What’s Your Greatest Vintage Score?

By Kate Riley March 5, 2018

I was feeling nostalgic last week, perhaps it’s because I just entered my tenth year of blogging. I was thinking back on when we used to spray paint stuff and get 100+ comments and have link parties where we added our latest project and also Twitter parties where we’d all tune in and watch The Bachelor together and tweet about it. Those were good times.

I had a lot of really amazing comments from the last post about the flip house kitchen remodel, thank you! I really appreciate all the positive feedback! One popped out at me because of the subject matter:



The brighton style chinoiserie armchairs you’ve seen before in this sunroom and I borrowed them for the kitchen photo shoot. I stumbled across them, buried under some quilts, in a great vintage/thrift store in Las Vegas several years ago .



So it kinda blew my mind when I spied this listing a couple months ago….



Twelve hundred dollars!

And then there’s this listing for $1,650!

They’re overpriced in my opinion but still, it made me feel good that I’d scored mine for $50 for the pair!

I’d like to think I have a good eye for cool thrift store scores. Remember this $10 Cabinet makeover? This blue bamboo chest? These mid century end tables? Ah the good old days when we used to snag stuff at thrift stores and give them a makeover. I did that a lot between 2009 and 2013 and featured those transformations on the blog before I tapered off and took on larger space remodels.

So my fellow design lovers, tell me, what’s your greatest or favorite thrift store score? I invite all of you bloggers to go back through your old posts. What’s one of your favorite makeovers to share?

Or if you’re not a blogger, tell me what your greatest vintage or thrift store score is? I want to read all about it.



  1. I have a Dorothy Draper Style Espana chest that I paid $45.00 for at a local thrift store. Mine needs refinishing, but I saw the same piece, “Dorothy Draper Style Espana” chest, on Chairish listed for $1,900.00. Woot!

    • Dang Donna, that IS a fab find, those retail for so much money, total score!!

    • I bought a 1970’s Thomasville
      Huntley campaign style bedroom set for my son from a neighbor for $325 – headboard, high dresser and long low dresser. Saw all pieces on Charish totaling over $3,000. Total score!

  2. I think my best score has been the 6 bentwood and cane chairs I got a few years ago at a second hand store in Tuscaloosa, AL. I can’t remember exactly what I paid for them, but I know it was a lot less than the 150.00 per chair I’ve seen on Etsy and eBay. I found 2 counter stools that match the style for 30.00 a couple years ago!

  3. I found a darling little Classic Winnie the Pooh book that I bought for my best friend for 99 cents. Got it home, and read through it and found a $50 bill tucked in it. My guess is it was originally a gift to someone and they never found the money hidden in it.

  4. I found a Henredon campaign style night stand for $25 at a thrift store. Also found a Tiffany cake plate for $5. My two fave thrift finds!

  5. I have a 18th Century Mahogany Knee hole desk I bought for $125 at an antique mall. If in excellent condition (which mine is not) they go for $6-12 thousand! I love the fact that mine has marks and dings all over it. Every time I look at the scratches I wonder what the story is.

    • So true Tara, I think about a piece’s history too and wonder where it’s been, what’s the story there? If only there was some hidden message tucked away on old parchment, right?

  6. Bought a crystal vase for under $6 at a charity shop in Japan. Threw it in my suitcase without a thought. Got home, didn’t unwrap it for a while and put some vinegar in overnight as the base was very clouded. Next morning could read a bit of a mark, so joked with my husband that I bought a Raccarat…only when the haze lifted it was a Baccarat!

  7. Chairs are stellar Kate! One of my fondest, and I have many, was the divine timing to get a vintage 3 foot diameter George Nelson bubble lamp for a dollar at a garage sale. It was when we were just starting out selling vintage collectibles online. Sold it on ebay for a couple months worth of groceries! It was exhilarating!

  8. I found one of these chairs at a yard sale and paid $35 for it. I had no idea it had any real value, only that I liked its appearance. WOW, amazing!

  9. This isn’t my vintage score, but my mother-in-law’s. Sometime in the 1970’s they moved into a new house from an apartment so they needed artwork for the walls. They were not rich so buying things to decorate with was not an option. One day she was driving down the street she noticed a painting on top of a pile of trash in front of someone’s house. She stopped and asked the homeowner if she could have the painting and they said yes. That painting has been hanging on her living room wall every since. After I married her son I noticed the painting and complimented her taste. For years I would look at the painting and say to myself that’s an original piece of art and it’s by a really good artist. Finally a few years ago I googled the artist and found out he was a famous German painter from the late 1800’s. Other similar works of his are being sold for $10,000.00 or more. What a trash pile find! My mother-in-law told me she is giving me that painting when she “passes on ahead.”

