5 home pieces you should always buy at thrift stores (and 5 you shouldn’t) – 21Oak
Somewhere along the turbulent line of the last decade or so, thrift store shopping became cool again, and we are all for it. More and more people are rebelling against generic, cookie-cutter styles and wanting their homes to look more personalized, more unique, and more one-of-a-kind. At long last, your living room looking exactly like the Pottery Barn catalog doesn’t necessarily make yours the epitome of style. Individualism is the more sought-after decor style now, and we couldn’t love it more.
When shopping secondhand, be it at a thrift store, online auction, or garage sale, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind, and that’s where we come in. By remembering these helpful tips, you can take advantage of the perks and avoid the pitfalls of secondhand shopping.
This one can be a bit intimidating. We aren’t all antique experts and historians with part-time jobs hosting Antiques Roadshow. But for the most part, it isn’t hard to distinguish a nicer-quality piece of furniture from an assemble-it-yourself, particleboard piece of junk. Test for sturdiness by giving it a few wobble tests. Check to see how easy it is to open and close the drawers.
Keep an open mind here and try to see past any marker doodles or sticker residue that you could easily remove, sand, or paint away. Don’t let a fixable issue stop you from purchasing an otherwise quality piece. Drawer pulls, for example, are an affordable and easy swap. Don’t let ugly ones deter you.
If you can find a gorgeous antique worth millions, great! But that certainly doesn’t have to be the end goal in furnishing your home with pieces that didn’t come from Ikea. Use your best judgment and look for sturdy pieces that you love.
This one comes with a caveat. Anything with electrical wiring can be tricky when it comes to thrift store shopping. Conveniently, though, many secondhand stores have a handy power strip near the lamps where you can test them to be sure they work. If not, ask an employee if you can test that gorgeous antique Tiffany gem you just found. (Pro tip: If you find an actual vintage Tiffany lamp, forget the wiring and buy that baby immediately!)
Once you’ve checked to make sure the wiring isn’t frayed or faulty, and that the thing actually works when you plug it in, check the shade. Due to the high traffic and sometimes clumsily stocked shelves at thrift stores, lampshades can easily dent or become scratched. Of course, they are also easy to replace if what you really love is the base. If you can’t get enough of the shape, but hate the color, spray paint can be your best friend here.
The beauty and warmth books give to a home are unmatched by any other small decor item.
Secondhand books are not only great for a cheap beach read, but also for those leather-bound classics that would cost you far more at a bookstore. For usually around a dollar a piece, you can stock up on some gorgeous antique books that you’ll find tremendously useful for numerous decor purposes.
Use them underneath a plant or antique clock to add height to a side table. Prop them against that gorgeous lamp you found one aisle over. A vase full of flowers is stunning when sitting atop a stack of vintage books. The possibilities are endless. A few books carefully set around give your room a lived-in, cozy feeling.
We love a good, gilded, ornate, Victorian-style mirror. The gaudier, the better. But if that isn’t your style, even simple mirrors are a wonderful thing to buy at thrift stores. Just like with furniture, do a quick quality check of the frame before purchasing. There are many cheap, plastic imitations out there these days, and you’ll want to avoid them. Look for a sturdy frame made of metal or wood.
Keep in mind that you can paint or sand over any small surface flaws on the frame, so don’t let a little doodle or stain deter you from your hall-of-mirrors Versailles fantasy.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of “cluttery” decor, but it’s important not to fill every empty surface of your home with small items and knick-knacks. When you cover every surface in clutter, it’s hard to relax properly in a space. For many, clutter equals anxiety. Small items like little boxes, too many picture frames, and other tiny trinkets can invade with a vengeance. And candles often fall into that category.
But candlesticks are classic “knick-knack,” and if styled correctly, they can add a ton of warmth and charm to a space. Brass candlesticks are a very on-trend choice at the moment, but wooden or glass are also beautiful. Use them to add character to a fireplace mantel, spruce up a side table, or fill in an empty spot on the bookshelf. Just don’t overdo it.
Again, this one comes with exceptions. Oftentimes, at thrift stores, you’ll find gorgeous, handmade quilts or tablecloths. Of these, we say go for it! If the item can be properly and thoroughly washed and sterilized, you’ll be safe from potentially pesky problems.
