Thrifting Secrets From a Viral Design Creator

dining room accessories
Lone Fox Home Shares His Secondhand Shopping TipsCourtesy of Drew Michael Scott

Secondhand shopping can be a dicey and overwhelming experience, but sometimes thrift stores stores are the best options due to budget restrictions—figuring out how to ensure the risk is worth the reward is essential. HB's Creator Class alum Drew Michael Scott, the tastemaker behind Lone Fox Home, has built an audience of over 1 million by showcasing his DIY and thrifting chops on social media. He's currently renovating a 1920s Spanish Revival home in Los Angeles and just redecorated his dining room beautifully with exclusively secondhand decor.

While it seems like some people are simply blessed by the thrifting gods, always scoring the most beautiful items when they enter a flea market or Goodwill, Scott knows it takes a whole lot of work to find the secondhand pieces that call to you. Read on to learn Scott's veteran thrift advice on how to score amazing pieces on a budget.

Start Off Small

Photo credit: Courtesy of Drew Michael Scott
Photo credit: Courtesy of Drew Michael Scott
Photo credit: Courtesy of Drew Michael Scott
Photo credit: Courtesy of Drew Michael Scott

If you're new to the world of secondhand shopping and are unsure where to start, Scott suggests beginning with decor. "If you don't want to pursue larger items, try accent pieces," he says. "Artwork and small trinkets are a great way to layer that lived-in look into your home."

Thrifting the smaller items also allows you a larger chunk of your budget for the big-ticket items, like a really good mattress or an accent chair you love. "You can get little pieces that give you that character and that interest, and have money to invest elsewhere," Scott adds.

Have a Clear Aesthetic

While it's always fun to meander around your local thrift, if you're not in the right headspace, that lighthearted jaunt can quickly sour due to how overwhelming the experience can be. Thrift stores generally have piles of pieces to choose from, and taking the time to go through each pile, looking for something that calls out to you isn't everyone's favorite way to spend an afternoon.

Scott suggests going into the process with a clear aesthetic in mind. For example, he knew he wanted to center his dining room furniture around the coffee bar he put in, so he went into the decorating aspect knowing whatever he bought would need to look cohesive with the bar. "Look at the space you're decorating, and strategize what you want to have that is secondhand and then what you want to incorporate that's new," he says.

coffee bar off the dining room
Courtesy of Drew Michael Scott

That means setting parameters before shopping: "I might need an office chair, a desk, and a piece of art. Those are the three focal pieces in the space that I know a lot of people are going to see and are going to be the primary points in this room," Scott says. "So when I narrow down those focal pieces, I can determine if I want something to be vintage, secondhand, or new."

Be Open-Minded

Part of the thrill of thrifting is to follow your heart. "If an item sparks joy or if you feel like you can see yourself really utilizing that piece, whether it's a decor object or it has some sort of sentiment to it, I feel like that's a great way to intentionally pick out your pieces that you're adding to your home," Scott says.

You never know what you're walking into with secondhand shopping, so even purchasing items within your desired aesthetic that you might use later down the line should be considered a victory.

dining room decor
Courtesy of Drew Michael Scott

Don't Be Afraid to Personalize and DIY

When it comes to those (scary) textile pieces—think armchairs, sofas, and headboards—Scott says he usually chooses to reupholster them rather than immediately pass. "I tend to not keep them in the state they came in if it's a plush item," he explains. Not only does this remove the fear of creepy crawlies from your thrifted furnishings, but it allows you to make the piece fit even better in your aesthetic and bring a modern touch on it. However, in the time between when he purchased the piece and when he can reupholster it, Scott suggests spraying the thrifted item with Lysol and cleaning it like you normally would.

"A lot of times, I'll find secondhand pieces that might not fit my room or the aesthetics I'm going for, but I feel that I could change them or add to them, maybe paint them and kind of mix them up and make them my own, which is another way that I really like to incorporate secondhand," Scott says. That said, factor in the cost or time (and skills) it takes to reupholster to make sure it still fits into your budget and be realistic if that isn't a commitment you want to make upfront.

a dining table with a vase and candles on it
Courtesy of Drew Michael Scott

Explore Your Secondhand Shopping Options

Flea markets, estate sales, antique stores, and auctions are all wonderful options when it comes to sourcing secondhand. "Flea markets are where you can get the best bargains," Scott says. "And you can also find the most interesting pieces because each stall is almost like a little curated market." Scott prefers shopping for smaller decor pieces in person, like the dishes on the wall in his dining room, but uses online resources for the bigger furniture items.

"I don't really like shopping furniture in person because it's hard to find a place that has a good amount of the furniture style that I'm looking for at somewhat of a reasonable price point. I find that if I'm looking for a larger piece, looking online is better," he says. Facebook Marketplace and are two places Scott goes to for online secondhand shopping. "Most times, I opt for something vintage or secondhand just because I have the opportunity to get it same day or the next day, which is really nice about Facebook Marketplace."

Want more thrifting tips? Check out House Beautiful's editor-curated guide to secondhand, vintage, and antique shopping.

You Might Also Like