Their castoffs can be your interior design statement

Decorating with Yard Sale Finds

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

Related Articles

Video: Yard Sale Shopping Tips

Decorating with Yard Sale Finds

Furniture Remakes

Decorating With Yard Sale Finds

My husband and I just moved into our first house, so money is tight. My girlfriend read about how people are able to decorate their homes with yard sale finds. Is it really possible? I'd love to have a nicely decorated home without spending a lot of money.

Look for Multi-Functional Pieces

It's absolutely possible. Just be patient, learn a little about how to use a paintbrush (great YouTube videos on that), and look for pieces that are multi-functional. For instance, a dresser can make a perfect buffet.
Bridget (via Facebook)

It's an Ongoing Process

Of course, you can inexpensively decorate with garage sale items. Also, look into estate sales where the entire house is up for sale. I've been doing this for decades. I have some very cool things that get a lot of compliments, and I paid very little for these items. One thing to keep in mind is you're not going to be able to shop them like you would at a department store. This isn't a one trip to the store type of thing. It will be ongoing. I find it fun and love finding a bargain! I purchased two of my favorite pieces of large wall art from garage sales at $1 each. I also bought a nicely made wood rocking chair for $1. It can be done, but it will take some time.

My advice is to Google for your local estate sales. Here in the Portland area, we have what's called You'll need to find your local equivalent. They list all the estate sales with pictures, addresses, and a map. That way, you can see whose decorating style matches yours to decide which estate sales you want to attend and which you'll skip.

Just about everything I own is from garage and estate sales. Looking down at myself, I have sterling earrings ($1), a heavy sterling pin ($2), a sterling, marcasite and onyx bracelet ($6.50), leather belt ($.50), leather shoes ($3), socks ($.25), jeans ($4), top ($1), sweater ($.25), and a Tignanello leather purse (valued over $100) that I paid $7.99 for at Goodwill (it was brand new). Basically, I paid $26.49 for my entire outfit. Now that's a bargain!

Save Big at Thrift Store and Yard Sales

Yes! Go to the thrift stores and buy items for a dollar or two that people had bought at Pier 1 Imports for $30. Visit Salvation Army, Good Will and independent thrift stores. Also, for your basic home needs, go to a dollar store. I bought a trash can for $1 that retails for $3 at the big box stores. Unless you can get it for less at a thrift store or yard sale, it is a great bargain.
Lisa (via Facebook)

Have a Style/Theme in Mind When Decorating with Yard Sale Finds

The possibilities are endless! I actually have seven windows in my kitchen and I went to a yard sale one time and found eight brand new valances still packaged that I had been eyeing at a store. I bought them all and got a new look for less than $10.

You need to have a style or theme in mind that you want to accomplish and then start looking for curtains, valances, pictures, small furniture pieces, and knick knacks to tie it all together.

I do not like a lot of stuff sitting around, so my decor is minimal but tasteful. Happy shopping!

Decorating with Yard Sale Finds Top Tips

Yard sales are by far the best way to save money when decorating your home. Here are my top tips that may help:

  1. Be Organized - Go to your local newspaper or go on Craigslist and see what yard sales are in the area. You should plan out your route, so you follow the most efficient one.
  2. Be Disciplined - Only buy what you need and what you love. Know prices of items you are looking for, so you are sure you're getting a bargain.
  3. Be Sure - If it is electrical, ask to plug it in and make sure it works.
  4. Be Persistent - Even if you go to a few sales and strike out, go again the next weekend. Don't settle and run to the store to buy something full price. The item you are looking for will eventually turn up.

In addition to yard sales, visit estate sales. There's nothing more fun than poking around someone's home. Plus, in our area, the prices are reduced on the last day of the estate sale. I use Plug in your zip code and you'll get a notice whenever there is a sale in your area.

My house is probably 95% decorated with yard sale/estate sale finds! One of my biggest triumphs is the brand new washing machine I bought for $75 (and the guy delivered it for me). I also found three ceiling fans for $100 and rattan swivel bar stools (gorgeous!).
Diane C.

Be Observant

Yes, it's possible! People get tired of items and sell them for very low prices just to get rid of them! But you will need to be patient, have a plan but be a little flexible, and be careful not to buy things if you're uncertain where you will use them. You should also check Craigslist (especially for furniture) and your local Freecycle, in addition to thrift and consignment stores.

If you buy upholstered furniture, inspect it carefully for evidence of bed bugs, even in nice neighborhoods. Also, if you have allergies, don't buy any cloth items from homes with pets or smokers unless they can be thrown in the washing machine. Just be observant and happy shopping!

Spread the Word

It's absolutely possible to decorate with yard sale, thrift store, curb gleaned, and "freecycled" stuff. The secret is to be true to your own likes and patient as you gather.

First, use what you have. If you inherited your old bedroom set, consider repurposing those pieces. Maybe the twin bed can become a studio couch, the chest of drawers can become storage in the living room, or the night table can become a side table for the sofa. Perhaps paint or refinishing would tie pieces into their new surroundings. Perhaps you can use simple slip covers, and frame art or photos. A simple matt job and frame under glass makes even magazine photos look terrific. Show off your cherished collections as decorating items (three of anything is a collection).

Second, spread the word. Someone in your network may want to get rid of something you need. Try requesting an item on Freecycle. Take what people give you and see if the item works with your needs/sensibilities. Make do with what you have at any given moment.

Next, use wall paint to your advantage. Walls should offset and tie your pieces together. We moved into a house with intense turquoise living room walls and mock tortoise shell carpet. It was horrible with our furniture. We used creamy white with a peach/brown blush paint. It tied the pieces together, visually enlarged the room, and brought out the warm browns in the carpet.

Finally, have fun. Keep your eyes open. You never know when stuff will show up or where. Play with rearranging your pieces until they make you happy.

Decorating with Yard Sale Finds Is a Hobby and an Addiction!

Yes, you can decorate your home with garage sale finds! I've done this for years and it has become a hobby and an addiction. You do need patience, because you won't always find what you are looking to find. I have very eclectic taste, so I mix and match all the time. The fun thing about decorating with garage sale finds is that I'm never finished! I always find something I like better, so my decor is always changing. Don't feel bad about donating or getting rid of something because you got it for a bargain in the first place. You can find higher-end items at estate sales but be prepared to pay a higher price. Craigslist is also a good source for furniture and don't forget the thrift stores. Happy hunting!

Let Facebook Help

I have a solution for this reader! Facebook is filled with online garage sale "group pages." I am administrator for one of these in my area, and there are over 2000 members. I started it less than one year ago. It allows members to shop and sell from their home. It's more locally concentrated than Craigslist, and it's a wonderful way to meet people in your area. You simply search for (insert your town here) garage sale or online sale in the Facebook search bar from your timeline page. This is a great way to sell as well as buy. It's the hottest thing today on Facebook.

Sew Your Way to a More Beautiful Home

My advice is to learn to sew by taking an online or adult education class. You can buy a second hand sewing machine for less than $50 at Goodwill. Then you can decorate the way you want. The list of savings is endless. It's so easy to repurpose a larger piece of fabric (such as a shower curtain) into smaller items. I just made seat cushions for my patio set. The total cost for six cushions was $12 for material and about four hours of my time to sew.

Take the Next Step:

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book