A Guide To Thrifting For Vintage Linens + More (it’s Sustainable + Affordable!)

A stack of vintage blankets and quilts in pastel and floral patterns

That stack of beautiful vintage linens up there all have something interesting in common—I purchased them all secondhand. I’m a huge fan of ‘thrifting’ for home linens like bedding, pillows, table runners, curtains and more.

If you’re new to thrifting, you may be a little skeptical—understandably. But if you believe that purchasing linens secondhand is a nasty and germ-filled affair—I’m here to reassure you that it’s not. And to try to coax you over to my side of the fence. It’s very cozy over here.

A cozy green armchair displays a collection of vintage needlepoint pillows in the corner of brick-walled bedroom

I’ve been shopping secondhand for items like blankets, towels and throw pillows for many years now. At this point I would guess that about sixty percent of the soft goods in my home have come from secondhand sources. Most from thrift stores specifically.

How I started thrifting for linens

For me, thrifting for linens started as a way of finding the vintage and antique styles that I loved, but weren’t available new in stores. Reproductions have become common over the last five years or so. But back in 2010, no companies were remaking vintage styles (especially not in my price range). I loved 1950’s chenille bedspreads and a good tattered vintage floral quilt. So shopping secondhand wasn’t about saving money or creating sustainable habits. It was simply the only way to accomplish the style I wanted in my home. This is why thrifting for linens never seemed like an odd or gross thing to do. When you’re looking for vintage bedding, you kind of expect it to be used, ya know?

Flat lay photo of a vintage yellow chenille bedspread and modern floral quilt

Over the years, I found a lot more than just vintage chenille throws in the Goodwill bedding section. From down duvets to entire bedding sets, vintage towels to throw pillows, there have been some real treasures.

A closeup of a flower patterned quilt in light blues, pinks and greens

Some of my best thrifted finds

Some of my favorite bedding has come from thrift stores, like this beautiful floral quilt and sham set. I purchased it at a Goodwill for $20. It’s 100% cotton and was in perfect condition when I found it. I’m pretty sure it was never used. How gorgeous and comfy does my summer bed look?!

A cozy bed covered in a floral quilt, yellow vintage bedspread and floral pillows

In fact, most of the soft goods I buy from thrift stores are in perfect condition—they’re basically brand new. This beautiful Toile de Jouy duvet and sham set was $40, also from Goodwill. And, it came with a Ralph Lauren down duvet insert inside of it. That’s a heck of a deal if you know anything about the cost of authentic down.

A closeup of a Toile de Jouy patterned duvet cover in a classic blue and white color scheme

I’m not saying that I find these linens on a daily or even weekly basis. But if you ask me, it’s well worth a wander over to the linens section the next time you’re out thrifting. It does take patience to find the treasures, though. When you’re hoping to find a complete set of bedding in a specific size, you sometimes have to wait.

A large basket is filled with rolled vintage plaid wool blankets in warm fall colors

I don’t aim to meet all of my linen needs via secondhand sources, as that’s obviously a bit unrealistic. Sometimes, you just need a new set of sheets. But, by keeping an eye out on a regular basis, I’ve been able to grow my linen collection and have found some really beautiful pieces in the process.

But seriously, aren’t thrifted linens gross?

Nope. No, they are not.

If you’re still caught up on the idea of thrifted linens being gross, think about it this way. When you stay at a hotel, you’re sleeping with linens (and a mattress!) that hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other people have slept in. In contrast, thrifted linens likely come from only one previous owner an are lightly used. And YOU control how much they’re washed before you sleep in them.

A set of vintage pillows embroidered in crewel style sit on a tan couch

There may be a limit to the types of linens you want to find secondhand, and that’s ok too. For me, vintage decorative throw pillows are ok, but I won’t buy any other type of pillow secondhand. Likewise, I have a lovely collection of vintage towels from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, but they’re just for display and the towels we actually use are all purchased new. This is really just a matter of personal preference as we love oversize fluffy white towels for everyday use and the pretty vintage ones tend to be small.

