Thrifting is pretty hit or miss, and I rarely walk away with much when I run into the Goodwill store near our house.  But while Jonny and the kids were out of town, I had this amazing experience there, scoring so much good stuff that I just have to show you.

My girls use vintage suitcases to store their doll clothes, and both of theirs needed replacing.  It’s rare for me to come across one.  I spotted the larger one, in new condition on a shelf, and inside there was a second!

On a side note:  Trudy and Weasel were both ridiculous while we were home alone together.  They were so scared that they had to stay near me all the time.  They barked off and on all night long, spoiling my lovely plans for uninterrupted sleep.  One night, I took a big bowl of kitchen scraps out and called Trudy to walk over to our compost pile at the edge of the woods with me.  It was dark, and I didn’t want to go alone.  She wouldn’t take one step beyond my parked car.  I called her and called her but she stood her ground, absolutely refusing to budge.  “The woods are too scary!”

This little chair was five bucks.  It’s sitting at my desk now.

This is an old chair from Ikea that we’ve had for years.  It was discontinued so I can’t get a new slipcover for it.  It’s ripped in several places and I don’t think it’s worth trying to repair.  I can’t afford to buy a new one though, so I have kept it around.  I also have a hard time justifying new furniture purchases.  We (they) just ruin it.

I spotted this chair, in nearly perfect condition at Goodwill and though it was cheap and maybe perfect for what I needed, I left it behind because I didn’t have a way to get it home.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it though, so I called my friend Eve and asked for help.  She totally dropped what she was doing to meet me back at the Goodwill in her big vehicle and hauled it home for me.  I cleaned it on the back porch with this handy little deep cleaner (so necessary when you live in the country with a bunch of kids and not everything is slip-covered!) though it was hardly dirty at all.

While I’m talking chairs:  I also deep cleaned this chair that we already had, in preparation to PAINT IT!  Yes, I painted upholstered furniture!  This chair is covered in some sort of micro-fiber and has a little bit of a nap.  It used to be a light olive green, but we turned it brown.  I should have taken a photo of it before I cleaned it, so you could see how nasty it looked.   I read lots of tutorials like this one, before getting started.

This is after the paint.

The change isn’t drastic in the photos since I chose a basic gray, but the paint made a huge difference, and I am so glad I did it!  (I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in French Linen.)  Also, the yellow shelf got kicked out and replaced by Sarah’s green hutch (last photo in this post) and this chair got moved to the living room next to Silas new bookshelf (also seen in this post.)

Finally, new dishes to break!  So far though, they are all still intact.  I love these so much!  We are using them all except the teacups and saucers which I put up high to bring down for special tea parties.

Thank goodness for thrift stores!


  1. Love all your purchases and makeovers Ginny. My son pounced on all my parents’ vintage suitcases when we were clearing their house and he uses them stacked for storage. I have to say they look great in his college room. I especially loved the needlework cover of your new desk chair. It reminded me of Alicia’s Midsummer Sprigs cross stitch pattern. Canvas embroidery is so hard wearing, lasts for ever and of course is the result of hours of work. Good for you for spotting it!

  2. What a lot of fun finds! My kiddos and I went garage saleing this spring and had so much fun. I found lots of stuff for them at garage sales when they were younger, but we hadn’t gone for a long time. Part of the adventure is never knowing what you will find!!

    Hurrah for your painted chair! So fun to create things into something you love or love better!

  3. Wow, you found some gems eh?! Love to read about thrift store and yard sale finds. Lately, we’ve had great luck like you just had, at yard sales. I was so impressed with our haul one week I made a video . It’s funny, recently we were chosen (by some survey company) to keep track of our purchases (what store, how much, etc)…we barely wrote anything down b/c for the past month we have only been buying food and yard sale things. 🙂

