modern thrifter

modern thrifter

Thrifter & designer. Blogging about life in our MCM home & living on a budget. I also design things with my husband. You can see our work at The Mahoney Studio

[ RETREAT ]

As a very visual thinker, I’ve learned over the years—and especially since having kids—that I function far better if I have one area in my house that I can count on to be clean. No matter how loud, messy, and wild the rest of the house gets during the day, having my little spot keeps me from totally freaking out. 

Those of you with kids in school are probably familiar with the hurricane that rips through the house each morning, and making my bed has long been the first chore in the morning clean-up ritual. Even though I keep my bedroom really tidy (ahem…don’t look in the closets), I still felt like I needed a better place to retreat.

We had a chair and a nightstand sitting on the wall opposite of our bed, but I had been looking for a small desk for nearly a year. A few weeks ago I saw a craigslist ad for a $10 vintage desk, and even though it’s not my ideal piece of furniture, I couldn’t argue with the price. It is about 2” too wide for the space between the doors to our bathroom and closet, but it’s solid wood, so I’m going to have Patrick cut it down to fit.

I wish I could say it was teak or rosewood, or something sexy like that, unfortunately I think it’s a homemade project, crafted from much cheaper wood. But, I’ll say it again: $10. And it functions just like I need it to. Plus, it’s amazing what a few pretty accessories can add!

I picked up the brass Tensor desk lamp over a year ago at a garage sale for $3, and I’m so happy that it finally has a place. You might have seen the planter on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I picked it up at the thrift store run by the local senior center for $1. 

I’m not much for houseplants, mostly because we get no sunlight and they always die, but I’ve heard these snake plants (aka mother-in-law tongue plants) are easy to grow. The kids obviously need a pet because when I brought it home they were arguing over who would get to dust its leaves and who would water it. 

We’re still planning to paint this wall black and do something different with the flooring. I get excited thinking about how that’s going to look, but right now we’re in the middle of some minor kitchen projects, so it will have to wait. 

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[ CHAIRS! ]
I was just lamenting to a friend last week that it was going to take forever to save up for chairs, and our prospects for finding a set of eight matching used/cheap ones that we liked was grim. Two days later, a listing popped up on Craigslist for these wooden school chairs. The school we bought them from had 42 chairs available and were selling them for $2 each. After tweeting about my great find, a couple of friends went an nabbed nearly all of the rest of them.
These aren’t my dream chairs. But for what we can afford, I know my dream chairs are just that… a dream. These chairs are sturdy, simple, in great shape, and best of all, only set us back $16. I can’t ask for much more than that.
I would have taken better pictures of them, but they didn’t stay in the dining room for long. We started our floor project this weekend, so now all of the living and dining room furniture is stashed in every nook and cranny of the house. The floors are looking great so far, though, and I can’t wait to share pictures of it all when it’s done. Make sure to “like” the Modern Thrifter Facebook page or follow me on twitter if you want to see in-progress painting pictures.

[ CHAIRS! ]

I was just lamenting to a friend last week that it was going to take forever to save up for chairs, and our prospects for finding a set of eight matching used/cheap ones that we liked was grim. Two days later, a listing popped up on Craigslist for these wooden school chairs. The school we bought them from had 42 chairs available and were selling them for $2 each. After tweeting about my great find, a couple of friends went an nabbed nearly all of the rest of them.

These aren’t my dream chairs. But for what we can afford, I know my dream chairs are just that… a dream. These chairs are sturdy, simple, in great shape, and best of all, only set us back $16. I can’t ask for much more than that.

I would have taken better pictures of them, but they didn’t stay in the dining room for long. We started our floor project this weekend, so now all of the living and dining room furniture is stashed in every nook and cranny of the house. The floors are looking great so far, though, and I can’t wait to share pictures of it all when it’s done. Make sure to “like” the Modern Thrifter Facebook page or follow me on twitter if you want to see in-progress painting pictures.

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[ WEEKEND REARRANGE: KIDS’ ROOMS ]
It wasn’t just the living room that got a little shuffled over the weekend. We decided to tackle a few things in both of the kids’ rooms, too. Their beds are actually stackable bunk beds, and we’ve been wanting to use them in Alden’s room as a loft bed, to make a little extra floor space. In order to do that, we’ve been searching for a new bed for Tula. The perfect one popped up on Craigslist so we seized the opportunity.

