5 Tips to be "The One" on Craigslist

I don't know about you, but I've definitely been in the position where I find THE PERFECT PIECE on craigslist and I rush to write an email to snag the goods.  I get the reply...
"Sorry, someone is already coming for it.  Thanks for your interest."

"I want this lamp, but someone else probably already got it. Shouldn't get my hopes up..." - Maggie the orange cat

While there's no substitute for just being first, there are a couple of ways to stand out from the crowd if you're writing a craigslist email.

1. Demonstrate you're serious: The best way I've found to do this is to suggest a pick up day for the item.  For example say "I would be happy to pick up the couch tonight or at another time convenient for you." You're not just checking to see if this piece is available, you're a serious buyer who is ready to lay down the money.

2. Be Personal: Don't be afraid to be a little personal as long as you're still keeping the email short and sweet.  I once gave away a whole bunch of empty CD cases for free.  I got TONS of emails, but the family that I ended up giving the cases to included that they were for their kid's school project in their email.  Good cause - I'm in!  You might want to mention how perfect the piece would be in your home or that you've been looking for something like it for a long time.  A lot of CListers want you to really want their old treasures.

3. Include a Link: No, not to your personal website or blog! But be sure to link to the ad you're referring to. Often, people are posting several things to craigslist at once (spring cleaning? moving?) and won't know what you're referring to.  Just paste the link in your email and all will be clear.  I would also suggest putting the name of their ad as the title of your email.

4. "Hope to hear from you soon": People are hard wired to want to respond to questions or calls to actions.  While I am not a fan of being salesy or manipulative, ending an email with "hope to hear from you soon" gives a little extra nudge for someone to get back to you.  Who knows, it could mean they get back to you first.

5. Proof Read: This may just sound like a grammar nerd venting, but proof reading is really important for craigslist emails (and for all of life).  An email with a bunch of mistakes gives the impression of someone who is careless, unreliable, and maybe not dependable.  I'd rather deal with arranging a pick up time with someone who has written a nice, cogent email - wouldn't you?

So, I will close with a fun example based on this craigslist ad.

Subject: Stegosaurus Sofa

I just saw your ad on craigslist selling a stegosaurus sofa (http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/wdc/366382199.html).  Is it still available?  I've just moved and this couch would be perfect for my new apartment!  If it's convenient for you, I could come pick it up tonight, tomorrow, or this weekend.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Happy hunting!!


31 Days Challenge

I've been working very hard over the last few months to bring really beautiful material to this blog.  It's been a ton of work and even more fun. But, as much as I improve, I realize I still have SO FAR I want to go! Does that ever happen to you? Curse of the perfectionist I think...

Here's an example... 
I photo I took when I started and one I took recently

I think I'm doing a lot better, but there's still so much to learn!

I came across the 31 day blog challenge on Nesting Place and you know what? I'm gonna do it.

Here's what I'm thinking... I'm going to dig into the world of taking better home pictures for 31 days and share my findings with you. In the end, hopefully we'll both have learned a lot and be equipped to take great home photos!

I even made a little button :)

What do you think? Are you all interested in this? Is there anything in particular you want to know?


Bedroom Sneak Peek

This past weekend I put some good time into setting up my bedroom in our new apartment. The white box challenge continues!

I'm excited, so thought I would give everyone a sneak peek...

I'm super pumped to get to hang up my bent wood bird and to use the window frame Tim and I got, among other things, on this day of antiquing.

My ottoman has moved from the living room to the bedroom...

A few accessories are already on our dresser, but I'm still fussing with it all :)
Can't wait to show you the rest!


Homeless Housewares: adopt some chairs!

"Gorgeous Looking" Wood Desk Chair - $25

I love the look of a dinning set with mixed chairs. If I had room in my apartment, this baby would be mine for just such a project. At first glance, this chair might look a little dark and drab, but with easy DIY reupholstery it would brigten up and match any room! If you've never reupholstered before, chair cusions are the perfect place to start. Still nervous? Check out all of the great tutorials on the web.

House Cleanup - Make an offer

I hope beyond hope that somebody adopts this chair. Clearly these are motivated sellers, and with reupholstering, this chair would be AMAZING! This might not be a DIY reupholstery, but there's so much potential here it's worth shelling out the cash. If you see posts on CL with titles like "House Cleanup" and prices like "make an offer", pounce. These are people who are more interested in getting stuff out of there house than in making a giant profit, so you're about to get a great deal!

