Home design and decor | { 10 MIN READ | 2024-03-05

Decorating Your Apartment with Vintage Finds: A Guide to Thrifting

Tired of the cookie-cutter aesthetics of today's shoe-box apartments? We hear you. It’s time to bring back the charm and character of home decor. Think Monica Geller's eclectic haven (find inspiration from Monica’s apartment here), or the cozy nooks of Schmitt, Jess, and Nick’s place in “New Girl”. These iconic sets have inspired us at Minto Apartments to infuse vintage goods with personality into our living space. 

For young professionals like Monica and Jess, brand-new furnishings weren’t in the budget, but thrifted goods were. We understand that thrifting as a newbie can be daunting because the possible chaos of a thrift store can be overwhelming. With a bit of practice (and this helpful guide!) you'll find your rhythm of the isle you always check first, or that prized piece you’re constantly checking for on Facebook Marketplace 

Why thrift?
  1. Unique finds: The best moment in the thrift store is spotting that perfect piece that no one else has. Thrifting offers a treasure hunt for one-of-a-kind items. Unlike mass-produced pieces, vintage finds tell their story and stand out, allowing you to curate a home that reflects your distinct style and personality.
  2. Saving money: In thrift stores, you can find high-quality items at a fraction of the price. This budget-friendly approach allows you to stretch your decorating dollars further. Want to experiment with a vibrant statement piece? Dive in – and if it doesn't win you over, no worries; it was only $8 after all!
  3. Environmentally friendly: By giving pre-loved items a new home, you actively participate in extending the life of a product before landfill, and lessening the demand for new production. And remember, it's not only about buying from thrift stores; donating items can help encourage a circular economy.
  4. Quality craftsmanship: Truly vintage items often have superior craftsmanship compared to their modern counterparts. You’ll often find pieces made in Canada – something we used to do a lot more of in the mid-century. Numerous older pieces were crafted with durability in mind, making your investment in items designed for long-lasting quality.
  5. Support local businesses: Thrift stores, often local establishments, play a crucial role in the community. Think of it like a local library for decor! While Amazon may support economies abroad, thrift shopping supports your local economy with jobs, all while helping you save.

Planning your thirft store trip

  1. Create a Wishlist (this is a must!): Remember, treating thrifting like grocery shopping means having a list to help you focus. Wandering into a thrift store without a plan can lead to a similar outcome as grocery shopping – forgetting items and generating unnecessary waste. Whether it's a vintage side table, a quirky lamp, or a classic vase, having a prioritized list keeps you focused on what you need for your space, so the items fit into your life. 
  2. Timing Matters: Thrifting success often depends on timing. Consider visiting thrift stores during weekdays or early mornings when new items are likely to be on the shelves and fewer people are shopping. Here's a secret tip –ask a store employee about their shelf stocking schedule for the best chance at discovering hidden treasures so you can find the hidden gems before others snatch them up!
  3. Bring tools: Equip yourself with essential tools such as a measuring tape, notepad, and of course bring your smartphone. We mention a smartphone because it’ll be helpful to research potential purchases on the spot (or call an Uber to get it back to your place).

To navigate the thrift store like a pro, make sure to: 

  1. Dig around: Allow your curiosity to guide you: scan through the rows, sift through items, and be open to unexpected discoveries. Thrift stores can be organized chaos! But that’s half the fun. Remember to keep an open mind, you never know what you will find. 
  2. Follow the signs: It may be an obvious one, but do not ignore section signs in the store. Since it is easy to get overwhelmed in the clutter of a thrift store, let signage guide you through the organized clutter. 
  3. Inspect your items: A keen eye for detail is a must when navigating the thrift store. Inspect items thoroughly for quality, condition, and authenticity, and use your smartphone to research unfamiliar brands or items.
  4. Try Things Out: Whether it's testing the comfort of a vintage chair, checking the functionality of an electronic device, or experimenting with how a piece fits into your overall design, engage with your finds! 

Now the fun part - decorating with your finds!

  1. Create Focal Points: Highlight unique thrifted pieces by placing them as focal points in your decor. To test the layout, take a picture of the room and note which place your eye goes to, and build around that.
  2.  Mix Eras: Blend vintage finds with modern elements for a curated aesthetic. Who said you can’t decorate a sleek modern coffee table with an arrangement of vintage books? Or set a round retro dining table with mismatched floral chair.  Hanging a framed Renaissance painting above a leather 70’s style couch? Take a risk! Get playful with it.
  3. Embrace Eclecticism: Add some warmth to a modern apartment by breaking up the walls, shelves, or tabletops with vintage finds. Incorporate various textures, colors, and styles for a dynamic and eclectic look.
  4.  Try some DIY Projects: If you are handy, crafty or simply want to adjust a thrift find, try upcycling projects to breathe new life into thrifted items. A fresh coat of paint, new hardware, or creative repurposing can transform vintage finds into pieces that fit your space.
  5.  Integrate Personal Touches: Infuse your personality into the decor by incorporating personal touches. Whether it's framed photos (thrift stores are a jackpot for picture frames), travel souvenirs, or handcrafted items, make your apartment uniquely yours.


Thrifting allows you to embrace conscious consumption. We'll be honest – the first thrift experience can be a bit daunting, but you can prepare, explore, and learn.

The rewards of thrifting vintage pieces are truly fulfilling, adding a unique touch to your home. Given that our houses are where we spend the most time, infusing them with special items helps make it feel like home. Unleash your playfulness, get creative, and transform your home into a narrative that echoes your own story.



We hope our list will empower you to master the art of thrifting and encourage you to experiment boldly with your apartment!

Have tips for thrifting? We’d love to hear them - let us know on our social media channels!