Watch out for a unique shape or size, and you’ve got the makings of a great thrift find repurpose! It’s hack 9 in the How to Thrift Shop Like a PRO series.
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Of all the hacks I use when I thrift shop, this one takes the least amount of thought or effort.
It’s pretty easy to spot something with an unusual shape or size. Deciding what to do with it is where the effort – and thrill – comes in.
To Be Fair…
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using standard sized and shaped pieces for thrift projects. In fact, you can make some great new pieces with them. I’ve done it lots of times.
Here’s a few of them:
You’ve probably seen these – or something similar – plenty of times at thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets:
- Wood cutting boards
- Rigid placemats
Each has classic and predictable shapes – nothing special. They can still be upcycled or repurposed though into fabulous projects.
But it’s a different kind of thrilling when you find something a bit out of the ordinary that you can upcycle…and especially repurpose!
Check out these thrift repurpose ideas:
In each of them, the out-of-the-ordinary shape grabbed my attention while shopping:
- That clock, with its spiky face, looked so much like a sunflower, instead of the dated decor piece it once was.
- When you can look beyond the finish, knowing the transformation a bit of paint can do, you can see pieces in a new light…like that sassy little vase that made a fantastic custom plant stand.
- Sometimes it’s just a small tweak that adds a splash of character, like the gentle ribbing in the wooden bowl, designed to look like a pumpkin. It was just enough to add some pizazz to an otherwise bland round bowl – and to become the foundation for a new project.
Hack Number 9 is simply keeping your eyes open for those “out of the ordinary” pieces.
The Deets on Unique Shape and Size
At the end of the day, a unique shape or size is really a matter of opinion and style, but here are a few general things I’ve learned to look for in pieces that really stand out:
- Ornamentation – Embellishments and detailed features of a piece add interest and draw the eye in for more than a quick glance. You can take advantage of, and highlight these features to add character to a project, taking it from plain to eye-catching.
- Unusual Lines – Pieces that don’t follow the ordinary lines you would expect to have loads of potential. Consider how you could use them as focal points of your project.
- Reminders – Sometimes a piece can remind you of something totally different – like the sunflower hiding inside a clock, or the saucy little lady inside the vase. Use these mental prompts to fuel your creativity.
- Extreme sizes – Miniature or oversized items are unique enough to be great projects on their own. Pair them with other pieces for even more creative possibilities. Tiny pieces you could add to fairy gardens and large window frames for wall displays are a couple of examples.
The Lamp with a Unique Shape
I have to admit that this project was super easy.
And lamps make it easy because most thrift stores are never at a loss for a few of them. Plus, there’s so many different designs, materials, styles, and finishes a lamp can have.
But just because a project is easy doesn’t mean it can’t be great. I love how this one turned out!
This is what I found:
It wasn’t even a complete lamp, only a base. But there was nothing at all ordinary about that shape!
The metal frame was in great shape and would fit perfectly with my decor. The color wasn’t important (it never is, you know) but was already pretty close to what I had in mind.
And it wasn’t the first lamp I’ve found, gutted, and disassembled, so I was sure I could find a good way to repurpose this interesting find.
Disassemble and Paint
First I removed the wiring, then took it apart, which was a quick and easy job.
Does that gold piece remind you of anything?
To me, it looks a lot like a bell. I’m hanging on to it for a Christmas project later this year.
As for the rods…I’m not so sure what to do with them, but am keeping them in my pieces and parts stash for now.
You can tell the original color isn’t far from Rust-Oleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze – my favorite paint for metal pieces.
I used two coats for seamless coverage.
This bright red plate was a shop-at-home find. I bought it at Hobby Lobby two years ago when all the fall decor was marked down to nearly nothing.
I’ve used it for a table centerpiece a few times – both for fall and for Christmas. But with this project, it got a new permanent position:
The rim fit right over the top of the lamp base, and I used E6000 for a firm and permanent hold.
To dress up the bare bottom part of the base, I added a little faux boxwood topiary. It added a nice splash of color and extra interest.
I had originally planned to add real pillar candles, but when I started shopping I found a pretty collection of LED candles and decided to give them a try.
They come with a remote that has 2, 4, and 6-hour options, and can be set to constant or flickering light, which is my favorite.
Hack #9: Watch for a Unique Shape or Size
I hope this easy project has inspired you to take Hack #9 with you on your next thrift shopping trip and give it a try.
I can’t wait to hear about your creative projects – from pieces with a unique shape or size – or both!
There’s more! Read How to Thrift Shop Like a PRO for all ten hacks.