Curb Find: Wire Chandelier

This is one of the most interesting curb finds I've ever had.

It's hard to take a picture that does it justice, but it's a chandelier made of wire.  The wire isn't galvanized (a coating that protects against oxidation, aka rust), so the whole things has this great rust coating.  It's shabby chic and industrial all at the same time.  I've hung it up in my studio as a great accent piece.  Love it :)

Thank you streets of Boston!!


My Perfect Cello Studio

For a young musician, it's a dream to be able to have a space to dedicate just to my work.  I've been in school practice rooms or my parents living room for years, so I knew exactly what I wanted to make the perfect space.  This apartment was my chance.  

I started with a beautiful grey paint.  I'm a big fan of grey walls because they're a modern neutral.  If you spend the time to choose the right grey, it can be warm, cool, vintage, modern, classic, clean, whatever - super versatile!  I used the same color in my living room.

ANYWHO, I also painted a few birch trees on the walls inspired by this print:

I really love the texture, interest, and height it adds to the walls.

A boring Ikea bookcase is perfect when accessorized with my music (in alphabetical order, what what), treasures, and other little celloing necessities stored in a vintage crate and neutral canvas box.  A vintage receiver and speakers with a bluetooth receptor create the perfect music listening scenario for about $30. (The receiver/speakers were $2 at a garage sale!!)

Add the perfect chair ($15 on craigslist), a white shag rug to keep my endpin from slipping ($20 on craigslist), and I'm ready to get practicing.

Since cello isn't all practicing, I have a little set up for administrative work.  This antique school desk has a cubby for my computer wires, which is too perfect ($35 on craigslist - there are a lot of these for sale in the Boston area).  The captain's chair matches the feel and wood tone, while still keeping the collected feel to the room ($10 on craigslist).  The built-in is just an uh-mazing feature of the apartment.  Oh 1920's, you were pretty great.

The mirror... oh yes musicians be jealous...  The mirror is just a little smaller than a twin mattress, has beautiful antique trim, and was $20 on craigslist.  Posture watching while I practice?  Yes I think I'm ready for that :)

Moral of the story:  I spend too much time on craigslist, but it's all worth it for the perfect space.


Homeless Housewares: Adopt an armoire!

Mid Century Armoire - $425

This is a lot more pricey of an item than I would usually list, but I wanted to point it out for two reasons.  1) It's BEAUTIFUL.  I leurve the lime green on the inside.  Clearly this piece is in great shape and worth the price (though it's not a deal - it seems fair).   2) This is a great example of the kind of pictures you should use to sell your things.  Lots of bright light - stylist surroundings (cudos on the antlers) - and pictures that show both the sitting look and the beautiful inside details.  Well done seller.  Take note all.

Victorian Accent Chair - $50

Again a little more than I would spend, but fair if it's really that old.  This chair might be one that you'd overlook initially, but reupholstered in a nice modern fabric like this one (above right), it could look updated and so cute.  I would highly recommend doing the reupholstery yourself to save money.  Keep those awesome nailheads surrounding the seat and reuse them on your new fabric!

Wicker Drawer Tower - $30

Now for the real deals.  This is definitely a steal for this piece.  It cooould look really traditional and boring, but in the right space all of this texture could be the perfect touch.

Vintage Bowling Alley Benches - $150

Oh and the big finale.  Now THIS is an exciting find.  You would need enough space, but this could be a kitchen banquette dream.  $150 may seem like a lot at first, but when you think of the size and just raw material, it's totally a steal.  Trust me, just google kitchen banquette and you'll see how much those things can run.  I'm super jealous of whoever gets to take this one home...

*to find these pieces search the Boston craigslist using the titles above.  Hopefully you can snatch these up before someone else does!


How to Sell Your Stuff Fast on Craigslist!

I've had a lot of people ask me about my used furniture buying and selling lately - especially in regards to craigslist - and I thought that today I would share some thoughts on selling things that oh-so-handy site.  I know a lot of people out there are moving right now, and no one wants to fill the dumps with perfectly good stuff!  How do we pass along these treasures and get it done fast?  Here are my two cents... or six cents...

