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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation


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more secrets of a SECONDHAND shopper: thrift shops 1 2 3
continued from page 1

what to look out for...
If you've just moved into your first real quasi-adult abode, chances are good you're in need of some stuff to fill your new nest. Here's what to look for when you're hitting the thrift stores:

fabric | Sheets, tablecloths, drapery, even clothing (provided it's not something you'd feel bad tearing into) are all excellent, cheap sources for funky material that you can use for making pillow covers and slipcovers, re-upholstering, or whipping up some window treatments. If you find random bits of pretty patterned fabric that you adore, but for which you can't find any practical use, pop them into frames for instant wall art, or stretch them across basic wood frames like a canvas painting.

furniture | Thrift stores offer plenty of super-cheap furniture options for the impecunious quasi-adult decorator. But it pays to know what you're getting a good deal on, and what's just ugly, rickety, possibly infested crap-o-la that's not even worth the time and effort it would take you to drag it back home. Number one on my list of furniture to steer clear of at thrift stores: sofas. Really, I'm not a particularly fussy sort when it comes to worrying about grime, dust, even germs when buying secondhand provided the item in question can be easily and thoroughly cleaned that is. But anything big, upholstered, and likely to have had pets lounging on it for significant amounts of time in its history well, let's just say that after one very itchy experience with a flea-ridden, thrift-shop-purchased sofa many, many years ago, I've learned my lesson. If you can't see the home where the sofa came from, be very, very wary. If, after carefully weighing of the matter, you choose to take the gamble of schlepping the sofa back home, well, you've been forewarned. At the very least, give it a good flea-ridding and thorough steam-cleaning before you decide to take your first nap on it.

Still, there's plenty of other furniture that you should definitely keep an eye out for while browsing the thrift stores. Tables, dining chairs, bookshelves, patio furniture and the like are a much safer bet than sofas. They'll generally look pretty nasty if they've made their way into a thrift store nasty peeling paint, beat-up finish but most cosmetic flaws can be quickly and cheaply remedied with a can of paint and a couple hours of time.

lamps | I have a deep, irrational love for nifty lamps to the point where I now have several sitting in the garage unused because I don't have anywhere else in the house that really needs yet another source of decorative lighting and thrift stores are one of my favorite places to find them. You can find lamps with beautiful, unusual shapes that just need a little spraypaint, a new shade, some easy re-wiring work perhaps.

skedaddle on this-a-way please

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