Add Character to Your Apartment: Antique, Thrift Stores and Flea Market Decorating

Anyone who wants to decorate quickly and generically has plenty of big-chain home goods stores to choose from. But if you want your space to be as unique as you are, you should think (and buy) outside the box. This means scouring flea markets, thrift stores, and antique shops for pieces that speak to you and reflect your own style. If you’re new to the arena of vintage home decor, here are a few tips that can help you navigate your first few thrift store or flea market runs:

  • Be patient. The cardinal rule of shopping at vintage stores is to take your time—even if it’s a lot of time. Pick a weekend when you have plenty of time to spare, and really be patient while exploring your local flea market, thrift store, or antique shop. Chances are are least one of them holds a treasure, but you might have to sift through tacky figurines and weathered kitchenware before you find it.
  • Keep an open mind. Even if you have something specific in mind, like a new end table or a lamp, you should stay open to other options. Don’t skip any section of the flea market. You might just stumble upon a set of plates or a piece of wall art that will go perfectly with what you already have—and you won’t find it if you stick to your shopping list.
  • Don’t be afraid to DIY. Some antiques require a bit of TLC, and the same is true of many flea market and thrift store finds. Don’t let this deter you from buying an item. It might just be a matter of replacing knobs and slapping a fresh coat of paint onto an armoire to make it look brand new.
  • Focus on shape, not style. If you are open to a new DIY project, then you should keep in mind that what you see on the shelf isn’t the final product. So when you look for a specific in piece, seek out the shape you want and make sure it’s in good condition. Aesthetic aspects are easy to change.
  • Thrift often. The more you thrift, the greater your chances are of discovering a diamond in the rough. So even if you don’t necessarily have time to sift, you should still try to make at least weekly trips to the thrift store or flea market, at least in the beginning stages of decorating your apartment. If you do have a free weekend day, set aside the entire 12 hours and plan a few different trips to shops in your area.
  • Keep an eye out for what’s hot right now. Check out DIY blogs and other online resources for fresh ideas of ways to upcycle thrift store finds. Over the past few years, everything from silver platters to vintage scarves have been used in home decor (as wall hangings and shower curtains, respectively). Vintage maps are especially versatile. You can frame them, use them to paper the drawers in the kitchen, or even coat an end table’s surface with tone.

How to Upcycle Thrift Store Finds Into Trendy Home Decor [Dishfunctional Designs]
My Top 10 Thrift Store Shopping Tips: How to Decorate on a Budget [Love Live DIY]
Decorating with Thrift Store Finds [In My Own Style]
Before and After—Thrift Store Finds [Maggie May’s DIY Ideas for Every Day]