Do you have what it takes to be a craigslist goddess?

Last week I had jury duty. What, you may be wondering, does that have to do with being a craigslist goddess? Well, not much, really. Because (as it will soon be apparent) I am not, in fact, a craigslist goddess. So maybe I should have given this post a different title: Craigslist Goddess Wannabe. However, the courthouse was the setting for much of my recent craigslist drama, so we need to begin there.

While I took my laptop to the courthouse and fully intended to use my time there productively, I just had the hardest time settling down. In spite of the mountains of work I’m behind on, I spent a lot of time posting such important/fascinating tidbits on Facebook as this:

This (sorta) Old Life: Facebook status

When I wasn’t doing that, I was trolling craigslist for bedroom furniture, because I have an enduring fantasy that some day, I am going to make a craigslist miracle happen. Also because, as Cane shared in ourlast post, we’re finally starting work on our bedroom.

It was such a great surprise to come home from a Christmas visit with my parents to find the horrible carpet forever banished from our bedroom, and–bonus!–the walls were painted, too.

This (sorta) Old Life: Master bedroom

That means I’ve had about a month to start thinking about what we need to do in this room.

First on the list:  Better storage.

We’ve currently got one dresser (shown above, filled with Cane’s stuff) and one funky closet filled with all of my stuff and Cane’s hanging stuff.

This (sorta) Old Life: master bedroom closet

When we moved in–two-and-a-half years ago–I thought the closet situation was going to be temporary. Because it was clearly not adequate. Even though I’d participated not long before that in Project 333 (a minimalist clothing project) and had a pretty pared-down wardrobe, there just wasn’t enough space and, more importantly, the space we have isn’t the right space. There was no rod from which I could hang dresses, and we had to take the sliding doors off in order to have access to the storage in the middle of the closet.

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

As you can see here, even my scarves are too long and get tangled in the hangers on the rod below. Anything long hanging on the bottom row gets tangles in my shoes.

I like that I don’t have room to fill up with clothing I don’t need, but I really want to have the right kind of room. We’ve been thinking that it would be great to have a bigger dresser (a 9-drawer lowboy) and a tall dresser or armoire, so we can get rid of the storage in the middle of our closet and reconfigure the hanging rods.

As for style of furniture, we’ve been thinking that we’d like to pick up something with a groovy ’70s vibe to it. For several  years we’ve been seeing ornate, carved, dark, chunky ’70s furniture in thrift stores for dirt-low prices, and we’ve been telling ourselves that we should be buying all the 70s stuff up because it’s inevitable that it will be the next hot thing.

But, of course, we haven’t been doing that. And, of course, it is getting kinda hot. A Google image search for “painted 70s dresser” will show you that we aren’t the first ones to think that the furniture we loved to hate back in the 90s can have a whole new appeal.

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dressers

Naturally, when a craigslist search turned up this, I was pretty instantly smitten:

sure that Cane and I would soon be driving to pick up our awesome 70s furniture find--just the pieces we wanted, and for a much smaller price than originally advertised.

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

I mean, can’t you see how well this style would work with  adjoining moody master bathroom, where Edgar lives?

This (sorta) Old Life: Bathroom art Edgar

There were just a few problems:

Only one nightstand (we want two)

Not crazy about the headboard

Pretty beat up

More than we’d like to pay

Owner wanted to sell as a set, and we weren’t sure about having everything match

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

This was not the only considerable ding (and two drawers are broken), but since we’re thinking we’d paint these, we figured this isn’t anything a little wood filler can’t fix.

Before I reported to jury duty, Cane and I had decided we’d have to pass on this. Just too many marks in the “don’t buy” column. But, the afternoon of my first day, I found this painting on my way home, and not only did I know it had to go in the space over our bed, I also knew we had to have some funky 70s furniture to set it off:

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

Clearly, this headboard from Cane’s bachelor days isn’t going to make the cut.