Comfortable Chairs - $40

Ok I know - orange. But, I wanted to post this for two reasons.
  1. If you took the arm slip covers, the matching pillow, little matching throw on top off, then cut off the skirt, this piece would look so modern and slick! Talk about a statement for a room (just don't put it in a room painted orange too - let it shine on its own).
  2. This seller is posting two chairs, but will sell them individually for $40. You might be searching for the perfect accent chair and this could be the one... BUT they never said the word "chair" (singular) in their whole post! If you're only searching for a "chair" you would have totally missed it. Always use singular and plural searches in CList.

Solid Wood Dresser with Mirror - $90

This could be a very special DIY. I've wanted card catalogue furniture for a LONG TIME. But it can be very expensive and isn't easy to come by. Who says you can't make your own? The way this dresser is embellished on the front looks an awful lot like mini drawers… Just drill a few holes and add the hardware with a few cute typewritten lables and you would be all set! Just be sure the holes from the existing hardware could be covered by your new, cute, card catalogue ones.

*I don't sell these things - I just think they're great buys with a lot of potential. Hopefully you're inspired to search your local craigslistings, OR to find these pieces, search the San Diego craigslist furniture listings using the titles above. Hopefully you can snatch these up before someone else does!


DIY Terrarium Bookends

Bookends can be expensive, and it's often difficult to find ones that are just right (maybe I'm just picky). So, I decided to make my own inspired by the beautiful terrariums I keep seeing around these days!

But instead of worrying about how to keep cute little plants alive in my low light bookcase, I've decided to make a faux-terrarium instead. No plants will be harmed in the making of this DIY.

Here is what you need for your own bookend terrariums!

1. Preserved Sheet Moss - it comes in different colors so look around to find the shade you like (3.99 here)
2. River Rocks - You can get these from your back yard or a craft store (1.99 here). Just be sure to get big-ish ones that will look pretty in your terrarium.
3. A mason jar or other pretty jar - These are all over antique stores or can be bought new from a craft store for $8-$15 bucks either way. The one pictured above is vintage from my parents house.

Then follow these TWO, count em two, easy steps...

Put the rocks in. Don't just dump them in or you might break your jar.

Put the moss in. You might want to use a utensil or something to get it to lay the way you want it.


Easy and cute for the win!  Enjoy!

This post was part of a linky party!

Creative Kristi Designs


A Little Bit of Green

Now that I live in a stable weather climate, I can absolutely see the appeal of having some plants around. I love the sculptural look of succulents and am super excited to have a few little ones of my own.

I got these three little guys and the happy pot they live in from Home Depot a few days ago for a total of about $18. I had them outside on our back porch, but I wanted to be able to see them so for now they live on my coffee table. So here they sit, making our space a little greener and a little happier :)


5 Tips for Great Craigslist Finds

The two most frequent questions I get about home decor tend to happen consecutively:

"Where did you get that!?"
Me: "On craigslist for only [insert awesome deal here]."
"How do you find these great deals on craigslist!?"

Well, I would like to share some tips for finding your own great deals, so if you think you might want to have some pre-loved treasures a la craigslist, read on.

1. Download an image preview plugin:  This is SUPER important!  There is no way you're going to be able to be persistent and really dig in to craigslist by clicking on every link to every title that sounds interesting. Nope. As I've said in the past, pictures sell so cruise through craigslist listings with an image plugin - I use this one. This plugin will show all of the pictures for each ad right below the ad title on the search results page. So. very. handy.

2. Be thorough with search words:  The search engine craigslist uses is not very smart. That is, it only searches for the term you ask for. You're going to need to be specific and thorough. Be sure to search for both the singular and plural of a word (ie chair and chairs). If a person is selling a whole set of "chairs" they're willing to sell individually and you're only looking for "chair", you'll never see what cute chairs they have to offer you - sad! The same goes for similar words for the same thing (sofa/couch, nightstand/endtable, bookcase/shelves). Craigslist is only going to show you posts with the exact words you search for so use your imagination!

