Thrift Store Wall Art in St. Louis: DIY’s and Up-Cycles


You know how the age old saying goes. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” right? For some, shopping at a thrift store or flea market can be like diving into a giant trash can, while for others it is like diving into a giant treasure chest. Shopping for artwork at a thrift shop however is a different story entirely. Many thrift shop paintings and photographs are gems just begging to be up-cycled and brought back to life. And you may be surprised to find that many other common household items you might stumble upon at a thrift store can be creatively repurposed into beautiful modern works of art for your St. Louis home. So take a trip to your local MERS Goodwill store as soon as inspiration hits because new art is begging to be made and your walls are calling for a makeover.

Dipped Paintings

Dipped paintings are the newest modern art craze and it’s a perfectly easy way to make something old new again. All you will need is a framed thrift store image and a little bit of oil paint to create a brand new masterpiece that is all your own.

Artist Oliver Jeffers has mastered the art of dipping paintings. His ongoing project began as a performance where he dipped his own portrait painting into enamel paint, which permanently hid some of the features of the portrait leaving the audience to form the rest of the facial features in their own mind. Oliver’s work is showcased on Austin Kleon’s blog and is used as inspiration for many artists who follow in his paint dipping footsteps.

Artnau features extended mixtures of classic dipped paintings and more modern art inspiration from framed paintings to painted sculptures. Take a look at their website and their blog to find out what kind of pieces you’d like to look for when you go thrift shopping.

Pick out a few paint colors and head over to a MERS Goodwill location near you or to your local thrift store. Because you never know what kind of masterpieces you may find to re-create new works of art of your own.

Micro Trend: Dipped Paintings | decor8

The Dipped Painting Project | Vimeo

Old Photographs

A picture speaks a thousand words but it continues to whisper even more after it is made new. Thrift stores are the perfect place to find collections of old time photographs. And what is the best way to showcase a collection of old photographs? Make a gallery wall of course.

Start by picking a theme that inspires you. Think of a famous person, time period, event, etc and collect old photos of this theme. You may have to visit a couple thrift stores in St. Louis and the surrounding areas to find the ideal collection you are looking for. After you have a collection of themed photos and prints you can begin creating your gallery wall.

Carol’s Architectural Home in the Hills of Los Angeles, California features a large black and white gallery of framed old time photos mixed with modern photos. Her gallery wall showcases portraits, landscapes and other various photographic images. Your gallery wall does not have to be limited to photographic images, however.  Use that wall space to organize some of your prettier items and the things that inspire you.  Add your old time photos in the mix, and there will be no regrets.

How to Create the Perfect Gallery Wall | Huffington Post

Re-Thinking the Gallery Wall: 8 More Funky & Fun Ideas | Apartment Therapy

Altered Prints & Paintings

Over-painting, a form of altered art, is the phenomena of painting over thrift store paintings, photographs and naïve art. It is yet another art style that would make a great addition to a gallery wall or as one simple but powerful statement on its own.

Over-painting can be done by anyone however the over-painting trend has gained quite a lot of traction among freelance artists. Many of these artist purchase vintage paintings at thrift stores, paint over them and sell them on a personal business website or an online store like These altered works are commonly vintage portraits or landscapes that are painted over with bright colored sayings and pop culture cartoons, giving a vintage classic a fresh modern touch.

David Irvine for example is a talented freelance artist and self-professed illustrator who has become well known for his work in adding popular TV and movie characters into old thrift store paintings. You can take a look at his work for your own inspiration by visiting the Gnarled Branch.  David has shops on Etsy, Society6 and Redbubble for your browsing purposes.

Just because altered art is readily available for purchase by freelance artists and other various art shops doesn’t mean you can’t create an over-painting masterpiece on your own. Surf the web for inspiration from artists who specialize in altered work and then take a trip to a MERS Goodwill store to find the vintage artwork that is so graciously calling on your newly found inspiration.

Adding Monsters to Thrift Store Paintings | Apartment Therapy

Pop Culture Parodies by Dave Pollot | Etsy

Vintage Plates

Many people find great joy in the hobby of collecting. Vintage dishes are one of the biggest groups of collections that you are guaranteed to find when visiting a thrift store, and the best way to display a dish collection is by creating a plate wall.

Whether you are a long-time collector or you are just getting started, Shannon at Rosyscription has all the right tips for finding vintage plates and advice on how to decorate them. It’s always important with any collection that you show off what you worked so hard to find. These beautiful antiques are not meant to be stored away in a box, so hang them on your walls and (if you desire) keep a set available to use for special dining occasions or as often as you like.