So there I was on jury duty Day 2, with nothing much else going on:

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

Despite the fact that my last foray into the world of craigslist furniture was a total fail, that morning I could think only of Victoria Elizabeth Barnes, the craigslist goddess/owner of outrageous but totally awesome CL furniture, who just this past week has embarked on a bedroom furniture odyssey of her own.

Hmmm…what would Victoria Elizabeth Barnes do? I wondered, as the laughtrack from The Price is Right played in the background.

I knew she wouldn’t just passively let one of her own craigslist dreams slip away without a fight. So, I channeled my inner Victoria Elizabeth Barnes and fired off this email:

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

I hit send full of hopes that Cane and I would soon be driving to pick up our awesome 70s furniture find–just the pieces we wanted, and for a much lower price than originally advertised. In the meantime, I was still stuck in the jury room, still feeling restless.

Deciding to reach out for moral support and entertainment, I asked readers of our FB page what they thought about my find:

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

Other than Hillary, who is always the voice of reason and restrained taste, I got a pretty resounding “yes” from the crowd. (That’s why I love you guys.)

Then I sat back and waited for the miracle to happen.

It didn’t.

This (sorta) Old Life:  70s dresser

What!?! $260 for two banged up 70s dressers that–while they will certainly be hot and worth much, much more five years from now–are not, currently, very hot at all?

Because I had nothing but time on my hands, I decided to do a little research. Maybe all hope was not yet lost.

This (sorta) Old Life:  70s dresser

Based on the prices for the other dressers I saw, I thought that $75 for each piece was a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the owner was not able to go there with me:

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 7.45.21 AM.jpg

Dang it. 

I just couldn’t see spending that much money for two pieces in fairly bad shape that were going to need a whole bunch of work. At that price, I’d want all of the set. Just because. Maybe we’d love the headboard? Maybe I could sell the headboard and nightstand to recoup some of the cost?

I knew Cane wouldn’t be on board with any of this. Our garage is already crowded with another in-progress project that needs finishing. The last thing we need right now is a whole bedroom set full of furniture that would need to live in the garage for an indefinite amount of time.

I reminded myself of the lesson we’ve learned over and over again:

The right thing will appear if we are patient, and it’s better to wait for the truly right thing than to settle for the almost-right thing. 

Almost-right almost always means wasted money for us, because almost-right means something’s wrong, and we end up discarding it (or regretting it) when the truly right thing appears.

I sent the owner my regrets and moved on. Not physically–because I was still stuck in the jury room–but emotionally.

I resumed making stupid FB posts and trying to get my real work done.

Wouldn’t you know it, the very next day, I found something that seemed like a sure Right Thing.

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

I’m sure this beat-up thing doesn’t look like a Right Thing to most of you, but you’ve got to image it cleaned up and painted. It had originally been offered for $25 at a local thrift store, but it’d been marked down to $10. And there were two of them.

They weren’t the kind of floral carved furniture I’d become set on, but at that price they were close enough. At that price, I thought, I could afford to spend more on dressers that are what we really want. (Maybe even $260.00 for those dressers that got away?) And, if we didn’t like them, I could surely sell them on CL for what I’d paid.

I snapped them up and drove them home.

We put them in our bedroom, where they did, indeed, look right at home with the painting and our awesomely awful lamps. And I loved the bigger drawer and storage cabinet, which hides our fairly ugly (but necessary) bedside junk.

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

However, seeing how much more they filled the space than our previous nightstands did, I realized that there’s just not enough room in the room for the big, heavy 70s furniture we’ve been imagining.

Yes, we could fit it all in, but not without making the room feel stuffed full of furniture. Even if the actual dimensions are not all that different from the dresser we have in there, it would be visually fuller.

Cane and I spent quite a bit of Saturday night talking about what it is we really want in and from this room. He wants a room that’s got some character. That’s creative and original and interesting.

