Thrift style

second hand sign

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or reads my work that I am a huge fan of secondhand shopping. I am very frugal. The idea of paying full retail for anything is damaging to my soul. I could win the lottery, and I would still shop for a gently used car.

On the other hand, I really, REALLY like nice things even though I don’t want to be surrounded by anything overly precious. This dichotomy means I need to buy things gently used, second-hand and thrifted. Accordingly, our home is furnished in an “early auction meets thrift store” theme.

I am a big fan of high-end fabrics and finishes in both my personal attire and home decor. If you should admire something I am wearing — be it cashmere, leather, linen or wool — I will probably tell you I got it for $3. The same goes for our decor.

Most of our home furnishings are high-quality hand-me-down. I’m an absolutely rabid fangirl of, say, the Pottery Barn brand. I yearned for it as a new homemaker. I will not, however, pay $80 for a pillow. I will pay $5 on Facebook Marketplace and meet the nicest lady when I pick it up.

Mr. Wonderful indulges me in these flights of fancy while lurking around the homes of strangers exchanging cash for tchotchkes. To be fair, I also bought a few for $1.50 at the local thrift store. It is possible I have a throw pillow “problem.” I am not interested in a cure.

Home isn’t a place. It’s a feeling. How do you want your home to feel? I want ours to feel comfortable, cozy, and stress-free. I can’t do this if things are too costly.

I have “Princess and the Pea” styled beds piled high with duvets and quilts. If you aren’t a fan of being pinned to the mattress by the weight of the down of a thousand ducks, this isn’t the place for you.

On every bed in our home is the kind of thick, crisp, cotton or linen that can only be found in vintage sheets. Yes, I will happily purchase your mee-maw’s old bedding at an estate sale, thank you very much. A little bleach. A lot of hot water. They are probably good to go for another couple of decades.

I collect, quite by happenstance, embroidered pillowcases. I don’t care if it’s not MY initials. I just care that someone spent significant time and talent and now their hard work is sitting on a sale table for $1. On that note, I’m pretty sure we have at least one down pillow that is roughly 70 years old. It weighs about the same as a bag of cement and could double as a weapon. It’s a family heirloom.

Basically, my style has evolved to be “elderly East Coast lady,” so ask yourself what would great-great grandma like? I plan my decor accordingly. Birds. Books. Chinoiserie. I’m super into dishes these days. I have no idea why. Gaudy fabrics? Sign me up! Dark wood furniture with carvings and drawers? Possibly haunted? Yes, please!

One of my auction scores of the past few years was a gorgeous old church pew. In my research, I have learned that the early inhabitants of our home and property were founding members of the local Quaker church. Purely by coincidence, the bench I purchased was from that church during the era they attended. It feels like a full-circle moment. This tickles me to no end.

Girlwonder shares my love of home decor as a hobby. She married a man who is very male. Behind his couch, she found a coffee table and side tables stacked together to make a makeshift stand to allow his projector to be tall enough. Mounds of army gear were “stored” on the living room floor.

She is a sweet girl, and she really loves him so she kindly noted, “the bicycle in the living room really tied the room together!” Now they are wed, and he admits he enjoys the home she creates — thriftily of course. She is her mama’s girl after all.

Boywonder similarly found a lovely young woman who has a remarkable talent for home decor. They are often on a mission to bring home some salvaged item or thrifty find. My current hobbies include hanging out with these lovelies and thrifting together.

Furniture-wise, I have so many pieces in our not-overly-large living room that I fear it teeters between looking like a hotel lobby or a furniture store — or, perhaps, some sort of terrible rummage sale. I like to be ready to seat from 2 to 20 people in our home at a moment’s notice. Also, they may all need their own throw pillows.


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