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Yard Sale Style: 7 things to shop for to decorate on the cheap

Wanna know a secret? Just about every spot in my house sports some kind of garage sale find.
Decorate your home with inexpensive garage sale decor

When I was a kid, my mom and grandma used to drag me all over town while they shopped garage sales and it was miserable. Nothing made me want to cease existing more than going to yard sale where it turned out we KNEW the person throwing the sale and we were basically shopping their castoffs. (As a child, this was the ultimate embarrassment and enough cause to pray that God might cause the ground to open up and swallow me on the spot.)

Welp, turned out yard saling is in my DNA. I can’t even help it.
Finding beautiful decor at  yard sales

If you’re like me and you get an itch to change your decor around before the dust settles on anything, shopping garage sales is the best way to make that happen on a budget.
How to style your home with finds from rummage sales

I’ve shared my tips for shopping yard sales before, but here’s a roundup of what to look for when you hit ’em up.

1. Books

You know those chunky Readers Digest Condensed books? When I was a frizzy-haired 12-year-old, I used to pass time at my grandmother’s house reading those heavy volumes. It goes without saying that I was unspeakably cool and universally admired among my peers.

I wish I had a photo of me circa 1996, with braces and actual real headgear, to insert here. Alas.

Nowadays, I’ve gotten much smarter and realized that books aren’t meant to be read! They’re meant to be styled! Don’t listen to anything I say.

How to use ’em in decorating:
Heavy coffee table books add texture to, you guessed it: a coffee table.

Pile them up to add height in a vignette, or to give more substance to a small decorative object that feels dwarfed otherwise.
Pile up books for a vignette at

Or – this is going to blow your mind, so hang on – use them to fill a bookshelf.
Styled DIY bookshelf wall at

Expect to pay: I bought the Reader’s Digest books at the top right of that bookshelf for about 10 cents each. I grabbed most of my coffee table books for 25 cents each. A dollar is my max, and I have to want to read the book to pay that. I do advocate book-reading. For the record. Please don’t stop reading my blog.

2. Goblets, bowls, vases, holders-of-things.

Keep an eye out for milk glass, solid ceramics, or glass vases in pretty shapes.

How to use ’em
You just can’t beat a pretty little goblet for versatility in vignettes. I grabbed this guy holding the flowers for $1.
Creating beautiful vignettes with yard sale decor

Yard sale pitcher + branches from your yard = legit decoration.
Summer Mantle vignette at
My summer mantle

I use the heck out of bowls and holders-of-things at Christmas. It gets out of hand. Ornaments go in everything that can’t escape, like birdcages, bowls, jars, whatevs.
Use a birdcage to display christmas ornaments
My $3 birdcage from this post

My Christmas Mantle

A vessel with a classic shape will never go out of style. If the color or design is not your thing, like this tragic 10-cent pitcher…

Zap it with some spray paint and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. (Unless it turns out like this.)

Expect to pay: I see vases for 25 cents to a dollar all the time. Milk glass is a little pricier, but I’ve never paid more than a dollar for mine.

3. Picture Frames

Spray paint is your friend. If you like the shape and size, you can remove the art and still use the frame. Such was the case with the frames above Mila’s crib.
Using yard sale decor to decorate a baby girl's nursery
These guys on the wall in my laundry room were 50 cents to a dollar each. They were all kindsa crazy colors ’til I covered them with a quick coat of oil-rubbed-bronze spray paint. (Here are the details on that.)
Budget laundry room makeover at

Expect to pay: If you’re willing to give your frames a fresh coat of paint, you can grab the most unloved frames at yard sales and give them a happy new home. I usually pay $1 or less for picture frames, more if they’re on the larger side.

4. Plates

Just sayin’, if you’re into the idea of a plate display? Yard sales are where it’s at.
Shopping yard sales for a plate display at

Expect to pay: Up to a dollar. You’re looking for the lonely strays, not the sets with 8 place settings.

