Decorating with Thrift Store Art

It's easy to make Thrift store art look elegant with this tip

mountain picture 13One of my favorite things to do in my home is decorate.  I don’t get much time or a big budget to do it, but it is my play time.  I have learned a few things about decorating with thrift store art over the years and I would love to share them with you.  My decorating budget has never, ever been big, so I have always been a sucker for something really cheap.  Even if I didn’t love it.  I have learned after years many cheap purchases, just because I kind of like it, but I could afford it that I ended up with a lot of stuff that ended up feeling more like junk.  It has taken me a lot of time and patience to learn to wait for a great piece and pay a little bit more for it.  In fact it is still something I am learning.

mountain picture 2What do I look for in a great art piece at a Thrift store or garage sale?  I look for a heavy, substantial wood frame and a REAL painting.  What I mean by a real painting is that an actual human being created the picture with their hands and their unique creativity and talents. The piece could be a drawing, water color or oil painting, but it must done by hand and be an original.  

I found this great oil painting at my local habitat Re-Store for $20.  I snatched it up and put it in my cart so no one else could buy it before I made my final decision.  $20 is not necessarily a lot of money, but it is more than I usually spend on things at the thrift store.  Good paintings and art at a thrift store or garage sale usually cost more that $1 or $5 but once you put them in your home you know that the $20 investment is well worth it.  I am amazed at how much of a difference it makes.

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If you bought an original work of art new it would be over $100 at least and for the size of this painting, framed,  the dollar amount sky rockets.

mountain pictureI had desperately been needing something new for over the mantel.  The silver mirror looks wonderful with my winter decor, but looks bad any other time of the year.  My newly found thrift store art was perfect for this spot.

mountain picture 3When I purchased the piece it was a little tired looking and dirty, but nothing a little TLC couldn’t handle.  I started by vacuuming everything, including the canvas, gently with a brush attachment to get all the dirt and cobwebs off of it.  I then wiped down the frame with a damp cloth, something the canvas would not appreciate.  To make the frame look fresh and new I rubbed some Old English scratch cover product on it.  It covered the scratches and gave it a great luster.  You can see the difference above.  Next all I had to do was hang it above the mantel and play with some more decor.

mountain picture 10I think it looks great above my mantel and doesn’t stand out like the silver mirror.  I added a few simple decorations to complete the vignette.  The pottery pieces were the first ones I ever turned on a pottery wheel so I like displaying them as a little victory of mine, and their colors look nice with the painting.  The hand made tool caddy I found at the thrift store is one of my favorite display pieces.  For me handmade pieces add to the character and personality of a home and make it one of a kind and a place that looks like there are great stories to tell.  

I hope that you can find some wonderful original art pieces in your thrifting adventures.

Check out some more of my decor ideas!

Porch makeover under $100 

Spring Decor Ideas

Christmas Decor 


  1. 5

    Joline says

    We don’t have a lot of budget for decorating too so you’d usually find us at the clearance aisle lol. And you know, there’s this news story making the rounds around town lately about a lady who bought a painting at a garage sale for pennies that turned out was worth $$$,$$$!!

  2. 6


    It’s wonderful to find little treasures in thrift stores. I love to go searching as well. These items are always so unique and give a home more character. Love your picture together with the cute flower arrangements

  3. 7


    What a great find!!! I love thrift store shopping too, although I don’t have a great eye for possibilities. It’s hard for me to see the potential. I need someone like you to come shopping with me! Lol! looks great!

  4. 8


    That is a totally great frame and piece of art. You hear those stories about people picking up obscure art to find out it’s worth thousands. Love the thrift!

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    When we first bought our home, we loved thrift store shopping. So many awesome things to get for a really great price! Plus, we got to upcycle a lot of them to add a little bit of a modern touch!

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    Everyone always seems to find great finds at thrift stores EXCEPT me. I swear it, I always hit them at exactly the wrong time. This is great, glad you lucked out.

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