Decor items to look for at thrift stores

home decor items to look for at thrift stores, tips from revelry interior design, interior designer in california

I enthusiastically contributed to an article in House Beautiful magazine titled “9 items you should never pass up if you see them on the street” and it got me thinking about how here in the Northern Bay Area of California, I rarely see street furniture, but the same rules apply for items to look for at thrift stores.

I lived in San Francisco for over ten years, and I’m guilty of both picking up items from and leaving good furniture on the street, like a perfectly fine marble coffee table. Sometimes it’s easier to leave things on the street than to deal with the hassle of selling online for little return, especially when you’re moving and the movers are gonna charge you for something you’re going to get rid of anyway. Long story short: ain’t no shame in street finds! But if you’re like me, you’ve upgraded from street furniture to thrift store finds. 

Here are a few items to be on the lookout for.

Items to look for at thrift stores

Marble or stone

Marble or any kind of cut stone is valuable and versatile. I once left a round marble coffee table with a wood base on the street simply because the vendor had accidentally sent me two, and I didn’t have room for both. 

Random remnants of marble or stone countertops are also great to pick up and have recut into something you can use, like a cutting board or a small table top. You can have any tile installer cut the stone for you. Getting it home will take some thought, however, because marble and stone is quite heavy!

If you find marble or any type of stone at a thrift store, you can very easily clean it up with a light scrubbing of soap and water with a cloth.

Picture frames

Revelry interior design image of a moody blue bedroom with 2 gold frames above an upholstered bed with a dark wood nightstand and a pale blue table lamp with gold picture frames

Picture frames are some of my favorite items to salvage from thrift stores. I’ve picked up tossed framed artwork that was probably overlooked because the artwork itself was dated or downright ugly, but the frames were well-made, and new picture frames can be pricey!

Sometimes you may need to carefully pry the small nails or staples from the backing in order to remove the old artwork, and add some new glass to the front (which you can get from a frame shop), but the actual wood frame can be restored just like any piece of wood furniture. 

If the frame is overly ornate and not your style, try spray-painting the frame in a glossy bright hue for a post-modern pop of color! If the corners are loose, pick up some wood glue and make sure to install picture wire to the backing, which will take the stress off of the frame and make it last longer. (And if you have questions about how best to hang your picture frames, you can read my blog post “The Ultimate Guide to Wall Art Hanging Rules.”


Mirrors of any size are a great find, especially if they are round. Round mirrors make great statement pieces and they can be expensive to buy new because of the round frame, which is likely to be hand-crafted. Sometimes I see tossed mirrors with a broken frame (which can easily be replaced at any frame shop) or a chipped corner (in which case, the mirror can easily be recut at any glass shop, or you can have a handyman do it for you). Good old Windex will shine the mirror right up.

Solid wood furniture

Solid wood furniture of any type, whether a side table, dining chair, or dresser, is usually a good choice. Solid wood furniture is built to last, expensive to buy new, and can very easily be restored, unlike wood veneer or particle board furniture.

You can identify solid wood furniture by looking for uniqueness in the wood graining, such as knots or irregularities. If the wood grain looks fairly uniform, chances are it’s a veneer. Look closely at the edges, corners, and underside of the wood if possible. If you can spot areas where the surface is peeling or bubbling, it’s a veneer and isn’t worth much. If you see unfinished, unstained areas, chances are it’s solid wood and can be brought back to life with some wood markers for light chipping, or basic wood furniture polish.

Metal hardware

If you see a dresser or nightstand with drawer pulls or handles on it, look closely at the hardware as it may be worth something. Older furniture is more likely to use solid bronze hardware, which is high-quality and thus more expensive. If it feels heavy or cold in your hand, it is probably solid bronze.

Similarly, if you see any type of metal that appears to be old and tarnished, whether a mirror frame, a candlestick holder, an old faucet, or utensils, chances are that it is real silver, nickel, or brass, which can be easily restored with some metal-specific polish that you can buy on Amazon.

Recap of Home Decor Items to Look for at Thrift Stores

  1. Marble or stone
  2. Frames
  3. Mirrors
  4. Solid wood furniture
  5. Metal hardware

In an upcoming blog post, I’m going to list my favorite thrift stores and furniture consignment shops in Sonoma, Napa, and Marin Counties, so that you can put my tips to use!

Need help refreshing your home and figuring out how to balance the old with the new? Reach out to us at or book a free consultation with us here.


Dana Feagles, Principal Interior Designer 

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