Tula now has the nicest bed in the family—a dark gray metal canopy bed from West Elm. I’m planning to make some sheer white curtains for the sides, and she’s really excited about the idea. With the tall canopy, we needed to move the bed away from the window, which seems much safer anyway.
Alden’s room isn’t really anything fancy. Mostly it’s his little domain where he stores [hoards] his buckets of cars, piles of drawings, and collections of plastic bugs. He’s always starting new “collections” and it’s really all I can do to keep it sort of organized in bins. His idea of decorating is lining up all of his Lego creations along his dresser right in front of the collage made from sticks and leaves, and I’m [mostly] fine with that. Since we created a little extra floor space for him, we were able to fit a small setup of Patrick’s old drums in the corner.

The rules? Drumming between breakfast and dinner only. I hope the neighbors don’t mind.
You can find more pictures of Tula’s Room (before the new bed) here, and a few of Alden’s room here.

[ WEEKEND REARRANGE: KIDS’ ROOMS ]

It wasn’t just the living room that got a little shuffled over the weekend. We decided to tackle a few things in both of the kids’ rooms, too. Their beds are actually stackable bunk beds, and we’ve been wanting to use them in Alden’s room as a loft bed, to make a little extra floor space. In order to do that, we’ve been searching for a new bed for Tula. The perfect one popped up on Craigslist so we seized the opportunity.

Tula now has the nicest bed in the family—a dark gray metal canopy bed from West Elm. I’m planning to make some sheer white curtains for the sides, and she’s really excited about the idea. With the tall canopy, we needed to move the bed away from the window, which seems much safer anyway.

Alden’s room isn’t really anything fancy. Mostly it’s his little domain where he stores [hoards] his buckets of cars, piles of drawings, and collections of plastic bugs. He’s always starting new “collections” and it’s really all I can do to keep it sort of organized in bins. His idea of decorating is lining up all of his Lego creations along his dresser right in front of the collage made from sticks and leaves, and I’m [mostly] fine with that. Since we created a little extra floor space for him, we were able to fit a small setup of Patrick’s old drums in the corner.

The rules? Drumming between breakfast and dinner only. I hope the neighbors don’t mind.

You can find more pictures of Tula’s Room (before the new bed) here, and a few of Alden’s room here.

Comments
[ THE NEW TABLE: BEFORE ]
Here are a few sneak peeks at our new table. It was a Craiglist find, originally listed for $75 at a consignment shop. I sent Patrick out to pick it up, and he called me from the store to tell me that he thought we should pass on it. It really was in bad shape—so wobbly you’d get seasick eating on it, scratched and dinged, but the worst part was a strange color, mismatched finish that had been applied to the middle section. It’s hard to see it in the picture, but the color was really strange. It had a strange purplish pink hue.
I guess I’m an optimist when it comes to thrifty finds, because I asked him if he thought it would be worth another look by me the next day. I had seen two other tables on Craigslist that were nearly identical in design (but presumably better condition) ranging from $400-$700, so that probably added a little motivation. I ended up offering $60, and we took it home later that day.
After tightening every screw and bolt, our first step was to tackle some of the cracked and lifted veneer. I did a little research and came up with this method, which worked surprisingly well:

1. lay a sheet of wax paper over the damaged area, with a similar-sized piece of chipboard on top of that.
2. Apply firm pressure with a hot iron for a minute or two
3. Add weight to the top of the cardboard (we added a book underneath to distribute the weight more evenly) and let it sit for 24 hours.
note to my trainer: I promise I use my kettlebell at home for working out, but it is pretty handy for home repairs, too!
Next came a lot of sanding with a super fine sandpaper. Since the top is veneer, I had to be extra careful. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get that strange purple-brown color off of the main section of the table top and legs, but I was hopeful. I followed The Brick House's instructions for restoring vintage wood, which you can find here. So without going into too much detail, the rest of the process went like this: a good wash with wood soap, teak oil, more teak oil, and then feed-n-wax.
I was super pleased with the results (especially for $60) and I can’t wait to share how the table looks in the dining room.

