By: Katie Emer, Salvation Army PR Director

With the new year came a new office for me – my very first office with real walls, a real door… and even a window! So the most important questions quickly came to mind: How would I arrange it? How would I decorate it? How would I make it my own?

There are so many amazing things available at Salvation Army Thrift Stores – and at GREAT prices, too! I recently started a Pinterest page for our local thrift stores and found incredible photos of redo’s and makeovers that people have done with their cheap Salvation Army steals. So why don’t I do that?! Project Thrifty Office: I will decorate the new office with Salvation Army finds!

I don’t have much DIY experience – I’ve decorated a frame here and there. But I do consider myself somewhat creative (and I have a super crafty Development Director helping out). So can this be done? Stay tuned as we work to transform my new Salvation Army space!

Here is a look at what we are working with! I chose a nice grey for the walls – goes great with the darker carpet, and black and white trim. And it will be even more fabulous when we get the pops in blue in here… coming soon!!

Project Thrifty Office is officially underway! Here is a sneek peek of the “pop” of color for the office. We found a lamp, frames and chairs at the Thrift Store that are now under transformation. A little spray paint and fun fabric are bringing these guys a new life. Can’t wait to show off the finished products soon!









Our first project is complete! We found this $5 lamp at The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Mobile (3300 Moffett Road). With a coat of blue spray paint, a plain white shade and a little stencil magic, it looks like something you’d find at Pier 1 Imports!

Paint: We just gave the base a good coat of spray paint (Valspar gloss paint & primer in one – Exotic Sea), and whala! Since it is metal, the paint may scratch off easily, so I won’t be too rough on it. But I picked out a paint with primer mixed in, so hopefully that will help!

: This was just a cheap, plain white shade. I found a tutorial for painting wall patterns on Pinterest from Jones Design Company (you can even download a stencil pattern!) & decided to try it on a much smaller scale for the shade. The design website has a detailed guide, but basically you print the pattern out on paper and cut it out. Then trace it onto a stiffer material for your stencil and cut it out (NOTE to others: The cardboard I initially tried to use as a stencil was too thick to cut in the pattern, so I wound up using a filing folder). Then you trace the stencil with a pencil over and over around the shade. Tip: To make the stenciling process faster and easier, I made sure that the stencil was sized to fit twice lengthwise on the shade, and cut out a double stencil! Then, I just traced the the lines with a Sharpie paint pen. There was a little bleeding, but I think that gave it a neat effect! Overall, I couldn’t be more proud of my very first Pinterest Project! If I can do it, so can you!

Would you believe this table and chairs were old, mismatched and all scratched up?!? Now they make a beautiful spot for visitors to sit and chat in the new office. This will surely be the new “hot spot” at The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama!

: The table was originally a pecan-colored wood, with matermarks, dings and scratches galore. (Unfortunatley I forgot to take the “before” picture – top left – until half way through the transformation process!) I wish that I could take more credit for its gorgeous finish, but I can’t. One of our residents in our drug/alcohol rehabilitation programs is an amazing craftsman. He’s using his skills and passion for woodworking as part of his work-therapy with our maintenance crew. He kindly offered to refinish any wood, and I am so grateful! He sanded down the table, stained it dark and put a gloss coat on top. It would have cost about $25 at one of our Thrift Stores, and now it looks so rich and beautiful!

: Again, I can’t take any credit for the refinishing of the chairs. Originally, they were a blond-colored wood with old-fashioned white seat covers. But now they are fabulous and match the table perfectly! We gave them a fresh and fun “pop” with the blue fabric (found at Polka Tot Designs), and they instantly become the inspiration and focal point of the color scheme. Recovering the seats was SUPER easy! They screw right off the bottom of the chair. Just cut the fabric, and center it on top of the seat (paying attention to how you want the pattern to lay on top). Carefully tuck the sides under, and flip it all upside-down. Fold the fabric around the underside of the seat (kind of like wrapping a Christmas present!), and just staple it down with a staple gun. Screw the seats back on, and suddenly you have brand-new chairs!

A desk like this can truly make someone feel important! And would you think it came from a Salvation Army Thrift Store? I think not! But there was company in town that went out of business, and needed to clear out their offices. For a tax write-off & free pick-up service, they were happy to hand it over to The Salvation Army! We got an entire truckload of desks, bookshelves, chairs, etc… JACKPOT for us! So you really never know what may be in our stores on any given day. I looked up this brand online (DMI Furniture, Inc.), and a desk like this sells for $1,500 – $2,000. At a Salvation Army Thrift Store: $40! WOW! All we had to do was touch up a few scratches and dings, but this was an amazing find!

Well, the curtain isn’t exactly a Salvation Army find… but in the spirit of thriftiness, it is a fun DIY project & saves a lot of money instead of buying one! Plus, it’s super cute! Fortunately, our fabulous Development Director – Tricia – took the lead on this one, since it seemed a little out of my crafting league. But I have to say, it really was pretty easy & fun!
Cut curtain fabric to desired length and 4 inches wider than window.
Fold one inch back as hem around all sides – except top. (Tip: Iron the hem to make folding easier)
Use Liquid Stitch to glue hem in place.
Repeat all of the above for coordinating backside fabric.
Glue the backsides of both fabrics together, making sure the bottom lines up.
Use a wood board about 3 inches tall that hangs 1 inch wider than window on each side (2 inches wider total) as curtain rod. (Tip: Here’s where our Salvation Army tie comes in, we just found a piece of scrap wood lying around for this!)
Cover board with scrap fabric, wrapping it like a Christmas present. Staple scrap fabric in place.
Staple top of curtain (unfinished end) to wood board.
Use two pieces of leftover backside fabric to make straps.
Staple straps to wood board at desired width.
Glue straps to fabric curtain.
Staple center of ribbons (Tip: Ours were about 9 feet long & we used two colors to create contrast) onto wood board in the center of the straps, allowing half of the ribbon to dangle in front and half to dangle in back.
Flip wood board over backwards, so that curtain hangs over the top.
Lift up the fabric, and screw board into the wall underneath the fabric.
Roll up the bottom of the curtain to show the coordinating fabric, and tie in place with the ribbons. (Tip: we used wrapping paper rolls to make the fabric roll nice and neat!)

Picture frames are the best way to personalize a space! In my case, family photos and baby art make the office feel just like home! We found these frames at The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Mobile (3300 Moffett Road), ranging anywhere from $.99 to a couple bucks. Of course they didn’t look anything like what I wanted for the office as is – but my creative goggles could see the potential! I loved the textures, but hated the gold… so that was an easy fix with a coat of white spray paint. The mats were all different, and totally did not match the new office. That was another easy fix, using the same blue spray paint that we used for the lamp! (Tip: It took two coats of paint on the mats because the coardboard soaked in some of the first coat.) Now we’ve got a great start to a gallery wall that looks modern and polished! Can’t wait to add to it!