3. Find your seller: There are two types of sellers - savvy ones who know how great their item is and clueless ones who just need to clean our their garage. Not that I think you should take advantage of people, but the ones you're looking for are the clueless ones. (Geez, that sounds mean...) Finding clueless sellers has a lot to do with search words. If you search retro, vintage, mid century, shabby chic, antique, etc, you will find sellers who know they have a desirable vintage good. If you just stick to the basics, you're much more likely to find your steal. For example, I got the beautiful yellow mid century couch pictured below for $80. I did NOT search for mid century, vintage, or retro.  I DID search for couch, couches, sofa, sofas, loveseat, love seat, and sectional. The lady was shocked Tim and I even wanted the couch and thought it was old, yellow, and ugly. She threw in the matching "ugly" chair for free. Score.

4. Be patient, but prepared to move fast!: Craigslist is not always the best resource when you need something right away. You may get lucky, but a lot of the best craigslist finds happen after days of searching. I found my new couch on the 5 consecutive day of looking and paid $300 - not a deal, but too cute to pass up. My $80 couch took about a month to find. Be ready to wait for the right deal for the perfect piece - your patience will be rewarded!  ALSO, when you do find that piece, move move move! It's probably something someone else has fallen in love with too (or will shortly) and most sellers go by first come, first serve. Don't hesitate to write that email, be ready with cash and transportation, and make yourself available to fit into their schedule for a pickup.

5. Write a great email: 95% of craigslist sellers will make their email anonymously available through craigslist (the rest will leave phone numbers or will be businesses with a slew of contact info). You have to remember that a seller might be getting many emails of interest. When you write your email, be friendly, intelligent, and motivated and you are more likely to get a response.

Using these tips and a little luck I've managed to score a slew of beauties.  If you're curious, here's a sampling...

My dining table
Several things in my old studio and living room
This cute rocker
This Ikea table turned DIY
This DIY end table

You can also check out my weekly Homeless Housewares blog for a glimpse of the type of treasures you can find on craigslist and how to reimagine them with DIY ideas.

Awesome used furniture is out there people - happy hunting!!


The New Couch in My Life

On Saturday, September 17th in the year 2011, this couch came into my life...  It honestly feels close to as epic as that sounds.  When you've been sitting on the floor for a week, a couch feels like the best piece of furniture that you could possibly own.  When the couch happens to look this fabulous you start to reflect on how wonderful life is.

So here are the details!
This was a craigslist find for $300.  Since the last couch I bought was only $80 from craigslist and came with a matching chair, this price was initially a little hard to swallow, but it's a really fair price.  It's an antique and in immaculate condition - blue velvet, yum :)

Here's what it looked like on c-list when I saw it...

And now it is all mine and Tim's (the cat's love it too!)... part of our new living room which you can look at in its entirety (with more pictures of this hunky couch) here!


How to Hang Pictures in a Grid

The Scrabble wall art that Tim and I made has made a second appearance in our new place! 

If you've tried to hang pictures in a grid pattern before, you know it's a total pain in the behind. So, I thought I would post a little step-by-step to show you how we ended up tackling it.

Here's what we needed to get going...

1. Nails etc. to hang the pictures.
2. Laser level (or a normal level, but the laser ones are so handy for this)
3. Two inch painter's tape
4. Tape measurer
5. Hammer

So before we get going I want to apologize for the horrible lighting in these pictures!  I know I know....

Estimate how high you would like your grid to be using your tape measure, find the center of where you would like your grid to be (I centered mine on our couch), then hang the lowest center tile.  Using the laser level, put up a strip of 2" painters tape above the first tile.

Hang the next two center tiles - putting the horizontal tape strip in between again - then put two strips of tape vertically to the left and right of the pictures.  The tape is our spacer, so you can be sure you're getting an even grid pattern.

Hang the next six tiles and add two more vertical strips of tape.

Hang the last six and rip off all of the tape! Taking off the tape is the best part :)


(I waited until we had natural light to take this picture - so much better!)

The one additional tool I would suggest (and that I wished I had while I was doing this) is this great tool or one like it that helps you find the perfect nail spot.  UPDATE: The inventor of that tool, the Hang and Level, sent me one and a few other products. See what I had to say about them here.

Happy picture hanging!


White Box Challenge Reveal: Living Room!

How many weekends does it take two DIYers to set up their living room?  TWO!!

Ok, so I'm starting with the after, which is kind of like starting with dessert, but I don't care! I live in a white box, student grad housing, could be very depressing, apartment - but a little imagination goes a long way and here we are!  (I would also like to point out how ladylike Maggie is NOT being.)

