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These Are The Aisles You're Forgetting About When Thrifting Home Décor

Glass coffee table with books and other trinkets.

Photos by Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography

While on a day trip with a friend a few months back, we made a point to stop at nearly every thrift store we passed for a two-hour stretch, and it was basically my idea of the perfect afternoon. Yet because our time at each spot was limited, we had to be judicious.

Thankfully, as experienced thrifters, we had things down to a science and knew exactly which sections to check. Of course, home enthusiasts will automatically gravitate toward larger furniture and artwork, but there’s so much more to be found inside a thrift store.

Below is where you’ll discover some hidden home décor gems the next time you visit your favorite secondhand shop. 

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The Books Section

Sure, you’ll mostly find novels and a whole lot of cookbooks, but it’s always worth taking a spin through the books area of the thrift store. During past visits to Goodwill, I’ve scored top-rated coffee table books for way less—think: Grace Bonney’s Design Sponge for just $3.

Of course, books’ condition will always vary, but the major savings are generally worthwhile in the end. If you’re in the process of styling built-ins or are just looking for a few titles for your nightstand, you won’t want to skimp on this section.

You could also utilize pages from secondhand coffee table books as inexpensive artwork—just pop a favorite image in an ornate gold frame and it’ll look super luxe. 

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The “Mish Mash” Aisle

You know that aisle that seems to be a random mix of housewares, office accessories, and party supplies? You truly never know what you’ll find there, which is why it’s always worth exploring.

In past trips down this aisle, I’ve scooped up everything from Capri Blue candles to highly discounted boxes of stationery, memo boards, and other useful odds and ends that I’m always happy to find at a low price.

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The Glassware Shelves

Glass trinket holder on white nightstand.

Photos by Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography 

A lot of thrifters are eager to scoop up depression glass and wine goblets, but not as many will think to look for smaller pieces of glassware, like the trinket box pictured above. I scored it for a mere $2 and it was the perfect vessel to keep on my nightstand.

Such bowls will also add a sophisticated touch to your next at-home gathering. Hummus looks much fancier served in a crystal dish than a plastic tub—even if said dish was actually just a dollar.

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The Picture Frame Area 

Thrift stores always seem to have so many picture frames. But it’s worth taking a look through them even if it’s a more time-consuming endeavor, as brand new frames can be quite expensive. Even if the artwork popped inside isn’t your style, it’s worth picking up a frame that captures your attention, or perhaps a so-so frame will be holding a stunning print.

If your DIY skills are more advanced, you can also purchase a canvas to make over with some paint of your own. You can never go wrong with an abstract, too.