5. Decorative knick-knacks

There is a special, happy little place in my heart for a good yard sale tchotcke. The little bird on the right, for example.
Stylish decor from garage and rummage sale finds
Or just about every decorative thing on my bookshelf wall.
Styling a bookshelf wall on a budget
There are no rules here either: just find stuff that appeals to you personally. My little elephant is a favorite. I paid $3 for him, which of course is a fortune in Kelly-yard-sale-currency.
Decorating bookshelves on a budget using yard sale decorations
My little “etc” thingy below was 50 cents, and the grapevine balls were 50 cents each. What is their deal? They are weird. But I love them. If it’s weird and you love it, you should get it. That’s an official rule that I just made up.

6. Furniture

This desk still needs a coat of paint, but I shall love it for all its days even if I never get around to this project that’s been on my to-do list for like two years. It was $20.

The mini lamp will also be painted someday. It was $3. And someday I will find a dresser at a yard sale that I will show you. It’s out there, I know it.

7. Mirrors

There is no end to the number of mirrors I am willing to hoard at any given time. These little sunburst mirrors were $1 or $2 each.
Dark dining room with easy DIY banner at
I can’t find a good picture of mine, but I bought this exact bamboo mirror for $10. (And they threw in a board game! ha!)
bamboo mirror


Setting expectations

Are you going to walk up to your first garage sale and find a treasure trove of on-trend furniture and decor at ridiculous prices, all in one spot? Nope. (But if you, do call me!) Finding the goods at rummage sales takes digging and looking past a whole lotta ugly. For me, the process of treasure hunting is half the fun.

Go forth and shop!

Looking for tips on how to find the best sales, when to shop, and more? Check out this post! If you’re throwing a garage sale, here are my favorite tricks to make that process a smidge less painful.
Great tips on what to shop for at garage sales for a stylish home on a budget!

Do you like to shop garage and yard sales? What are your favorite decor-related finds?

Let's connect


  1. I’ve been trying to get my kids out the door on Saturdays to go yard sale shopping and they are refusing. I’m going to have to put my foot down. Seriously I’m the boss not them 😉

    • Pat says:

      Love your attitude about yard sales…I love them. I once bought 5 small silver goblets for $1. They have been in my dining room for 10 years. I’m a Goodwill shopper as well. I find great stuff there but always set a limit on what I am willing to pay. My most recent purchase was a white bedside table for $5.00. I am addicted to small glass bowls but will not pay over $1. I am also a plate person just like you. I do find some beautiful plates to hang on the wall. Now I want to go to a yard sale this weekend.

      • Heather says:

        You and I are kindred spirits. Although, when I was young, I was chomping at the bits every Saturday morning (after the Smurfs, of course) to go with my grandfather yard salin’. Now that I’m older and wiser (yeah, right!), I have found Friday mornings to be the best time to find the good stuff! I suppose it’s because everyone else seems to have a job…but I ask you, who needs a job when you only purchase used items you get for an absolute steal?

        I have started a blog aptly named but I can’t sit down long enough to finish it. Similar to yours, I show someone’s “trash” that I’ve turned into my “treasure”! With the colder weather upon us, which means less yard sales, I guess I will finally have time to set down and finish my blog.

        I was so happy to have happened upon your site! I will definitely keep checking back.

  2. I wish I could style my home like yours, but my children would have every single little plate, brass crane, bowl, dish, etc…, broken in less than two hours. Sure, I’d love to have a more stylish home, but my children’s to ‘live’ in their home is more important to me. Your children must be angels (sigh). One day….
    Anyway, I have been stalking for some brass cranes myself. I don’t get out much (three kids and no car), so yard sales are off limits for the time being. I do regularly ‘shop’ my local Craigslist and have found four brass cranes for $30 (with shipping). Your $.50 each score make me insanely jealous! :) Not to mention, where do you find the room in your home to hoard, uh, I mean, store such treasures? My home doesn’t have a pantry, laundry room, second living room, etc…, so we are tight on space for a family of five. And, I simply adore all of your faux bamboo – I have an obsession with faux bamboo as well. I guess I shall live vicariously through you. Thanks for sharing a wonderful post! 😀

    • Sorry, that should read ‘I want my children’ , not ‘children’s’. Still, your home and thrifted treasures are lovely.

