Image for 'For the Love of Resale' Image Credit: Penny Pinch

For the Love of Resale

Your room and home should be a place to unwind, feel comfortable in and enjoy. How you decorate can impact how you feel. By Cathleen Himes

When I was a sophomore in high school, I owned an unreasonable (perhaps even unhealthy?) amount of overalls. They were easy to throw on in the morning when I tried to get ready as fast as possible in order to get as much sleep as possible. But when my collection got out of hand, I finally donated a few pairs.  

As a lover of all things resale, I worked hard to get my mom to shop at our local thrift store. One day she came home and proudly announced that she took my advice. While modeling her recent resale buy in our living room, she asked, “Do you like these overalls I just bought?” I stared at her blankly and tilted my head, “Umm … do they have a button missing on the top right pocket?” She replied, “Huh, they do, shoot!” Sure enough, she had purchased a pair of overalls that I had just donated (insert forehead smack emoji)!

Over the years, my love for resale continued to grow. And grow. And grow, and before I knew it, it was a lifestyle. In 2019, I decided to try “A Year in Resale” and only wore items that I purchased secondhand. I thought it might be tricky, but it was just the opposite—the challenge was fun, my wardrobe was always changing and my bargain-hunting skills were fine-tuned. Plus, I found that my resale purchase tendencies expanded: suddenly I was buying home goods and decorations, not just clothes, at resale stores. Friends would come over and compliment a mirror or nightstand, and it became a running joke that “I got it at the thrift!” I was saving a ton of money and enjoying the process.

In my experience, I find the following tricks are helpful for creating and decorating your home, especially if you live in an apartment or a dorm room where space and income are tight. Some of the best-looking spaces I’ve seen are also the most budget-friendly! 

A Little Art Goes A Long Way

Your room and home should be a place to unwind, feel comfortable in and enjoy. How you decorate your space can impact how you feel. I find it’s important to fill your space with pictures and art, rather than blank walls, and specifically with art that speaks to you. This might be a picture of nature or a mid-century graphic piece—anything that suits your personality. 

A fun project would be to go to your local resale store and buy around a half-dozen pictures for your home. Perhaps you find a painting you don’t like, but it has an ornate gold frame that’s pretty and funky—take the picture out and replace it with a photo or a drawing someone gifted you.

“Perhaps you find a painting you don’t like, but it has an ornate gold frame that’s pretty and funky—take the picture out and replace it with a photo or a drawing someone gifted you.”

Once your pieces are home, work on “anchoring” them to furniture in your room. A lot of people will take a picture and hang it in the middle of the wall. Please don’t do this! Rather, pick your couch, dresser or bed, and hang the art piece above it so the picture’s base is 6-10 inches away from the furniture piece. Voila! It creates the illusion that the pieces go together, or “anchored.” If you need more inspiration for this, browse through a few home decor magazines and circle examples of good art-to-furniture anchor work.

Functional and Budget Friendly Furniture

Fact: furniture does not have to be fancy or expensive to make a room pop. I’ve visited spaces with high-end pieces that don’t look so great, and other rooms with cost-friendly furniture that look like a million bucks. Myth: furniture and accessories have to match. Not true! Rather than matching, pieces just need to complement each other—they need to work together to create a desired look for the room. 

My husband and I are known to scour Facebook Marketplace, estate sales and resale shops to find fun and interesting furniture pieces. When hunting for furniture, keep in mind that you don’t have to use the piece “as-is,” but know that you can change it up after it’s purchased. Once you’ve found something your home needs, like a coffee table, you can decide how to make it match your personality and style. Paint or stain it, or add a tray or accessories on top that looks great with the piece. A solid wood coffee table picked up at a thrift store might be just what you need, and once you paint the bottom four inches of the legs rose gold, you suddenly have a show piece that didn’t cost much at all!

Make Your Closet-of-Shame Work for You

When I moved into my dorm room in college, my closet didn’t have doors on it—my clothes were on full display to anyone who came into my room. This became a huge motivator for me to try and organize my closet as best I could, and in the process, I ended up doing even more. I incorporated my wardrobe into my decorating. 

First, I went through my clothes and only hung up items that I actually wore, and donated the rest. Next, I organized my clothes by color (and kept them that way!). Finally, I went to my local resale shop and found a cute pair of curtains that my roommate and I hung to serve as “doors” to our closets, but we usually kept them open since the clothing rainbow looked so charming! 

Whether you’re new to resale or a seasoned veteran, I recommend continually asking yourself how you can make thrifted pieces work for you. I’m constantly looking for new ways to decorate and have fun with thrifting.

For Further Fun

Tips When Shopping For Furniture:

  1. Make sure the pieces fit the size of the room (they aren’t too big or too small).
  2. Use blankets and pillows to add color and personality to your couch or chairs. 
  3. There’s almost always room to negotiate the price when you’re shopping for furniture at yard sales or online resale sites.

How To Refresh Your Closet:

  • Make sure that your closet is never overcrowded, and buy pretty, matching hangers for your clothes.
  • Hang art in the closet, because I feel every inch in a room/home should look nice and be enjoyed.

These habits have carried over to today, and I sometimes go to friend’s houses to help them make over their closets. Again, there’s no reason why a closet has to be shameful!

If you have any questions or ever want to talk resale, I’m always up for a chat! Feel free to email me at [email protected].


Cathleen Himes is a wife, a mom (to an active 7-year-old) and a communications professional who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago. She works in public relations and development for the Oakbrook Terrace Corps (church) and the Metropolitan Division. In her free time, she enjoys photography, decorating, traveling and of course, resale shopping. 

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