Tips for Upcycling Thrifted Finds

Let’s get inspired to upcycle vintage finds!I believe that shopping at thrift shops and second hand stores is hands down the best and most affordable way to obtain furniture and decorative pieces for your home.  So many times we walk passed items that we would never pick up because they look ugly and run down.  Not me though. I see potential in every piece of furniture, decor, and art that I pass on the street or in the thrift shop. Want to see potential too? It’s so much easier than you think! I’ll help you out and show you how I upcycled this vintage mail holder into a cool and custom piece for my home office.

I went to this amazing thrift shop in New Jersey a few months back and came across this incredible vintage mail holder.  I was able to leave the store with this baby and an old jewelry box for $3! For $4 more (and a little TLC) I was able to transform the mail holder into an awesome piece with just a little bit of spray paint!

*I highly recommend using a paint with a primer in it, like Krylon 8831 ‘Dual’ Flat Black Paint and Primer – 12 oz. Aerosol. It will require less coats and cover better than spray paint without primer.

Here’s the process, and the tips that that may help you be inspired to upcycle your own vintage finds!

First thing I had to do was remove all of the hardware on the mailbox.  I had to get creative here because a screwdriver was too large to fit inside the narrow box.  So instead, I used the flathead bit from my screw gun and removed it by hand.

TIP: The best thing to do when removing any hardware off of old finds is to place all of your pieces in a ziplock bag for later. That way, you won’t lose any in the process.

Next, most surfaces you find won’t be perfectly smooth.  Also, to help the paint adhere better, a light sandpaper treatment works wonders.

TIP: When sanding wooden objects, make sure to sand with the grain instead of against it. This will keep the surface smooth and uniform.

Next, using a dry shop cloth, carefully wipe away any excess chippings and residue from your sanding.

Next you’ll have to get out that can of spray paint.  When painting, I always suggest holding the can about 10 inches away from the product (this helps lessen the drip and places a nice, light coat on the product).  Also, if you’re afraid of spraying too much, start spraying your paint slightly above the piece so that the large burst of spray is showered over the piece rather than pushed on to the piece.

You’ll need a few coats to fully cover the piece, so just be patient .

TIP: If you can’t get the little nooks and crannies to paint just right, spray a little paint on a paint brush and use that to cover the small area.

It’s important now to give your piece ample amount of time to dry. I recommend at least 6-12 hours of drying time before picking up the object and using it.  Others recommend around 24 hours (it really depends on the paint you use).

Once the paint is dry, replace all of the hardware and enjoy your brand new upcycled piece!

Isn’t upcycling so easy? This project took me about an hour to transform (not including the drying time) and was budget friendly!

Get past your fears and start thrifting! As always, if you want to work on a project and need some help, contact me!

Happy DIYing to all… and just a reminder, make sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter! Once I reach 600 followers on Facebook, I’ll host a huge giveaway!



  1. What a great way to re-use almost anything. I hope that you can tell me the make and colour of the frame that is in the picture. Pretty please, bwahahahaha. It is the perfect colour for my large frame I have to hold my son’s family tree which I am learning calligraphy from books to do this. I will also photocopy at an architect because it is so big for the rest of his patriarchal family.

    1. Hi Linda! So glad you enjoyed this post! I found the frame at a thrift shop and simply spray painted it with Krylon. I think the color may have been Blue Ocean Breeze (but it has been a while since I painted it). Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Sugar Sam, forgot to say which project it was because I drooled over a few of your makeovers, lol. It is the lovely light blue ornate frame behind what I call your mail in-box. You painted it a deep blue which worked fantastically with the final finished piece of hardware. Did I bribe you enough, BWHWWHAHAH. Just realized it looks like I am buttering you up, not my intent, but if it works let’s roll with that. Enjoy a beautiful summer. Regards, Linda

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