Where it gets tricky, though, is if those items that are too thick or dense for a complete cleaning. These items include things like cushions, pillows, comforters, and mattresses. People cringe at the idea of bed bugs for a good reason. Those creepy little jerks absolutely love items like these. What’s worse, they are not only hard to find, but they are even harder to kill. We promise, no matter how great the deal is on that king-sized mattress, it’s just not worth the risk or the issues that come with it.
When we say upholstered furniture, we don’t mean to avoid anything with fabric. If you’ve fallen in love with a set of dining room chairs or a piano bench with an upholstered seat, go for it! Recovering pieces like that is simple. If it’s a sofa, loveseat, sofa bed, or recliner, however, it’s best to steer clear.
For the same reasons you want to avoid bedding items, also stay away from heavily upholstered furniture. It’s just too hard to clean thoroughly, which can be problematic when you don’t know where it’s been living for the last several years.
We know, that gorgeous mahogany antique crib would be absolutely stunning in your little one’s nursery. After all, there’s precious little time you can still enjoy decor that isn’t plastic and covered in primary colors. The temptation is real, but you just can’t be too careful when it comes to the safety of your baby.
Cribs are recalled all the time for one safety reason or another, and thrift stores aren’t always privy to the most current regulations. Furthermore, there could be a hard-to-see flaw or mechanical problem that could result in pinched fingers or something even worse. If nothing else, buy a new crib. The antique furniture can live in every other room of the house.
The problem with pet houses and bedding isn’t necessarily the potential germs that may spread to your furry friends — though that’s obviously a concern, even with proper washing. The real issue is getting your pet to even want to use your secondhand purchase in the first place.
Animals are creatures of smell, and if they detect that another animal has been sleeping in their new bed, they very well may reject it altogether. It’s safer not to waste the money and just buy a new version.
Of course, if you manage to find brand-new pots and pans that still have their original packaging intact, by all means, go for it! The problem here, is that certain pots and pans have chemical coatings like Teflon. When these coatings become scratched (as they often have when they’re at the thrift store), the chemicals can release into the food you’re cooking, which can be very unhealthy… and just gross. It’s best to buy your pots and pans new, if you can.
If you routinely buy eggs, you’re probably lighter in the wallet than in past years. Egg prices have seen a major spike due to several contributing factors. The average price for one dozen eggs was $4.250 in December compared to $3.589 in November, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That number reached $5.30 in December. Here are a few reasons why everyone is experiencing the hike.
According to the CDC, since early 2022, more than “49 million birds in 46 states have either died as a result of bird flu virus infection or have been culled (killed) due to exposure to infected birds.” That’s a staggering number, one that has dramatically impacted egg prices due to the death of so many egg-laying hens. While the good news is that prices have dropped about 40% from their peak in December, eggs are still “more than triple what they were two years ago.”
While inflation is stabilizing in some areas of the country, it’s still high, making a lot of everyday items more expensive. “Just like with all the other items in the grocery store, there’s all this inflationary pressure, with interest rates, with oil, with feed prices, with raw materials, with packaging, cartoning, transportation. You have labor issues and costs associated with labor,” Brian Moscogiuri, a global trade strategist at Eggs Unlimited, told VOX News. And while the rate of egg price increases “ran slower than overall inflation during the 30-year period,” it doesn’t help our bank accounts at the moment.
If you’re a prospective homeowner, there are probably a million questions running through your mind. How much house can you afford? Should you be looking for a starter home or saving up for a forever home? Is a starter home still a thing? As a first-time buyer, it can feel natural to assume you should head straight for a starter property. But what if it’s actually more nuanced than that?
Starter homes are still a very popular option for young, first-time homebuyers. But deciding which type of property is right for you is a challenge in itself. Keep reading to learn more about starter houses, forever homes, and choosing between the two.
Household products can add up, especially when you consider all the different types you need to keep on hand as a homeowner. It’s a highly lucrative field, and many manufacturers make knock-off versions that promise the same high quality as the original at a fraction of the price. But which products should you spend a little extra money on? What items have a reputation that stands the test of time? The Reddit subgroup r/frugal asked that very question, and plenty of people weighed in on the best household products that you should never skimp on.
The question was posed: “What everyday items should you not get the cheaper versions of? Sometimes companies have a higher price for their products even when there is no increase in quality. Sometimes there is a noticeable increase in quality. What are some everyday purchases that you shouldn’t cheap out on?” The poster of the question added his opinion, writing, “One that I learned recently: bin bags,” to which we enthusiastically agree.
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