Portland Days 7, 8, & 9: Let the Thrifting Begin

This probably comes as no surprise, but I was so excited to start the thrifting extravaganza after we got all the essential basics in place. Portland seems like the promised land of secondhand opportunity, what with the enormous mega-thrift-stores all over the place (at least in SE, anyway) and more vintage shops than you can shake a stick at. Incredible.

One of the things I’m discovering more and more is how Chandler’s taste and mine is simultaneously quite similar and also very different. I always think it’s a little weird to put a bunch of labels on people’s personal taste, but I’ll try anyway. We’re both into vintage, with a similar mix of periods but generally gravitate towards mid-century. However, Chandler’s design sensibility is a bit more traditional than mine, much more feminine, a little more kitschy, and a bit more eclectic, all of which suits our budget well since she’s not quite as picky as I am. Discerning, yes. She definitely knows what she likes even if her preferences cast a wide net, but I think the challenge is keeping that sense of playfulness and variety while also making her apartment mature and grown-up.

Chandler and I both definitely went through a phase of just loving stupidly weird kitschy shit from thrift stores. Velvet portrait of somebody else’s pet? Yes please. Anything with a toadstool on it? Don’t mind if I do. But you can only collect so many holographic renderings of the Last Supper before you just regret all of it and want to start over. So she’s moving away from buying what she termed “janky space-fillers,” which I think is for the best. Just because it makes you laugh in a thrift store doesn’t always mean it belongs in your house—remember that, kids.

Since we’re relying largely on vintage to make this place pretty, schlepping around to a million thrift stores kind of goes with the territory. Instead of heading straight for the vintage shops where prices are higher, however, we decided to start with exhausting all the Value Village, Salvation Army, and Goodwill locations in the general vicinity. I can’t even count how many thrift stores we’ve been to. It was a whirlwind shopping experience. And now… stuff we bought! Enjoy.

The first thing we found (in our first thrift store!) was this nice little kilim runner that fits perfectly in the kitchen.  I’m not a big fan of the colors in this rug, but Chandler likes them and of course we both like the pattern. $30.

We cheated a little and went to House of Vintage, a big retro store on Hawthorne, where Chandler spotted this adorable light fixture for $45. I think it’ll look great hung above a kitchen table.

Chandler likes to keep flowers around the house, so she needed some vases and we thought this little orange one was cute for a couple bucks.

Or how about a set of six of these tumblers for a dollar a piece?

Chandler absolutely loves floral prints (the house she rented with a few roommates last year had an entire “floral room,” dedicated to all things flowers), so we’re trying to find a way to work that passion into her space without getting too insane with it. We thought this tablecloth could make some cool throw pillows for the couch. $5.

We also found this sa-weet Lane coffee table in a sort of pricey vintage store… but for $35. The wood’s not in the best shape and the drop leaves need to be repaired (the support brackets are missing), but for that price it seems worth it to put in the work ourselves to fix it up a bit.

We were really happy to find these little 50s dining chairs in Salvation Army for—get this—$5 a piece. They’re in incredible condition, too, almost like they’ve never been used. With a little makeover I think they could be pretty adorable.

In between all of our thrifting, I was painting and painting wood trim (it’s taking forever!) and working on finishing off the bathroom. Full “after” pictures coming soon, but for now I figured I’d show off the new shiny boomerang pulls we picked up from the Rejuvenation Store. We like the original hardware, too, but we have bigger plans for it so we needed to find a replacement that still played on the retro spirit of the apartment. I suggested these, and I’m so glad I did because that store is incredible. I actually never realized Rejuvenation was based in Portland, but if you live here and haven’t checked out the store yet, you need to. There’s a whole salvage section as well, so be prepared to get lost looking at beautiful old stuff for a while.

The days in Portland are winding down and there’s still SO MUCH TO DO. Wish us luck.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 1.15.11
    George Sunderland said:

    Wow, that Coffee Table is gorgeous; I want one… And that floral-print tablecloth is adorable, I’d love to see more of this stuff. Sadly, over here in England, ‘thrift’ stores are hard to come by, and only sell tacky cassettes and old books anyway.

    Keep doing what you’re doing,

  2. 1.15.11
    Lena said:

    I really like the coffee table and the flower cloth will add some extra personality! But I have to say while I like the individual pieces I am not sure how all the kitchen elements will come together. But I am sure you will “make it work”!

  3. 1.15.11
    Fionnuala said:

    My reaction is just the same as George’s: GREAT coffee table, but there’s no chance of replicating that sort of find at that kind of price on this side of the pond. Sigh.

  4. 1.15.11
    Laura P. said:

    Ah! My kingdom for a coffee table (like that one)! Up here in VT I cannot for the life of me find a coffee table that is somewhat stylish (or at least not hulking with a bad frosted glass top) or under $80. Send your amazing coffee table finding vibes my way!

    Also – love that light fixture.

  5. 1.15.11
    kirsten said:

    Looking good! Love love love the coffee table!

  6. 1.15.11
    Maxwell said:

    Wow! That coffee table is awesome. Can’t believe you got it for that price. Also– 1950s kitchen chairs are the BEST.

  7. 1.16.11
    Mich said:

    wow- days of thrifting with your bestie? Best day ever.

  8. 1.17.11
    Erindanika said:

    Nice finds! I desperately miss thrifting in portland. I also highly recommend checking out hippo hardware on burnside in the SE. It is a salvage hardware store and has a great selection of used and vintage lighting upstairs. In October I bought a cigar shaped Nelson bubble lamp there for $35. It was in need of some cleaning, but it still had the original Howard miller sticker on it.

    • 1.17.11
      Daniel said:

      That’s incredible! Jealous!! I’ve been hoping to thrift a bubble lamp for more years than I can count.

  9. 1.17.11
    Rose said:

    I think you scored big with that kitchen runner. As a fan of both kitsch and clutter, I say fill her up. But, minimalism and clean lines are clearly also in order here. Also, those cups are so 50s cocktail bar/Kelly Wearstler. Nice.

  10. 1.17.11
    d a b said:

    I’ve committed faaar too many “janky space-filler” crimes than I’d like to admit. Don’t even get me started.

    Anyway, those are some sa-weeeet finds! The shiny tumblers are awesome. 60s Lane table—yes please! And it doesn’t get any better than $5 chairs. You did good! Makes my thrifty heart super happy. Can’t wait for the “after” shots!

  11. 1.17.11
    jennifer in sf said:

    Oh god. I was sooooo guilty of the kitchy/janky space fillers! I just COULD NOT resist Jesus at a thrift store. I’m so glad those days are behind me :)

    You guys got some great stuff. That coffee table looks like it’ll be totally awesome with a little love and the light is super cute.

  12. 1.19.11

    I am a major fan of thrifting. You have some major treasures here.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  13. 6.7.11
    elise said:

    which Portland thrift stores did you end up visiting? I’ll be going there in a couple of months as well.

  14. 6.7.11
    elise said:

    Love your site, btw :) Thanks for the DIY step by steps-awesome work!