[ THE NEW TABLE: BEFORE ]

Here are a few sneak peeks at our new table. It was a Craiglist find, originally listed for $75 at a consignment shop. I sent Patrick out to pick it up, and he called me from the store to tell me that he thought we should pass on it. It really was in bad shape—so wobbly you’d get seasick eating on it, scratched and dinged, but the worst part was a strange color, mismatched finish that had been applied to the middle section. It’s hard to see it in the picture, but the color was really strange. It had a strange purplish pink hue.

I guess I’m an optimist when it comes to thrifty finds, because I asked him if he thought it would be worth another look by me the next day. I had seen two other tables on Craigslist that were nearly identical in design (but presumably better condition) ranging from $400-$700, so that probably added a little motivation. I ended up offering $60, and we took it home later that day.

After tightening every screw and bolt, our first step was to tackle some of the cracked and lifted veneer. I did a little research and came up with this method, which worked surprisingly well:

1. lay a sheet of wax paper over the damaged area, with a similar-sized piece of chipboard on top of that.

2. Apply firm pressure with a hot iron for a minute or two

3. Add weight to the top of the cardboard (we added a book underneath to distribute the weight more evenly) and let it sit for 24 hours.

note to my trainer: I promise I use my kettlebell at home for working out, but it is pretty handy for home repairs, too!

Next came a lot of sanding with a super fine sandpaper. Since the top is veneer, I had to be extra careful. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get that strange purple-brown color off of the main section of the table top and legs, but I was hopeful. I followed The Brick House's instructions for restoring vintage wood, which you can find here. So without going into too much detail, the rest of the process went like this: a good wash with wood soap, teak oil, more teak oil, and then feed-n-wax.

I was super pleased with the results (especially for $60) and I can’t wait to share how the table looks in the dining room.

Comments
[ BRASILIA ]
As if Easter weekend wasn’t busy enough for our family, I decided to go ahead and buy, sand, and restore a vintage Danish table that I found at a consignment store. Saturday was a gorgeous day—one of the only ones we’ve had so far this spring—so I wanted to get a jump start on this project. The bonus is that it was on my summer to-do list, so now I’m ahead.
Now that I’ve go a new table, I need to sell our old set. It’s one that I picked up at a garage sale about three years ago, and I still really like it.  It’s a mid century Broyhill Brasilia table with six chairs. The only problem is that even with two leaves inserted, it’s not big enough to seat as many people as we’d like.
After doing a little research online, it turns out that the Brasilia line is fairly sought after and the set is worth more than I thought. It needs a few touch-ups here and there in order to get the higher price, so that will be my project for this week. I’d really like to get it posted on Craigslist soon because having two tables in the dining room is driving me crazy.
Oh, and since I seem to feel the need to have extra projects to do, on Saturday I picked up a little mid century kid’s desk that I found for free on Craigslist. It needs about ten layers of yucky paint sanded off and some new drawer pulls, but the kids already love it. Every time I scoot it against the wall in the playroom, they drag it back out into the middle of the floor to play “teacher.”
Photo by Chris Diewald

[ BRASILIA ]

As if Easter weekend wasn’t busy enough for our family, I decided to go ahead and buy, sand, and restore a vintage Danish table that I found at a consignment store. Saturday was a gorgeous day—one of the only ones we’ve had so far this spring—so I wanted to get a jump start on this project. The bonus is that it was on my summer to-do list, so now I’m ahead.

Now that I’ve go a new table, I need to sell our old set. It’s one that I picked up at a garage sale about three years ago, and I still really like it. It’s a mid century Broyhill Brasilia table with six chairs. The only problem is that even with two leaves inserted, it’s not big enough to seat as many people as we’d like.

After doing a little research online, it turns out that the Brasilia line is fairly sought after and the set is worth more than I thought. It needs a few touch-ups here and there in order to get the higher price, so that will be my project for this week. I’d really like to get it posted on Craigslist soon because having two tables in the dining room is driving me crazy.