  10. I found a Pottery Barn round coffee table at a thrift store a few years back for $13. I took it home and sanded and restained the top and it looks great. In this case the number 13 was lucky for me.

    • Those PB tables are pricey retail! They’re pretty solid too, I found one years ago and refinished it, and it still looks amazing! Great steal for $13

    • Classic piece! I love it both in wood and painted too, so I know how you’re torn. Also LOL “due to your influence” :)

  11. Love hearing about fabulous finds. I found an “immigration chest”, which people brought with them to the US when immigrating in the early 1900’s, or earlier. It was $5. 00 at a yard sale. It has the name of the owner burned on the front and square nails. There is some repair work done, but I love it and will pass that one on some day!

  12. Oh my gosh! I wish blogging was still interactive and social like it used to be. I all but quit other social media platforms last year as I just found them exhausting and robbing me of real life connection, came back to blogs, but they weren’t the same anymore.

    Anyway, I don’t have an antiques roadshow story but I did get four white oak 100 year old American dining chairs for $75 total, from an antique furniture store that was losing some of its storage space. They had been sanded to bare wood for refinishing and lacked seats but a little DIY brought them to life. Clawfoot front feet, shapely back panels and corners, they are really nice pieces. I do love the thrift stores for accessories. I have a pair of hand carved barley twist candlesticks, a large beautiful frame, a new bamboo dish rack, a few awesome lamps, all for under $10. I’m jealous of people in the carolinas who seem to find amazing case goods for nothing because of the furniture industry out there. Here in California it’s mostly ugly and cheap.

    • Oh, and I now have a 5 and 2 year old and I really miss being able to pop into secondhand/antique stores for a quick browse! Maybe in five more years I can get back to that but for now it is just too tough.

    • Yes I have mixed experiences too, sometimes it’s all junk and then you’ll find a diamond sitting somewhere in a corner. I just love the experience of browsing too!

  13. Love all these comments! So many amazing finds. Over the years, every time I go into the “thrift store” by our beach house, I pick up one or two vintage punch cups. They’re all different and beautiful. I counted them the other day and I now have ONE HUNDRED!!! I love to pull them out for parties and let my kids use them daily. They all have their own favorites.

    • Wow amazing collection Bryn I’m sure you get so many compliments on them, very cool and unique!

  14. My best “find” is my Baker brass and glass coffee table with bamboo legs which I got for $60 from an estate sale. Don’t know if it’s an original as there are no markings but it’s in beautiful condition and I love it!

    • If you love it, who cares if it’s worth anything right? Also pieces like that add character to a room, so that the space doesn’t look assembled from a big box retail store. Nice find!

  15. I has lost my job and was going through a rough patch, when I walked into a Goodwill to buy a book. I noticed two cute little end tables with wheels and drawers – perfect for a small San Francisco apartment (1930’s) – but not my taste. I bought them for $10 each and sent a picture to my friend, an antique dealer. He told me they were valuable because there was a pair, and he would sell them for around $250. I decided to pass on the “goodwill” and I sold them for $150 – I was thrilled and it gave me some more book money :)
    They went to a nice family with a little San Francisco apartment.

  16. My big score was 2 IKEA PS cabinets for $10 total for both! I couldn’t believe the posting when I saw it, it seemed to good to be true!

  17. My best find was a Lalique Fish & Bubble Bowl I found at a house sale in an old kitchen cabinet. The house was being cleared out for demo. I bought it for $5 not realizing what it was. When I washed it off at home I noticed the markings. I see them listed for $1200+ on 1st Dibs!

    • Such a great story Cricket, and a great find too, those are really pretty!

  18. I found an Emeco aluminum frame settee and chair on Craigslist for FREE! The owner just wanted them out of her house. I still need to have cushions made. I recently saw a similar listing on 1st Dibs for $1800. I love them!

  19. I got a card catalog for $600. I know that is alot, but I have been wanting one for years! Love filling my 72 drawers with all my craft supplies!

