Thrift Stories,  Thrifting Tips

In Defense of Thrift Store Art: Why I Fill My Walls with Secondhand Finds

Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of “a-ha!” moments at the thrift store. I’ll never forget the day I stumbled upon the perfect retro, 1950s Sunday dress. It was made of thick, great-quality fabric, had the sweetest little scooped neckline and was covered in precious blue and white umbrellas. It was also in mint conditioned and priced to sell. I nabbed it up and as I expected, it was gone from my Etsy shop in about 30 minutes. While that was fashion-related, I had a similar experience when shopping for thrift store art.

I was at my local Goodwill on a lunch break when I first spotted it. It was leaning against the back left wall, turned away from me so I could only see the hanging wire on the back of the frame. I had a sneaky suspicion that it was going to be glorious, even before I turned it around. Sure enough, there was the most pristine floral crewel embroidery I’d ever seen. It was a simply scene of a field of daisies, and to this day, even after all the glorious dresses, skirts and blouses I’ve found, it remains my favorite thrift store find.

As a newlywed, I hung it in the master bedroom of our tiny cottage. It was dwarfed by our oversized sleigh bed but I didn’t mind. It was unique, special and took someone hours to make, and I treated it like the Mona Lisa. That piece of art has traveled with me to every home I’ve ever lived in and has taken a starring role in every space it’s inhabited. It’s currently in my son’s nursery and I still swoon every single time I see it. One year, I found its cousin at a coastal consignment shop while vacationing at Emerald Isle. Since then, the two have been quite the pair and made quite the impression on visitors.

Put simply, I love thrift store art because it tells a story. Most pieces are nostalgic, colorful and interesting. To that end, I usually skip the reproduced prints in favor of custom embroidery and handmade paintings. If you look hard enough and don’t mind propping a few “nos” on your shin while you flip through the options propped against the wall, you can find some real treasures that I’ll bet no one else has in their home. I’ve also found some of my favorite mirrors at the thrift store, including this beauty that I brought home for just $2!

Of course, while you’re browsing for thrift store art, there are a few things to keep in mind. I skip over any with obvious flaws, though I don’t scoff at a chipped frame. With today’s modern farmhouse design trend being so popular, shabby chic frames are totally in. Yet, if it’s got a big scratch across the glass or a scribble down the middle, I put it back for someone more crafty than me to repurpose. I also check to make sure there’s adequate space for hanging hardware and if the hardware is already attached, that’s even better!

When curated correctly, a home full of thrift store art doesn’t have to look dated, gaudy or cheap. Rather, it can look intentional, beautiful and eclectic and that’s exactly the vibe I’m going for with my own home. To make the process work for you, be open to pieces that you might not immediately run out and spend a ton of money on. Then, shop with your heart and choose art that appeals to you. For instance, I found an oversized owl print for $1.50 at Goodwill. I wasn’t sure where I’d put it or if I’d have a use for it at all, but I was drawn to it. It now hangs in my son’s room and makes me smile every time I sit beneath it.

What do you think? Would you ever put thrift store art in your home? What are some of your favorite wall art finds? Let’s see them! Comment below or contact me via the “Share Your Finds” page!

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