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…



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?


This was a lot of work for such a little guy! Many angles to paint from, and much old paint to remove! The new color scheme was inspired by the SKOW desk.


before brown stool2



The Power of a Word

I had her at “elegant sofa.” Ok, technically that’s two words. 😉

Here is the description I posted on Craigslist:

Invite the warm ambiance of a wilderness lodge into your home with this rustic and distressed Bear Claw Coffee Table. It’s sure to be a nice addition to your living room. An oval shaped top sits above a beautifully beveled lower shelf (for extra storage space). All held together by bear claw feet, making the table ruggedly sophisticated. Estimated to be from the 1960s, this piece would look stunning in front of an elegant sofa. The natural grains of the wood remain exposed on the surfaces of this greyish-brown warm natural finish, and the top has been lacquered for durability. All hardware has been recently adjusted to ensure the table is stable and sturdy. Measures 17″h x 40″w.

note: cute puppy not included.

While chatting with my buyer, I asked her if she was replacing an old coffee table or simply had no coffee table. She told me she simply had no coffee table, and had an “elegant sofa” and that when she my description, she knew this piece would be the perfect complement for it. Yes, she gravitated towards this table because it’s beautiful and different. But in the end, the sale was likely closed by two words: “elegant sofa.”

It’s affirming to know that the copy I write isn’t always for naught, as I wonder if sometimes sales are closed by a photo alone.

I’d be remiss not to post about some of the learning I gained while working on this table – both about fixing old school hardware and how to stain correctly.

As for the hardware, the main take-away is that Home Depot was wrong, and that fiddling with tools and nails and nuts and bolts through trial and error is sometimes ultimately the best way to fix something that isn’t clear-cut. In this case, I had to disassemble the bottom panel, and go into the stumps that held the two layers of the table together, where I discovered that two bolts had come off the nails that affixed the legs, thus the wobble factor. I was then able to put them back on and tighten, and now the table is sturdy as a rock.

Also, a huge learning about staining! This one, I do have to credit the Home Depot employees for. They told me to leave the stain on for 4-6 hours before wiping it away, even though the instructions on the can of Miniwax® Wood Finish read verbatim: “allow the stain to penetrate 5-15 minutes to achieve desired color.” Amazing what a difference the 4-6 hour time-frame makes! I had nearly given up on staining because it seemed as though it had no effect – that when I applied stain, it just came right off and changed nothing. So to all those who have thought that staining was too hard or who got frustrated with the process, do not give up! Sometimes, instructions are not meant to be followed – give the 4-6 hour wait-time a chance and perhaps you will see beautiful results.




To Paint, Perchance to Repaint

By the third time it happened… well i still wasn’t quite used to it! I have painted something beautifully, and in some cases painstakingly, and the buyer plans to repaint it a different color. What is this phenomenon? Perhaps I am sensitive because I was once a housepainter for the highly recommended Complete Home Care, and thus I have some professional experience. What the f do these girls know? Yes, they were all girls. Why would they buy an item that is the wrong color? Are they gonna die when they see the actual original surfaces, lol, or are they gonna just go over my smooth paint job? I know I told at least one customer about Klean Strip paint remover and even showed her my scraper and gave her some instructions for how to remove the paint.

Here is the first of three: “I painted it, now they plan to repaint it” incidents:

1. Now this one is scary. I had managed to conceal that underneath lie a piece of crap. My customer was a mother with her son, who wasn’t all that much younger than me, buying stuff for his new apartment. The mom said she just needed it to be a different color to match the room it would be in.


green cart



Just Like Picasso Had His Blue Period,

so did i have my turquoise one. ‘Twas a trilogy really that began with my neighbor bringing over a piece and us discussing our love for the turquoise orangey-brown combination. Her piece was a unique gem too! it was a little messed up but i forgot to take the before photo of it until i got this far in.

In addition to the top being scratched up, the hinge was falling off, but all it needed was a screwdriver to rehinge the hinge!  to get the door working. i added an Anthropology knob but kept the original one inside in case she preferred a more subtle look, although many people that came into my house, where that piece was visible and waiting for her to pick up, complimented the knob in particular. i didn’t make that. 😦 but i did have the eye for it. 🙂


turquoise side table



The Two-Year Table

When my boyfriend and I first moved into our apartment, we had no coffee table, and I found one outside our artsy Ukranian Village neighborhood. However, we went on Craigslist furniture and quickly upgraded to someone’s Crate & Barrel coffee table, as ours was legitimately not in the greatest condition.

Paul thought it was hopeless. He thought that because one of the legs was falling off and that because it was chipped, we should ditch it. But I saw the beauty in it, the potential for what it could be. And my friend Melanie Lewis, who happens to be incredibly rad and seasoned in theatrical set design, came over and iterated to me that I do indeed have the power to fix and construct things. Sometimes all it takes is a screwdriver. This may also be the moment when I realized that I, not my boyfriend, am the “handyman” of the relationship.

So this table was my first experience with paint remover, and I used this one.  Oh, the blessed toxicity that I love to inhale and burn my body with! Ok, I try to wear gloves and keep windows open… but to every joke there is some truth!

I actually remember that I didn’t even know that paint remover existed, and I was just trying to scrape the old black paint off this table.  boy that was slow and painstaking. Thank you Home Depot.

I worked on stripping this table to perfection during the summer, and it had some crevices in the legs that took some time. By the time I was done, the season had changed and it was cold, and my work room is not insulated! So I let it sit for a while, until recently, when I decided the time had come to move on this table. I went to Blick Art Materials, bought myself some Blick Artists’s Acrylics, and started painting the table a light blue/violet. I knew that this shade would speak only to a few people, but those whom it worked for would love it. To accentuate the piece, or to just add a final touch, I added an Anthropologie knob to give it some character.

I sold it to the third person who responded to my post for it on Craigslist. The first person was rude.  I was actually going to go out of my way and deliver it to him, and he never got back to me to confirm his time and address. Maybe he thought I was a psycho killer who hides behind painted tables. The second person was waiting to measure her space once her new furniture arrived, and then it happened. One afternoon, a girl wrote to me that she LOVED the table. And I LOVED her right back, because she is exactly who I made it for. I told her that someone else might be interested in it next week (the dimension-waiting woman), and suffice it to say, she was over within hours to take it home with her so nobody else got it.

I hope it’s happy in its new home. 🙂