Save The World, One Piece of Furniture at a Time

While researching some dining chairs made by Cochrane Furniture, preparing to vastly under-price them on Craigslist to get them out of my cramped apartment, I came upon a great blog, authored by Jackie Hirschhaut, Vice President of the American Home Furnishings Alliance. This interesting post about “going green” when it comes to home furnishings caught my attention. Perhaps it was because of these whacky but cool hippy chairs:

hippy chairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just sold a lamp, and threw in the word “Upcycled” in the headline of the post. It got several hits, incurred the loss of interest or sheer laziness of several inquirees, and finally got dropped off in Bridgeport by me to the new owner. The artist was a neighbor I never met living in an art co-op near my house. He/She threw this lamp out! I’m nearly certain that this lamp was made from plastic bottles sandblasted into plastic sheets then beautifully crafted, much like the work of Sarah Turner. Here’s the “Upcycled White Daisy Lamp” that I found and sold:

white lamp3

If anyone is up for searching, I’d love to be directed to more earth-friendly furniture info/DIY projects, etc. As for me right now, the dining chairs await their fateful posting on Craigslist…

 

Live From the Trenches with Julie

by Laura Barron 

On a bitter cold night in February I’m with Julie walking her spirited Patterdale Terrier pup, Macie. We trip through the snowy alleys looking for discarded furniture and clothes with resell potential while Macie jerks to the right and left to check out interesting smells. Julie pauses by a dumpster and bends over what looks to me like a heap of drab, bulky fabric.

She immediately recognizes a rolled-up 5′ x 7′ rug and springs into action, giving me Macie’s leash. After a moment of struggle she’s lifted the damp, unwieldy mass. She treks home along the icy sidewalks with the rug sagging from her arms. To a passerby it might look like she’s disposing of a body. I don’t know why she’s bothering with this crappy length of carpeting but she moves with purpose and I decide not to question.

Once inside Julie unfolds the rug full-length. I have a hard time believing this is the 30 lb. bundle we just lugged up a flight of stairs. It’s patterned in coral and green, colorful and fun but classy enough to add interest to a room and pull it together without overwhelming it. The rug was in like, perfect condition too.

I’m totally impressed at Julie’s ability to spot the potential in what others would pass by. I know now not to question her instincts as when it comes to alley finds Julie’s a pro. This rug easily and quickly commanded a keen fifty dollars on Craigslist.

Turns out, that this rug is made by the high end, Nuloom, named the Barcelona Faded Medallions Spa Blue Area Rug. This “junk” julie eybealled out retails for $249 at places like Rug Studio

JULIE’S FIND

Nuloom Barcelona Faded Medallions Spa Blue Area Rug

pastel rug1

JULIE’S ALLEY COHORT
macie 1.15.14

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Rattan V. Wicker

Do you often find yourself writing the description of a chair for a Craigslist posting at 4:13 a.m., daring to dream of selling it over the weekend for $15, and not sure whether it is in fact wicker or rattan – or what the differences between those two even are? If so, read this. Then, let me know what you think this is! I’m going with “wicker.” Rattan has a nice upscale ring to it that this chair does not live up to.

NON-UPSCALE WICKER CHAIR

gray wicker chair 2

Craigslist Lunatics

This lady wanted to buy my markedly underpriced vintage rusted orange La-Z-Boy Rocka Recliner. I have researched La-Z-Boy vintage chairs and the authentic handle/reclining lever piece with the brand logo on it is being sold on eBay and other sites for more money than I’m asking for the entire chair!

I was going to sell this chair to her for $35. The part that kills me the most is not the precise combination of psychotic rudeness she projected while fastidiously examining the chair until she found something slightly wrong with it, but how much of my time I spent  talking to her about church and smart phones and service providers, for free! She did tell me some advice that was once told to her, about not looking a gift horse in the mouth, that one person might pay a far higher price for the value they find in the piece.

Damn right. 🙂

Here is the unsold wonder, looking for a home near you!

orangechair2

Be Careful Who You Let Into Your Home

from Craigslist.

I was open and friendly to a female customer last week who had sold things in the past on Craigslist. Albeit unsolicited, she gave me some advice about how to handle things to procure my safety. She suggested using a man’s name, making comments about my boyfriend being home, etc.

And I did only one thing. By happenstance I actually had my boyfriend and his male friend in the apartment when The Craiglist Killer II – The Serial Space Heater Buyer, came over. Luckily, they just happened to come back from Cleo’s down the street. They talked about going to another bar, but I sort of manipulated the situation so that they would chill at the apartment until my buyer came. I felt a little nervous.

and rightly so.

