Craigslist win! How we scored a great craigslist deal

You ever read those posts where someone has some kind of great something and they found it on the curb, or got it on craigslist for a couple bucks or found it at the Restore for almost pennies?

Yeah, me too–and I always think:

Why not me?

Why can’t I find a slew of cabinets for $6 like John and Sherry did?

YHL cabinets

Image via Young House Love

Or a free bed and a super-cheap thrift store duvet and curtains like Kat at Maple Leaves & Sycamore Trees did?

Maple Leaves & Sycamore Trees bedroom

Image via Maple Leaves & Sycamore Trees

But no more craigslist envy for me because I finally found it:  My craigslist deal.

We’ve been casually looking for a couch to replace the futon in our family room. (You may have noticed it in our recent family room painting drama.)

thissortaoldlife family room window wall

This is a shot of the old futon couch, before painting the walls last week.

I’d get on craigslist once a week or so and try all kinds of searches–with retro, vintage, sofa, couch. I kept telling Cane I wanted something 70s–something so dated it would be kitschy-cool.

“You know,” I said, “like a plaid or floral couch, like we’ve seen in the vintage shops on Hawthorne.”

retro floral sofa

This one is actually from a shop across the river in Vancouver, Vintage Connection. Image via Craigslist.

A few nights ago Cane was dinking around on craigslist, and he said, “Is this the kind of couch you’re looking for?” 

thissortaoldlife family room green couch

Heck ya–and for only $100, the deal was for both a couch and a chair.

thissortaoldlife family room retro green chair

And–most important for actually getting the craigslist score–it had only been posted an hour before. I was the first one to contact the seller, so (short story really short) the couch and chair were ours.

(And I discovered the greatest craigslist tool this week–CraigsEasy. It’s been around awhile so I’m sure many of you already know about it, but it was new to me. Simply drag a button to your tool bar, and then click on it after doing your craiglist search. It will show you all the photos with the posts that came up in your search. No more clicking on!)

Were these guys in super-great shape? No, but I didn’t expect them to be for a hundred bucks.

thissortaoldlife green couch wear and tear

We did like the long, low lines of them, though…

thissortaoldlife family room retro green couch angle shot

(Please ignore the horrible carpet. Its days are numbered!)

…and the retro fabric, which is a nice mix of green and gold floral, but not in-your-face floral.

thissortaoldlife family room retro green couch fabric detail

We spent most of the next day cleaning them, and it wasn’t fun or pretty.

There was a lot of dog hair (but from a super-sweet, friendly lab we met during the transaction, which somehow made the hair more tolerable).

thissortaoldlife retro sofa

Luckily, we had a sunny afternoon, so we could do our cleaning outside.

We bought one can of rug/upholstery cleaner, but it took 2 to get the job done. We ended up with an assortment of products.

upholstery cleaners

Don’t these cans all look like they mean business? We only needed 2, so we didn’t try the Tuff Stuff.

And, we discovered that the cushions are made of what has to be the original foam, and in some places they had deteriorated and stuck to the cushion covers. We purposely didn’t take any pictures of the foam inserts because we know that if the kids saw them they would refuse to sit on this furniture. (We have yet to convert them to our thrifty ways or sense of style.)

thissortaoldlife inside of sofa cushion cover

Inside-out cushion cover, with foam bits stuck to it.

But…it looked pretty gross. We thought about getting replacement foam–but foam for three cushions would cost $150.00! And, aside from ugliness (which you don’t see when the covers are on), the cushions were in good shape. They still have lots of spring. We think this was a high-quality piece when new.

So we brushed off all the crumbling bits and let them air out in the sun for a full day and stuffed them back into their covers.

Freshly cleaned covers, that is.

cane pressure-washing the covers

This guy will jump on any chance to pull out the power-washer.

The cushion covers got to dry in the sun, too.

thissortaoldlife sofa cushion covers

While vacuuming and scrubbing, I had a chance to think a bit about the whole subject of OPD (Other People’s Dirt). I used to be a huge OPD snob. Especially about old OPD.

I didn’t want stuff that others had gotten dirty, and especially didn’t want to deal with dirt that had been around for awhile. But you know what? It’s just dirt.

It washes off (usually). And someone else’s dirt isn’t any dirtier than our own.

thissortaoldlife couch with pillows

I don’t know where this particular kind of snobbery originated in me, but I think it’s time I (and all of us) got over it.

