How to Decorate Series {day 7}: Thrift Store Furniture Tips by Centsational Girl

If you are just joining our How to Decorate {for the DIY’er} Series, then you are in for a treat!  Miss a post? You can find all the entries for our series listed conveniently on one page here.

Today, we are going to learn from Kate the Centsational Girl!  Does her title sound like a super hero name?

Well, it should :).  For those few-and-very-far-between peeps who are unfamiliar with Kate, it is my privilege to showcase some of my favorite Centsational Girl projects!  But I have to admit that this was really hard to do.  Kate lives in California, in a gorgeous home, with a gorgeous family, and a vineyard in her backyard.  She can cook, sew, grout, spray paint, garden, and craft with the best of them.  It’s like trying to pick your favorite Martha Stewart projects to highlight! Impossible. But for you, I’ll try.

Sea-inspired Summer Living Room.  Kate changes her decor with the seasons and her living room happens to be one of my favorites.  Her mantel is always simple, clean, and lovely.  This is her most recent look for summer.

No-sew Cloth Napkin Pillow Covers. Kate can reupholster furniture and make quilts on a whim, so you better believe that she can sew a pillow cover!  But Kate knows that some of us can’t sew…or won’t, and so takes the time to show us how to create no-sew removable covers from inexpensive napkins! Love it!

And perhaps it’s a bit early? late? for a Christmas tour, but Kate’s house at Christmas was stunning!  If I recall correctly, I think you might be seeing it again in a well-known magazine due out this year!

I could go on and on here, but I’ll restrain myself.  However, do yourself a favor and check out Kate’s Project Gallery for a gazillion more tips and tutes on how to decorate (and much more)!  Take it away Kate!


Greetings A to Z readers, Kate here aka Centsational Girl talking about one of my favorite ways to decorate for the DIYer. I’m a big believer in having something unexpected in a space, and quite often that piece can come from a second hand seller. I’m an avid thrifter, and often check Craigslist for great finds from time to time. Summer brings yard sale season as an added bonus for us treasure hunters, and there are great pieces you can snag if you’re an early bird willing to make the rounds across town.

No doubt many of you follow the same philosophy because we all realize there are great finds out there, if you’re willing to use a little creativity and elbow grease to not only turn it into something that suits the style of your home, but also makes a unique statement.

Five Ways to Make a Statement with a Second Hand Find:

1. Reinvent It

Great bones can lead to new creations, so reexamine second hand finds with an eye for what they can become. Someone else’s junk can lead to a new treasure for you if you keep thinking outside the box.

reinvented pieces

Headboard turned coat rack; vintage TV turned console by Infarrantly Creative; headboard turned bench by Scissors & Spatulas.

2. Repaint It

Nothing beats a fresh coat of paint to personalize a second hand piece. Whether you choose spray or brush, high gloss or flat, the possibilities are endless with paint. Choose something subtle or go big and bold, either way, paint is the easiest way for any DIYer to turn a second hand find into a statement piece or focal point.

painted pieces

Yellow dresser via Design*Sponge, orange lacquered end table by ModFruGal; dresser by In The Fun Lane.

3. Personalize It

Beyond a simple coat of paint, there are endless possibilities for adding even more personality to your new find. Stencils, wallpaper, and geometric patterns all take your painted piece to the next level. Have fun, be creative, choose something that suits you!

fancied up pieces

From top left: painted + wallpapered dresser by Norske; stenciled lace dresser by Recaptured Charm ; black and white painted dresser via Sunset; gray office credenza; wallpapered desktop via Design*Sponge.

4. Restain It

An easy fix is always a fresh paint job, but refurbishing a wood piece with fresh stain is another way to modernize a second hand find. Sometimes it takes more time to strip varnish and sand down to the wood, but so often it’s worth the effort. Stain is timeless, and gives the wood a chance to show off its natural beauty.

restained pieces

From top left: my tall dresser; pair of chairs by Addicted to Decorating; veneer dresser by Young House Love.

5. Recover It

Whether you choose to reupholster or slipcover, new fabric will completely transform a a dusty second hand find into something worthy of a place of honor in your home. There are plenty of DIY tutorials online, or you can spend the money to have a professional handle it for you. Either way, you’ll likely save money, plus have a unique customized piece that doesn’t look like it came straight off a showroom floor.

recovered chairs

From top left: Craigslist Dining Chairs at So Haute; Slipcovered Side Chair by Adventures in Creating; my Velvet Thrift Store Chair; Nester’s Slipcovered Wingback.


Thanks so much for having me today Beth. Keep on treasure hunting friends, there’s a world of finds waiting for your magic touch! Go forth and decorate like a DIYer!


Aw, it’s kind of like my “go forth and be cute” slogan from Fashion Fridays!  Go forth and decorate class!  Okay, so let’s review. Did you catch the four R’s and one P?  You in the back, were you paying attention? Tweeting during class were we?  Well, if you want to get the most out of a twice around piece you need to reinvent it, repaint it, restain it, recover it, and/or….personalize it! Fantastic tips Kate!  Thank you for sharing your know-how with all of us!  I’m happy to report that I’ve done them all!  How about you?

Tomorrow we hear from an addict. Mmmm, hmmm.  Any guesses on what she’s happily addicted to?  Hint: Most of you are addicted to this too!  (And no, it’s not Pinterest!)

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  1. says

    Love this post, Kate! I have a trip to Scott’s Antique Market coming up and this gives me some things to keep in mind. Great tips as always! Thanks, Beth, for this incredible series… it gets better and better!! :)

  2. says

    I so enjoyed the introduction that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t gotten to the actual post yet. What a great intro and a great post. Thanks for sharing. Makes me want to go thriftshopping right now, but I’m on a “restrictive diet” due to no space available. haa-haa. So I am trying to be happy living vicariously which I do often with Centsational Girl!

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