Oh, and since I seem to feel the need to have extra projects to do, on Saturday I picked up a little mid century kid’s desk that I found for free on Craigslist. It needs about ten layers of yucky paint sanded off and some new drawer pulls, but the kids already love it. Every time I scoot it against the wall in the playroom, they drag it back out into the middle of the floor to play “teacher.”

Photo by Chris Diewald

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[ SAVE OR SELL ]
I bought this shelf for $4 at an estate sale about two years ago. It’s been sitting in Alden’s room holding books, seashells, and way too many other things until our recent reorganization. Now we have to make the decision—keep it, or sell it.

I took these pictures right after we moved it out of Alden’s room, planning to list it on Craigslist that day. I haven’t been able to commit to that decision, though, and instead it’s been hanging out in our entry. We’ve had a few people over this week, and it seems that everyone has been commenting on it, thinking it’s new. I generally like things to be open and minimal, so having it in the entry seems counter-intuitive, but I also am growing a little fond of the cherry colored wood up against the pale turquoise wall.
What do you think? Keep it, or sell it? Have you ever sold anything that you regret?

[ SAVE OR SELL ]

I bought this shelf for $4 at an estate sale about two years ago. It’s been sitting in Alden’s room holding books, seashells, and way too many other things until our recent reorganization. Now we have to make the decision—keep it, or sell it.

I took these pictures right after we moved it out of Alden’s room, planning to list it on Craigslist that day. I haven’t been able to commit to that decision, though, and instead it’s been hanging out in our entry. We’ve had a few people over this week, and it seems that everyone has been commenting on it, thinking it’s new. I generally like things to be open and minimal, so having it in the entry seems counter-intuitive, but I also am growing a little fond of the cherry colored wood up against the pale turquoise wall.

What do you think? Keep it, or sell it? Have you ever sold anything that you regret?

Comments
[ MISSED DEALS ]
Being a thrifter means experiencing the thrill of finding and bringing home a little bit of treasure purchased at a fraction of its worth, but it also means being let down sometimes, knowing that you just missed out on a great deal. Lately, I seem to be experiencing more of the latter emotion.
This couch was listed on Craigslist for $90 last week. I emailed the owner to see if it was available and to inquire about the condition. He was located about 45 minutes from me, and I was trying to make sure that it would be worth the drive. Good deals go fast on Craigslist, and in this case, debating for an hour gave someone else the opportunity to grab the couch.
The reason I was a little slow to commit to buying the couch (besides the stain and cat damage) was that I had seen an ad for an estate sale that was being held the next day. There were pictures posted, but no prices. I saw this sectional couch that I was curious about, but I had no way of knowing if it would be priced reasonably or not.

The sale started at eight, but I had to drop Alden off at school at nine. By the time I arrived it had been picked over by dealers like magpies on roadkill. The couch was being hauled out the door along with every other piece I had been interested in. In addition to the couch, I wanted those little tables—I thought they would look great as bedside tables, and check out this shelf that sold for $35:

The only thing that was left was the dining set, which I don’t really need and was in less than ideal condition.

Instead of sulking about the things that slipped through my fingers (well there was a little sulking), or running to the nearest store and buying something new for a little retail therapy, I’m working on the patience and persistence part of being thrifty.

[ MISSED DEALS ]

Being a thrifter means experiencing the thrill of finding and bringing home a little bit of treasure purchased at a fraction of its worth, but it also means being let down sometimes, knowing that you just missed out on a great deal. Lately, I seem to be experiencing more of the latter emotion.

This couch was listed on Craigslist for $90 last week. I emailed the owner to see if it was available and to inquire about the condition. He was located about 45 minutes from me, and I was trying to make sure that it would be worth the drive. Good deals go fast on Craigslist, and in this case, debating for an hour gave someone else the opportunity to grab the couch.

The reason I was a little slow to commit to buying the couch (besides the stain and cat damage) was that I had seen an ad for an estate sale that was being held the next day. There were pictures posted, but no prices. I saw this sectional couch that I was curious about, but I had no way of knowing if it would be priced reasonably or not.

