Thrifting Outside the Box

by Kimba on June 23, 2009

in Do it yourself

This is a guest post from the queen of fabulous ideas, Kate from Centsational Girl. If you don’t already adore her and your fantastic blog, you’re going to after this post.

When Kimba asked me to be a guest writer on her site, I was completely honored. I’ve been an admirer of Kimba’s style for a long time, and her ability to introduce us all to creative and inspirational bloggers. Many of you ASPTL readers are thrifty and resourceful in marvelous ways, and I love reading all of your inventive ideas.

Like many of you, I also spend much of my free time popping into consignment shops, thrift stores and flea markets, hunting for treasures. I take pride in finding diamonds in the rough, but I get an even bigger thrill from transforming found objects in ways unimagined. I thought I’d share a bit of my thought process with all of you.

How I Thrift Outside the Box:

1) Study Good Designers. First, train your eye for the good stuff by studying great décor magazines like House Beautiful, Veranda, Elle Décor, Traditional Home, and Better Homes & Gardens. I notice the choices designers make to add flair to a space. It never ceases to amaze me that many of the trimmings designers use have the same aesthetic qualities as the objects I notice at antique shops or flea markets.

photo: House Beautiful 2006

2) Weed Out the Real Junk. 90% of what I see at flea markets, in thrift stores, or on Craigslist is real, honest to goodness, junk. It’s firewood, folks. Stuff I’d never touch. I think this is why most non-thrifters shy away from shopping second-hand. You might get your hands dirty weeding through most of the stuff, but there’s always that moment when you find that diamond in the rubbish. I found this crystal lamp behind most of the ugly ones on the lamp table at the local thrift store and upgraded it with a bit of paint and a new socket.

3) Attitude & Gumption. When I approach these venues, I do it with extreme curiosity. For me, I’m like a kid in a scavenger hunt. It’s always a thrilling adventure for me, the prospect of finding something spectacular. When I arrive at flea markets and garage sales, I always bring a little nerve and a lot of common sense. I know how much I’m willing to spend, and I walk away if the seller won’t meet my price. I bargain with confidence, but always with a smile. But there have been those moments when I fall in love, and when that seller that won’t budge, I’ve coughed up the cash for that special something.

4) Always Think About Paint or Fabric. If you’ve ever watched small children play, you marvel at their imaginations. My greatest asset in transforming found objects is, in a sense, channeling my inner child. I look at everything through the prism of my imagination. I have trained my eye to see a piece with a new coat of paint, some fresh stain and new knobs, or a stylish choice in fabric. You can turn just about anything into a unique, one-of-a-kind piece, if you simply use your imagination. Like this chair, for example.

5) Learn to Love Spray Paint. Seriously folks. Buy a drop cloth, keep a stack of newspaper handy, and invest in the good brands, like Rustoleum. Once you master this tool, you will look at all things with a new set of eyes. I have transformed more items for my home, or for friends, with a simple can of spray paint. It’s marvelous. See how even the tackiest brass objects from the local thrift can be transformed into a classy spa solution.

For a glance at more thrift store transformations, come on over and visit this link.

Many thanks and blessings to Kimba for this feature.

Many thanks to Kate at Centsational Girl! You are so full of fabulous ideas! Your makeovers and decorating advice inspire me all the time.

In other news, I am being featured as a Guest Guru at Get Buttoned Up! Their website is a fantastic resource for women who want to live an organized life. I’d love it if you would stop by to read my article and leave me a bit of comment love.

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1 Marie June 23, 2009 at 6:12 am

Thank you, Kimba for highlighting Kate today! I have been a fan of hers for a while now and love all the great inspiration she gives us.


2 tales from an oc cottage June 23, 2009 at 6:12 am

I just found her last week and I was going to post about her and say "she like the Kimba of Calif!" I am so glad you did, so many people will find her now!!! And her blog is so worth finding!

m ^..^

3 marty39 June 23, 2009 at 6:33 am

What a great post. I have been a fan of Kate for a while and she really always amazes me. Great advice and inspiration. Hugs, Marty

4 Amanda June 23, 2009 at 6:48 am

yes! I love love her! I have stalked her blog for some time- I so wanna be her when I grow up!!