This sofa and chair have years of good wear left in them, and all they needed was a little TLC. I’m feeling really good that they’ll be hanging out at our house (instead of at a dump) and that we didn’t drop hundreds of dollars for a new couch and chair.

thissortaoldlife retro green couch with new pillows

Sure, it’s a little raggedy. But it’s in our family room, setting for snacks, afternoon football naps, and the occasional rousing game of Twister. No need for pristine furniture here.

We spiffed them up with some new pillows. We had one of the green/blue/gold on white pillows already (from when I was still trying to work blue into the living room), and we thought it looked great with the sofa. So, I went and picked up another one (from World Market), along with some inexpensive gold ones.

thissortaoldlife retro green couch pillow detail

I felt OK about indulging in new pillows because the couch and chair really cost us almost nothing. We put the big brown chair that had been in the family room on craigslist, along with a few other things. By the end of the day, we’d sold the chair and a sweet little desk/table.

craigslist sellsThe chair was given to me a few years back, so the $50 we sold it for was all profit. The table was a thrift store find; I sold it for a few dollars more than I originally paid. I didn’t really want to let it go–because I really like it–but I’m working hard on not holding onto things we don’t use. We just don’t have a place for it now. The guy who picked up looked so happy to have it. I’m glad it’s going to a place it will be loved.

To sum our craigslist lessons up…

We’ve realized these are the things we need to do to win the craigslist game in the future:

1. Look often–and maybe at off-times (see #4).

2. Try a variety of search terms. (You can find great tips for this from Kate at Retro Renovation.)

3. Use CraigsEasy to make searching faster.

4. Be first to reply. (I think we got lucky because Cane was looking in the late evening.)

5. Be willing to clean/refurbish.

And in case you’re wondering…

What about those Goodwill pillows you bought just last week, Rita?

thissortaoldlife family room pillows

(Because, of course you keep track of all my small purchases…) No worries–they’ll still be used. We turned our Ikea storage crate into a seating bench in the corner of the room, and the pillows make a nice back cushion. (We use the crate to store extra blankets and pillows for sleep-overs.)

thissortaoldlife family room Ikea storage crate bench

Because the new chair is so much smaller than the brown beastie we sold, we had room to bring in an end table that we’d been storing in the garage.

thissortaoldlife family room retro green chair in corner with cabinet

Bringing it in and putting a lamp on it allows us to distribute lighting in a better way around the room, and it opens up some space around the storage cabinet. (Another future DIY project.)

Speaking of future DIY projects, this weekend I also scored this funky 70s ottoman for only $6! It doesn’t match yet, but one day it will!

thissortaoldlife 70s ottoman

We really like the legs on this guy, and it’s got a comfortable pad.

Right now the room is pretty much a mishmash of stuff, but we’re OK with that.

thissortaoldlife thrifty accessories

A few other thrift-store scores from this weekend. The mantel was looking mighty empty.

It’s a bright, fun mix, and we like it much better than the dreary cave it was just two weeks ago.

thissortaoldlife family room window wall

Would you rather hang out in this room…

thissortaoldlife bright family room

…or this room? We choose this one!

Our next big move in here: Tear out the carpet!

It’s stained and gross, and it’s going bye-bye. (Sometimes, you can’t get rid of the dirt. We’ve tried with this carpet, and it’s a no-go.)

bad carpet

Stained carpet? No. Concrete floors? Yes!

Right after we paint the exterior  of the house and tile the bathroom. 

thissortaoldlife cane caulking windows house exterior

Cane caulked the windows while I was scrubbing the couch.

thissortaoldlife bathroom tile project

We are so excited to finally be moving on this project!

We’ve got a lot in the works right now. We’re excited to share more with you later this week!

Speaking of sharing…

We’re hooking this post up to Her Library Adventures, The William Morris Project at Pancakes and French Fries, The Addicts (not so) Anonymous Link Party at Addicted 2 Decorating, and (because we think this definitely qualifies as a “green” project–and not just because of the sofa color), Sorta Crunchy‘s weekly Green Resource link up.

(Update July 1:  Just discovered another thrifty sharing place:  Simple Design’s Share Your Thrift Haul. Linking there, too.)

We’d love to hear about any of your craigslist adventures or efforts to make your home more beautiful or useful.

thissortaoldlife brass pineapple vase