The sale started at eight, but I had to drop Alden off at school at nine. By the time I arrived it had been picked over by dealers like magpies on roadkill. The couch was being hauled out the door along with every other piece I had been interested in. In addition to the couch, I wanted those little tables—I thought they would look great as bedside tables, and check out this shelf that sold for $35:

The only thing that was left was the dining set, which I don’t really need and was in less than ideal condition.

Instead of sulking about the things that slipped through my fingers (well there was a little sulking), or running to the nearest store and buying something new for a little retail therapy, I’m working on the patience and persistence part of being thrifty.

Comments

[ FRIDAY FINDS - VINTAGE KITCHEN & CRAIGSLIST ] 
I had another post planned for today, but it has turned into a bit of a rant, so I think I’ll let it sit on the shelf for the weekend.
I’m not out at the thrift store today. Instead, I’m spending most of the day in the kitchen getting ready for Patrick’s birthday tomorrow. I love cooking and baking, so I don’t mind at all. Having a kitchen stocked with fresh ingredients and tools that I enjoy help too. If you need a little color in your kitchen, here are a few things from etsy that you might like:clockwise from top left: 1950’s metal kitchen wall clock $56; turquoise tea kettle $38; vintage superior electric fan; condiment servers $18If you are in the Seattle area, here are a few furniture pieces currently on craigslist that might be worth checking out:clockwise from top left: walnut full size bedframe $250; modern bar stools - set of 3 $90; mid-century slat bench $50; vintage yellow floor lamp $25

[ FRIDAY FINDS - VINTAGE KITCHEN & CRAIGSLIST ]

I had another post planned for today, but it has turned into a bit of a rant, so I think I’ll let it sit on the shelf for the weekend.


I’m not out at the thrift store today. Instead, I’m spending most of the day in the kitchen getting ready for Patrick’s birthday tomorrow. I love cooking and baking, so I don’t mind at all. Having a kitchen stocked with fresh ingredients and tools that I enjoy help too. If you need a little color in your kitchen, here are a few things from etsy that you might like:

clockwise from top left: 1950’s metal kitchen wall clock $56; turquoise tea kettle $38; vintage superior electric fancondiment servers $18
If you are in the Seattle area, here are a few furniture pieces currently on craigslist that might be worth checking out:

clockwise from top left: walnut full size bedframe $250; modern bar stools - set of 3 $90; mid-century slat bench $50; vintage yellow floor lamp $25

Comments
[ MIDCENTURY ESTATE SALE ]If we hadn’t been busy celebrating an early Mother’s Day on Saturday, we probably would have made the drive up to Camano Island to check out this estate sale that we saw on Craigslist. The list of items was overwhelming! Last night I saw that the ad was still up, so I emailed the contact to see if I could get some prices on leftover items. Here’s what I found out:Teak Clock - $150Yellow Swedish Chair - $450Orange Eames Lounge Chair (sold), Bird Wall Art - ?Mariner Clock - $200Plycraft Lounge Chair by George Mulhauser - $500This chair is so beautiful, and so out of my price range. I hope someone buys it soon before I make a foolish impulse buy! After doing some online sleuthing, I think it’s easily worth the price, and maybe more. Here’s a picture of Gob from Arrested Development (I miss that show!) sitting in one.That picture makes me want it even more! Here are some other photos of this gorgeous chair:Photos from The Mid-Century ModernistOkay, back to the other items. I don’t have prices for any of these, but I’m sure the owner would email them to you if you are interested. I also think since the sale is over, he might be willing to take offers as the week progresses. There are several additional photos on the Craigslist ad, too.

[ MIDCENTURY ESTATE SALE ]If we hadn’t been busy celebrating an early Mother’s Day on Saturday, we probably would have made the drive up to Camano Island to check out this estate sale that we saw on Craigslist. The list of items was overwhelming! Last night I saw that the ad was still up, so I emailed the contact to see if I could get some prices on leftover items. Here’s what I found out:

Teak Clock - $150
Yellow Swedish Chair - $450

Orange Eames Lounge Chair (sold), Bird Wall Art - ?