1. Have Pictures:  You are significantly less likely to sell anything if you don't post a picture.  Take 5min and take a nice picture.  Choose a couple of different angles that will be helpful to the buyer, use nice lighting, clean the piece, and stage the area a little.  Make the buyer feel the piece is beautiful, in good condition, and well cared for.  No one wants to buy a piece of furniture covered in garbage or barely visible.  If you're thinking, "Wait, what? Nice lighting? Staging?" you should check out the (too much) I had to say about taking pictures for online selling.

2. Be Found: This has to do with being one step ahead of your buyers.  Do you call it a couch or sofa?  Side table or end table or nightstand?  Midcentury, mid-century, or mid century?  Chair or chairS?  I would highly recommend putting a list of searchable words at the end of each Craig's List advert that you post.  List ANYTHING you can think of that would be relevant.  Remember, you don't need to re-list words you've already used in the body of your post.  Here's an example:
If I were selling this...
I would list this....
bookcase, book, case, shelf, shelving, books, shelves, white, Ikea, expedit, storage (and maybe more if I could think of things)

3. Be Specific: Being one step ahead of your potential buyers' questions will save you a lot of time in emails back and forth to find your buyer.  What you don't want: "Does it disassemble into smaller parts?"  What you want: "I'll pick it up today!"  List anything you can think people might want to know: dimensions, links to original sale price or vendor (Ikea?), disassembly options, suggestions for moving (will they need a truck?  a friend for carrying?), etc.

4. Be Honest: Glossing over imperfections may seem like the best way to find a buyer, but you're just finding the wrong buyer.  If the piece has damage you don't mention or doesn't look like the pictures you've posted, you're very likely to set up a buyer visit only to have them walk away.  If buyers know exactly what they're getting, you'll get the cash and your item sold quickly.  Build up good craigslist karma; be honest.

5. Price It Right: We all know that we should price things right if they're going to sell, but I want to give my two cents on the situation.
  • Half the original price.  You might think your item is as good as new, but it's still used (even if it's in the package).  Buyers on craigslist are not looking to pay full price.  If you're selling an unopened item, mark it down by 25-35%.  If you're selling a used item, mark it down by at least 50%.  If there is damage, mark it down even more.
  • Look at other postings.  What are other people asking for something similar?  If you want your item gone fast - price yours a little lower.
  • Ask yourself - what would I pay?  Do you think you would be getting a fair deal if you bought this? If you want to sell quick - do you think you would be getting a GREAT deal if you bought this?

6. Be Safe!!:  Don't forget everyone, even though these are awesome communities of people trying to find good homes for treasures, these are still strangers.  Don't post your address! Don't meet someone in a vulnerable area! If you get a creepy vibe - ditch them! Have a buddy know where you are and what you're doing!   Let's keep this the fun adventure that it is and all play it safe with a good dose of common sense.

Happy scavenging!!


Selling Furniture Online With Great Photos

Pictures are a crucial element to making a sale on our favorite online by-owner sale websites.  As an avid craig's-lister and secondhand-furniture-hunter, I've got some thoughts about basic dos and don'ts for posting pictures that will get your item sold!

Use natural light: All things look better in natural light... except for light shows or night clubs I guess... almost all things look better in natural light!  Give buyers the chance to picture your item in their own sunny happy place, not your sad basement apartment (not that you have a sad apartment, I'm sure it's beautiful actually.)

Clean the area around the item: No one wants to have to guess what you're talking about or worry that your not listing damage hidden by the clutter.  Give your item the spotlight!

Clean the item:  No one wants to bring a dirty item into their home.  Even if you're bringing it out of your basement and it's a "diamond in the rough," wipe off the dust and grime.  Your piece will go twice as fast.

This isn't a terribly unique chair - I have one - but the area is clean, full of natural light, and the chair looks beautifully polished.  The chance of this chair selling is hugely increased with these pics.

Take pictures of important details and damage: Words aren't always enough.  I don't know you - why would I trust that the scratches aren't that bad or that the detailed carving is beautiful?  Lemme see it!

Use multiple angles: Again, don't leave things to your buyers imagination.  What does the profile of the end table look like? What about the legs of that desk?