A collection of vintage hand towels in bright colors arranged in a basket

Items to start thrifting for NOW

Thrifting for table runners, cloth napkins, tablecloths and curtains is an easy place to start if you’re a bit apprehensive. These items are all abundantly available at your local thrift store and are fun to change out seasonally. I found this cute, vintage-inspired runner at Goodwill for $5.99 last year.

Pro tip: Target actually donates overstock, clearance and returned goods to Goodwill on a regular basis. This table runner was a new-from-Target item that I found at Goodwill off-season. I’ve also found brand new organic sheet sets, quilts, entire bedding sets, rugs, throw pillows, etc. Target donates a LOT of brand new linens to Goodwill, so be on the lookout. (I’ve seen this in OR, WA, FL, and VA, but I am not sure if they do this in every area, so ask your local Goodwill.)

Living room with a TV stand covered in a red and white striped table runner and houseplants in vintage pots

Where to thrift for vintage linens

So, I’ve obviously convinced you by now, and you’re ready to hunt for some new-to-you linens. If you want vintage specifically, where should you look?

Aside from thrift stores, antique stores are also a great resource—for throw pillows and quilts especially. I have a growing collection of vintage linens like needlepoint pillows and cotton tablecloths. Most of these items have come from antique stores. I do occasionally find them for a really great deal at a thrift store, though. My best deal ever was a cute mid-century needlepoint pillow for 10¢ at a rummage sale eight years ago—score!

Vintage needlepoint and crewel embroidered pillows

When you’re looking for something very specific, online marketplaces like are a great place to search, too. Think Etsy, Mercari, and Facebook Marketplace. Last year I scored the Pottery Barn buffalo plaid duvet set that I’ve been eyeing for years. I got it for less than half price from a seller on Mercari. It was brand new and still in the original packaging! Total steal compared to buying new at Pottery Barn. These marketplaces are a great place to test the waters if you’re still iffy about ‘thrifting’.

A closeup of a bed with floral bedding

Are you ready for the bins?

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re a seasoned thrifter and want a real challenge, I urge you to give the Goodwill Outlets a try. Yes, the BINS!

Linens are the item I most commonly find there. I’ve found a few antique quilts in perfect condition (along with lots of tattered ones, which I also bring home to love). The bins is also a great place to find antique rugs.

If you’re a total newbie to Goodwill outlets, please watch a Youtube video of someone hunting at the bins so that you know what to expect, because it’s not a normal thrift store and honestly, your first time will be a bit of a shock if you’re not prepared.

Do bring your own gloves, hand sanitizer, and a bottle of water that fits in your purse. Speaking of your purse—bring an older the shoulder option so you have both hands free for rummaging. You’ll want to go earlier in the day and plan to stay for at least an hour or two to make the trip worth it (items are priced by weight, so you usually want a full cart—it’s cheaper than a half-full one).

Tips for caring for vintage, antique and secondhand linens

So, you found some pretty soft goods secondhand and excitedly brought them home. Now it’s time to wash them. And I have some tips to share with you about washing secondhand linens—especially vintage ones.

For most items purchased secondhand, a quick wash cycle with oxyclean will have it feeling fresh in no time. For delicate or vintage items, special care may be needed, so read on.

Removing stains from linens (or any fabric items)

I have a few tips for getting stains out of vintage (or any) fabric. My number one tip is always baking soda and an old toothbrush. Lightly dampen the item, pour a liberal amount of baking soda on the stain, and scrub away.

Recently I bought a large brimmed white hat from the San Diego Hat company for $2.00 from Goodwill. It had a huge tomato sauce stain on the brim (let’s hope it was tomato sauce). Two minutes of scrubbing with the toothbrush and baking soda and poof! The stain disappeared.

This trick is magic. It’s removes tough stains from everything including vintage tablecloths, clothing, shoes, carpets and more. Plus it’s all natural, ridiculously cheap and easy to rinse off after treatment. There’s also no harm if it doesn’t work—it’s not like the stain will get any worse by trying this method.

