Craigslist Junkie

Using vintage or antique pieces with new grounds a home. If everything in a home is new, it feels like a model home, it has no soul. If you use all old pieces, if feels like you live in a garage sale. The beauty is in the mix.

First, Let me tell you the tale of a little Craigslist kismet.  When my grandmother passed away a little over 3 years ago, the family gathered and divided up her things.  My husband and I were still relatively new homeowners with lots of room to upgrade in the furniture department.  We took nearly everything that was offered to us, but I was very aware of not wanting to be perceived as “grabby”.  At some point, anything without a home was sold to this great vintage store called Decade.  There were a few things that, in retrospect, I wished I had expressed an interest in.  About 18 months later I found a posting on Craigslist for a green metal cabinet, not just any cabinet, the green metal cabinet that stood in my grandmothers bathroom for at least 30 years.  I became a woman possessed to get that cabinet back.  I emailed the owner, she missed the first appointment for me to look at it, I called and emailed her again (trying to not sound too looney).  When we finally met, my husband said I definitely didn’t use my best poker face, no need to try and barter, she knew she had a taker at nearly any price.  So…happily sitting in our guest bedroom sits the $50 metal cabinet that could have been mine for free.

Whenever I need something for my house, Craigslist is one of the first places I look.  Many times, I use this resource for clients, as well, when searching for unique inexpensive furniture.  It is like the worlds largest Goodwill or garage sale, you are going to have to sift through a lot of crap, but occasionally you will find a gem.

Here are some tips I have assembled in my experience in shopping on Craigslist.

1) When searching, immediately check the “has image” box.  I am not going to waste my time driving to look at something that is described as great, amazing, in perfect shape, etc., but the seller couldn’t be bothered to take a photo.  There is probably a reason.

2) If they don’t post dimensions, email and ask.  Again, nothing like making arrangements to see something only to get there and it is much smaller or larger than you had expected.  A waste of your time, as well as the sellers.

3) Search for multiple names for a piece.  I was looking for a Midcentury Modern credenza to hold the TV in our living room.  I spent months looking under credenza, buffet, cabinet, etc.  I came close to spending a significant amount of money on one at a vintage store.  I also had my eye on one at Crate and Barrel, finally I found exactly what I was looking for $75 on Craigslist.  The seller was so nice, again we didn’t even bother to negotiate on the price.  Here is a photo of my find.  It has more than enough storage, is the perfect scale, and a really nice quality.

When I told the family we purchased it from what I had planned for it, I could see that they were a bit jealous that they hadn’t thought of that use before.  The terms I search for on a semi regular basis are:  midcentury, vintage, retro, rustic, pair (a pair of anything is worth a second look), french, and industrial – there are probably more, those are just of the top of my head.

4) Don’t believe the pedigree given in the description.  Everything was designed by someone, so the term “designer” doesn’t really mean anything in this context.  A seller will say anything is from Pottery Barn, when it is clearly not.  To my knowledge, Pottery Barn has never made a futon or a papasan chair!

5)  Evaluate whether you are going to have the item reupholstered.   The local upholsterer I use generally charges $75 per yard of fabric used  (plus the cost of fabric) = between 10 and 15 yards of fabric for a standard sofa – adds up quickly huh?  The quality of the construction of vintage and antique pieces may offset or come close to offsetting the cost of getting it reupholstered.  Reupholstering isn’t required, though.  We sit on used furniture all the time in hotel lobbies, restaurants, airports, at friends homes, etc.  Sometimes you are buying formal living room furniture that has been under plastic slipcovers for the past 25 years.  However it should be noted, that as foam ages, it dries out and crumbles making for a really uncomfortable sit.  Also, the color palette and construction techniques of fabric have changed over the years.  The furniture piece might really benefit from a redo.  If you aren’t planning on reupholstering, you will have to go with your gut on the skeevie-ness of a piece.

I found this great article that explains how to determine the elements of quality in upholstered furniture:;col1

Finally, here are a few great items I found yesterday on the Denver Craigslist.  If you click on the photo, it will take you to the listing.

There are 4 of these chrome and coral velvet dining chairs available. Imagine the drama they could add to a room!

More dining chairs. The description says these are from Crate and Barrel. Despite what I said above, I believe that might be true. I sort of remember these in the store.

I have been looking for a bench for our dining room table. I was imagining this one repainted in a striking color like orange or turquoise could really punch the country-ness right out of it.

Birdcages are a very trendy home accessory. I think this one would be amazing in an entry hall or on a dining room buffet.

Here is a pair of chairs. Hard to tell if the vinyl is cool or gross. These could add an element of funky freshness to a family room.

I found this under Midcentury Modern. This cabinet has been on Craigslist for a looong time, could probably be snatched up for a song. If the wood isn't great quality or the finish has seen better days, a coat of paint could make this really stunning.

This 10' sofa has subsequently sold. If I had a spot for this in my house, I would have snatched it up (and reupholstered it, most likely).

A tufted sectional sofa looks a bit "Grandma's house", but with a little updating (either reupholstery or refinishing the legs), it could be really great.

I am loving shaped headboards like this one right now. Imagine it in a room like the one pictured below.

Have you purchased anything on Craigslist?  Do you have any good stories or nightmares?  Any tips to add?

Sorry for the wordy post, I will be back in the next few days with pretty photos and a heck of a lot less words!


About sanctuaryhome

The Sanctuary Home blog was created in May 2009 to augment my interior design business, Jamie Foley Interiors. Below is the design philosophy that guides my business and this blog. A beautiful house isn’t a home unless it speaks to its occupants and fits their lifestyle in appropriate and unique ways. I believe that design can be approached in two ways. The first is from the gut, what feels right. The second is from a logical methodical perspective. I design using the second approach. I feel that having a reason why a piece is selected, having similar elements in the room or throughout the home makes it feel unified even if the similarities are not obvious to the casual observer. It makes a home feel special and contemplative. Building the interior of a home is a process. I create a plan for investment pieces that will last a lifetime, filling in with less expensive, less important pieces that can be replaced when they wear out or look dated with additional investment pieces or of the moment trendy items that update the home. Using vintage or antique pieces with new grounds a home. If everything in a home is new, it feels like a model home, it has no soul. If you use all old pieces, if feels like you live in a garage sale. The beauty is in the mix. Creating timeless interiors involves using pieces from all design styles. It gives the home a layered look and allows a home to look as if the pieces have been acquired over time. Using furniture from all one style or period makes a home look fussy and intimidating. I look forward to working with clients with all budgets and design aesthetics to create a home that special to their family. I encourage clients to express their individuality throughout the entire design process, this ensures your home fits your needs and will delight you every time you walk through the door.
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2 Responses to Craigslist Junkie

  1. Raina says:

    What a fantastic post, Jamie!

    I love that you found your grandmother’s cabinet again. She’s smiling somewhere.

    I looked at that huge green sofa for my living room but thought it too big to pursue.

    P.S. I crack up too when a seller has some piece of awfulness they describe as “Pottery Barn.”

  2. keri hoffman says:

    After seeing this post I’m sure I’m really going to enjoy working with you!

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