Thursday, October 31, 2013

craigslist loves babies

And I don't, really.  Well...for those not visiting from the IF's complicated.  (Why don't you get lost in a mind vortex of topics that have nothing to do with shopping or antiques for, say, a year?  Please read my blogroll while you're at it.  Thanks for stopping by!) 

This is a fact I probably should have featured a little earlier in the month: craigslist is sort of a natural haven for stay-at-home moms.  Have a fairly flexible schedule for furniture pick-up and drop-off, and trying to pinch a few pennies being on just the one income?  Yes, well, there you go.  So trolling the 'list can offer just as much of a baby-related ambush as the dreaded 'book.* 

For example.  I have run eleventy million searches on the word "gate," and because I don't know whether people list them under "household," or "materials," or "antiques," or what, I hit "all for sale/wanted" as my major filter.  Which means I get lots of results.  Like so:

(I have no idea why that image is shaded in gray, by the way.  Blogger is mysterious.) 

Anyway, there you can see my first nine results.  Zero are for what I would call actual gates.  Five are for baby stuff.  I did not see this eventuality coming at all when I innocently typed in my "gate" search.  But it happened every day.  Eventually I wised up (sometimes this takes me a while).  I had options: scroll past all the baby results.  Definitely possible, if possibly annoying.  Another option: narrow my search.  I tried "iron, gate" a number of times, but I began to fear I was missing out on excellent gate options that their owners simply didn't know were iron.  (I believe I've already established that "wrought" would have gotten me nowhere as a search term.)  And what about lovely wooden gates?  So, some days I would run a narrow search; every few days I would run a broad search, grumpily passing by baby gates and trucks with gates in search of a real gate.  You all know how that search turned out:

I built my own.  No complaints. 

I did figure out that I could eliminate the truck-with-gates category from my results by using a $5 minimum (to get rid of those truck sellers who think they can lure you in with their $1 trucks.  Good riddance!) and a maximum somewhere south of $1000 (since motor vehicles tend to cost a bit more than yard materials).  But I never conquered the baby paraphernalia problem.  (Of course there are lots of categories other than baby stuff that could be a frequent hazard with particular searches.  And, hey, there are people who use craigslist to search for things other than gates.  True story.) 

Then I started writing about craigslist for 31 days and realized it might be helpful to someone somewhere if I knew something other than what I naturally learned through disordered obsession.  (Though I think it's important to note here that disordered obsession is probably the single most effective method of learning enormous volumes of information about a very narrow topic.  Methodical study doesn't even come close.) 

So this would be the search term that you want (combined with the dollar restrictions to eliminate the trucks):

baby -gate

Magic, right?  (It's very similar to the negative restrictor I learned ever so long ago for ebay.)  And with that (oh, I'm not using the dollar restrictor, but you should), you get...

Top nine results; only two are for baby stuff.  Hey, that's a 50% improvement! 

On the other hand, given that the whole thing is digital, anything less than 100% improvement is completely ludicrous.  So, here is where we must return to the first lesson of craigslist: never underestimate the human element.  I mean, really...

Are you going to craft a search term to eliminate that?  Of course not.  (Also: "House"?  What??) 

So, that might save you just a smidge of time and headache on your regular craigslist searches.  Which I assume you're undertaking.  And if you're not, there's no time like the present.  October is almost over...

*That is obviously false.  It would be impossible. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

craigslist built my kitchen

I know I went into exhaustive detail about building and/or restoring my kitchen cabinets.  If you recall, I started here:

This monstrosity was $100 from craigslist.  And then there was a great metamorphosis, and here we are today:

As with the rest of my house photos, I showed you how close I feel to all of you by not cleaning anything up before I took the pictures.  Of course the day after I took them I carved all the pumpkins and cleaned the whole kitchen.  Obviously.  At the right edge of this picture, above the stove-hood-cabinet, you can just see the cabinet for which I used the third door from the original piece.  I explained all that here.  Oh, and below the big cabinet and the pot rack and the butcher block that the pumpkins are sitting on are these two cabinets:

Obviously, they are not antique.  But I needed cabinets.  They were $20 (for both) on craigslist.  I painted and varnished them (AND THEY DO NOT LOOK LIKE THAT COLOR IN REAL LIFE).  But that's not all.  I also bought a big square of marble (removed from a furrier's in 1917) for $35, which became the top of my work table and the wee counter under my tea/coffee cabinet:

That Lebanese cookbook seems excellent so far - I got it from the library.  The solar lights (in the little box) are from Amazon.  They don't work at all - completely defective, right out of the box.  Don't buy them.  Moving on...