When I asked him to clarify–because there’s all different kinds of interesting and original–he said:

“Well…I dunno. I guess it should feel like an old Italian restaurant. Not look like an old Italian restaurant, but feel like an old Italian restaurant. You know, full of comfortable old stuff with age patina. And good lighting.”

(That’s why I love this man. Who else would tell me that our bedroom should feel like an old Italian restaurant?)

I can go with Cane on the Italian restaurant thing, but I also really want good storage for our clothing and a sense of space. I want comfortable and cozy, but not crowded or cluttered.

We are not sure how to do all of this within the confines of our room.

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

Our home was built before the days of the master suite. The window wall is 127″ wide. It’s pretty much the only wall we have to place a dresser (or dressers) on. If we put one on the adjoining wall, it would block traffic going from the bathroom to the dresser and right side of the bed.

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

The only place for another piece of furniture on this side of the room is next to the nightstand. That’s not ideal, though. We like having a mirror there, and it would create a long block of furniture (dresser/nightstand/bed/nightstand) along the wall.

Right now, we’re thinking of two really different solutions.

Solution #1:  French Provincial

French Provincial furniture is also from the 70s, and it can look pretty great when painted, but it’s visually much lighter.

Here’s a piece that’s currently being offered not too far from us:

Picture it looking something like this painted one I found at Chrissie’s Collections:

This (sorta) Old Life:  French Provincial dresser from Chrissie's Collections

This could give us the quirky, original, Italian restaurant feel Cane really wants, but not be quite so overwhelming. If we find the right pieces for the right price, this would also give us the storage I want.

Solution #2:  Ikea Malm

We’re also wondering how it might be to line the wall under the window with Malm dressers from Ikea. Two of these side-by-side would fill that space (leaving just a half-inch on either side) and provide 12 drawers of storage, allowing us to remake the closet so that I can hang dresses and have decent shoe storage.

This (sorta) Old Life: Malm dresser

These would be super-functional and provide a lighter, cleaner look for the room at about the same cost ($300 for 2) we’d likely pay for vintage dressers (especially when you factor in the cost of paint, sandpaper, etc.). If we went with two of these, we’d likely add a long piece of wood to cover the top of both and add some trim to make it look like a built-in cabinet.

Ikea has other Malm options as well–dressers that are taller, dressers with 3 drawers, etc. We could go with 3 sets of 3-drawer chests that we could center on the wall, or we could choose 4-drawer options, or some mix of low and tall.

Lest you think the Malm route has to be a boring one with no style/Italian restaurant charm, I can assure you that the internets is full of creative Malm hacks that have our brains spinning. We especially like this one from Sarah Hearts (although the cost of the overlays she added would add too much for us to use this particular method of hack).


All of which is to say:  We don’t really know what we’re going to do with the bedroom.

I’m feeling glad, though, that I did not let jury-duty boredom and my admiration for Victoria Elizabeth Barnes and her craigslist goddess ways lead me down a path that would end with a garage full of furniture we don’t want.

It works for VEB (in pretty amazing ways), but I think that’s because she really knows what she wants. She’s got a designer’s vision, and she executes it. We, being the UnDesigners that we are, don’t.

We don’t know what we want yet, but we do know all will be revealed in good time. It’s through our adventures and misadventures that we figure out what it is we really want and need, and we’re OK with not being sure of either thing right now. So, the time on craigslist and the money spent on the nightstands haven’t been wasted–even if we end up with Ikea dressers and we ditch the nightstands. We trust that the end result will be something we love, and that the time/money spent this week is just a necessary part of the process to get there.

In the meantime, we’re fine with our banged up nightstands, our awesome lamps, our painted particleboard floor, and our new favorite painting. I can even tolerate the closet for a while longer. After 2.5 years of fairly awful, what’s a few more weeks/months?

This (sorta) Old Life: 70s dresser

Still a long ways to go, but it feels like progress.

 Got any great suggestions for us?

We’d love to hear them. Hope you’ll drop us a note in the comments.