Painted Projects and Thrift Store Upcycles

Painted Projects and Thrift Store Upcycles

When it comes to upcycling, paint can be a miraculous tool, capable of unbelievable transformations. Of course, not everything needs to be painted- that goes without saying. But if you need some repurposing inspiration before your next trip to the thrift store, these painted projects might be just what you’ve been looking for.

The Wow Factor

painted projects that are mind blowing

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Sometimes the best painted projects aren’t a clever upcycle at all. It’s just the power of a side-by-side photo showing the before and after. Paint really is magical on the right piece from the thrift store.

Clear Glass Vases

painting clear glass

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Clear glass vases- those inexpensive pressed glass vases used by florists- are a dime a dozen at thrift stores and can really crowd the shelves. But an intricate paint job like this transforms them into exotic collectibles that look like you brought them back from your last trip overseas.

Painted Projects with Stencils

wooden american flag

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Wooden objects at thrift stores are perfect for upcycling, especially if the object is in rough shape. But paint and stencils (like the buffalo plaid one used on this American flag) can really bring something back to life.

Restyled Trays

upcycling a tray with a coastal design

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Trays are very popular as home decor, but a cheap one from the thrift store might not exactly fit your style. That’s where paint comes in, taking the unmatched and turning it into a beautifully coordinated element in your home.

Upcycling Alchemy

using metallic spray paint to make something look like metal

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Metallic spray paint is a favorite tool in any upcycling wizard’s laboratory! Why? Because it provides an opportunity to turn something that isn’t metal into something that looks like it is. In this case, plastic VHS storage drawers now look like an industrial metal filing cabinet table– thanks to paint.

Holiday Decor

turning a wine rack into a christmas tree

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Certain colors signify specific holidays, don’t they? Orange and black for Halloween; Red and green for Christmas, etc. Which means painting something from the thrift store in those colors is an easy way to create some holiday or seasonal decor. This wine rack certainly didn’t start out as a Christmas tree…but it became one after a quick makeover.

Re-Trending the Outdated

french country makeover on a magazine holder

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Once upon a time, country style pine and duck (or goose!) decor was all the rage, no matter where you lived. But as time passes, so do decorating styles, and it’s time to make them over. Painting this piece gave it a more French country look; but someday, I fully expect someone else to re-repurpose this magazine holder into whichever style is trending at that time.

Experimenting with Unusual Paints

alcohol ink on clear glass

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Upcycling something from the thrift store is an inexpensive way to experiment with craft supplies you’ve never tried before. Case in point: a clear glass pumpkin got a fancy makeover with alcohol inks. Not just a fun crafty experiment, but one with gorgeous results to boot- especially at night!

Painted Controversy

painting silver plated items

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

No matter what you do, painting something will make somebody mad. Painting vintage items from the thrift store can be REALLY polarizing (like this silver-plated tray). But when it comes to thrifting, “finders keepers, losers weepers” truly does apply. Just expect at least one thumbs down or frownie face if you post it online!

Make It and Fake It

windmill wall decor

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Painted projects are sometimes fake-out projects, aren’t they? Getting the look for less with a little upcycling magic and all that. This is a perfect example: old ceiling fan blades got the paint makeover of a lifetime and are now some windmill wall decor for a farmhouse-style home.

SO much cheaper and SO much more lightweight and easier to hang than the real deal.

Painted Projects for the Garden

upcycling ideas for the garden

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Upcycling items into whimsical decor for your yard or garden is definitely a favorite of repurposing crafters. Paint gives your secondhand finds a pop of color or just a fresh new look for outdoor decor. Just make sure you seal your paint job with a waterproof top coat before putting it outside.

Painting as Stress Relief

trays as painted projects

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Sometimes, an upcycling project is as much for the end result as it is for the process. In other words, losing yourself in a project that feels almost meditative and calming; such as painting this tray. If you only spend a couple of dollars on it at the thrift store, but get a couple of hours of peace and calm, well…sounds like pretty inexpensive therapy, if you ask me.

It’s a Cover Up

halloween cookie jar

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Peeling paint, cracks, and chips are not uncommon on your thrifted finds. Thankfully, a thorough makeover with paint (and sometimes filler or even air-dry clay, in this case) makes a huge difference in a repurposed transformation like this cookie jar.

Painted Projects for Events

painted cheese shakers

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Let’s face it, certain celebrations and events can get out-of-this-world expensive, like weddings. So, upcycling thrift store finds into decor and whatnot for these events can be a huge cost savings. Thank goodness for paint, otherwise all the guests would realize that the table vases were actually cheese graters!

Adding Texture Where There Wasn’t Any

making textured paint with baking soda

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Even though paint may be the crux of an upcycling project, sometimes it’s just the beginning. Did you know that if you add baking soda to plain acrylic paint, you can get a textured paint/paste that mimics concrete or stone? It’s truly a marvel and a game changer in the repurposing realm.

Upcycling Inspiration from Painted Projects

easy upcycles to make

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

I hope you found some inspiration with these painted projects! All of these started out on a thrift store shelf or were going to end up in the trash or donation pile. Paint is a powerful tool when it comes to upcycling- sometimes you just need the right spark to find your own creative idea.

Craft on!


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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.

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