at Goodwill.
But First, Research.
Before you start your thrifting journey, you should do a little research—both for where you’re going to look and what you’re looking for. Every Goodwill or thrift store is obviously going to have unique inventory, but it typically reflects the neighborhood where it’s located. “The better the demographic of the neighborhood, combined with a high rating from online reviews, the better your chances of stumbling upon thrift store gold,” Tiffany says.
She also suggests doing some soul searching when it comes to your design style before you leave the house. Look at what you already have and then look for inspiration photos that represent what you’d like your home to look like. Tiffany says you should shop for things that either coordinate with your style or contrast it greatly. That “off” piece can make for a more interesting, eye-catching space, keeping things from looking too matchy-matchy.
Here’s What to Look For:
It can be tricky to see the value of pieces when they’re all crowded together, sitting on a metal shelf under fluorescent light, so to help you feel prepared, here’s what Tiffany always looks for for her own projects.
Vintage Album Covers
Like the band or not, these make for great wall art when framed.
Tiffany suggests clustering a few on tables. Not into a brass finish? Spray paint them for a modern, monochromatic look.
These are perfect for filling shelves and tabletops. Tiffany’s tip: Always look under the jacket to see what the hardcover looks like—it’s usually the best part.
These are great for corralling decor or everyday objects on a nightstand, coffee table, or console.
Vintage Photo Books
Tiffany recommends looking at these as sources of art. “Each photograph is a piece or art. Imagine that gallery wall,” she said.
Chairs and Footstools
As long as it’s structurally sound and you like the shape, everything else can be changed with a little TLC.
Vintage Polaroid Cameras
These make great tabletop decor on a stack of books. Tiffany has her own stash she’s painted white for a unique look.
Frames and Mirrors
These can also be refinished or painted—the more ornate the better.