This is my cabinet that I got for $50 that I'm now convinced is some fabulous early-nineteenth-century antique.  Or not.  I like it either way.  what I do not like is this picture.  It took me a while to get the area above the cabinet laid out just right, and now I'm really happy with it, but everything in this picture (especially the lighting and the color) looks like garbage; you'll have to take my word for it that it doesn't look like that in real life.  Oh yeah, also:

My vintage sink was $150 on craigslist.  Installing it was a labor of love (and sometimes cursing). 

My kitchen is only about 10 x 10, and with all the doors and windows, it hasn't got much counter space, even for a kitchen of that size.  (And I would never remove my fabulous radiator and put in some sort of stupid under-cabinet heating.  Though I should probably paint the radiator at some point.)  And I only have one sink (horreur!) and no garbage disposal (working on that) and my stove is right next to the sink, which everyone everywhere tells you is a cardinal sin of kitchen design (and which was not my intention, but the sink was fairly wide, and that's where the hood was already attached, so I went with it) - as a result of which I know something that I suspect most home cooks don't know: if your sink is immediately next to your stove, filling and emptying pasta pots is nearly effortless, and you can hand-wash dishes and make sauce or custard or scramble eggs or sautee onions at the same time.  Try that in a 400SF kitchen some time.  I have not yet experienced any downsides of this arrangement.  (I have a 15" countertop on the other side of the stove in case I need to set things somewhere.)  In other words - this kitchen is wee, and was built by a combination of craigslist and Ikea and Amazon and Home Depot and thrift stores and my own crafty little paws.  And I feed lots of people and everyone always hangs out in here (that whole "kitchen is the hub of the home" thing doesn't only or even mostly apply to kitchens the size of airplane hangars where no one but the help ever cooks) and it's perfect for us and I love it. 

So thank you, craigslist. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

putting my money where my big mouth is

Not long ago I discussed just a few of the many darling bloggers who have found awesome things on craigslist - as, I aim to convince you, you also can. Lest I give anyone the impression that craigslist is something I merely talk about (and I don't know how that would be possible, but I'd just like to make the record absolutely clear), let's talk about stuff I've bought on craigslist.  I should say - if I photographed every single thing I've bought there, this post would never end.  So I'll just show off some of my favorites - and try at least to name everything.  (Which is a big job, I'm telling you.)

Let's start with my living room, where I'm tapping away on this keyboard here.  My sectional might actually have been my first-ever craigslist purchase:

It was $150.  I had been looking for a couch for six months (while we watched movies on a pile of blankets on the floor in our rather sad little apartment.  Ah, newlywed life).  I was not looking for a sectional, but I did insist on something with deep enough cushions that we could snuggle on it together while watching movies :).  I don't really style my couch; it has a lot of pillows (and might get a few more), but it usually has humans, computers, pillows, and blankets strewn about it, as shown above.  This is definitely the living room.  Also, it looks like I have great expanses of wall space to fill with pictures and things.  In person, you can see that they are all too small to hang pictures on (and I'm not big on knickknacks and plates and wee candle perches and filling every last bit of space.  The molding and the frieze, which you can't see here, are plenty of decoration). 

Also in my living room:

This was a rare craigslist impulse buy.  I didn't really need it and I don't really have a good place for it (though it worked better when I arranged all my living room furniture askance.  Unfortunately, my husband kept turning everything back to right angles, and I finally stopped moving it again), but it was a real antique fainting couch (advertised as a "psychiatrist's couch") with the original leather upholstery and the original horsehair filling, for $75.  So I bought it.  Of course.  (Oh, that's the gas lamp hanging out on the left side of the mantel.  I need to figure out where to put it back.) 

Then there's the dining room, which is pretty much all craigslist.  The table:

Here it's all the way extended to 96"; it can seat 12 in a pinch, which was my requirement.  That was $100.  And yes, there is crap all over it.  (I don't understand people who say they don't use their dining rooms.  We use ours daily, though not necessarily for dining.)  As you can see, I didn't bother to "style" these shots.  Also, I know these photos are poor even by my standards; I'm not sure why.  Then there's the china cabinet.  I think it goes beautifully with the table (though they were purchased separately):

In the picture of the table above, you can see my grandmother's oak press-back chairs - I had been given four.  When I got a bigger table, I knew I would need more.  Thus, the four chairs for $50, which I had to stain darker to go with my original four.  Too bad I don't have a "before" picture, but that's my grandmother's chair on the left; chair I bought is on the right:

I realized after I bought all the furniture for the dining room that I'd dropped $250 on it in a month or so (I had finished the wallpaper and wanted to get some of my boxes of serving pieces out of the basement and was on a big push to get it done).  Had I bought a complete set (table, china cabinet, four chairs), I might well have been able to do better on the price.  The thing is, I almost never saw a set in which I liked the cabinet and the table and the chairs for less than $1000. 

The kitchen has so many things from craigslist that it deserves a separate post, really.  Craigslist didn't so much furnish my kitchen as build it.