This chair would look very boring at a distance and against a beige wall.  Not only did this owner choose a great location to take these pictures - lots of light and a great color - but, they showed off the carvings and the cane seat with closeups.

Style the Item:  Don't go crazy here, but people are looking to make their space better with your piece.  Show that it has the potential to be chic and stylish with a little accessorizing.

Beautiful, minimal, and modern styling for this coveted armoire.  They didn't cover any details, but let me imagine how great it could look with little accessories in my home.

Post a sideways picture:  Why?  Why?  Seriously, why?  It takes two seconds to rotate your picture before you post it.  Posting a sideways picture is just annoying for buyers.  Why try to schedule a pick-up with someone who can't even manage to rotate their picture?

This person tried - there's some natural light and multiple angles, but come on...
Here we go.

Post a blurry picture:  I know this can be a challenge sometimes.  You might not have a great camera and it might be dark, but there is no point to posting a blurry picture.  None.  Wait for enough natural light or borrow a camera.  Posting a blurry picture = posting no picture = your item probably won't sell.

This might be cute (I love bentwood), but I can't tell and I'm not driving to Salem to find out.

Obscure or cover details or damage: It looks shady.  Don't forget that you're a stranger to your buyers.  Be transparent and honest and people will buy your things.  Be evasive and tricksy and people will walk away from your things or waste your time by changing their mind when they discover they aren't buying what the thought they were.

Jam a bunch of items onto one picture:  I know I know, posting a million items is a huge pain.  I've been there.  BUT cutting corners isn't going to help anyone.  Take the time you need to make quality posts and your things will sell.  What? Craig's List only gives me four spots for pictures you say?  Link to a Picasa or flickr account or just make more posts.  EXCEPTION: If you're advertising for a yard sale, I am of the opinion that it's fine to post pictures jammed with stuff.  It makes it look like there's a lot for sale, which is exactly what you want to advertise.

They want $40 for this chair and I can't even see it.  Sorry buddy, there are two dozen other chairs on CL for less and with more details.  I'm not going to waste my time.

Only post vendor pictures:  When a seller only posts vendor pictures it makes me wonder - what horrible shape is their item in?  It's so common - especially with Ikea furniture.  I'm a big fan of posting a vendor picture to clarify the look of your piece - those pictures will almost always be more clear than yours, but do yourself a favor and add your own picture.  Even if it's not as clear, you won't look like your hiding something - always a bonus.

Ok yeah, but what will MY chair look like?

Let's apply your new skills with these real posts of chairs for sale on Craig's List!
What do you guys think these posters did right and wrong?  Are there other picture tips I've missed?


Colors I'm Crushing: Gold, Blue, and Red

Sometimes you just look up and bam "oooh that's quite nice."  My pillows were a mess and this little inspiration was the result!

I'm really digging these colors together lately. Gold, tan, and browns are a happy glowey neutral while the pops of red and blue keep things from getting monotonous. Of course the texture and pattern doesn't hurt either. Right now my living room is a palette of green and gold with grey as a neutral, but my next living room might have to go this direction :)


Drips? Slips? We've got it: How to Fix or Hide Painting Mistakes

I think many of us have been here - confronted with the battered walls of sloppy tenants of yesteryear. Drips, streaks, paint on the trim, paint on the ceiling, and of course, the ugliest color you could imagine someone choosing.

(Not an abstract, just badly painted walls)

Now you want to make the room fresh and all your own, but yeesh, where to begin?

Well I have some thoughts. As you might have guessed from the existence of this post. Had to build the drama... thanks for being patient...


The two most common problems you'll be confronted with!

Drips :..(
There are two ways to deal with drips as far as I see things.