Borax is my other stain removing secret weapon. For light colored fabrics, washing on the warm setting with some Borax usually removes any minor stains. For darks and brights, you’ll obviously have to wash on cold but the Borax can still make a big difference.

Always air dry vintage linens

My last tip is to always air dry vintage linens—especially items like printed tablecloths, napkins or runners with lace details or anything made of cotton or linen. The heat of modern dryers is really harsh on these items and air drying with lengthen it’s lifespan.

What tips do you have for finding vintage linens secondhand? What’s your favorite thrifty linen find? I’d love to see them, please share!

Thrifted Linens: a guide to shopping secondhand for bedded and more

If you’re looking for more thrift related content, go check out my post all about why I keep a thrift list (and why you should, too). Or find lots of vintage thrifting inspiration in my apartment tour post or Thrifted Thursday posts here and here.

Happy thrifting!

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English cottage plate rack: a pretty + simple DIY project for my kitchen

A pretty and organized plate rack filled with dishware.

See that cute plate rack up there? I built it!

I’ve wanted one of these plate racks for a really, really long time. Actually, I want the entire English countryside cottage complete with cob walls, border gardens and a thatched roof—but we don’t really have those in America, do we?

So for now, I’ll settle for the plate rack.

Plate rack DIY—a simple project to organize your kitchen while adding English country charm

Do you love it as much as I do? I am still gushing over it. I’m sitting at my kitchen table right now writing this blog post and I literally can not stop stealing glances over at it. I know I’ll eventually get used to it hanging there in the kitchen but at the moment I am just so gosh darned smitten.

I also can’t stop hitting play on this entire new Taylor Swift album and I’ve got lemon shortbread cookies baking away in the oven, so it’s a lovely evening all around.

Build a DIY Plate Rack—a simple project to organize your kitchen while adding that English country charm

I’m going to attempt an explanation of how I planned and built this beautiful plate rack. It’s not going to be a tutorial and I don’t have plans to share with you. Sadly for you, I drew my plans on graph paper and only I can understand them. Mostly, the plans come together in my head and aren’t something I’m great at explaining. My husband can attest to this fact—after many projects together he’s learned to just follow my directions. He knows it’ll all make sense and look pretty in the end.

A very organized English style plate rack hanging on a wall in the kitchen filled with plates and other dishware.

Starting the project: planning the plate rack

I always start a project by doing some searching on Pinterest, IG and Google. Inspiration photos helped me decide that I wanted the plate rack to be wider than it was tall. I loved the idea of pegs for mugs to hang on as well as a small shelf under the plates. A wide shelf at the top of the plate rack also seemed like a good idea. I knew I’d want to decorate and display some of my pretty vintage kitchen goodies up there.

Coffee mugs hanging on the pegs of an English style plate rack.

Next I figured out how much space I had to work with on the kitchen wall. I actually cut a large piece of paper to the exact dimensions I thought I wanted for the rack. Then I hung it on the wall to see how it looked. This was really, really helpful.

After deciding the approximate overall size, I just started sketching up plans on graph paper. Here are some facts and dimensions that I found helpful when designing my rack.

Tips for building your own English cottage plate rack

  • Dowels for plate racks are typically spaced 2″ apart. This should accomodate most dishes—but it’s important to measure the depth of your plates. For me, 2″ was more than enough.
  • Don’t forget that lumber sizes are nominal. A 1″x2″ board is actually 3/4″ thick x 1.5″ wide—so account for the actual measurements when planning.
  • Pegs for mugs are typically 4″ apart and this works for most standard size coffee mugs.
  • I used 3/8″ dowels, button plugs and shaker pegs to simplify the build—only one size hole to drill for everything.

Once I had my plans drawn up, I created a cut list and used our miter saw to cut the boards to size. All of the shelves, the rails for the dowels, and the backing for the pegs were the same length. This made the process very simple. Here is my cut list, for anyone who might find it useful.