    • Kelly says:

      Ha! Well, we don’t keep stuff on the ottoman every day. It usually stays empty except for stray goldfish and toys, The rest of the stuff is up out of their reach, like on the mantle. I seriously don’t know how they haven’t broken the stuff on the desk yet – they definitely “live” here, run around and play, and have access to every room. We don’t want to live in a museum either!

      • Great! That was my point. Clearly your children are well-behaved compared to my silly, little ones. 😀 Although, I’m sure we would both have silly, happy children in lieu of a perfect, museum home. Still loving your things though.

  3. Jenna says:

    Couldn’t agree more with all the items! I am loving that bamboo mirror and the white vase holder thing as well! Awesome scores!! Hopefully once I’m done with this 1st birthday party this weekend, I can get out to some yard sales! Its killin me! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

  4. Kimberly@DibbleDabbles says:

    I feel like this is my story! I was mortified at having to go to the flea market with my parents every weekend. Now my husband and I yard sale every Saturday.

    I posted a picture on my blog last night of my $25 dresser. It’s still in process being painted.

  5. Susan says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Half the fun is taking time to find the treasure for the best price and then displaying it. People really need to understand that for every great deal you find, you may have gone to 10 sales where you got nothing.
    I have been bringing my kids since they were babies and my 11 year old son is an amazing negotiator! He loves to be able to find himself cool toys and stuff for so little money. I am surprised every time by how he loves to go because I too was so embarrassed to go when I was a kid.

  6. Bliss says:

    All those years of hauling my own kids to sales turned them into thrifty DIY’ers just like you. Makes us mama’s proud.


  7. Ooh this makes me excited for yard sale season! Do you do a lot of flea markets as well? Also I love that brass elephant, :)

  8. cassie says:

    i read this just so i could admire your purchases…. because i feel very confident that i have got the yard sale thing down. :)

  9. Great tips!! I need to be a better garage saler. And get on putting mine on… maybe this weekend.

  10. You are a yard sale queen! I am now following you on Pinterest!

  11. Amy says:

    Put them on a bookshelf?! Where do you come up with this stuff?? I don’t feel like I’m very good at garage-saling…. I never EVER get lucky enough to find furniture!

  12. Sharon B. says:

    Oh girl, I love me a good deal and garage sale! You’re a good g-sale shopper for sure, it looks fab in your house. My favorite advice you give is if it’s weird and you love it, you should get it. :)

  13. jules says:

    I’ve been going to yard sales for over 20 years, and have taken my kids with me since they were babies – they’re teenagers now and 2 of them still love the thrill of the hunt like I do. I’ve found so many amazing things over the years – brand new Ugg boots, high end dining chairs, a beautiful patio set that just needed a little TLC, a $1200 Pottery Barn Kids trundle bed for $45, tons of name brand clothing for my girls for $1-$2 apiece, 2 large wall mirrors for $1 each, and I could go on… many great deals out there! I’m addicted and go every weekend.

  14. Come to VA and teach me your ways oh Jedi master of yard saling! I’m terrible at it and could really use some help!

  15. Lisa says:

    I need to go to more yard sales…..I can’t believe those cute sunburst mirrors and your book collection! You’re good, girl. You’re good.

  16. I really like your style. So effortless. And on a budget too. My favorite kind :) Love all your tips and tricks!

  17. I am also crazy cheap when it comes to garage sales. If I spot something I really like, I usually will give it a price that I’d be willing to pay, and THEN I look at the price. Sometimes I’m disappointed, but it keeps me from spending too much!

  18. Great tips! I saw a ton of yard sale signs last weekend but I always feel weird going to them because I never know what to look for. Plus, there’s always that awkward part of leaving when you haven’t found anything. I don’t know about you but in my experience, the sellers typically look sad and disappointed like “why did you even show up in the first place?” haha

    • shaela says:

      Whenever I leave a yard sale empty-handed, I simply smile, wave and say thank you — and sometimes throw in a sincere “good luck with your sale!” (if not said right, it could come out as a very sarcastic, snarky comment). :-)

  19. Love this post – I’ve been mortified by friends popping by, looking around, raising their eyebrows and going, ‘Well, you must be doing well!’ when in fact 90% of my stuff is eBay finds (I’m not mortified by them thinking it, I’m mortified that I have to explain I’m just a bargain hunter HONEST). I search and search for the things I want until I find a bargain – it’s just patience and looking beyond a tacky colour or finish. I don’t generally do ‘yard sales’ – they aren’t as popular here in the UK although ‘car boot sales’ here are very similar to flea markets there – but eBay is definitely my favourite source for bargains :) You are clearly a master at this stuff!! xxx

  20. april says:

    I LOVE your style! I so wish I could do what you do! :)

  21. Those were great finds, I love a bargain too!

  22. Shelly O'Brien says:

    “If it’s wired and you love it, you should get it.” will be my new design mantra!! Love it and love you!

