Saturday, July 28, 2018

How To Upcycle Thrift Shop Finds Into Trendy Home Decor

Thrift Shop Hot! What to look for right now....

In my last post I shared some tips for shopping thrift shops. Now I'm going to share with you some items commonly found at thrift shops that are great for upcycling into swanky home decor and crafts. These items are great because not only are they inexpensive, but they are very much in style as current home decor. Check it out! 

What should you be looking for right now?

1)  Silver-plated Serving Trays
I always see lots of silver-plated trays and platters when I go thrifting, and they're usually inexpensively priced from about $1 to $5 each. The neat thing about these trays is that they come in different shapes and sizes, and some have pretty engraving or ornate edging on them. 

What to do with them? Hang them on a wall as you would china plates, making a display that works well not only in a dining room but throughout the home. (Click here for more wall-display grouping ideas)

Pretty wall display

image via Apartment Therapy

Wreath made from silver platters image from Bees Knees Bungalow

2)  Vintage Scarves
Sometimes sold by the bag-full, vintage scarves are abundant at thrift shops and also cost next to nothing. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns, so they are great for repurposing and upcycling. Vintage hankies are great for repurposing too, but they can be a bit more difficult to find than scarves. 
What to do with them? Frame them as art, sew them together to create a unique curtain, or use them to cover throw pillows.
(Click here for even more ideas on how to use scarves and vintage hankies.)

Curtain made from vintage

Twilight Pixie Skirt - Medium to Large - Tattered Shabby Chic Eco

Pillows made from large Hermes scarves

3)  Picture Frames
I always check out the picture frames at thrift shops. Pay no attention to the colors, you can always paint them. As a matter of fact, I just painted a group of 6 frames black for a photo grouping for my family room. Once painted, they're brand new! The thing that's great about buying frames at thrift shops is that you can find a variety of unusual shaped and sized frames, which are great not just for photos, but also for framing  artwork.
What else to do with them? Replace the glass with mirror, cork board, or paint with chalkboard paint. Get the glue gun and cover them with twigs, sea shells,rocks, or any type of small found objects, or decoupage them with fabric or paper. Or, use them as-is to create a gallery wall of unique variety.

Candy Shop Frame Quintet  - 1 mirror, 4 frames- upcycled shabby cottage chic - painted apple green, yellow, aqua blue, bubblegum pink, lilac

Wall display of frames by Simply sadie jane

FRAMED CHALKBOARD Shabby Chic Nursery Pastel Chalk Board Wedding Table Numbers Picture Frame Vintage Style Kitchen Chalkboard - SET of 12
Chalkboard frames (above and below) by Shugabeelane via Etsy


*Check out my other blog post, Creative Uses For Chalkboard Paint for more chalkboard ideas and a recipe for how to make your own chalkboard paint!

Chalkboard paint comes in both brush-on and spray forms!

4)  Globes & Maps
Just like road maps, globes become outdated and are replaced with new, up to date versions. I don't see tons of them at thrift shops but I do come across them from time to time. 

What to do with them? Use old maps for decoupage projects, and old globes can be upcycled into pendant lamps.
Check out my previous post on upcycling globes  for a myriad of globe ideas. 

Also check out this post on upcycling maps and atlases for even more ideas!

Vintage globe lamps

Chandelier made from vintage atlas pages

Vintage globe clock

Dresser decoupaged with maps

Mod Podge decoupage medium for decoupaging maps and any type of paper

5)  Old sweaters
With a price average of $1 to $5 a pop, the men's cashmere sweater section in a thrift shop is a goldmine! Not only are these great to wear as-is, but these once pricey luxury pieces are perfect for upcycling into new items for yourself, your family, and your home.
What to do with them? Use them to cover throw pillows, or try your hand at fashioning some new accessories from them like the ones pictured below.

Upcycled cashmere baby blanket by Thismommamakesstuff

Upcycled cashmere sweater pillow by mmwolters via Etsy

sweater pillow2_edited-1

Upcycled Cashmere Hoody Sweater Dress Fuschia Pink & Chocolate                                              Made in England UK
Awesome & stylish upcycled cashmere sweater hoodie dress by darrylbalack via Etsy

OOAK Eco Recycled Sweater Fingerless Arm Warmers
Upcycled fingerless gloves by Flowerpie via Etsy

Rose pillow from an old sweater (above and below)

What do you think?
What's your favorite way to repurpose thrift shop finds?

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There's more! Click here to read Part Two of this article!

I hope you enjoyed this post! 
Please leave a comment below! 

Which is your favorite? 

Have a great week!

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Article copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2019 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link corrections please leave correct info in comment area.