  20. My best find was a Friedman Bros. gilded Louis XV reproduction mirror that I found on Craigslist for $39. I saw it on Craigslist and I thought it was just stunning. I had to have it. It was this guy’s grandmother’s mirror that she had purchased for her home. She had just died and he was selling it. The tag on the back was hand-written with this with the numbers on the back in the original Friedman Brothers Decorative Arts. I looked online and found the identical style number. At the time I purchased it, a new identical mirror was selling for over $5,000. Ironically, it matched a pair of gold crystal sconces that I had purchased years ago at a salvage store. Another great find I had was a curved wrought iron bed that I purchased for $25 on Craigslist. I researched and found the maker of the curved wrought iron beds and this one would have sold for $1,500 new. (Curved wrought-iron is much more difficult then straight wrought iron because it requires special tools to make the curves.) And no makeover was required for either one!

  21. Man…my favorite part of any blogger post(s) is the “best buy” or look what I found at a thrift store?! Just so fun to find bargains and revel in our respective “luck!”
    I responded (with my husband and two sons) to a Craigslist for a cast iron slipper tub for $100…and noticed a cool-looking frame, that I thought was plastic,sitting behind the tub. It was kind of mahogany color (purple-red) but was such a cool, ornate shape that I scrounged in the car for quarters to add to my crumbled dollar bills in the bottom of my purse. It is one of my favorite finds…and, guess what? It wasn’t plastic…it was carved wood! I painted it and had it fitted with a mirror. At almost four feet tall…it’s one of the best things I’ve ever bought!

  22. Seven years ago I bought a pair of midcentury Michael Taylor for Baker end tables on eBay for about $400. They were perfect for my space & I had them shipped from FL to GA on a Greyhound bus, lol. I knew they were Baker, but I had no idea they were from a designer collection. I spied them a few years later on First Dibs for $5000!!!!!!!!!

  23. I noticed the unusual hardware on a side table at Goodwill, and it turned out to be Drexel Heritage mid-century. I paid $20 and found it on eBay when I got home for $380. Another Goodwill find was a mid-century rosewood chair that I paid $5 for. I reupholstered it so the end price was much more but it’ll always be my beautiful $5 chair :)

  24. I love the bamboo chinoiserie chairs you found in a LAS thrift shop for $25 each. Is that shop still open by chance and if so, what was the name, please? I would love to know some of your favorite bargain shops if you are willing to share.

  25. My husband and I were at the flea market and we found 2 Danish modern chairs for $40 each. I did have them reupholstered, but they are so awesome. I get people wanting to buy them from me all the time. They were a great find, and we love them.

  26. Hello coming late to the game. Not my cheapest find but definitely one of my favorites: recently went to an estate sale at a lovely MCM house near mine. The house is being demolished so everything was up for grabs. Fell head-over-heels in love with a set of 3 brass lotus pendants. The estate sale runner said she had priced them very low at $300.00 each. Went home & did some research. They are original Feldman small lotus pendants, which usually sell for $1000 – $1200 each. Dashed back to the sale at the end of the day and snagged those! Looking forward to hanging them on either side of my bed as bedside pendants. Now if I could only get the wallpaper they were originally hung in front of. . .

  27. Hi there, I actually just found your blog because I was looking for images with the Brighton style rattan chairs! I just landed the same BEST VINTAGE FIND ever :) and I’m curious if you had to do any repairs or refurbishing to your chairs? One of mine has the woven part of the seat damaged and I’m just curious what/how you did any updates or fixes to improve the look? They looks so pretty in your home! Thanks!

    • Mine were in great condition Meagan so no I haven’t had to fix them, there are some tutorials online for repairing rattan. :)

  28. Mine have come more from estate sales & sometimes my job as a real estate agent has put me in houses where people were just getting rid of stuff & I got some incredible scores. My latest though, was just a straight up E-bay purchase, a genuine Dorothy Draper Espana chest, not an imposter. Beveled edge front, finished on the back, numbered drawers, stamped Heritage Henredon real deal one, in very good, albeit not perfect shape, but for $675 considering what they can go for, I’m not complaining. I scored a Brighton chair, along with a Chippendale fretwork bamboo headboard, and a vintage 6 light pagoda chandelier for my Galveston house, all for $150. Another $150 purchase was in a house where an older man was moving out, had most gone, his late wife was an interior decorator he told me. He sold me one Chinese Chippendale faux bamboo side chair, and a pair of those big brass ram’s head or ibex or whatever you call them, Hollywood Regency, Alain Chervert style coffee table bases, (I didn’t find any markings on them), I knew I liked them, but didn’t really know what I had bought at the time, all of it for $150. Another was a Chapman, 70’s era lamp made of a horn and brass, for $90 at a local resale shop.

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