19-21 April 2024
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

Unearth Hidden Gems

A Guide to Discovering Value in Second-Hand Finds with Jade Compston

It’s time for a fresh perspective on home styling and home decor. Shopping second hand doesn’t have to be cringy, in fact it can be the complete opposite. There are so many hidden treasures inside op-shops, you just need to know what you are looking for.

I’m Jade and I have over 6 years experience with upcycling and repurposing items to help you create a home you love on a budget. You deserve a home that is your own private oasis, where you love to spend your time and where you can showcase your personality. 

I’m going to share with you my top tips on how to find great second hand pieces. This includes those pieces that shouldn’t have been thrown away in the first place and the ones that have huge potential with a little bit of creativity. If you’re new to thrifting, you might want to start out trying to find hidden gems that you can purchase and add to your home immediately. However, if you’re up for a bit of fun, why not unleash your creativity through a DIY or upcycling project. 

Mixing and matching new and thrifted pieces can infuse your home with character and charm. It also enables you to create a home that tells a story while helping the environment. Let’s dive into a list of things that I recommend you search for when you’re looking to purchase items that you can add straight into your home:


Thrift and vintage stores often have a wide range of paintings, prints, and framed artwork at much cheaper prices than buying new. Artwork very rarely gets much wear and tear because it is usually just hanging on someone’s wall. People will donate their art when they feel like a change but the pieces donated still have great value to your home.

Throw Blankets

Cosy throw blankets can be great to pick up. Choose complementary colours and textures to match your home and use them to drape over sofas, chairs, or the foot of your bed for added warmth and style.

Ceramic and Glass Vases

Thrift shops are great places to find unique ceramic and glass vases to display fresh or dried flowers. Choose vases in various shapes, sizes, and colours to create eye-catching arrangements as focal points for your tabletops or mantels.


Brighten your space with stylish lamps from thrift stores. You can pick up some fun and unique table lamps, floor lamps, or hanging fixtures.


Mirrors are great home decor pieces that can visually expand a space and add depth and dimension to your room. Look for mirrors in interesting shapes and frames. Hang them on your walls or lean them against a wall for a dramatic effect.

Ceramic and Pottery Decor

Add character to your home with thrifted ceramic and pottery decor items such as bowls, vases, and figurines. These pieces can be displayed on shelves, side tables, or mantels to add personality and charm to your space.

Baskets and Storage Bins

Stay organised in style with thrifted baskets and storage bins. Use them to reduce clutter, store blankets and linens, or display potted plants for a functional and decorative touch.

Candles and Candleholders

Create a cosy atmosphere with thrifted candles and candleholders. Mix and match different styles and sizes to create beautiful arrangements around your home for added warmth and ambiance.

If you’re looking for pieces to purchase and use straight away in your home, you want to check the quality. Look for well-made pieces with sturdy construction. Items made from high-quality materials like solid wood, stone, glass, ceramic and metal often have better durability and aesthetic appeal. 

Opt for pieces with timeless designs that won’t go out of fashion quickly. Classic styles tend to have more longevity and can easily be incorporated into different decor schemes. 

Focus on a few key pieces as focal points in your room. Whether it’s a unique vintage armchair, a reclaimed wood coffee table, or a statement piece of artwork, let these items shine and build the rest of your decor around them. 

Layer textures & materials that will add dimension to your space. Mix smooth surfaces with rough textures, and combine different materials for visual interest. Trust your instincts. If something catches your eye and you can envision it fitting into your home, it’s worth considering.

Now, If you’re someone who is a little more creative and willing to do a little repurposing and upcycling, then the thrift shops are limited only by your imagination.

When you’re shopping for pieces to repurpose you want to look beyond superficial flaws. Don’t let minor scratches, dents, or stains deter you from a piece with potential. Many cosmetic imperfections can be easily fixed or disguised with a little DIY effort.

One of my favourite items to upcycle is old furniture. Tables, chairs, dressers, cabinets, and bookshelves can all be upcycled and refreshed into stylish pieces with a new coat of paint, new hardware, or some fun creative modifications.  You want to try and select solid timber furniture because it has many more options available when it comes to upcycling but you can upcycle veneer or laminate furniture as well, you just need to use specific products for this type of furniture.

Old metal items like buckets, cans, or trays can be repurposed into planters, organisers, or even lighting fixtures with a bit of creativity. Look for old curtains, linens, and fabric remnants that can be repurposed into throw pillows, table runners, or even quilted blankets. Vintage glassware such as jars, bottles, and vases can be transformed into stylish decor pieces with a little paint, etching, or decoupage.

Vintage Windows

Transform old windows into decorative picture frames by attaching photos or artwork to the glass panes. You can also hang them on the wall as unique architectural accents.

Wooden Ladders

Repurpose wooden ladders as rustic shelving units by securing planks across the rungs. Use them to display plants, books, or decorative items in any room of the house.

Mason Jars

Mason jars have endless possibilities for repurposing. Use them as stylish vases for flowers, candle holders, or even as storage containers for kitchen ingredients or craft supplies.

Old Books

Turn old books into decorative objects by stacking them to create unique side tables or bedside stands. You can also hollow out the pages to create hidden storage compartments for small valuables.

Vintage Doors

Give new life to vintage doors by repurposing them as headboards for your bed or as decorative room dividers. Add a fresh coat of paint or distress them for a shabby-chic look.

Tin Cans

Upcycle tin cans into stylish planters by painting them in vibrant colours or wrapping them in decorative paper. They can also be used as desk organisers or utensil holders in the kitchen.

Broken China

Turn broken china or porcelain dishes into mosaic art by breaking them into smaller pieces and arranging them to create colourful patterns on surfaces like flower pots or tabletops.

Vinyl Records

Repurpose old vinyl records into functional items like bowls or coasters by heating and shaping them, or use them as decorative elements by displaying them on shelves or walls.

I hope you are now full of ideas and inspired to hit the thrift shops and see what you can find. Remember each thrifted or upcycled piece is a unique item that has character. Incorporate them into your home decor to add depth and personality into your home.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of styling your home with thrifted and upcycled decor is staying true to your personal style and preferences. Choose pieces that resonate with you and create a space that feels authentic and inviting.