Although thrifting isn’t exactly new on the scene, it’s increasingly become a trend in current times. In fact, in Pinterest’s 2023 trend report, the company predicted that what’s old will be new again, with searches for antique and vintage furniture way up. Forecasters have also noticed that thrifting has seen a substantial uptick in popularity since the pandemic and the recent spike in inflation. (We also predicted vintage pieces would be big this year in our list of the top interior design trends of 2023.)
That’s why there’s never been a better time to start thrifting furniture for your bedroom, along with other decorative items that will bring secondhand charm to your sleep space. Thrifted furniture is usually affordable and is typically very well-made, explains Virginia Chamlee, writer, artist, vintage expert, and author of the best-selling book, Big Thrift Energy.
Here’s how to thrift furniture for the bedroom, according to Chamlee.
Thrifting furniture for the bedroom
Go with the flow
Thrifting is all about being as flexible as possible, as Chamlee puts it, especially if you’re searching for something specific. “Rather than looking for, say, a matching pair of two-drawer nightstands, look instead for two tables that could function in the same way,” she says. “This allows you to think more creatively when it comes time to decorate.”
Spot high-quality materials
While some thrifted furniture pieces aren’t exactly heirloom quality, there are some items that are extremely well-made. Chamlee says it’s as simple as “looking for nice materials,” which can include marble, dark woods, chrome, and Lucite.
“These are all materials that are expensive to work with and, therefore, generally only used on really well-made pieces,” she says. “If you find something in one of these materials, chances are it will stand the test of time.”
Check things out
Don’t jump at the first thrifted furniture piece that catches your eye. Thrifting, at times, requires a careful inspection and deeper dive. “Examine items closely to ensure they are indeed well-kept and well-made,” Chamlee advises. She suggests asking yourself these questions whenever you evaluate a secondhand furniture piece:
- Do the drawers open and close easily?
- Does the piece sit flat on the ground, without wobbling?
- Does it have any major damage?
Take it slow
You don’t have to find everything for your bedroom in one trip to the thrift store. “The hallmark of any well-styled room is patience,” Chamlee wisely shares. “A room develops with time, and adding pieces as you go helps a space feel more collected and layered.”
Mix it up
One of the best things about thrifting is that it allows you to get creative and showcase a unique mix in your space. Chamlee says you shouldn’t be afraid to combine various eras and styles. “It might seem counterintuitive, but mid-century, post-modern, and traditional can all live harmoniously in a space,” she says. “In fact, most spaces benefit from the vast and varied.”
Chamlee adds that if you lean too far in any one direction, a room can feel more like a movie set rather than a comfortable space in which you want to live. So, Chamlee suggests this: “Be fearless,” she says. “Mix old and new—a HomeGoods table with a thrifted Dior box, an Ikea bench with a Pendleton wool blanket. That’s kind of the fun of decorating. It’s more fun when it’s inclusive rather than restrictive.”
Why is thrifting trendy right now?
“Thrifting is a great way to shop more sustainably,” Chamlee notes. While buying from big-box stores may be convenient, it perpetuates the cycle of fast furniture—pieces that are trendy but not necessarily well-made, she explains. These pieces typically wind up in landfills in a year or two. Thrift stores are also full of really unique, vintage pieces that are affordable, adds Chamlee.
Is thrift store furniture generally good?
You may believe that just because something is thrifted means it’s worn or low-quality. This isn’t always the case. Chamlee says it’s key to assess a piece of furniture before you commit to buying it—and this is particularly true when it’s used.
For example, “If it’s a table, make sure it doesn’t wobble—this would be really annoying every time you go to set your water glass down at night,” says Chamlee. “Some things are easy fixes—a minor scuff can be buffed out, for instance—but others, like a chair with a missing leg or arm, might be near-impossible to fix.”
Why does thrift store furniture smell?
While Chamlee has personally never had an issue with thrifted furniture and strange smells, she always cleans furniture before bringing it inside. If she buys something upholstered, she usually has it reupholstered and sometimes even re-stuffed, making it seem as if it’s being rebuilt from scratch.
“If you do notice an odor,” she says, “try using baking soda, which neutralizes smells. Just blot some on the fabric, mixed with water, on stains or all over the upholstery.”
How do you clean thrift store furniture?
If you’re wondering how to clean thrifted furniture, Chamlee has this sage advice: “Cleaning a piece of furniture depends largely on what material the piece is made of,” she says. “If it’s stained fabric, you can try mixing two cups of warm water with a quarter cup of white vinegar and a teaspoon of dish detergent and blot stains with the solution.”
Wondering what to do with an old mattress? Here’s how to donate a used mattress.