I’m an expert thrifter. Here are 10 of the best pieces of home decor to buy secondhand.

A brass elephant figurine next to potted plants on tiny wicker chairs
I run a vintage shop on Etsy where I sell a lot of home decor. Clare Pajak for Insider
  • I used to take chances on items for my vintage Etsy shop, but now I know what always sells for me.
  • Brass figurines and candlesticks are always easy for me to sell for higher prices.
  • Granny-square afghans, small wicker furniture, and anything alabaster are great buys.
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Granny-square afghans are often worth way more than what I pay for them.
A colorful hand-crocheted blanket
Some people like to put these in their living rooms. Clare Pajak for Insider
These vintage blankets are a staple in any retro-inspired living room.

They can really transport you back to the 1960s and 1970s —  plus they’re pretty affordable. I’ve paid as little as $3 for these afghan blankets when thrifting. 

On Etsy and similar platforms, these typically sell for upwards of $50.

Mugs with a “no-spill” shape are making a comeback.
A jug
These are usually some of the cheaper items in my shop. Clare Pajak for Insider
These old-school-looking mugs are making a comeback.

If you are reselling items, it’s also a good idea to have items of varying price points in your shop. Although these may be some of your cheapest items for sale, if you only pay $2 at the thrift and charge $14, that’s plenty of profit.

Woven and wicker trays are really versatile.
A woven basket with handles
These can be used for decor or storage. Clare Pajak for Insider
These were most likely used to hold casserole dishes at one point, but what fun is using something only as it was intended?

These can now be adorable decor for a coffee table, a dresser top, or bed for an Instagram picture.

Wooden accordion peg racks are popular, too.
A wooden accordian-shaped hanger
These are great for displaying hats and purses. Clare Pajak for Insider
These racks make great displays for hats or purses and are such a nice neutral touch.

They often get overlooked at thrift stores, probably because they look plain or people don’t know what they are when they’re folded up.

I have never paid more than $3 for one of these at the thrift shop and they usually sell for upwards of $23. 

Burwood wall art is pretty durable.
Cactus and pottery wall art.
Burwood used to be a popular brand of wall decor. Clare Pajak for Insider
When you see retro-looking plaques of butterflies, mushrooms, owls, flowers, and cacti, you’re most likely seeing Burwood.

Burwood Products Company, a wall-decor and clock manufacturer, reportedly stopped making decor around 1997. Many of its pieces feel a little kitschy and retro, and they often are still around today in good condition because they’re made from a durable plastic. 

People love to repurpose tiny wicker furniture.
Small wicker plant stands with terracota potted plants on top
You can put plants on tiny wicker chairs. Clare Pajak for Insider
Once again, this is a popular vintage item that is now being repurposed for home decor.

Many of these were originally doll furniture, but they can now serve as an adorable stands for plants. Even better, these typically come in sets so you can buy multiples at a time. 

Alabaster anything is worth picking up.
Slabs of marble
Alabaster is pretty neutral, too. Clare Pajak for Insider
I cannot get enough alabaster whether it’s bookends, paperweights, vases, ashtrays, candle holders, etc.

Most alabaster is neutral-colored and complements any color scheme, which makes it a very sought-after home accent.

I’ve noticed larger retailers like West Elm and CB2 have been picking up on this trend, and I love finding alabaster items at a fraction of the cost when I thrift

 

 

Brass candlesticks are great for home and wedding decor.
Brass candlesticks
I can usually sell these candles in groups. Clare Pajak for Insider
Brass candlesticks add a romantic touch to any boho home. I choose candlesticks of varying shapes and sizes that are symmetrical when displayed.

In my experience, these have an incredible profit margin. I usually buy these for $2 a piece and sell lots of five or six for upwards of $45.

Brass figurines are easy for me to sell.
A brass elephant figurine
Some people use brass figurines as decor. Clare Pajak for Insider
In general, I’ve noticed brass is coming back in a big way.

Brass figurines, in particular, make such cute paperweights or knick-knacks. I have found elephants, cats, dolphins, and even kangaroos.

Wooden-inlay art is perfect for a gallery wall.
Artwork on a piece of wood
The wood makes these pretty versatile. Clare Pajak for Insider
It is a bittersweet moment whenever I sell one of these because I have such a hard time letting them go.

These feel unmistakably mid-century to me and are great as part of a gallery wall.