It’s true what they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure and your local op shop, thrift store or even Facebook Marketplace feed could very well be where X marks the spot.
Items that may look daggy and dated in one home, can be seen in a whole new light in another. Sarah Andrews, host Captain’s Rest Airbnb in Tasmania and author of Principles of Style has a knack of telling stories in her interiors through thrifted treasures and secondhand pieces. She even has an interior styling workshop now teaching others the science behind it.
It just comes down to how you style certain décor and mastering the art of mixing old and new. Design doyenne Melissa Penfold has called it the new status symbol. “Today a display of how well you can curate things from different eras, is the new symbol of class power,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “It’s the antithesis of wasteful spending. From old wicker baskets and vintage French rattan chairs to antique cupboards (revamped with a chalky green paint) and handmade pottery, the years hottest styles are some you may already own.”
According to Sydney property stylist and interior designer Justine Wilson of Vault Interiors, now is the time to op shop. “Due to the lockdowns [in the last few years], many have had the time to finally Marie Kondo or simply did a clean-up out of sheer boredom. Thanks to this, places like Vinnies, the Red Cross and local charity shops are full to the brim with new stock,” says Justine.
Sometimes all a piece needs is a light sanding, a fresh coat of paint, or just someone with a design eye to see its potential in the right setting. So, if you’re looking to decorate your home on a shoestring budget or you simply love scouring your local op shops for vintage treasures or furniture and décor that can be upcycled, here are six on-trend home décor items Justine recommends you keep an eye out for the next time you pop into an op shop.


These were big in the 60s and 70s and have made a comeback as we lean more towards natural and organic interiors. You can find many cool shapes and wooden tones from whitewash and teak, to stained woods. Wooden bowls make great fruit bowls for your kitchen, it’s even nice to have a cluster of sizes and separate your fruits in an aesthetic manner.


[This eclectic Tasmanian cottage](|target="_blank") is full of incredible second-hand finds.
This eclectic Tasmanian cottage is full of incredible second-hand finds. Photography: Lisa Cohen / Story: Country Style


Trade secret shhh! I source a lot of beautiful coffee table books from op shops. The trick is to buy the large oversize books and preferably with dust jackets – sure the jacket may be torn so the trick is to throw it away and you have a lovely hardcover book left. They are usually solid linen covers underneath, and look great stacked on your bookshelf, coffee table or console table.


All types! This extends to decanters, glassware, bowls and cute little catch-all trays. Etched crystal is beautiful and can be a great way to display jewellery on your dresser, or use a crystal vessel with lids in the bathroom filled with q tips and cotton balls. Or, a crystal decanter and glass set will jazz up your bar cart with a nod to old-world glamour.
A collection of crystal glassware has been styled to create an elegant drinks cabinet with vintage charm.
A collection of crystal glassware has been styled to create an elegant drinks cabinet with vintage charm.


Who doesn’t love finding vintage pottery! It makes for the best bookshelf styling pieces or for your floral displays. Neutral tone pottery is very in right now and very expensive to buy new, whereas I have found beautiful pottery vases for around $8 at op shops. There are many options, bowls, vessels, vases, small coasters. It will introduce a more earthy, handmade element into your home.


80s shape vases and bowls in geometric or rounded patterns are very in, think ribbed lines, or fan shapes, colours come in in peach, white, black and terracotta tones. They make great standalone decor items but also wonderful table centrepieces, especially if you pair them with pretty olive tree branches or similar greenery.
Display your ceramic collection on open shelving in your kitchen to add character and personal style to the space.
Display your ceramic collection on open shelving in your kitchen to add character and personal style to the space. Photography: Marnie Hawson / Styling: Lynda Gardener / Story: Country Style


The best thing about op shops is you never really know what treasures you’ll uncover. And while someone has decided to throw them out, you can actually often find things that are still quite valuable.
Take CorningWare for example. Some designs of the decorative baking dishes can fetch up to $10,000 these days, so it pays to know what designs to look out for. (Literally).
Vintage magazines that are no long in circulation, old cameras, first edition books, stamps, and even original Tupperware can be sold online for more than your Vinnie’s has likely priced them at.
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