The item he alleged to want to purchase was a Holmes Space Heater. A perfect one at that – in great cosmetic and working condition, a 1-touch digital quiet and heat-generating slick piece of machinery. In fact:

holmes space heater

The Space Heater Serial Killer and I talked on the phone for about a half hour, during which some of the following rules of Craigslist Safety were disobeyed by me:

  • I talked on the phone for a half hour with a craigslist buyer – way too long
  • I revealed personal information about my physical appearance to a man, for example i talked about my hair color
  • I gave a gender and age
  • I’m not certain i said “boyfriend” or “husband” at any point
  • I was female
  • I discussed a current foot injury that imposed a physical limitation to my ability to run, should I need to

He talked to me to an annoying extent over my price. Perhaps not only is it important for me to stand up for myself and my pricing on principle, but also it is important for them – and they believe in what they are arguing. But more often than not, I feel like it’s an insult to the value of my product and service – and that they are arguing over a petty amount of dollars.

I usually veer towards what they are offering, although I have my limits. I know that a Holmes Space Heater is going to get at least $20. And I still ultimately agreed to $18. I do research on the market value of the product. Incidentally, he had offered me $17.50, but having done my laundry earlier that day, I was more than saturated in quarters.

I gave him my address and he said he’d be over for the heater in half an hour. During that time, my boyfriend and another male friend he had been out with came home. I didn’t plan that – although, I did ask them to stay, like I said. And it’s a good thing I did.

The guy – a personal trainer/bodybuilder – came to the door and said he had a present for me. He had JUST STOPPED at Walgreens (I looked at the time, the receipt was in the bag) to spend almost $25 on an ankle rap for me, as I told him I had an injury. That seemed so nice. I gave him the heater and chatted about about it (how hard is he gonna make me work to sell this to him, this is ridiculous, i thought, smiling my way through it).

I was very confident that the thing worked, and my place had guests, a hyper dog, and clutter – but i let him come in and test it. If I did not have people over, I’m not sure what would have happened. He immediately had weird and illogical reactions to the space heater. It’s clearly Grade-A (as verified by my bf and his friend afterwards), and there’s not much to really decide when it comes to an $18 space heater. I even brought a second one that was dirty from my back porch/laboratory that I used, in case he preferred that one. He just seemed like he wasn’t going to buy it, and possibly like he had no intention of buying it in the first place, or else he wanted something that didn’t exist – some huge heater to immediately shoot 90 degree air in your face or something. Like getting in your car, shit takes a minute to warm up. Because for example, he wanted something quiet but seemed to like the revving sound the non-quiet one made. Anyway, I quickly said “you can think about it” and that he could call me back, and he left, skittishly.

What do we think might have happened had i been home alone?

Rug Revival: How To Remove Furniture Indents

Well I happened upon a gosh darned so-so rug. But it was going to sell, being soft and neutral brown, and without piss stains or cigarette burns. It was an Ikea rug, and I’d had one in blue before, so the Craigslist copy was already written, sans a little smithing of the words to account for the difference in color.

But one thing was going to hold me back from closing this sale – the wretched indentations on the rug where a coffee table had once dared to stand. I thought to myself, there’s only one thing to do at a time like this: google.

Google presented two alternatives to me: hot or cold. In other words, I could use the ice method, or the steam method. The ice method didn’t sound right to me, as it entailed ice cubes and paper towels and overnight work that sounded like it could potentially damage the rug and leave weird fuzzy paper towel and/or water stains. But the steam method, that sounded like it just might work (and it did!).

So if you ever find yourself with a rug with undesirable furniture marks in it, here is what you must do.
1. Get your iron out and heated up
3. Once iron is hot, hold it down on the rug and steam baby steam – but not for too long. Chances are, you can apply the iron directly to the surface of the rug (there were some suggestions that you put a cloth or tee shirt in between the rug and the iron to prevent burning, but I did just fine without that stupid step)
4. While rug is still hot, use your fingers to pull the rug fibers back out and comb it back and forth so the rug returns to its original state
5. Repeat steps 3-4 a couple times if you need to
6. Vacuum it, for a nice and uniform look

It really works! Try it today!

The Little Red Chair That Could

When I alley-snagged this chair, I saw several angles of potential appeal. First of all, with a fresh paint-job, this sucker could be ALL RED. That in itself is cool. Secondly, with the curvature and angles of the back, it could be positioned as mid century modern (mcm) to appeal to those who like that hot furniture trend. Even if it’s not actually an mcm chair (how do i know, i found the fucker in an alley after all), it could be worded to at least give a nod to the style.  It also had “soda shop chair” coolness going on with its wrought iron shapely base.  Lastly, I sensed this would appeal to just the right hipster (which it ultimately did).

BEFORE

red chair before3

Now this wasn’t a chair in trouble, but it wasn’t a chair that was at its most awesome potential. The wood of the seat was a bit weird, kind of like a pile of wood verses a solid block, and not particularly akin to sanding.  Plus there were some decorative holes in it. So I didn’t really think about what to do, I just primed.  Not only that, I primed like a moron. I put tape on the chair’s base to protect it, when in fact, i didn’t realize i could take the damn seat off with the wee use of a screwdriver.

