Final Thoughts On Thrifting

This week we’ve been discussing thrift store shopping and I admitted my recent tendency to purchase pretty items without much thought simply because they were a good price and I knew if I didn’t use it, I could sell it.  I’ve decided to stop that cycle.  The best part of the posts is always in the comments.  The Nesting Place community is so gracious and honest, thank you all for your thoughtful, heartfelt, real input, I loved reading each comment and I’m honored you took time out of your busy day to read my words and the words of others. I felt like I left a few questions unanswered and I wanted to address a couple things so here goes:

Will I still shop at thrift stores and yard sales?

Absolutely, just now I’m at a point in my life where I want to be more intentional.  Hence the post about not buying all sorts of cute things just because they are three dollars.

Do I think it’s ok to buy something you love even if you aren’t sure where to put it?

Yes and also no.   There are two kinds of people when it comes to shopping. I think the people that need to hear the yes won’t listen, they’ve been too worried for the last 2 months over a $6 black photo frame and whether or not it’s perfect enough for their bare room.  And the people that need to hear the no are too busy trying to cram in that extra side table into their family room, next to the other two side tables that they found on sale.

I have something in every room that I purchased without knowing exactly where it would go.  That’s the fun creative part to me.  But, I’ve also learned now that my rooms are coming along I no longer need that great lamp for $10.  Six months ago, I needed a few lamps now, I don’t.  The secret is in knowing when to say no, when to stop, and also when to say yes.  Sometimes the only way to learn is to make a few purchases and end up with an item that is worthwhile and accidentally buy something that is a total waste and then, process that and use that information next time.

my current stash, not including 4 bins of Christmas stuff in the garage

What changed?

1. We settled in:

This is the first time in years that we have lived in a house for more than one year at a time. In the past six and a half years we have lived in 5 different houses/condos/rentals.  Moving was not a chance to purge for me,  a job loss kick started these moves and I didn’t want to get rid of something we might use because I knew we couldn’t afford to replace it.  Now, I finally feel a little bit settled and can have items that work for this home and not worry that my big chairs will work in my next home so I should keep them.  Seriously, I’ve kept chairs for the last four years that only fit correctly when we have the leafs? leaves? in our table.  We haven’t had room for all the leafs in our table since the house we lived in when we bought it~five years ago.  I kept wondering if the chairs will work in the next house and they came with the table and I liked them.  But I sold them last week because I’ve decided that we need chairs that work now, today, in this house.  In all actuality, this is the first time in 4 years I feel okay about seriously getting rid of things. Kind of embarrassing.

2. We decided to paint and do a few little upgrades to our rental.

It’s amazing how allowing myself to personalize our space in this way has taken the pressure off having cute accessories to define our space and make it feel personal.  This was huge, HUGE for me.

pretty but too many little things for me right now

3. I stopped my addiction to tchotchkes.

Over time, I’ve changed my decorating ways.  I used to decorate heavily for spring, summer, fall, and holidays especially when I homeschooled my boys and they were home all day to enjoy it. I used to rely on tchotchkes or accessories to make a space feel personal {click here to read about my discovery of my accessory addiction}, now I’d rather add in a few architectural elements.   I still have a stash of items I’m not using, it’s just housed in a smaller space.  And I quieted my house this summer and never added much back in. So in a way, my style has changed, remember the red toile sofa?  Still love it, but ready for something different.  Just like you probably aren’t wearing the same boots you wore 6 years ago.  Or making all the same recipes.  We all go through stages and I really really believe there is no wrong or right stage. If you love tchotchkes, by all means, display them without guilt!

for sure too much stuff for me right now

4. The trip to the Cottage.

Once I experienced the tchotchkeless cottage I was confident that I could create a space that had personality, warmth and style without lots of little things.  We added board and batten and beadboard and painted the downstairs, suddenly I started to appreciate the fragile bones of our builder grade rental.  Angela’s style has really impacted me and I can’t wait to visit the cottage again this spring for more research relaxation.

Is it wrong to enjoy a pretty house?

Not at all.  But I think it’s easy for materialism and comparison to creep in and that’s something I like to be mindful of.  I don’t believe that moving furniture, painting walls, changing pillow covers and enjoying those things is a sign of discontentment for me.

Nobody accuses the writer who is restless with the pen and a blank page of  trying find her contentment in the wrong place.  Is the singer who changes the arrangement, the pianist who craves the keys, the painter who tweaks the canvas, the collector searching for that one last treasure, the songwriter who paces the floor waiting for the perfect words,  are they looking for meaning and contentment in all the wrong places simply based on what they are passionate about?  Is it about time they smartened up and stopped wasting their time?

No one would dare accuse them of such.  I think they are created to pursue their art.  I LOVE tweaking and playing in our home and I’ve done it my whole life, it’s who I am, my home is my canvas. As a child I dreamed of creating beautiful, meaningful rooms. I’m guessing that you are one of those people too.  If treating your home as a canvas is a ridiculous notion to you,  you probably stopped reading this blog years ago and you are probably pursing something that you love that I wouldn’t understand~I love it when people know how to find their passion.

Will I still buy things for my house?