Mariner Clock - $200

Plycraft Lounge Chair by George Mulhauser - $500
This chair is so beautiful, and so out of my price range. I hope someone buys it soon before I make a foolish impulse buy! After doing some online sleuthing, I think it’s easily worth the price, and maybe more. Here’s a picture of Gob from Arrested Development (I miss that show!) sitting in one.
That picture makes me want it even more! Here are some other photos of this gorgeous chair:
Photos from The Mid-Century Modernist

Okay, back to the other items. I don’t have prices for any of these, but I’m sure the owner would email them to you if you are interested. I also think since the sale is over, he might be willing to take offers as the week progresses. There are several additional photos on the Craigslist ad, too.

Comments
[ CRAIGSLIST VICTORIES & DEFEATS ]
My relationship with Craigslist could probably best by compared to that of Elaine and Puddy from Seinfield. There are times when I think it’s fantastic. I’ll make a few dollars when I sell something that is no longer needed or used, and I’ll find a few nice items to buy. But, I think more often than not, I’m frustrated. Flakey buyers, overpriced or misrepresented items, and the speed at which the good deals get snatched up, all make me more likely to look for things elsewhere.Some people swear by Craigslist, and I have one friend in particular who seems to find really fantastic deals all the time. To be honest, I might just not have the patience to deal with the people—it’s easier for me to go into a thrift store when it’s convenient in my schedule. That doesn’t keep my husband from perusing the site on a daily basis. One of his Craigslist victories is the orange fiberglass shell chair in the photo above.Now onto my biggest Craigslist defeat.We purchased our current house a few months ago, and when we did, we doubled the square footage that we had previously occupied. We have been wanting a sectional couch for our family room downstairs, since we’ve only ever had a living room and thus, one couch. I was very eager to find the right sectional (on a next-to-nothing budget), and I let my emotions take over my better judgment.After days of checking the furniture section of Craigslist hourly, so as to not miss that perfect sectional, I finally found one that seemed to be a good deal. It was a beige microfiber (I know, what was I thinking?) sectional with an ottoman for $350. That was on the high end of what I was willing to pay for used furniture, but it was the best deal I had seen, and the owner claimed that it was nearly new. I proceeded to call him to get a few more details. Is it clean? Yes, he assured me that there were no stains or rips and that the only reason he was selling it was because he was moving out of state.Here’s the part where I think my brain must have left the room. He lived about an hour and a half south of Seattle. He offered to deliver it for the cost of the gas it would take to bring it up here. Okay, sold—yes, sight unseen.We arranged for the delivery to be the next day. My husband came home for lunch so that he could help move it in the house. Mr. Craigslist showed up on time, but I should have known that my definition of “clean” and his would be slightly different when he stepped out of his truck in sweat pants. Still, my brain was no where to be found. Bring it in guys! Hmm, is that cigarette smoke I smelled? Oh well, here’s the cash.Apparently, my brain had kidnapped my husbands brain, because any sane person would have simply said, sorry for wasting your time, here’s some gas money, but we can’t purchase this couch. Neither of us said it. Within minutes of Mr. Craigslist leaving, we noticed our family room being filled with the aroma of a dog’s rear end. I had forgotten to ask about pets. The couch was filthy. I grabbed some upholstery cleaner and a rag to see if I could make any improvements. After just a few wipes, my white rag was brown and I nearly added the smell of vomit to the couch. To make matters worse, we discovered that the inside supports of the couch were broken.I called the cleaners who quoted me $200 to remedy my problem. We were faced with dumping more money into a broken, stinky couch, or cutting our losses an re-selling it on Craigslist. We decided the quicker we could get rid of it, the better. I posted a very honest ad, noting that the whole thing smelled and looked like a dog that had never had a bath. I was surprised at how many people actually wanted it. We sold the couch later that day for $75, and we are still sitting on some old chairs plopped in the middle of the room, when we want to watch a movie.On that note, I have a few tips for buying/selling on Craigslist:1. Never purchase something without seeing it first.2. Check the listings often and be patient if you are looking for something in particular.3. When you respond to a seller, include your phone number in the email to get a quicker response.4. Never let someone pick something up at your house when you are alone (or alone with your kids). This is especially important for women. I was never very good at sticking to this rule, but my husband has lovingly and firmly put his foot down about it.5. Never pick something up at someone’s house alone. Take someone with you and tell people where you are going.I want to emphasize the last two points because of a story that I saw on the news last week. There were two separate incidents locally of craigslist related home invasions, and one resulted in a home-owner being murdered. I know it’s very rare, but please be extra cautious.