5 Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality June 23, 2009 at 7:19 am

Oh, I just love Kate & all her projects AND I look forward to her guest posting for me one day soon too. Great choice, Kimba!

6 Your cool friend Cheryl June 23, 2009 at 7:31 am

Great read!

My parents have those crystal lamps (sadly still with the brass) that my mom bought in the 80s at Ethan Allen…what a great find for you!

7 Michelle@Fromhousetohome June 23, 2009 at 7:38 am

So glad you introduced us to her. Great post!

8 Kasey Hunt June 23, 2009 at 7:48 am

All good stuff. Love the pictures. Great transformations. Thanks for the guest post!!

9 HeathahLee June 23, 2009 at 9:13 am

Sigh…one MORE blog I'm being forced to follow! : ) Love the post, Love your blog, Kate! Thanks, Kimba, for asking her to post!

10 Valencia June 23, 2009 at 9:57 am

Your number 1 hit the nail on the head with me. I've spent years doing this and it has really paid off. Even with clothing…lol Great tips, I've off to visit your blog!!!

11 Brigitte June 23, 2009 at 11:29 am

Wow, we sound like two peas in a pod.

12 Amanda @ Serenity Now June 23, 2009 at 11:32 am

I'm a big fan of Kate's blog, and I enjoyed reading her tips today. Thanks for letting her share, Kimba! I am off to read YOUR guest post now. 🙂

13 Miss(es) Canadian Pie June 23, 2009 at 11:53 am

I've aquired more "junk" than I care to think about because I didn't hold my horses and follow some of these techniques. I think the biggest thing I'll take away is studying good designers. Thanks for such great info!

14 pk @ room remix June 23, 2009 at 12:19 pm

I'm a Kate fan as well. Love the inspiration her projects provide for the do it yourselfers on a budget!

15 Marci @OvercomingBusy June 23, 2009 at 1:46 pm

I can't wait to go treasure hunting myself! I'm going to Kate's blog right now. Thanks for introducing us to her!

16 Nellie's Cozy place June 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

hi Kimba,
thanks for hosting Kate, she had some great ideas. I love spray paint too, the transformation power of it is incredible.
Also thanks for putting us on to so many people that have great ideas including yourself. Really enjoy your blog hon,
blessings, Nellie

17 do it yourselfer June 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm

thanks…this girl rocks!

18 Kathy June 24, 2009 at 5:46 am

Kimba, I found your blog through the Rhinestone Contessa…and so glad I did! What a great article by Kate (will check out her blog next…)- I'm a thrifting/junk junkie too and love finding others with the same "loves"!

Have a beautiful day!

P.S. I have those lamps…will be painting them soon! :);

19 fawnda June 24, 2009 at 7:26 am

Hi Kimba,
I just wanted to let you know that I gave your blog an award on my blog. I love reading your blog!

20 Sandy June 24, 2009 at 9:18 am

Good job, Kate! Resourceful and right on! 🙂

Thanks Kimba, for introducing us!

21 Caroline June 24, 2009 at 11:54 am

What a beautiful blog you have! WOW! I found you through Tabitha at I choose bliss…so glad I did. Now I am off to explore…

22 CHER June 24, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Yes, thanks so much!!! Loving the new ideas!!!cher

23 Joan@anythinggoeshere June 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

She does have some very good ideas.
thanks for having her guest post!

24 jeanne @ Inspiring Ideas June 24, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Fun transformations!

25 Ruth June 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm

What a great post. I will definitely be visiting her blog. I need to keep my eyes open for these hidden treasures. Much of what I find is total rubbish.


26 Catherine Anne June 25, 2009 at 8:58 am

This is just what I do… Its the best way to shop!

27 Rachel June 25, 2009 at 10:53 am

Thank you so much for the thrifty ideas!

28 Jennifer Juniper June 26, 2009 at 5:45 am

I would love to find more time to thrift, I definately love a scavenger hunt. I'm going to put that on my list once I get the kids back to school.

I have to say, that chair makeover was A. MAZ. ING.

29 Claudia November 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm

I am a long time fan of Kate’s – and Kimba’s!!!

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