  23. Gwen says:

    Oh, I want to… I want to be a good yard saler!

    Until the alarm goes off, that is… You rock, baby.

  24. Isn’t it funny how our ‘price radar’ goes off?! I’ll walk away from $5 items a the flea market like they’re asking for a mortgage payment! Everything looks amazing!!

  25. I used to feel the same way about yard sales, and my mom and grammy would be the ones dragging me. But now I’m with ya–it’s in my DNA! Yard sales are way better than thrift stores.

  26. Oops – I think my comment got caught in spam… and I’m too lazy to type it again. :)

  27. I love thrift shopping but HATE going to yard sales because, quite frankly, I’m not all that pleasant at the crack of dawn. Like vampire DNA unpleasant. But if I was guaranteed 50-cent brass cranes would be available, I’d suck it up (pun intended) and go. Love the look!

  28. This makes me want to go to some sales! Woohoo. Thanks for the great tips Kelly!

  29. I still love your cranes. Also the elephant. And most all of the other stuff, too. We shouldn’t go to yard sales together or we’ll fight over everything. You might have inspired me to go to garage sales TOMORROW. Except that I’d have to drag a baby along, in and out of the car. My last babyless fall was really a wasted opportunity–I think I went to yard sales all of once. Oh well.

  30. you are a wiz at getting good deals!!! i especially love that odd looking 50 cent bird!

  31. Retromodgirl says:

    Where did you get the fabulous peacock feather wallpaper in your laundry room?

  32. Kayla says:

    You have inspired me Kelly! I’ve never been a huge yard/garage sale person. I thrift a little and search craigslist, sometimes stop by an estate sale. It’s hard tagging along a little 18 month old but I think I might just do more of it this summer!!!

    Great post!!

  33. Heck ya! That is so my house too! Love it! I love that you took the time to break it down like that! xo Kristin

  34. Yay, I love garage sale season too! You’ve found some really good stuff and great prices!!

  35. Love this girl! Definitely pinning so I can read this 8 more times! You KNOW this is right up my alley! I wish we could garage sale together!!! Can you imagine the insanity?!

  36. Great tips! I need to check out garage sales more often, and your list will be a great help for knowing what to look for! Have a wonderful weekend, Kelly!

    ~Abby =)

  37. I saw your laundry room feature in the BHG magazine at the grocery store this week. The funny thing about blog stalking is that even though we’ve never met in person, I was so excited to see your feature in the current issue. I showed my daughter your picture and said, “I know her, she’s a blogger!” Congrats on being featured in a national magazine, Kelly!

  38. Judy Clark says:

    If thrift shopping is in your DNA, we must be kin! LOL There is nothing like hauling home a bunch of stuff I got a good deal on. I do sell a lot of mine, but unfortunately, I keep a lot also. Cute article!


  39. I love all of your tips! I bring home some pretty ugly stuff from yard sales and I always get the eye roll firm the hubs! Spray paint has been a real good friend of mine and I think it has helped convince my husband that junkin is where it is at! :)

  40. I suck at finding stuff at garage sales. Probably because I don’t go enough. Kind of like thrift store stores. Good tips though pro-garage saling friend!

  41. Reading through your post and I gotta say, you are funny haha and I don’t say that often. I agree with the whole early experiences of my mother and grandma dragging me reluctantly to yardsales and gasp, the Dollar Store. God forbid, I get caught in there. And my mother said, “one day you’ll understand” and now I totally do! Made me laugh.

