Story by Shawna Davidson
Photography by Micah J. Zimmerman, Amdak Productions
Decorating our homes with so many styles to choose from can be overwhelming, and even more overwhelming when you see the hefty price tags that go along with it. Many people like me are turning to “thrifting” to create cozy, comfortable rooms with smaller price tags. This month, I'll show you how to achieve "Instagram worthy" rooms with thrifted décor in whatever style suits you!
Move Over Minimalists!
The minimalist, "less is more" style has grown in popularity over the last 10 years, accentuated by Marie Kondo and her “Kon Marie” method. Keeping things simple and uncluttered is hard not to like. This style incorporates open floor plans, lots of light and clean line furnishings. Everything has a purpose and it's simplistic in composition. You may end up with spaces that are restful, but they're also non-stimulating to the eye.
With that, I say, move over minimalism! There’s a new gal in town and her name is “Maximalism”. She's showing up in interior design all over the world, and it's a style that's perfectly suited to thrift store shopping. If you love to put your own touches on things as I do, get ready to jump on this bandwagon into the world of decorating with thrifted décor.
Meet the Author!
I'm a Fargo resident and I am a self-proclaimed, "thrifted home aficionado". No, I’m not famous, and I don't have 100k followers on Instagram, but, I’m just a gal who loves to make art, search for treasures and decorate my own home. I'm an advocate for maximalism with a love of eclectic design. My greatest joy and challenge is the balancing act - creating a mixture of vintage and modern in every room. I mix the contemporary minimalist my husband is, with the quirky maximalist style I have. I have to say, the scale usually tips in my favor in most areas of our house.
I have a flair for the dramatic, so my home may look “fancy” but it’s not - it just appears that way. We have four kids and three dogs, so pet accidents, wine spills, or broken dishes are a given. It's usually no big deal, but if I really love something, it's sad, but since I didn’t pay a lot for most things, I don’t feel bad about replacing them.
For the Love of Thrifting
Thrifting doesn’t mean go crazy and fill your house up, it means gather things you love at a fraction of the cost. If you love expressing yourself creatively, love the “thrill” of the hunt, but, you're on a budget, a thrifted home could be for you.
Older pieces are typically sturdier, better made and timeless in design. My cabinets, credenza, and small sideboard in my entryway only look expensive - they're actually thrifted, inexpensive finds that were given a facelift with high gloss paint and gold leafing.
The Thrill of the Hunt
People donate items every day that are still in great shape. The thrift stores sell them at a fraction of the cost and most thrift shops give all, or at least a portion to charities. Thrift shops always have household items like crockpots and lamps, but did you know they can also have high-end brands like Ethan Allen, Stickley, Ephrom Marsh, Stuben, Kosta Boda, Waterford and Hendredon?
Be on the hunt… you can score some great brands that would have been out of your price range if new. Also, the concept of thrifting is not just limited to thrift shops. It can be secondhand, consignment, garage sales, auctions and online sites like Ebay, shopgoodwill.com, One Kings Lane and Facebook Marketplace.
Find your Thrifting Style
“Maximalism” is first in line with a “more is more” attitude. This style is the complete opposite of Minimalism, but isn’t defined by clutter or excess. Maximalism is a loud style that is a creative mix of patterns, curated collections and saturated colors. Inexpensive thrifted items grouped together by style or color can have a big impact, whereas one item by itself can look bland. For example: I have brass candlesticks in all different shapes and sizes displayed together to make a fabulous statement. I try to stick to under $3 each… unless it's giant or spectacular - then I’ll fork over more cash for the one I just gotta have!
My style for thrifting is Eclectic Design. This style mixes traditional, vintage, and modern together to create something new and original. Eclectic Design is a fusion of textures, styles, time period and trends. This style is all about harmony to create a cohesive, beautiful room. My favorite area is my piano bar with a grouping of bust statues combined with a vintage rug runner and a fabulous thrifted lamp. Several busts are very large and outdoor statues. Don’t be afraid to put large things in small places, or bring the outside in.