Let's see - on my porch, I have a metal bistro table and a pair of chairs that I got for $35, for our patio at our old place:

I also have a metal bench that cost $15.  (The cushion, of course, cost a lot more.  Always!)  At least the outdoor throw pillows were on clearance:

I bought a metal glider for $60:

A pair of big ol' outdoor chairs was $35.  They were in rough shape, and now are in much rougher shape, but we got two summers of constant use out of them, so I call that worth it.  Two regular wicker chairs - along with a little side table - were $25.  I got a regular peacock chair for $25.  And then - possibly my greatest craigslist coup - a pair of super-fancy peacock chairs (which the sellers got in Thailand) for $25.  This is the fancier of the two:

And can't forget my gorgeous $500 Wedgewood stove.  Still need to work on selling that.  I would say it was a craigslist failure, but craigslist hit it out of the park, really.  That stove is awesome, and I think it was a great price.  It was my inability to figure out the pilot light/burner issue with the ovens that let me down.  Oh, and we also bought a little kettle grill for $15.  And several window air conditioners, generally for about $50.  (Can you tell I'm mentally wandering through what's in the carriage house?)

So...upstairs.  I have a roll-top desk (not an antique, but nice solid wood) that was $75, and a leather desk chair that was $40 (also modern, but in an older style):

In our room, we have an antique headboard (well, I bought the whole frame, but I'm just using the headboard) that was $150.  And that I've never really liked for our room.  Gotta work on that.  And our awesome antique oak armoire:

That one was $125, which I think was a steal.  It's huge.  Then there's this highboy (which turned out to be Broyhill.  It's modern, but it's solid wood), which was $40:

Included in that price was a little three-drawer chest/nightstand.  This day bed was $75, and has a hide-away trundle bed, which is very handy.  (I've seen them for less on craigslist recently, but not on the DC craigslist.  I looked for that for ages.)  This dresser was $45:

I did a lousy job refinishing it.  (Hey, you have to start learning about wood finishing somewhere.)  The work isn't quite bad enough for me to have sanded it all off and redone it - yet.  But that will happen eventually.  (Key tip: do not buy stain and varnish in one.  It doesn't save time or money; it wrecks your finish.  At least, it wrecked mine.)  Oh, I also bought four vinyl exterior shutters for $40.  I thought they were wood.  (Oops.)  But I did persuade them to take paint.  Oh yeah and.  Couldn't miss this:

Or this:

I have now bought four cars through craigslist.  All good purchases.  Oh, and definitely can't forget THIS:

The adorable rental where we lived for three years.  Yeah, baby - CRAIGSLIST.  And nobody believed the deal we got on that place, either.  Or the hardwood floors and wood-burning fireplace and ACRE of land in ARLINGTON, six miles from the White House.  In a rental.  Do not underestimate the power of the 'list. 

I'm thinking.  That's actually not everything, of course :).  But I think you get the idea.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I win craigslist

So I realize that I did not do my post on Friday.  Or Saturday.  Or Sunday.  And I can't exactly claim that I was super-busy those days (OK, I spent most of Saturday shopping, and most of Sunday chaperoning 13 high schoolers through Six Flags's "fright night" feature, complete with, of course zombies.  My impression of Six Flags in ten words or less: I am never going there again.  And I spent most of Friday cleaning the carriage house, which you can now walk into without needing a tetanus shot.  I am awesome). 

The real problem is that on Friday - in the waning hours of daylight, remembering my commitment to the foolhardy folks reading these posts and trying to capture the items in decent lighting - I took pictures of everything I needed for not one but two craigslist posts.  For the first one, everything but the pictures has been done for quite some time.  So I was going to get Friday's and Saturday's done on Friday.  But when I went to send the pictures from my phone (actually my friend's phone, because he is kindly fixing my phone, which I dropped - again.  I would have used the real camera, but when I picked it up, I realized the battery was dead), the phone ate them.  So then I basically pouted for three days.  That seems totally reasonable.  I will post all this eventually, and I think I will end up with 31 days of craigslist one way or another (even if some of those days are actually in November).  And I was doing so well! 


That's not really the point.  The point is - remember this item? 

Right, and the seller wouldn't call me back.  And you remember my unfinished bathroom? 

With the really ugly light? 

Well.  You recognize this room?

That's a smidge of my sink and my toilet (you can almost even see the white toilet seat!), and the awesome antique mirror I got for $10 at the antique barn outside Harrisburg, and yes, I have a wooden duck to hold my toilet paper.  A friend got it for me at a grocery store on at trip through West Virginia, because, well, obviously.  And after we moved to this house and it sat in a bin for a while, I realized we didn't have a toilet paper holder for the bathroom, and then I thought, "Oh, of course we do."  It's been very happy there.  And I'm thinking that you might recognize the light above the mirror.  It does have gold detailing, like the ugly light, but it isn't the ugly light.  SEE:

See my excellent photography skills?  And, yes, there is a reason I chose to take the pictures from that loony angle:

(By the way, I'd like to point out here that I think these finishes go together beautifully.) 