  4. I can count the number of things in our home I bought new over 27 years on two hands (maybe closer to one). The town we’ve lived in for the last 20 years has four non-profit thrift stores that I stop in regularly. Sometimes I come away with nothing, sometimes I hit gold. Three of the stores are a few blocks apart, so I can hit them quickly and easily. The lady volunteer workers know me and ask about my family. My most recent find was a metal-framed garden swing; arguably the best buy of the year so far according to my kids (or a close second to the thrifted guitar and tenor recorder). I have hauled so many things in my beat-up mini-van. My husband and son have become pros at taking the seats out quickly so I can head back into town (only a five minute drive) to retrieve a piece of furniture. My eldest daughter grew up wearing clothes from the thrift store and now that she’s on her own, she’s really grateful for her thrift-shopping skills and ability to make-over used clothing. I don’t know how mothers of large families and one income manage without thrift stores!

  5. I did not know you could paint furniture…the things I learn here! I love the big chair you discovered and hauled home. Looks like a good book reading chair to me. I hope no one breaks your new (old) dishes. I kind of like them.

  6. Chantal says:

    We have clothed ourselves from thrift stores for years and years. Our daughter was converted on the spot when given a choice of one new sweater or 3 from thrift stores! My husband found a”Go to interviews” suit when we finished graduate school. We are lucky in living near an area called “chateau country” outside Philadelphia where the extremely rich dwell. They toss out clothing which is some times only minus a button.

    In 1999 Hurricane Floyd destroyed the ground floor contents of our previous home and we refurnished entirely from the Salvation Army–very good stuff, too. We still have most of it.

  7. I love our Goodwill store, they have 50% off every other Saturday and I am usually there when the doors open.

  8. I love thrift stores so much! We never buy anything new any more!

  9. I’m loving this series of ‘when my husband and the kids were gone . . .’ posts. Isn’t time alone so refreshing?! 🙂

  10. When we got married my husband moved in – with his amazing thrifted finds, some quite unbelievable, & I had to say NO MORE when bedbugs started making the news again (thank goodness not with us) after supposedly having been eradicated…hopefully your cute little Bissell renders any potential ones into permanent suction-land!! I hate to even bring it up since we have been helped so often by what was no longer needed by others (Recycle! Upcycle! WAY less waste!!) but we are firm believers in ‘forewarned is forearmed’!

  11. Oh what a fun day! I love thrift stores. It is like a treasure hunt to me!

  12. I live in NoVa and am always looking for good thrift stores. Do you have any suggestions for where to go? Help!

    • I usually think ours are kind of crappy in Fredericksburg, but I also think that you have to go regularly to find good things, and I don’t. I just emailed a friend who used to live in Gainesville because I remember her saying there was a really good one somewhere up there, maybe closer to you than me? I’ll let you know if I hear back from her!

      • Thanks so much! My brother lives in King George so we are your way quite often. Always looking for new treasures that don’t break the bank. BTW, LOVE the painted chair. Brilliant!!

  13. You found wonderful items, the two chairs and the suitcases. What a dear friend to transport your chair for you. I saw in your notes that you don’t share about negative stuff your darling kids might do, and I am the same about that.

  14. Oh, you had a fantastic day at GoodWill, congratulations.
    I love old suitcases too, I have several in my studio that I store yarn in, along
    with an old leather trunk I pulled out of the dumpster 😉

  15. I can imagine that I made people like you extremely happy when I cleaned out my grandparents’ house a few years ago. The amount of vintage stuff that went to St. Vinny’s was just insane…I think I made at least one call per week for six weeks, with the a reservation for an empty truck for the last one and I filled my car up several times in between. So much stuff……..

    As often as I donate, I don’t go in very often. I really should start, though, because the boys are growing like weeds and clothes are expensive. I could also use some different clothes.

  16. My kids groan when I say “I’m just going in to Goodwill for a moment”. I find the best children’s books in there. Often vintage out of print books that we NEED (okay, yes….I am a book hoarder).

    Recently I was so excited to find a second pair of my favorite Banana Republic jeans for $4.00. My 15 year old daughter was mortified when she overheard me tell someone I got my jeans at Goodwill….”mom, you don’t have to tell people that you buy your clothes at Goodwill”.

    Love the furniture redo.