Think your thrift store plates and dishes need an extra pop of art before you arrange them on your wall? For solid colored plates IKEA has shared a genius idea on how to add a unique touch to plain plates with just a bit of ceramic paint. Marbleizing plates is another simple DIY idea for sprucing up a plain dish set. If your thrifted plates have designs on them but still need a pick me up, of course there’s a DIY for that! Take notes from the upcyclista, Yvonne Ellen, and add clear waterslide decals to your vintage china.

How to Arrange a Decorative Plate Wall | Addicted 2 Decorating

30 Decorative Plates that You Can Create Yourself | Cool Crafts

Vintage Vinyl Records

The most retro art there is people! Old records make quite a statement in any home. And if you are a music lover this pretty much must be in your house. Your home should inspire you and be a reminder to let music take you away.

One of the most classic ways to display records in your home is by making a record wall. You can display the vinyl itself, just the covers or both by creating a clean and concise pattern on your walls. Blogger Liz Fourez of Love Grows Wild goes over the basics of how to create a record wall on her blog. Vintage and even some modern vinyl can be found at thrift stores and local record shops all around the St. Louis area. You can frame your records and/or vinyl covers or you can hang them without frames. You can buy record frames online at Amazon or at Crate and Barrel.

If the standard record wall isn’t your thing, feel free to get a little more creative with your vinyl art wall decorating. You can make vinyl record cutouts in any shape you desire. A lot of times, record cutouts are made into clocks. You can also strategically place the records on your wall so they create a mural or image. Whatever DIY project you decide, you will be sure to create a musical dimension in your home.

19 Ways to Reuse Vinyl Records | BuzzFeed

20 DIY: Unique and Interesting Vinyl Record Projects | Top Dreamer

Embroidery Hoops

Decorating your walls with embroidery hoops and thrift store treasures is a unique, out of the box way to jazz up your St. Louis home. With embroidery hoop art you have 100% creative freedom to create any piece of art that you want.

To gather some ideas and inspiration for your embroidery hoop projects BuzzFeed has cultivated 20 creative ways to use embroidery hoops. And many of these ideas include wall art. Thrift hunting for old maps, doilies, fabric and greenery is about to become your new favorite thing.

Doily art is a popular and simple embroidery hoop DIY and along with dishes, doilies are a big thrift store treasure. Take your doily hoop art to the next level with doily hoop dream catchers. Crochet dream catchers give any room a calm and spiritual bohemian feel. Most of the items you need can be found at your local Goodwill store. However you may need to take a trip to a local St. Louis craft store for just an item or two. For a full list of what you’ll need and to learn how to make a bohemian dream catcher follow

Embroidery hoops also make a good way to hang flowers, plants and greenery on your walls inside your home. The embroidery greenery hoops by Angie Ramerez are bright and lively and can also be made as hanging mobiles. You can also make greenery wreaths out of embroidery hoops. And if you’re feeling even more determined you should definitely consider this gorgeous succulent planter.

45 Stunning Embroidery Hoop DIY Projects | Cool Crafts

Embroidery Hoop Art | Etsy

Old Books

Books, books and more books! Resale shops, thrift stores and flea markets are filled with books, and vintage books are filled with endless artistic possibilities, especially when it comes to creating wall art.

Cover your walls with old book pages and leave it as it is or paint a mural on you book page wall. Many artists like Loui Jover specialize in this type of art, and you can get inspiration from their murals on Or make a creative book wall room divider from book pages. This would work really well in a studio apartment if you want to create a separation between your sleeping and living areas.

You can create some amazing 3D book wall art with thrift store books as well. Whole open books with folded pages make an incredible statement piece on any wall. You can also create a book cluster mural like this one featured by the blog of Stitch Design Co. This book collage is found on the walls of Edmund’s Oast Brew Pub in Charleston, South Carolina. This concept can be easily replicated using vintage books from your local MERS Goodwill store and other thrift stores in the St. Louis area.

Repurposed & Vintage Book Wall Art by Lauren Donaldson | Houzz

Work on Books by Ekaterina Panikanova | Recyclart

Thrifting is an exciting hobby. And those who are avid in their ways of collecting or simply finding great deals love their Goodwill shopping trips. Throw a little art in the mix and you have yourself an adventure. The City of St. Louis is one of the greatest art and thrift cities in the US, so take advantage of your local resources and get inspired from the art and vintage finds that are so close to home.

Guide to St. Louis Thrift Stores | Mindful Closet

5 Ways to Update Thrift Store Art | Apartment Therapy

Best 30 Thrift Shops in St. Louis, Missouri | Yellow Pages

12 Stylish Ways to Update Thrift Store Art | Brit + Co

Round Up: 10 Amazing Upcycled Thrift Store Art | Curbly

The Cheap Thrift Store Find That’ll Solve Your Blank Wall Woes | Apartment Therapy