Um, YES.  I have always been committed to not purchase things for the house with credit, and I discuss major purchases with my husband.  Now, I simply feel free to let some things go, not hold onto past great deals, and I’m currently enjoying more cleared off surfaces.   Right now I’m on the lookout for a few more chairs.  To quote my husband, “I know what I want and I’m willing to wait.” It only took me 6 months to find a coffee table. And, I’m not making any promises, tomorrow, I might change my style. Tomorrow, I might decide I want to sell everything and live in a cave, tomorrow I might want to pursue another passion. Wouldn’t it be boring if I liked the same things for the rest of my life?

What I’ve learned:

I want to be intentional about what I purchase.  Some people would say that buying a sailfish to go over our tv was a huge waste of money.  I would argue that it was the most intentional home purchase I’ve made in years.   Good, original art is priceless.

On the other hand, those 5 stockings that I got for free with a store credit from One Kings Lane, that ended up not working out for me?  Those were a waste.    And that $5 thrift store item that I bought last month and never used, that is also a waste.  I hate waste.  I want to learn from times I’ve wasted so that I don’t do it again.  But, I also feel that mistakes are worth what you learn from them~so from a cup-is-half-full-person I count those “wastes” as learning experiences.  But, now that I’m aware how some of my wasting triggers, I hold myself to a higher standard of not wasting.

I’ve also learned that I like to be surrounded by less stuff.  I can enjoy things more when they have space and when I can hear their voice.  I was kind of surprised by this.

I enjoy bringing nature and meaningful beauty into our home.  Some of my favorite items in our home are my street canvas, the large photo of our boys on the tire swing, the tray with the verse, those antlers.

I also enjoy finding beauty in imperfection and castoffs.  I think there is something deeper there than just getting a cute chair with a fresh coat of paint.  There is value in the process of creating something beautiful out of something no one wanted, value in the vision and the care and the risk.  I have yet to tire of seeing a great makeover.

Be careful not to belittle the time and enjoyment and value that someone may get from creating a beautiful canvas called home, as we are careful not to let our home and the items in it become the focus and most meaningful thing in our lives, or let them get in the way of more important things like our family and our goals and priorities. It’s about balance, being intentional and allowing yourself to be who you were created to be.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.  At least for today.


  1. I like your post. Things are always changing around us and sometimes we need to change too. One thing that has helped me a lot was my decision to get rid of things “in storage”. That included boxes of items in the closets, storage shed, cabinets. I went through every box and decided what to do with the stuff. I sent a lot to goodwill. I also sold a lot and gave away a lot. It feels great to know that everything I have and love is out on display. I don’t have this clutter looming in my storage spaces. I also took it as an opportunity to gather photos and get them into books.

  2. Less has alwayys and will continue to be more. Your honesty is amusing and refreshing. Thanks!

  3. Heather Oleson says

    I love your site, this is great for ideas, thanks I can’t wait to get started on some projects.

  4. Bravo! I couldn’t have said it better myself. My home has always been my greatest canvas for creativity and self expression and I love accomplishing that through objects found anywhere in the second-hand world. I also agree that it’s an ever changing process as well. I know my hubby thinks I change things at times because it’s that I feel I “got it wrong” the first time when in reality it’s just that I’m simply telling a new story as I move along through the different phases of my life.

  5. That was a beautiful post. Thanks for writing it.

  6. Great post!

  7. Wow, I realize this is an older post but it’s really what I needed! I’ve started becoming “obsessed” with thrifting and Craigslist. It’s like if I’m not buying something I feel empty. After I brought home the 20th piece of framed art (for a gallery wall that is YEARS away based on our decorating plan) my husband nearly flipped his lid! I took a step back and realized walking through the door nearly every day (yes, literally) with a bag of junk (most of the time) from a thrift store was not making my life better. It would be better for me to have saved that money and put it toward the things we need to do to the house (new driveway, stump removal, etc.) Those are the things that are going to make our house look better than another knick-knack on a shelf. So thank you!

    • Lucy Beliveau says

      This post was incredibly helpful and, Erin, I very much appreciate your shared experience of buying unnecessary items almost on a daily basis!! I had a bad habit of doing this!…bad, bad, bad! My house has been on the market since February and we rented a huge storage unit to put all of our “extra” furniture, knick knacks, books etc in so I could stage the house. It’s made me realize how much I miss the RIGHT amount of furniture and accessories. I think I had way too much before…not enough now because it feels sterile like a show home so I am really looking forward to my new place. Hopefully it won’t be much longer but a few prayers tossed my way to get my house sold would be much appreciated!

      Thanks for your smart ideas and talent!

  8. Handy Mandy says

    You have a gift w words, I’m so glad you are willing to share it! :)

  9. I’m new to this “blogging” stuff!!! But what better place to start, than here! I absolutely love what you have written. I would dare to say, that you have described me to a “T”. I don’t have much at all (in the way of finances) but I do love a beautiful, comfortable and peaceful home. I’m always thinking/dreaming of ways to “make it better”. I’ve been accused of “always wanting to change things”, and “never being satisfied”. But like my husband has told me, “If it ain’t right…It’s Wrong”!!!
    I sure wish he would remember this when he tells me that “I’m always changing things”. It’s really frustrating when others don’t understand…so THANK YOU, for UNDERSTANDING!!!!

  10. How I wish you lived next door. Your attitude is so rational and motivating.

  11. A sailfish ? You bought a sailfish?! I can now tell my friends/family that someone else has great taste like I do! They think I’m crazy.

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