  1. Sand Them: This would be the "best" and "right" way to do things.  Take the time to prep properly and sand those obnoxious drips away.  It may take a good deal of time, but if you have the patience it will really pay off long term.  WARNING: If you have textured walls, be careful with the sanding.  If you sand your texture off you will have a funny bald spot on your walls.  Of course, you can fix it with spray textures, but you will have given yourself more work and spent more money.
  2. Mask Them: This is a much easier solution.  Don't actually fix the drips, but minimize their visibility by using flat or eggshell finish paint. The lower the gloss in paint (flat is the lowest and high-gloss is the highest), the less light can reflect off of all the imperfections in your wall.  Light reflecting = spotlight on the ugly.  SO, use less glossy and less reflective paints to avoid the spotlight.  WARNING:  Because apparently all of my methods have scary consequences I have to warn you about... Flat paint scuffs easily and isn't good for rooms like your bathroom, kitchen, or mudroom that get a lot of rough usage.  For help choosing paint finishes read Carol Nafie's great post: Choosing the Right Interior Paint Finishes.

Paint Where it's Not Supposed to Go
Oh so annoying.  Paint on the trim, ceiling, floor... someone wasn't very careful....

  1. Touch Up Mistakes:  Match the color of the part that shouldn't be painted and paint over the little mistake parts.  This the cleanest and longest lasting way of doing things, but it can also be time consuming and costs a little more money.  On the bright side, if you make a mistake, you can touch it up too - it doesn't just have to be for former tenants painting mistakes. HINT: Most ceilings are painted flat pure white.  WARNING: Trim is often painted bright white BUT can also be any number of other whites, so be sure to match carefully.  Also, be sure to match your finish.  Trim is usually semi-gloss or high-gloss.
  2. Mask Mistakes: If the existing shade on the walls is fairly light and the shade you've chosen is darker, you can mask existing mistakes with a little illusion.  Just paint the room as perfectly as you can, while ignoring the existing mistakes.  When you look closely the mistakes will still be there, but at a distance, they won't be very noticeable.  Here's a visual... (clearly I have used this sneaky method)

Looks like a nice clean line to me....

Oh snap! There's a bunch of sloppy blue there! I was tricked!

So there you have it folks. Good ways and crafty ways to outsmart all of the messy people before you. I believe I described them as from yesteryear. Just don't get to use that word enough...


Homeless Housewares: Adopt a couch!

Blue Velvet Sofa - $75

Oh such a hot couch.  Love the tufting, love the velvet - oh so cozy and beautiful.  If a velvet couch wouldn't act as a giant lint roller for my cat's hair I would snatch it up today.  That and the fact that I'm moving cross country...

Oh oh, one red flag for all of you craigslisters out there - those sad little throws and blanket make me think there might be rips or damage.  Red flag...

If you list a couch like this - show off the tufting!!  If you want to buy a couch like this - ask about damage before you make a long drive to pick it up!

White Vanity - $50

Ohmygosh so cute.  So imagine: bright teal spray paint?  Such a happy piece :)

Art Deco Headboard - $20

This could be a great centerpiece for that special bedroom.  Tip: If you show up and this is ratty you can a) refinish if it's solid wood and the damage doesn't look too brutal or b) paint it with a couple of complementary tones that highlight the super great details!  AND you don't have to paint the whole thing - this kind of piece can totally handle a mix of wood tones and paint.

Mahogany Library Table - $175

Mmhm yes please.  This definitely has some damage so it needs the love of an owner with vision. Since this is solid wood, some elbow grease in the refinishing department would do wonders. Then again there's always paint. Bright pink??  Beautiful white?  White top with wood legs???

*to find these pieces search the Boston craigslist using the titles above.  Hopefully you can snatch these up before someone else does!


My First Place

I was digging through my computer and happened to stumble upon pictures of my first apartment - Tampa, FL. Oh the memories… weekly wine tasting with my roomie, dealing with our other roomie’s dirty dishes, life without television, gunshots at night…

It actually wasn’t too bad of a place and I was able to really make it my own.
  • $351 a month including: 
  • electricity
  • water
  • cable/internet
  • central air
  • a private porch
  • on-suite laundry
  • my own room
  • an assigned parking spot
Boston, get your act together. This is real.

If it looks a little like a funhouse, it’s because in my young wisdom I spent hours pasting a bunch of pictures together to make these two.

As you can see, the room was inspired by my quilt. I still love the quilt and I was really proud of the room. My college friends all loved it :)

I had a huge mirrored closet, which I loved even though I know some people hate them. It made the room look a lot bigger, brighter, and was nice for getting ready. Many a fashion show before a party took place in front of that mirror.

