How To Decorate With Vintage Thrift Store Finds

If you’re already a Master Thrifter, you know how to find diamonds in the rough and transform seemingly mismatched pieces into an outfit that wows. But you might not be aware of the decorating possibilities that await at your favorite vintage shops and thrift stores. If you want to give your home a taste of your unique secondhand style, check out these ideas for one-of-a-kind decorations that will impress everyone who steps through your door:

Scarf Pillows

Any couch or bedspread can be livened up with a few bold throw pillows, and you don’t need to be a sewing pro to make them yourself. Once you’ve gathered a few vintage scarves with bright colors, snazzy patterns, or luxurious textures, simply cut two equal-sized squares from each scarf (or make reversible pillows with two different scarves). Then sew three sides together with a machine or needle and thread. Make sure the display sides of the scarves are on the inside at this point. When you’ve finished, turn the pillowcase inside out, and fill it with stuffing available at a fabric store. Then carefully sew up the open side and blammo! Now you have artisan throw pillows that pop.

Sweater Pillow

Another quick and easy pillow idea is using thick knitted sweaters. Cut out equal-size squares, and if the sweater is of the button-up variety, incorporate the flap with buttons into one of the sides for a warm, stylish touch that evokes roaring fires and steaming mugs of hot chocolate.

Vintage Napkins

Nothing sets off a formal dinner table like beautiful cloth napkins. And if your style isn’t exactly “wedding registry at Macy’s,” you can create classy cloth napkins on your own with virtually any vintage clothing item out there (although cotton works best for absorbency). Make sure you pick something with enough fabric for at least eight 12” x 12” square cutouts. After cutting, you can sew up the ends for an elegant finish on a machine or by hand. Now you just need an excuse for a dinner party to show them off!

Book Drawer Liners

Many thrift shops, including Thrift Trader, serve as mini used bookstores with a little corner dedicated to paperbacks and hardbacks in every genre imaginable. If some of the stories look interesting enough to read, great, but books can also make excellent decoration materials, especially as drawer liners. Instead of buying vinyl liners meant to look like granite or wood from your local big-box store, pick up a few secondhand books and rip out some pages (you can even use a collection of eclectic paperback covers), secure them in the drawer bottom with double-sided tape, then coat with a craft sealer like Mod Podge and let it dry. Now all you have to do is avoid getting wrapped up in the stories when you’re reaching for your socks!

Framed Vintage Swimsuit

For an easy project that packs history and style with a punch, snag a gorgeous vintage swimsuit at your favorite vintage shop—not in your size, though, or you’ll be tempted to wear it instead. Capture it behind glass with a classy, whimsical or even traditional frame. And if you want to get deep with your décor, try to find a few different swimsuits from different eras and display chronologically as a sort of fashion retrospective. It’ll be like a museum exhibit that never closes!

Record Bowls

You might have seen records framed and displayed as decorations before, but you probably haven’t seen a record molded into a decorative bowl. Thrift Trader carries crates upon crates of records, so pick out a few classics, cult favorites, or hilariously retro albums and follow these instructions for a coffee table conversation piece that your guests will be talking about long after they leave.

Braided “Rag” Rug

This project is easier than it looks. If you can braid hair, you can make a rag rug. And while rags are traditionally used, secondhand clothes will work just as well. With the availability of colors and fabrics available at your local vintage shop and thrift store, you can customize the rug to match your existing décor or serve as a bold contrast. So pick up a handful of secondhand finds and get braiding!

Band Shirt Quilt

This project is strictly for crafters with intermediate sewing skills and access to a sewing machine, but it’s well worth the effort. And because you’ll need a lot of shirts (36 for a 6’ x 6’ quilt), it might take time to accumulate the materials—or you can just wait for an excellent sale at your favorite thrift or vintage shop. You don’t need to use band shirts specifically—anything with a fun or interesting logo will work. It just needs to fit within an approximate 12” square of material. So start collecting now and when you have enough for the size of quilt you want, follow these instructions for an instant heirloom for future generations.

Update Your Look at Thrift Trader

Whether your home or your wardrobe could use an injection of unique style, Thrift Trader’s inventory is constantly refreshed with possibilities. We also welcome your gently used contributions to that inventory, so stop by our locations in North Park and Pacific Beach during buying hours—10am to 6pm daily.