I am really excited to be able to share some of my insight in finding quality mid-century pieces! In this post I’ll be addressing how to use Craigslist and what skills you can use to make finding the perfect furniture for you easier!
1. Make a Budget
I may be preaching to the choir here but I think it’s important to mention, just in case. I remember when I first started out; I just went around throwing money at everything I saw, like some kind of furniture Viking. I was ransacking thrift stores and tearing through Craigslist without a care or thought of money. CUZ HEY ITS CHEAP RIGHT?! The thing that caught up with me is that second-hand goods actually do start to add up.
So here’s the thing. We’d all like to get a beautiful credenza for sixty bucks, but that’s not going to be the reality for all of us. Getting a good deal isn’t just about getting something for a stupid steal, it’s sometimes just buying a nice piece for what it’s worth …or maybe just a teensy bit under. Yeah, I know; I am cheap too. Ask yourself how much you are really willing to pay and what pieces are you going to have to drop more money on?
Budgeting will at first seem like a tiring task that makes you feel restricted in your purchases, but in reality, it is completely freeing. It helps you to make well-thought-out purchases instead of wasteful buys that don’t work out for you in your home. With budgeting, you will be able to put together a range of pieces. Your pricey items will make your twenty-dollar end table look like it was two hundred!
2. Know What You Love
You want to make sure your stuff reflects who you are and what you like. You’ll find that this will save you money in the long run, as you’ll ending up throwing out less furniture that turned out to be “not so you.”. It can be difficult to see the potential in second-hand if you don’t have some handle on your personal taste. There are things you can do to help you feel more confident in your personal style. I find making lists, doing the Pinterest thing, and collecting images of homes I like really helps. So go ahead and get moody guys!
3. Be a Fixer
To get a good deal, you may have to be willing to put in some elbow grease on old furniture. The great thing about mid-century pieces is that they were well-made to begin with, so restoring them is usually easier than it seems, and the pay off is ten-fold.
4. Let People Know
Some of the best things I have are because my friends and family know what I like. For example, instead of getting me something from my wedding registry, my Grandma gave me her Russel Wright dish set. It’s a gift I will treasure forever. You never know what your friends or relatives have in their attic that they’ve been waiting to let go of. Chances are, if you know this person, you could be that perfect home for their beloved item.
How to Search Correctly
Since I am Craigslist hound, I thought it be helpful to give you some practical applications for this new zen way of life (you may roll your eyes now. It’s ok. I can’t see you).
I’ll be giving you tips on optimizing your search results on Craigslist. There are great deals to be had here but, to a first time user, it can be a clustered mess! Here are some things you can do to stay organized and on top of new listings for a website that is always changing.
1. Keep a List
Whenever you come across a search word that you think yields good and unique results for your taste, write it down! Keep this list for yourself and go through it often.
This helps you get through Craigslist fast and with some order. You’ll start to realize what search words produce the best results for you and feel more confident in your searching.
2. Stay on Top of It
Craigslist is super easy when you check it daily.
Staying on top of your local Craigslist is going to save you overwhelming searches through new listings, and a whole lotta time in the long run. Make it a part of your morning Facetwittertumbmail routine.
3. The Early Bird Gets the Worm
As a person who has spent a lot of time asleep, it makes me a lil’ proud to be able to quote that old saying with an actual reason for its importance. I love sleeping so much that I actually forgot that this was important.
Searching craigslist in the morning is going to give you the best results for two reasons.
One is that all the posts that were made when Joe the mechanic got off of work will show up pretty fresh in the morning. The other is that you want to be the first person that sees his Brasilia highboy for 160 bucks.
Once you find this post, it’s a good idea to try to get to the seller as soon as you can. I’ve had many times where things were bought from under me because I waited a couple of days.
There was even a time when I went to purchase a decent sized Kilim rug at a good price and happened to see a pretty neat lamp that the seller was also getting rid of. I mentioned how neat it was and the seller said that the girl who wanted it should be on her way – but that I could take it right now if I wanted! I wasn’t gonna be that dude though, guys. So even though it was tempting, I passed that lamp up (Nobel Peace Prize here I come). You can’t really get mad at Joe the mechanic for selling stuff from under you. Well, actually, you can get a lil mad. Go ahead guys, feel your feelings.
The thing to keep in mind is, they are just trying to get rid of their stuff quickly and many times people flake on them – a lot. It’s really not their responsibility to make sure they hold onto a piece until you are good and ready to get it. Be willing and able to get your new addition as soon as you can.
Craigslist waits for no man.
4. Using the Search Box Effectively
The search box is going to be your best friend, of course! Use it creatively. Think about what you want and why someone would be getting rid of it. The best example I have is my desire for a porch with a ton of plants – big, humongous plants! When you look to buy these huge plants already potted at a store, it can be spendy. So I turn to Craigslist. Typing plants in the search box is like five pages long and produces a bunch of things that aren’t even plants. So you have to think about the context in which a person would be getting rid of all their potted treasures. Moving sale! So in the general search box you type just that – “moving sale plants”. I’ve come across great finds when thinking like this. Simply put, think about the what and why!
5. Read the Ads
This is a really important thing to consider. Craigslist posts are basically someone describing something that they are trying to sell. Posts often include how the person got the piece, why they are getting rid of it, if it belonged to someone they knew, and what kind of condition it is in.
You’ll start to realize there is a pretty consistent way people talk. I call this the used car salesman language -‘There isn’t anything like it!’. Once you become fluent in this gift of gab, you can use the key parts of these phrases in your search box – things like “anything like it” or “solid wood”. Type these two to three word sentences in your search box and watch those precious beans come to life.
6. $160.00 and Under
When I tell people I search through everything on Craigslist that is $160 and under, their eyes bulge out and they give me a suspicious, surprised look. This is the best strategy though, guys, and if you stay on top of new listings every day, it’s really easy. Price searches are good because you know you won’t go over your budget, and you might come up with something you weren’t expecting.
7. Know the Piece
This is where knowing what you want is really good for your searching. I’ve found some of my favorite things by searching – surprisingly enough – MATERIALS I love. Get familiar with the pieces you want. Know the woods that were being used, where the piece was made, who manufactured it, what year it was made, and search its shape if it has a unique one. I am sure most of you Modernica followers are experts on the ins and out of mid-century modern. Use all the knowledge you have in your searches!
8. Know Your Surrounding Areas
This is kind of a weird thing, but it’s important to know your surrounding cities for a good deal. Get familiar with the cities around you that had a boomin’ middle and upper-middle class in the 50s and 60s. It’s worth the search, every once in a while, for both thrifting and Craigslisting.
The most important thing to remember: the more you know, the easier your searching will be. Follow blogs that expose you to new things in design – LIKE THIS ONE! The more knowledgeable you are, the easier it will be for you. I hope this has made you excited to start your hunt for unique styles and tastes in your home. I wish ya’ll DA BEST in your hunting!
Rose Della Rosa is a contributor to the Mimomito Blog and collaborates with her husband on illustration and silkscreen projects for their company Della Rosa Home & Prints. Ben and Rose sell these items and some hand-picked collectibles in the Scout Living Antique Collective.