The desk, bedframe, and chair by the keyboard were part of the apartment’s furnishings, but I used my own chair (inherited from my Grandfather - a red leather beauty), a vintage side table (inherited from my parents - not dead, but very generous), my keyboard for aural theory (I am a cellist after all), and added some Target floating shelves for height.

Probably my favorite item is what looks like 4 coke can airplanes. Bad news is there is actually only one. Good news is it’s just as cool as four.

So that’s it, my first try in my first place. Maybe someday I’ll show you my childhood bedroom. I think I might need a few drinks first ;)


First yard sale where I'm not the one buying...

This morning Tim and I got up at 6:00am to set up our first ever… YARD SALE!!!

*This isn't actually our yard sale, but it's a similar looking one.  I didn't take pictures :(

Since we’re moving, we went through all of our stuff and thought this would be the best way to get rid of it all at once. We were right. The haul? $563.75
But it wasn’t just luck. Tim and I did a lot of prep work and a fair amount of yard sale research before launching into things.
My favorite tip source was this article by Apartment Therapy (AT). Of special significance were these tips (narrated with my thoughts)…
  1. Set sale hours:  AT suggested 9-4 for a Saturday yard sale. We did 9-3 and ended up calling it a day at noon because we had sold almost everything. I think the rest of the AT tips helped make our short afternoon possible.
  2. Be Prepared for Early Birds: Oh my god yes so true. I am SUPER glad we followed this tip. We posted the sale start at 9am, but one guy showed up at 7:45 Other people were there shortly after, and most of our traffic was from 8-10am. Would have been annoying, but we were planning on being ready by 8am (per the AT tip) so we were almost all set up. The first guy bought $160 worth of stuff, so I’m glad we were.WARNING: these career garage sale early bird people are pretty savvy and know how to get a steal. Don’t let them shake you. Know your prices and remember you have all day to sell these things. I kind of wish we had stuck to our guns on a couple things we sold for super low prices to our early birds, but hey, a sale is a sale :)
  3. Price Everything: This was awesome. We set up price zones - we had 50 cents, $1, Free, and individually priced items with stickers. Then our own tip: shift things around the groups throughout the day. We moved things from the $2 to $1 and the $1 to 50 cents as the day moved on and we just wanted to sell things. It was nice not to have to re-sticker things, or forget/second guess prices.
  4. Price Realistically:  We chose prices to move things. For example, DVD sets were $3 and singles were $1, which is nothing. We figured you can rent movies for just a little more, so our prices were a deal. Two ladies came in and bought almost all of them. Score!
  5. Free Pile: As I mentioned above, we had one and it was great. Stuff went that wouldn’t have sold. We didn’t have to throw it out or drag it all to Goodwill. Plus, I think people stopped by who might not have otherwise. Everyone likes free right?
  6. Have change:  YES! We had a ton of 10s, 5s, 1s, and quarters. People bought things that they were “maybe” on because we were like “oh we have change.” It was just friendlier, nicer, and faster. No waiting for someone to come back with correct change. Do it.
  7. Advertise: We bought $7.50 worth of neon yellow and green poster board, cut them in half, and made the signs. They said YARD SALE in huge letters, then 9am-3pm, my address, and a giant arrow. A lady at the sale even complemented their size and clarity. We were competing with a lot of other yard sale signs today, but it seemed to work out. We also posted to Craig's List two nights before, then the night before with the info and a sample list of our things. As a result, someone came and bought our Gorilla Costume. Then someone else came and asked about it. Nice :)
  8. Get rid of the leftovers: I am so glad we did this. When a bunch of people came by and didn’t buy (there was NOTHING left) we packed up. Then, instead of taking a break - even though we were really tired and hot - we put everything in the car and took it straight to Good Will. Now we’re done. Period.  
People, this was so the way to do things. Tim and I are pumped about the results. It’s only 2pm now. We had a yard sale, made over $500, took down our signs, took the leftovers to Good Will, had lunch, showered, and I’m writing a blog. Seriously? Do it :)