See, not much to work with, but sometimes a blank slate is a good thing.  On to more pictures.

This is our little catchall station. Mr. Strongman is assuming his position of authority with a little birdie, mirror, and cane (why not?) to help.

The sitting zone with a lot of old favorites from our last place and one beautiful new couch. The couch is a liiiitle over sized for the scale of the space, but Tim and I were ready for a couch big enough to cuddle on, so design rules be damned (or gently bent). 

Look at those happy cats...

This is our new entertainment center. It's a lot different from our old one because of the total lack of any architectural details in our apartment, but I'm so glad we could incorporate Tim's awesome shelves in a prominent space.

My chandelier also gets prime location and I love love love having this "Room In Use" sign up in our living room! I don't really like words like "home" or "dream", but "Room In Use" is so happy sounding :)

Other treasures find their places, including our beloved radio, to bring together this oh so comfy and happy room.

More from the white box challenge to come soon!  I'm hoping to get the bedroom or kitchen conquered next...


Homeless Housewares: Adopt a Mirror!

Wicker Wall Mirror - $20

Some people are afraid of wicker because it can slip on to the farm, beach, or old lady spectrum.  I say, it's a great opportunity for texture in a space.  Take this mirror - in a fun color and in the right context it could look very modern.  At $20 it's a great price for a mirror.  Try spray painting it high gloss turquoise!

Vintage Coffee Table - $100

$100 for a coffee table is not a steal, but it's definitely within the realm of reason.  Add in the value of having a unique piece like this, and you're looking at a happy furniture situation.  OR, if you don't want to spend this much, use this ad for inspiration!  Get a vintage suitcase from a flea market and buy legs to attach (you can get cute ones from Ikea).

Shabby Chic Vanity Desk - $140

This isn't the kind of piece you just buy on a whim, but if you're looking for adorable storage, this could be perfect for you!  And don't get stuck picturing this in a bedroom - it could be in a craft room or as a catchall station in your entry way or mud room.  So here's the fun part.  You may think "um Jen, giant missing mirror there - no thank you..." BUT it's a great opportunity!!!  You could... 1. buy a new mirror 2. paint behind it with chalk board paint 3. wrap the mirror frame with twine and clip pictures to it 4. back the frame with cork or fabric! Cute, crafty, and very functional.

Mid Century Wood Dresser - $90

Now this is a pretty nice deal.  If you are looking for a dresser this could be your guy.  Treat the wood with a little TLC (use this tutorial from Brickhouse) and it will shine.  I'm jealous of whoever gets this one :)

*to find these pieces, search the San Diego craigslist furniture listings using the titles above. Hopefully you can snatch these up before someone else does!


Baby Bust Poll Results!

Well, it's been just over a week since my Awful or Awesome poll post about this brass baby bust (and yes, of course I dare you to say that five times fast).  It looks like a pretty clear consensus that you guys think it's awful.

62% Awful!
38% Awesome!

The masses have spoken.  You should not buy this from Cambridge Antique Market in Cambridge, MA (I think it was on the first floor in a glass cabinet to the right when you walk in just a little ways).  Unless you were one of the people who voted awesome... I won't tell anyone...

Did you forget to vote?!  Leave a comment if you agree or disagree with the results!  Voting is fun, but comment "voting" is fun too - promise :)


Living Room Sneak Peek

Progress on my White Box Challenge has been promising these last few days.  Tim and I got a ton done our first weekend and, while I'm not ready to reveal the whole living room yet (still working on the couch situation), I thought I would give you a little sneak peek today.

This little guy got a new home and I made these mason jars into little terrarium bookends.

I finally get to use my owl light switch cover from anthropology!

Oh and we have a little porch.  New home for our rocker - first home for my new Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree (I didn't do the brown spot damage, but I'm working to fix it.)

Get excited for the full reveal - I know I am!


Favorite Room Colors

So, as many of you know, I am living and breathing a white box challenge here in beautiful San Diego.  But this morning, sipping my coffee, I find myself dreaming of color still...

So I thought I would pose a question.

What color are you painting your walls?
...or do you wish you could paint your walls
...or have painted your walls in the past?
...or are your favorite wall colors?

Share links to pictures if you can :)