  1. I've always liked the scarf-as-pillow idea, and those silver trays on the wall are just gorgeous. Excellent tips!

    1. I'm doing the silver tray thing in my dining room - on dark plum colored wall. Can't wait!

  2. Girrrrrl..we so need to go shopping together! LOL. You named all things I already look for! If you got between me and a vintage Vera scarf tho' it might end in a scuffle! I paint old tin trays (and the middles of unembossed silverplate trays w/ chalkboard paint and add vintage chandelier prisms for bling.I spent the last couple days turning old (poly) scarves into flowers! Great post!

    1. I've ignored the scarf section for many years, but now it's the first place I head to when I thrift.

  3. Fabulous post! I love the globes and the frames -

  4. New to Pinterest ... but I just weeded out a bunch of sweaters. Guess what I am going to be doing to then now! Thanks for a great post!!!!

    1. Great! Glad you found some useful ideas from the post.

  5. I collage on old frames, and stencil or glue objects (shells, i.e.) onto old flower pots. Actually I will collage on anything. I buy thrift baskets for harvesting in the garden and sending produce home with friends. Also, I look for baby blankets at yard sales - they are usually very cheap - and can be repurposed into a variety of fabric crafts, including dog sweaters. Currently I am collecting yard sticks - old and new - and am planning on tacking them to a wall when I have enough. Also, yard sticks are the perfect width for the sewing room as shelves for displaying and storing thread. Just yesterday I bought a blouse at Goodwill for a quarter - it has a beautiful cascade of covered buttons down the front, with loop button holes spaced closely together (like the back of a wedding gown) and I plan to repurpose that into a pillow.

  6. I had silver trays I collected from yard sales (most for $0.25!!) hanging on my dining room wall for years. When we moved 7 years ago, I never unpacked them. This was just the inspiration I needed to unpack them and show them off again. THANKS! ;)

  7. I like to look for lamps that are not working. Most are about $10 and I have found a few vintage ones. I clean them up and then get a lighting kit for about $5. 15 minutes later, I have a cool lamp. I just found a cool gold, vintage cherub one at Goodwill for $12...very heavy and great looking once I cleaned it up.

    1. Yes, lamps are great finds! The shades are fun to craft with too.


  9. I take old vintage wire birdcages and use them to display black and white family photos. Easy to stick the corners through the wires and can be changed frequently and quickly. I display other vintage momentos (baby shoes, rattles, cups, etc. inside the cage. Upcycled one today and even added vintage rhinestone clip earrings and a tiara to it.

    1. Love birdcages for decorating! I did a post on that topic recently!

  10. I love the look of the old frames with the chalk board inside - Is it just as easy as painting the chalk paint? And what do you paint it on?

    1. It works just like regular paint. As a matter of fact, you can make your own chalkboard paint - check out this post, it has a recipe to make your own.

    2. (I added the link to the chalkboard paint ideas under the second chalkboard photo above)

  11. wow! lots of amazing ideas. thanks

    how are they hanging all those silver trays on the wall anyway??

    barbara jean

    1. Usually they glue down one end of a large paper clip to the reverse side with a strong adhesive such as E6000

  12. Love all the silver and the sweater pillows. So cute. I have some thrift store silver trays...all in a drawer. I should get them out!!

  13. What a unique blog you have! I enjoyed my visit! The silver trays and the picture frame ideas are lovely!

    1. Thanks for visiting, glad you enjoyed the post :)

  14. Fantastic post! Love all the yummy thrifted inspiration!

  15. I used to have the silver plate trays on the kitchen wall, but now I use them to make jewelry. When I put the torch on the metal, after I have sawed it up, it will make a beautiful patina. I don't try to fake sterling, the silver plate trays have their own beauty. you can see some of my work on my web site
    The rose pillow is beautiful.

  16. These are so smart! I really like the vertically hung silver platers. I may have to try that in out next place.

    1. I'm doing it in my dining room on a plum colored wall.

  17. Love! I already look for all these when estate sale-ing! I have a drawer full of vintage Vera scarves boys' room has several vintage globes, the trays sell as fast as I put them in my booth..I need to save some for me! I saw a cool black framed heart shaped photo arrangement on Pinterest the other day..36 4x6 black frames.. which are $3 each at the "cheap" store. I can get them for $1 each (or less) myself..time to hunt and gather! I get the old chunky handknit cable sweaters to make pillows..or wear! Love that rose pillow!

  18. I love the map and globe ideas I might try them in my sons room. I also love to collect china as wall art in my dinning room

  19. I've collected a bunch of silver platters and dishes and will be hanging them on my wall.... But....I have no idea how to adhere them to the wall. Can you share how you did all of yours? Love the ideas!!!

    1. Most people use a large paper clip and glue one end down to the back of the plate an use the other end to hang. There's an example of this on my Gallery Walls post

  20. These are all great ideas! Wish there was a tutorial for making the rose pillow from a sweater. I have a ton of scarves too, & I have never known what to do with them.

  21. I make a habit of touching every pillow at a thrift store to check if it has a down insert. If it does I snatch it up for a couple of bucks rather than the 10-15 each you pay new then buy a pillow cover on Etsy!


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