Achieving "Fluid" Maximalism
I call a thrifted home a “fluid” home, meaning it’s a work in progress because you're searching second-hand shops, instead of big-box retail stores with lots of inventory. So, be patient, be persistent and go often. Shops put out items daily and most are one-of-a-kind. I'm always searching for that elusive treasure… you know, like the fisherman who dreams of catching “the big one." I dream of finding the most glorious treasure ever. I just don’t know yet exactly what that looks like. I’m guessing it probably looks like a big, gaudy gold statue. Yes, that’s it… a girl can only hope!
"We treasure hunters, thrifters, and collectors of cool stuff believe that sometimes things find you. So go with the flow. If it’s speakin’ your language… grab it and keep that conversation going."
Take A Tour!
My Thrifted Living Room
My living room was started with a vintage-inspired sofa and two Mid-century Modern inspired chairs. Everything else, down to the rugs, was bought second hand from many different places to create a really eclectic, fun and comfortable space. On the mantle, I have a 1960s framed piece of art that I purchased for $59 that helps pulls the room together. Work from this particular artist typically sells between $800 to $1,000 - SCORE!
The Wine Room
I refer to my front room as my wine room. A rustic wood cabinet was turned into my serving bar, along with storage for my second-hand glasses and decanters when entertaining. Caesar, with all his bling, was literally pulled out of my garden and added for a bit of drama. Unexpected items in unexpected areas create high drama and have a big design impact.
Formal Dining Room
A custom, modern Lucite table was paired with thrifted chairs from One Kings Lane, a thrifted china hutch from Heirlooms and two demilune side tables acquired at a garage sale. I have several incomplete white/gold china sets that I love to layer for visual impact. Things don’t need to be perfect, I was drawn to them because they were imperfect. This is one way to get things that look collected.
On my travels to Portland, OR I purchased inexpensive, vintage Asian ledger pages that I use for placemats and layering. Not only are they beautiful, but they remind me of my travels. Place cards made from vintage Italian papers, German glass glitter, and recycled Sari ribbon complete the place settings.
One of my favorite art pieces, purchased in Minneapolis, is a self-portrait of a Minnesota artist from the 1960s, Sarah Miley.
The Pink Powder Room
I painted my main floor powder room a dark, moody pink color. Then, I added wood planks on the ceiling to hold the very heavy 1800s French chandelier, just to give it a European vibe. I hung thrifted floral paintings on the wall and contrasted the flamboyant chandelier with modern Kelly Wearstler light sconces. A modern brushed brass faucet rounds out the design.
In 1996, doors acquired from the federal courthouse were added to the bathroom to create changing rooms for the pool. A little girl mannequin with vintage swimwear now resides in one of the rooms…I love to surround myself with things that make me giggle and add a little whimsey.
Our Eat-in Kitchen
I love supporting local artists, I have a commissioned piece from Emily Williams-Wheeler that sets the tone for the room. Several of my own paintings are combined with vintage plates, again bringing the new and old together. All of my serving pieces and dishes are second hand - I like that they are all glass but each one is different in design. My vintage Ostrich painting is one of the newest additions to my collection, purchased from shopgoodwill.com; she has now been named Gretchen. I try to have a limit of $50 for thrifted art… if it's really spectacular, I’ll go up, but it's good to have prices in mind before you go thrifting for specific items.
The Family Room
We spend most of our time in the family room so where we purchased a Restoration Hardware sectional, ottoman, and chair for our core pieces. The giant built-in houses our TV and was designed by Grain Designs using 100-year-old barn wood. We recently added wallpaper and shelves to add some dimension and storage. The shelves are filled with family photos, old books, brass animals, and candlesticks - all thrifted.
7 Tips for Artfully Thrifting
Whether you're a minimalist, a maximalist, love eclectic, or long for Mid-century Modern design, you can achieve an amazing thrifted home. Put a little bit of work in and your pocketbook will thank you!
Shawna Davidson, "your thrifted home aficionado"
Midwest Nest Magazine features home designs in its monthly print and online publication.