  42. beautiful finds you have around your house Kelly! just like you my parents used to drag me to yard sales when I was a kid; I hated it and one day they had a huge “bazar” next to our house; people were selling their old stuff, I asked my parents for $5 thinking it was a lot and it was I got many things for my bedroom, let me tell you my parents were surprised and they still have a brass flower I got for $0.25 cents. btw, I’m not embarrassed of them anymore 😉

  43. I wish I had that vision where you can see something (like that bird) surrounding by lots of lots of crap on a table and realize how gorgeous it could look in a vignette. Unfortunately, my DNA seems to be missing that particular chromosome …

    Love your tips and I will try to keep an open mind as I go forth into this year’s garage sale season …

    :) Linda

  44. Kim says:

    Love the cranes!!! Love it all, but just saying… those cranes!

  45. Great tips! I am always drawn to things that my husband vetoes as “junk” before I can remake them! Maybe I need to do some secret yard sale shopping:)


  46. Kelci says:

    I have to know where those pictures on your wall came from–the ones above the desk shot?!?! Gorgeous color play happening there…

  47. Melanie says:

    Well, I guess I’m going to have to start garage-sale shopping, because some of those finds are stellar! I’m afraid of spray paint, but I guess that’s another fear I’ve now been encouraged to face, thanks to you, Kelly! Great post! Love it.

  48. Diane says:

    hi Kelly, just saw your feature in BHG – wow!!! Warmest congratulations – that is so awesome! (both the feature and the amazing room) xo

  49. Lora says:

    I am a fellow head-gear survivor, as well. Circa 1993-1995. It was the PITS. But anything beats the Bugs Bunny thing I had going on. Now I have a nice set of chompers, if I do say so myself.

  50. Lauren says:

    I just read your post on the Home Depot blog (left you a comment 😉 ), but wanted to visit your blog. I love all of the things you’ve been able to do with garage sale finds. I need to get out this summer and start looking around our area. Plus I need to check out your post about having a garage sale – I say I’m going to do this every year, but the thought of it is overwhelming.

  51. Great tips! I do need to have a garage sale…I usually am the one shopping them though! 😉 My entire home is furnished from them and thrift stores! (almost!) 😉

  52. Kim M. says:

    Love your writing style, makes me smile. :) And I love seeing what others find at yard sales or while thrifting. Seems the South prices things much less expensive than here in Utah–I’m envious. Great post, thanks.

  53. Oh, I love me a good garage sale…and the idea of garage sale-ing with Kelly, Mistress of Amazing Finds, well that is just blowing my mind right now. #letsmakeithappen

  54. Dawn says:

    I just found your blog. Now bookmarked. So many cute things you have done in your house. I , too, LOVE yardsaling. It really is part of the genetic code. Pinned the plate wall that wraps. Love that.
    Thanks for sharing!

  55. Jessica says:

    I love the light fixture that you have in your laundry room! Where did you get it?

  56. I. Love. This. Post. You’re speaking my language! And your finds are unbelieveable!!

  57. Leslie says:

    I’m with you my friend. Love me some Salvation Army!!

  58. Just had to tell you that I saw that exact same white milk glass urn/handled vase in your top picture last weekend at an antique store priced at $65.00!! (The stuff was overpriced there, but you definitely got a bargain at $1!)

  59. A useful reminder post, I’ll have to see where I might be able to track down some similar objects.

    My parents had the same 0.50$ cranes in their house, and I used to frustrate my parents to no end as I used to move them all the time to help decorate the house when I was young.

  60. Jennifer says:

    I am a total yard sale addict, too! Some of my favorite decor items were purchased for less than a dollar. But this was my best find:

  61. Melanie says:

    I think we have the same mom and grandma. Ok, so not really. But I grew up shopping all kinds of sales with my mom, aunts, and cousins. This post is just like me in a nutshell.

    Go yard salers!!! We’ll always come out on top!!!

  62. Okay, I can’t get over .75 for the baskets on your (beautifully decorated) bookshelves!!! Who would get rid of perfectly good baskets for!!! This is a great post…found it on pinterest and recognized that awesome laundry room as soon as I saw it. I love your blog … new follower here. I would absolutely LOVE it if you linked up this post to the Link it or Lump it Link Party this week. … just sayin’ :)

  63. Kayleen says:

    Love yard sales and household sales! People are always surprised when I tell them almost everything in my home is second hand! I do believe that with a can of spray paint I am invincible!

