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5 Common Mistakes

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

When shopping thrift for decor

When I was a kid growing up, one of my favorite things to do with my mom was browse the local thrift store for hidden treasures. We usually shopped for clothes, but I loved going to the furniture section. I would often imagine how I would reupholster an ottoman because it had great bones. Or give an antique dresser a face-lift with new paint and hardware. Shopping for furniture and decor at thrift shops is a great way to stretch your budget, but also to help create a more curated look for less. The problem some homeowners face when shopping consignment shops (or any store for that matter), is they get the piece home and suddenly, it doesn't have that same charm it had when you saw it in the store! Either it doesn't fit, it's not the right color, or you realize you liked it in the store, but it doesn't jive with your existing decor. These common mistakes can be avoided with a simple tips. Here are 5 Common mistakes people make when buying furniture or decor at thrift shops:

5 Common Mistakes When Shopping Decor at Thrift Stores

Sketch of a floor plan


​Before even heading to thrift shops, the most crucial step a buyer should do is measure the space the piece will be used for prior to going shopping. When I'm space planning, this is the very first step I take before sourcing or purchasing. Looking for an item to place in your bookcase or the perfect chair next to the window? It is best to know the dimensions of a furniture piece (or the space) so you can narrow down your choices while shopping. Write the dimensions down on a piece of paper and bring it with you along with a tape measure to the store. This way you can compare the dimensions of a furniture or decor piece you see to the dimensions on paper. This helps ensure that the gorgeous 10 in wide vase you saw at the store can fit snuggly on the 12 in deep shelf you have at home.

My design assistant and I carefully measuring my client's space for window treatments.

Sale tags


I know the feeling. Your eye catches the perfect sparkly pillow or a psychedelic shag rug and you think, "I must buy it now", only to get it home and realize it doesn't go with any of your existing decor. To reduce impulse buying, always go to the thrift store with a plan in mind. Like a grocery list, write down exactly what you're looking for (ie. round side table in metal finish, or sage green throw pillows for living room sofa). This way, you remain focused and only spend on what you intended to buy so you won't have to sort through an eclectic set of decor later unless of course, that's your desired design aesthetic.


This is the right-hand man to impulse buying. It's super easy to get caught up at the low-budget prices. Trust me, I still get excited at how many dinner plates and glasses I can buy at the dollar store. But don't get caught up by the low sticker price as those numbers quickly add up. Just like going to the store with a list, you should also have a budget in mind. Don't just consider the cost of an item, but also the value and the quantities needed to obtain your decorating goals.


Never make the mistake of thinking that one thrift shop has everything you need. You could be missing out on the perfect piece at another store. The fun in shopping is the adventure of sourcing. Instead of going to the same local store, try another consignment shop downtown or the local flea market. Great finds are everywhere.


Even designers could often use a second option and going shopping for furniture or decor can be a costly mistake, especially if the space is shared with a partner. A bright red sofa may be "to-die-for" to you, but a total eyesore for them. It's good to have varying opinions and common ground before making large purchases. Even more so for big-ticket items that are not able to easily get rid of.


  • Home decor items are great buys at thrift shops. Items such as glass jars, ceramic vases, and bowls can easily change with the times at a great price point. Plus they can be easily replaced in the event one breaks, or you change design styles.

  • Authentic wood furniture. A good sturdy wood furniture piece can be hard to find sometimes, so when you stumble upon a gem, it may be worth the splurge. The great thing is that old dressers, coffee tables and even stools can be given new life with a fresh coat of paint and a new DIY cushion.

  • Throw pillows. They can easily be washed and even restuffed with a filling you prefer. My favorite are down alternative pillow inserts in a fun pillow cover with pattern and texture. The ones with zippers or buttons as closures are the best options because they can be easily refilled. If you're great with a needle and thread, you can choose any pillow that meets your needs.

Design with Veronica is a full service interior design studio. Also providing online e-design services, consultations, and design on retainer services.


The DVS editorial team highlights a curated selection of product recommendations for your consideration; clicking a link to the retailer that sells the product may earn us a commission.

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