I love thrift stores. The thrill of the hunt; items occasionally weird and creepy; and every once in a while, a piece that triggers my hunter-gatherer instincts and begs to comes home with me.
It is surprising to see what gets donated. A lot of junk, sure, but sometimes I find near-new items in terrific condition, or antique or vintage pieces that just need a little TLC.
The thrift stores by our home in Oregon have entered into an agreement with some major furniture retailers to take their seconds and close-outs, so you can buy brand-new furniture for about a third of what it retails for.
For example, we recently bought a trestle table by Pottery Barn for $600. It retails for $2,700. An awesome bar, that we had no business buying, was negotiated down from $1,395 to $600. It retails for $4,000 – maybe our biggest thrift store win yet!
We have found a spot for the bar in a new waterfront property we are closing on in the next week, and the trestle table is going to live there too.
Yep, I’m a thrift store junkie, occasionally resorting to delivering donuts to the kind staff at my favorite store as thanks for pointing out especially cool items I might otherwise miss.
I also find the process of refurbishing a good piece of furniture very relaxing, almost zen-like.
When I get to combine my two favorite hobbies, finding and fixing furniture and renovating and restoring a home, it’s the holy grail!
I recently posted articles on the renovation of two of our newest properties, and this is how some of the furnishings were sourced, as well as a sneak peek at some great pieces for the new property.
In no particular order, here are some before-and-afters of some of my favorite pieces:
I bought this beautiful 1930 Motorola floor radio at my favorite thrift store for $60. I carefully cleaned the tubes in back, cleaned and conditioned the wood, and re-attached the top, which had come loose. The lights come on, but it may need some new tubes to function again as a radio. It is really more for decor, although I may fix it down the road because it would be fun to have it working.
I found this awesome rustic hand-crafted table underneath another table at my go-to thrift store. It was naturally distressed, and it was love at first sight.
A few weeks later, I was shopping at my favorite thrift store again when I found its Mini-Me!
I was sure they were from the same source, and this was confirmed by the matching Bekins moving tags on the undersides of both tables.
The larger table did double duty as a work table, covered with a tarp, while we were renovating the property. After the renovation was complete, we added a base to the table to convert it to pub height. I stained the base to match, sanded and re-stained the top, and cleaned and conditioned the entire table.
Mini-Me was in better shape, and I was able to get away with cleaning and conditioning it. (Hint: Old English Scratch Cover Oil, for light or dark wood, is the bomb. It cleans, conditions, and covers scratches and imperfections.) The table in the foreground is a solid wood storage table, purchased for around $30 and cleaned and conditioned, that holds games and puzzles.
Fun fact: The light fixture over the larger table is a ship’s wheel that I converted to a dining light fixture with rope lights and Edison bulbs. The guy at the hardware store around the corner helped me find parts for my “chandelier,” some from the plumbing aisle!
This top-grain leather armchair with nailhead trim was dirty and had a few scratches, but was otherwise in good condition when I bought it for around $60.
The “after” chair with an accent table that I painted with milk paint and accented with gold leaf.
A lot of people dispose of good leather furniture because it gets sun-faded or has cat scratches. There is a wonderful product, available on Amazon, that colors and conditions leather. It comes in multiple colors, and is a must-have if you are rejuvenating a good leather piece.
Here are two more examples of refurbished leather using this product, in navy and seafoam green:
Books are a great design element, and I have found some wonderful old books dating back to the 1800s in the vintage aisles of thrift stores. Gorgeous, hand-embossed leather covers add instant character to any home for $2-$3 a book.
Here’s where some of these ended up, in the bookcase/door entrance to the Secret Game Room.
Here is another wonderful rustic/distressed table I bought for $40. I added bun feet to the legs to raise it to pub height, and painted them to match the existing legs.
This beautiful leather chaise was marked down to $70, and was either new or barely used.
I paired it with a faux-sheepskin throw and a small fringed pillows I made with leftover cow fabric from reupholstering barstools, below, and stuffed them with fleece from our Llamas.
Reupholstering chair seats and benches is fast and only requires a staple gun. Here are two of my go-to favorite fabrics:
These were nice but blah Pottery Barn bar stools that I redid in cowhide microsuede. Two years later, they look as good as new.
A bench from a vacation rental home I sold in California made the long drive up the coast with its furniture brethren, and was revamped into a classy coastal beauty.
I love everything about this fabric. I reupholstered three more chairs and a bench, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it finds a way into our new project.
There is a lot more to share, so I will do a Part II on furniture.
Before I go, here is a sneak peek at some of the purchases we made yesterday:
This navy leather wing chair with nailhead detail was purchased for $35, and looks it, but with some minor leather repair, cleaning, leather restoration paste, and leg touch-up it will be stunning.
I love the size and color of this vintage trunk. As I was manhandling it out of the store, a man asked what I would store there. I said a body, but it will actually hold cozy throws.
This came brand-new in the box from a major retailer mentioned earlier. It retails for $2,500, and we purchased it for $500.
It’s not the most practical choice for a vacation rental, but we will scotchguard the heck out of it, and it has a slipcover so it can be replaced if needed. Imagine this in front of a large picture window, in a 1926 Craftsman overlooking a private beach…
These stunning top-grain leather swivel club chairs came from the same place and manufacturer, and we purchased them for $399 each. They retail for $1,250. They will flank either side of the sofa. Sigh…
Many thanks for stopping by!
Up next: Off the Beaten Path, the best spots for you and your pup to explore, relax and dine in Newport and surrounding areas.