Plate rack cut list

1×12’s: 2 pieces @ 30″ (sides of plate rack); 1 piece @ 36″ (top shelf)

1×2’s: 4 pieces @ 36″ (rails for dowels)

1×4’s: 1 piece @ 36″ (backing for mug peg rail)

1×6’s: 1 piece @ 36″ (small shelf above peg rail)

3/8″ dowels: 34 pieces @ 13″ (plate rack)

Tools I used to build the plate rack

Drilling holes for dowels + pegs

Marking a center line down a 1x2 board

I used a quilter’s ruler to make a line down the center of each dowel rail. Then, I made a mark every 2″ down the length of each rail. Using a small nail and a hammer, I made pucks where each peg would go. The pucks acted as a guide for the drill bit so that my holes were as perfectly aligned as possible. The prick punch tool works so much better for this purpose—sadly mine was packed away in storage somewhere).

Making pucks to act as a guide for the drill bit

To make holes for the dowels, I used a flat bottom 3/8″ drill bit and my cordless drill. I was careful to keep the drill straight up and down. This ensured each hole was neat and at the perfect depth. A drill press would have been really handy for this project. But since I built this plate rack in my apartment, a cordless drill is what I had to work with.

Dowel and peg holes being driller

I also quickly drilled the holes for the peg rail at this point. To mark the location of the holes, I made a line down the center of the 1×4. Then I made marks at intervals 4″ down the length of the board. Using a nail and hammer, I created pucks for each peg hole. I used the 3/8″ flat bottom bit to create a hole for each peg, taking care to drill to the correct depth by testing each hole with a peg as I went.

Dowel and peg holes being drilled

Assembling the dowel rails

The next step was to assemble the dowel rails. This may seem out of order, but I needed to use the dowel rails to test out sizing and spacing. I used my actual dinner plates to determine how far apart to space the dowel rails. It was important to ensure the plates would ‘sit right’ within the dowels before assembling the rest of the rack. It’s hard to explain, but maybe these pictures will help you understand. I told you this wasn’t a tutorial! Haha.

Testing the rails with an actual plate helped me figure out how closely I should space them together to ensure the plate would be secure (and look good).

Shaping the side pieces

Before assembling the rest of the plate rack, I wanted to give the sides some decorative curves. Otherwise, the plate rack would have looked like a giant box. On one of the sides, I carefully measured and marked where each shelf and rail would attach. Then, I roughly sketched some curved lines. I just played around with the lines until I was happy with how it looked.

Using a cordless jigsaw, I cut along the curved lines. Then I used the first side to trace the curved pattern onto the second side and cut it out. One both pieces were cut I clamped them together, making sure to line up all the edges. Next, I sanded along the curved sides to make sure they matched perfectly. I didn’t get photos of any of this… whoops.

At this point, I sanded all of the pieces down and gave them a quick coat of danish oil. It was much easier to do this while everything was still in pieces. It also meant I didn’t have to deal with dripping, weird drying patterns or tight spaces to work in.

Assembly using wood screws + button plugs

And finally, it was time for assembly! I didn’t want to use pocket holes for this project. The plate rack was designed with an open feel in mind. So I knew pocket holes would be visible no matter where they were placed.

Assembling the plate rack.

Instead, I decided to assemble with wood glue and wood screws. It was important to take the time to pre-drill and countersink each screw. Then I plugged all the assembly holes with 3/8″ button plugs. This gave the final project a really handcrafted feel and I LOVE it.

Button plugs give a handcrafted feel to this DIY project.

I didn’t take many photos of the assembly either. I was finishing this project around 10 p.m. on a Sunday night so it wasn’t an ideal time for photographs. A corner clamp was really helpful to hold the pieces in place as I pre-drilled and screwed everything together. I took my time to ensure everything was level and in the proper place before securing.

The finished product

Overall, I am pretty thrilled with how the project turned out! It’s certainly not perfect, and my kitchen doesn’t look like it belongs in a cob cottage. But, it feels a little warmer (and more organized) than it was last week, and I am really thankful for that small improvement.

English style plate rack hanging in a small kitchen.
Large kitchen display shelf

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

*This post may contain affiliate links that help me earn a small commision from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Click here to read more about my policies.*