If you’re on a budget but need to furnish your apartment–or you simply want a decor update without breaking the bank–thrift store finds can be just what you need. With a little re-purposing, your apartment can look like a million bucks without paying it.
Here are six tips to help you get the best thrift store finds:
1. Go Often
Because thrift stores operate on a donation basis, you never know what will be coming and going. The more often you make a stop, the more likely you are to catch something amazing. However, that means there will be a lot of days when you don’t find what you’re looking for–and that’s okay!
2. Know When to Say “No”
There will also be days when everything in the store looks like the perfect candidate to join your apartment decor. This is an illusion! You may want it, but you don’t always need it. That dish set might be adorable, but if your cabinets are filled to the brim, you should leave it be. Stick to the items that will really add to your apartment rather than clutter it.
3. Leave Room for Adjustment
Though a plan helps you avoid hoarding, when that one-of-a-kind item appears before you, consider it. Just because you came for an end table doesn’t mean you can’t upcycle (recycle a used item by turning it into a more usable item) that vintage lamp.
Be sure you know the difference between a find that will fit and one you really don’t need. It’s a fine line, but an important one.
4. Quality Over Quantity
See a theme yet? When heading out to find some furniture, be sure the piece you buy is in good condition and will last a while. Furniture with good lines that will hold up to re-purposing are best. If the item would require a lot of fixing, you may want to leave it behind. You shouldn’t have to repair, you should be able to simply decorate a piece to fit in your overall apartment design. Solid wood pieces are generally a good bet.
5. Furniture Makeovers
When you do find that perfectly convertible dresser, you’ll want it to match the design scheme you’ve been working toward. A great way to do this is by painting the piece and changing out the hardware. This method saves you money because you don’t have to purchase a new item just for the color. Decorating on a budget is achievable, but be ready to get your hands dirty.
When painting a wood piece, you’ll want to sand it down first. Next, cover the whole thing with primer. Once this is dry, you can paint. To really make your furniture shine, end by waxing. The final touches will be the addition of any new hardware–such as handles and knobs–that you have to make the piece completely unique.
Chairs and sofas can be reupholstered using just about any color or patterned fabric you can dream of.
6. Keep the Classics
When shopping around, you may spot an ornate mirror or vase. These types of pieces are classics and have a place somewhere in your decor. And if they don’t completely match, remember, you can always upcycle.