[ CRAIGSLIST VICTORIES & DEFEATS ]

My relationship with Craigslist could probably best by compared to that of Elaine and Puddy from Seinfield. There are times when I think it’s fantastic. I’ll make a few dollars when I sell something that is no longer needed or used, and I’ll find a few nice items to buy. But, I think more often than not, I’m frustrated. Flakey buyers, overpriced or misrepresented items, and the speed at which the good deals get snatched up, all make me more likely to look for things elsewhere.

Some people swear by Craigslist, and I have one friend in particular who seems to find really fantastic deals all the time. To be honest, I might just not have the patience to deal with the people—it’s easier for me to go into a thrift store when it’s convenient in my schedule. That doesn’t keep my husband from perusing the site on a daily basis. One of his Craigslist victories is the orange fiberglass shell chair in the photo above.

Now onto my biggest Craigslist defeat.

We purchased our current house a few months ago, and when we did, we doubled the square footage that we had previously occupied. We have been wanting a sectional couch for our family room downstairs, since we’ve only ever had a living room and thus, one couch. I was very eager to find the right sectional (on a next-to-nothing budget), and I let my emotions take over my better judgment.

After days of checking the furniture section of Craigslist hourly, so as to not miss that perfect sectional, I finally found one that seemed to be a good deal. It was a beige microfiber (I know, what was I thinking?) sectional with an ottoman for $350. That was on the high end of what I was willing to pay for used furniture, but it was the best deal I had seen, and the owner claimed that it was nearly new. I proceeded to call him to get a few more details. Is it clean? Yes, he assured me that there were no stains or rips and that the only reason he was selling it was because he was moving out of state.

Here’s the part where I think my brain must have left the room. He lived about an hour and a half south of Seattle. He offered to deliver it for the cost of the gas it would take to bring it up here. Okay, sold—yes, sight unseen.

We arranged for the delivery to be the next day. My husband came home for lunch so that he could help move it in the house. Mr. Craigslist showed up on time, but I should have known that my definition of “clean” and his would be slightly different when he stepped out of his truck in sweat pants. Still, my brain was no where to be found. Bring it in guys! Hmm, is that cigarette smoke I smelled? Oh well, here’s the cash.

Apparently, my brain had kidnapped my husbands brain, because any sane person would have simply said, sorry for wasting your time, here’s some gas money, but we can’t purchase this couch. Neither of us said it. Within minutes of Mr. Craigslist leaving, we noticed our family room being filled with the aroma of a dog’s rear end. I had forgotten to ask about pets. The couch was filthy. I grabbed some upholstery cleaner and a rag to see if I could make any improvements. After just a few wipes, my white rag was brown and I nearly added the smell of vomit to the couch. To make matters worse, we discovered that the inside supports of the couch were broken.

I called the cleaners who quoted me $200 to remedy my problem. We were faced with dumping more money into a broken, stinky couch, or cutting our losses an re-selling it on Craigslist. We decided the quicker we could get rid of it, the better. I posted a very honest ad, noting that the whole thing smelled and looked like a dog that had never had a bath. I was surprised at how many people actually wanted it. We sold the couch later that day for $75, and we are still sitting on some old chairs plopped in the middle of the room, when we want to watch a movie.

On that note, I have a few tips for buying/selling on Craigslist:

1. Never purchase something without seeing it first.
2. Check the listings often and be patient if you are looking for something in particular.
3. When you respond to a seller, include your phone number in the email to get a quicker response.
4. Never let someone pick something up at your house when you are alone (or alone with your kids). This is especially important for women. I was never very good at sticking to this rule, but my husband has lovingly and firmly put his foot down about it.
5. Never pick something up at someone’s house alone. Take someone with you and tell people where you are going.

I want to emphasize the last two points because of a story that I saw on the news last week. There were two separate incidents locally of craigslist related home invasions, and one resulted in a home-owner being murdered. I know it’s very rare, but please be extra cautious.

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