  64. sabijo says:

    Hi there,
    I read your other post on how you payed off the mortgage in 5 years. I am so inspired, but also, so, soo confused as to what I am doing wrong!! I try to buy things on sale, or just not at all. I love the looks you pull together but rarely, rarely do I find good deals like this. I just don’t have that DNA!!! When I See stuff they don’t look good to me, unless someone points out the possibilites to me. And those possibilities need to match what I like personally, not just something that would look good in some obscure magazine…Anyone else know what I’m sayin’???

    • Kelly says:

      I hear ya! I think it helps to immerse yourself in photos of high-end designs, so you can recognize good deals when you see them. It’s taken me years to start recognizing things, and I still miss a ton.

  65. Mary says:

    saling is in your DNA? I think you mean selling.

  66. Jessie says:

    I don’t have much patience for garage sales, partially because even when there are neighborhood garage sales in our area, it may only be one house out of 20 that is actually having one. The driving around and not finding any garage sales drives me nuts. HOWEVER, your advice holds equally true for thrift shops and goodwill stores! Plus, then you don’t have the homeowner staring at you while you rummage through their stuff. I love many of the finds I’ve gotten at some of our local charity thrift stores, from books to glass vases, bowls, bottles, flower pots, you name it! I also love knowing the proceeds go to a good cause.

  67. Cara says:

    What a fun post! Thanks for sharing your yard sale finds– I love a good deal! I recently found a vanity-style dresser for $10 (!!!) and gave it a makeover. Check it out here:

  68. Sarah says:

    I will give you my kidney for that elephant. Yes. I have the brass cranes, deer, ducks, and small geese. I need the elephant desperately now.

  69. Mary says:

    Books aren’t meant to be read?

    Only for decoration!

    What a shame. This makes me sad.

  70. GillyP says:

    Hi Have just registered for your email. You sound just like me, only much younger, I used to drag my boys around all the Op Shops in town, they did not appreciate my foresight, haha, they still don’t as grown men. Thanks for the great blog I had a good chuckle, I too have had my fair share of Pinterest fails!! Gillyp Wellington, New Zealand

  71. Kal says:

    Just found this article on Pinterest – I’m pretty good at finding some great thrift store and yard sale finds but I’m always struggling with how to put it together to create a look. You’ve inspired me to go dig out some of my stuff I bought and haven’t done anything with and actually put it to use!

  72. Anneke says:

    We don’t really have yard sales here (unless you count online). Many people who want to get rid of their stuff give them to organizations or schools or charities which then sell these things to finance outings, new computers, etc. So these “yard sales” are big and busy. Not very frequent and well advertised. :) Busy doesn’t help, but you always know when there’s something out there, and if you’re a volunteer you get first pick.

  73. I learn a lot from your tips. Thanks a lot.


  1. […] more tips? Here are some great ones from Kelly at View Along the Way. Having a garage sale? Here are some great tips from Laura at […]

  2. […] mantle Make sure you check out this post: 7 things to shop for to decorate on the cheap! Tips for styling with yard sale […]

  3. […] to Nan Krieg, our fearless Clean Sweep Chair, for discovering the View Along the Way blog, where author Kelly show us her rummage sale […]

  4. […] Yard Sale Style: 7 things to shop for to decorate on the cheap – 7 things to shop for at yard sales to stylish decorate your home on a budget […]

  5. […] Yard Sale Style: 7 things to shop for to decorate on the cheap – Wanna know a secret? Just about every spot in my house sports some kind of garage sale find. When I was a kid, my mom and grandma used to drag me all over town … […]

  6. […] Yard Sale Style: 7 things to shop for to decorate on the cheap – Wanna know a secret? Just about every spot in my house sports some kind of garage sale find. When I was a kid, my mom and grandma used to drag me all over town … […]

  7. […] Yard Sale Style: 7 things to shop for to decorate on the cheap – Love your attitude about yard sales…I love them. I once bought 5 small silver goblets for $1. They have been in my dining room for 10 years. […]

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