DUMB & DUMBER
red chair before 2

Taking off the base made painting the chair’s base a helluva lot easier!
I had a nice shade of red that i picked up at http://www.dickblick.com/, one of my former employers actually, and i just basically reapplied to the entire base, and vadda bing, shines like a fire engine!

SHINY HAPPY REDNESS
red chair before1

To really pull off this chair, something needed to be done with the seat, and that something is called “antiquing” or “distressing.” There are many different ways to achieve this look, but I chose to follow Better Homes & Garden’s Tips. The only deviation was that while they started with a wood surface, I started with a primed surface. Although, I did somewhat sand it to allow some wood exposure.

So using the BHG method, which was really quite simple, and bonus, I had all the materials in the house, I antiqued away. And my friends, this is what you call a chair.

AFTER
redchair2

SOLD FOR $35. (not too shabby, pun intended)

The Pink Princess

So I’m driving along (in an alley, of course) when a young-looking guy (approximately 21) emerges from behind a fence carrying what I knew could become a beautiful nightstand. It had one of my favorite features, which is that the drawer was on the bottom, not the top. There’s no name for this type of drawer placement, btw, at least not per the research that I conducted. He was quite nice, and even helped me secure the piece in the back of my vehicle.

“Are you sure you don’t want it?” I said.

He replied, “Yeah, it’s time for it to move on to someone else.”

ME!!!!!!

I wasn’t sure what to do with the piece at first (I never am) and then the idea struck. You will see this idea in the finished photo below. I think inspiration came from various sources, but in particular I was inspired by this site, found randomly during one of my net-surfing extravaganzas.

I had bought some pretty pink paint from The Home Depot, but at the time I didn’t have any particular use for it at the time of purchase, and I have a huge can of alley-FOUND linen white paint that has been rocking my world. So I decided to do a sweet combination utilizing both colors, that was totally not in my personal taste, or at least not meant for my current home decor, but bound to be perfect for someone else’s.

And it was. I posted it in two sections on Craigslist because I thought it would be perfect for a child’s room (which is ultimately where it went) and threw in some bemusing SEO buzz words like shabby chic and cottage chic, which the piece really was. What befuddles me sometimes is when I read descriptions of other postings that end with something like this: Perfect for your cottage beach home/romantic Parisian apartment…. etc. Who actually has these homes, and wouldn’t they be living off the beach or in Paris, and why would they be on Craigslist? But I digress. It could be more of an Etsy thing, and i don’t play in that space – not yet anyway.

My buyer might have had a cow if she saw the piece before i had done the work. it needed sanding, oh did it need sanding, but luckily I had my favorite toy, this Black & Decker Sander. I also primed the piece to make sure the paint went on as beautifully and smoothly as possible, using this good ole primer. If you ever wonder about what primer you should use, here’s a quote from one of the great employees at Home Depot: “Primer is Primer.” Sound advice, simply stated.

Then on with the paint! I had to decide where to place the linen white so that it didn’t overpower, but rather accented the piece. I think I hit the nail on the head, or the paint on the primer, so to speak.

BEFORE

refurbished nightstand

AFTER
pink1

Now folks, readers, and fans alike, I swear this piece was not commissioned. Here is a photo of it in the child’s room. Could there be a more perfect fit?? 🙂

pink princess

Furniture Bonanza!

Yesterday, I had 4 furniture buyers in 1 day. It was great. It was a lucrative day. It was a bit cray cray.

First thing in the morning, I went out and photographed this turquoise patio table, which only needed a little soap and water clean-up.
patio table1

I then wrote about it, and posted it differently worded enough so as not to be flagged on Craigslist under two categories: furniture and farm and garden. Within the hour I had been contacted by three buyers, including sweet white farmhouse. however, the neighbor who gave me her number and said she can be here within the hour got the table. First come, first serve.

Then I had Chris, also known as 3-Chair-Boy. For $70, he got me to deliver these 3 chairs heartchair1 in the back of my Honda Accord while driving on some very worn down brake pads. To his end, he gave me an ice cream bar and some sore throat drops, and appeared to be pleased that I had delivered something that was to his satisfaction. Sale closed, back on the highway.

Then I fielded a dresser situation and an art buy. The dresser was gorg, but I messed it up, trying to remove what I thought was a paint stain on solid wood. Turns out the wood was either stained or painted, because whatever I did caused some of the finish to rub off. Rather than work on it, I decided to try to sell as is. which worked.
dresserexquisite1

No sooner did the dresser buyer leave, than the Gustav Klimtz lady arrived, not knowing or caring who the artist was, lol. I had spent all that time researching him in my post. She was a cute little Mexican lady who loved to buy trinkets and art, and as a fellow “packrat”, I sold her five pieces of found art for $35 – none of them being the original prints she came for. They were all found in alleys and I already have more art than I know what to do with, so I consider that I good deal! One piece was advertised on craigslist at the time as “equestrian art.”
horse art2