  17. Yay for thrifting loveliness! That’s a brilliant haul of well deserved treats. I was just eyeing up a dinner service at our fave thrift shop the other day, there really is nothing like new china!

  18. Ahh..the China is fantastic! Good Will is my guilty pleasure! You hit the jackpot!

  19. We love the Will of Goodness here too!

  20. Ooooooooh! You came away with quite a haul! Good job!

  21. mary louise says:

    i made the decision long ago that thrift/secondhand/consignment shopping is the way to go! you really scored bigtime with the wing back chair; just love it. whereabouts in fredricksburg is the goodwill store? i live over in madison county so it could be a doable thing

  22. I love thrift stores too!! My Mom is always telling me of something she found that is ‘just right’ for what she needed! 🙂 You found a lot of great and useful things! those dishes are lovely!

  23. A friend of mine just found the most amazing and huuuuuuuge!! Goodwill in Ashville NC if anyone ever wants to make a trip there. It will be a day trip for me and I can’t wait to go.

    I stored my Barbie dolls in an old suitcase also until I gave them to my granddaughter.

  24. It’s been awhile since alive gotten to shop at ours, I might have to drop in while. I am out today. I love the old chair with the black floral seat, I want to call it tapestry but I don’t think that’s the word I’m looking for. Crewel? Oh well, it’s beautiful. I bought an old chest and refinished it. I bought it for my son to use in his room. The top drawer was missing and he wanted something to hang his TV over and put the components on plus store clothes. The previous owner had already drilled a hole in the back! Score ! It makes me happy to see it and the work was a good process for my spirit.

  25. Thrift stores are wonderful. I don’t know where I’d be without them. Naked and sitting on the floor, probably. 🙂 I stored my Barbies and all their stuff in a 50’s Samsonite train case. In fact, they’re still in it, out in the garage. My mom bought the case at a yard sale and it worked perfectly for me.

  26. I love your finds! I love to go to Thrift stores and Goodwill. I get so excited when I find something I need and at a good price. I love reading your blog. Hugs,

  27. Melanie says:

    Oh my goodness….what are you holding in the instagram picture on the side? (I hope it’s yours)
    Your kindred spirit in Idaho, Melanie

  28. What a good day! I need to go more often. I’m out of habit….. it’s the only place I shop for clothes and my youngest girl (12) just had an amazing growth spurt. Nothing fits! Oh the days of summer clothes lasting more than one season with those elastic waists…. I miss those.

  29. I love thrifting and tag sales! Those dishes are great. I have a ‘thing’ for old dishes. It’s just as well I love buying them because my kids will break them just as quickly.
    Great job on the chair! I did not know you can paint furniture.

  30. I used to love thrifting. I bought good used clothes for my children when I saw them, not when we needed them, because then I would never find anything ; )
    You sure scored some nice stuff. Enjoy your treasures!

  31. Gwendolyn says:

    Ginny, I love all your finds! My daughters are big into all those thrift stores and for some reason Minnesota has great deals (better than Iowa)…so my daughter in MN buys things there for all the family. I can’t tell you how many great Christmas/birthday gifts I’ve gotten from the girls that were repurposed. Love the Lane chair and the suit cases and I would never have guessed the painted chair had been redone, it looks great. Oh and the needlework on the wood chair, that is beautiful. Such a fun post you showed us. Enjoy your new items.

  32. What great finds! I have a friend who is a thrift store goddess and always comes away with something spectacular. I on the other hand am using walking out with nothing. I’m a bit envious of those suitcases. Your girls will definitely have fun with those.

  33. Ah! The suitcases! Thanks for sharing these pics Ginny. Love all your finds. I love how you restored the chair, and love, love, love the dishes. You’re just such a nifty thrifty gal!

  34. Great buys! I love Good Will, have bought lots of furniture for my kids rentals. i refuse to give them my family heirloom furniture until they have their own places. The painted furniture, WOW, would never have thought of doing that. The painted chair looks great. Thanks for all your posting , I look at your blog daily…what a great family you have!

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