Shabby Chic Shopping: Ten Tips for Treasure Hunting

Here We Go: Shabby Chic Shopping Tips!

There are more options available for just going right out and purchasing decor designed in a “shabby chic” style. My personal favorite way to find it though, is treasure hunting!

Antique stores, flea markets,  even Craigslist and garage sales are all fantastic places to buy shabby chic. A soft tablecloth here, a lamp there….tables, teacups and tapestries! For me, the best part is finding completely random and different things and then getting to dream up ways to put them together as shabby chic decor!

Shopping for shabby chic home decor this way is a little more work than heading to a department store.  You might have to spend a bit more time shopping, turning over some rocks and searching deep in the dusty old corners of these shops. Personally, that’s my favorite part!


Although each different type of shopping experience demands slightly different treasure hunting finesse, these are some general tips for scouting out some shabby chic jackpot anywhere you go.

1. Keep A List of What You Need.

A list really is an absolutely necessity, both to keep you focused and fend off the “I-must-buy-everything” syndrome, and to actually help you see more. Sometimes I find that when I walk into an antique mall or flea market, all of the chaos and junk completely blinds me. I can’t see anything amidst the dusty brown haze that isn’t neon green or sequined and sparkly. This means I might very easily walk by the exact chandelier I’ve been dreaming of, or the ideal set of cloth napkins for my table! Having a list and referencing it often during shabby chic shopping trips keeps my eyes perked for perfection.

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Ignore Your List.

I know, I know. But the truth is, “treasure hunting” shopping requires an open mind and open eyes. And that means you’ve got to be ready to nab that perfect find, even if it’s not on your list.

3. Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve.

Be ready to fall in love all. the. time. Because that’s the most important part of shabby chic decor: love. Well-loved pieces in well-loved places. Inspiration for entire rooms can be set in motion by a tiny scrap of fabric that wins your heart. So when something out there finds you and just won’t let go, don’t be afraid to take it home. :)

4. Stop In Often.

These kind of shopping centers, by nature, change inventory every day! So go shopping everyday! YAY! You finally have a reason! I know, your husband wouldn’t approve. I don’t think mine would either….so if you can’t pull off everyday,  just go as often as you can while keeping peace in your house. :)

5. Bring Cash.

If it’s not a garage sale or Craigslist, chances are good they accept Mastercard and Visa. But just because they take ’em doesn’t mean you should use ’em! Cash talks. It really does. When you find that item you love, don’t be afraid to pull a Dave Ramseyand ask “Is this the best you can do?” If they don’t come back with a better price, whip out your wallet, make an offer, and let Benjamin do the bargaining for you!

6. Take Your Time.

If you can, on your daily (*wink wink*) shopping trips, go slow. Slow enough to see the good stuff. Antique malls, especially, often seem to be piled high with as much stuff per square inch as physics allow. This means you’ll want to give yourself time to look inside trunks, lift up stacks of fabrics, and just really hunt for treasure!

7. Measure Twice, Buy Once.

Bring the room and wall space dimensions for your entire house everywhere you go! Especially when you’re hunting for bigger items like wall decor or furniture. You never know when you might spot the one you’ve been dreaming of.

8. Take Pictures.

Okay, so maybe you find a piece you like, but something about it just isn’t quite right. (Maybe the price!) Take a picture! Sometimes a lamp, or table, or maybe a piece of pottery really speaks to you in some way. And even if it might not be the right piece for you, a picture can remind you what you liked about its “feel,” and help you move your shabby chic decor in that same direction, but with something different.

9. Stage It In The Store.

I have a particular fondness for beat up old lanterns and water pitchers. So I’m drawn to just about every single one I see. But figuring out if they would look right for the table top or corner of a room I’d want them for can be really difficult when they’re sitting in a warehouse surrounded by six trillion tons of other people’s junk. So when it’s possible, I try to take them around with me until I find a table I like, or an area with similar lighting or set up to what I’m dreaming, and see if they look right there. It’s not going to help every time, but I’ve definitely found a few pitchers I loved until I saw them on a table and realized they were way too big, or just way too ugly. :)

10. Lighten Up.

Shabby chic is an easy-going, build-as-you-go design, so shopping for it shouldn’t be stressful. Lighten up and enjoy the shabby chic shopping trip!

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