See...originally the sink and the light were further to the left (and, when we moved in, there was still a screw to hang the mirror, but no mirror).  Then the room had to be largely gutted because of water damage to everything down to the joists.  When the plumbers replaced the sink (well, they got me another vintage sink, after throwing out my vintage sink because they figured I wouldn't want it.  Sigh), I guess they thought it wasn't great to have it so close to the pipe (see picture above), and cut the beadboard to pass the water lines through about 8" to the right of where they (and the sink) had originally been.  They didn't think about the fact that the light was now centered 8" to the left of the sink.  (As I may have mentioned before, they were very good plumbers, but I wouldn't hire them as interior decorators.) 

Anyway, so I centered the mirror over the new sink location.  And then when I replaced the light (yesterday), I centered that with the new positions, even though that left the junction box uncovered, as shown above.  (I thought about cutting a new hole in the wall and moving the junction box, but that seemed like too much trouble.)  I think the problem should be taken care of by putting a nice blank wall plate over the junction box, and then attaching an identical wall plate on the other side of the light (even though there's no junction box there for it to cover, it will look symmetrical that way).  This one might work:

If I'm lucky, the curve might even follow the circular shape of the back of the sconce.  I could paint them white, to stand out, or "Mackinac Island Grand Hotel Blue," to match the walls.  Thoughts?  Or, I could get brass plates to match the tone of the light fixture.  I like the color on this one, but I think the design on this one would go better. 

Oh and, YES, I wired it correctly:


I guess a $30 sconce isn't the biggest score in the history of craigslist, but I consider this a significant victory.  Two wall plates from now, my powder room will be FINISHED!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

craigslist and the zombie apocalypse

(This is a good place for a joke about the elephant and the Polish question, but I'll leave that one to you.) 

The other day This Old House's online version came out with this very important information.  It's essential that you go and read the whole thing, but I'll share just this one invaluable tidbit here:
Most zombies are pathetic climbers, so eluding them means little more than moving upstairs and removing your staircase. Faced with zombie invasion, many frantic homeowners freak out, mindlessly smashing their staircases with a sledgehammer. However, the more preservation-minded among us prefer dismantling and storing them until the invasion is over. Start by unscrewing the newel posts and banisters, then use a flat crowbar to gently pull up the treads and risers.
As you can imagine, I was extremely disturbed by this information.  I had more or less resigned myself to the ravaging effects of a zombie invasion on myself and my nearest and dearest, but I had not considered that the zombie hordes might lay waste to my historic home.  I had an understandably restless night. 

Happily, I started the day with an email from a dear friend, who (though unaware of my recent zombie-related worries) timely offered reassurance that animals would stop the zombie apocalypse before it started.  I'm not sure of the likely contributions of Bailey the Dog, but one scientist helpfully explained the zombie-brain-disabling abilities of the North American jaguar.  Check out this (really lovely!) jaguar crushing the skull of a relative of the alligator:

Impressive, right? 

But I'm going to need a stopgap measure until I can get a jaguar for my yard.  I'm sure the fence and the driveway gate will keep the jaguar in:

The jaguar would definitely respect the pickets.  And get along with Bailey. 

Until then, though, I'll need some intermediate zombie deterrents.  And, wouldn't you know, craigslist comes to my rescue again! 

An excellent start.  But wait, there's more:

It explains in the fine print:
It's not the truck to drive to Linens and Things to pick up the wife's new sham covers or to get those cute shoes at Journey's. It's for hunting, fishing, camping or transporting bodies of zombies that made it past the mine field you laid out in your front yard. Driving around in anything more than jeans and a greasy t-shirt will cause this truck to get repo'ed, BY GOD! If you want a battle-ready, made-in-America, steel structure that will crash through the front gate of an Al Qaeda training camp, stomp mudholes in the chest of whatever highway you drive down, or even to make a new road through the middle of a hippie drum circle, look no further: this is the bearded ninja Chuck Norris of trucks. If you need a vehicle to get to Pilates or take your poodle to the groomer, buy a Prius, Nancy, and keep walking. Just fair warning, if you aren't worthy of this rig, it will round-house you for sheer pretentiousness. The wheels are in great shape, aluminum mags on 33" tires which are in great shape. There is also a heavy-duty tow hitch to drag your anti-terrorist/zombie/whiny neighbor, a .50 caliber, air-cooled, chain-fed machine gun, or a Mark 19 automatic grenade launcher for rodent dispersements. If you have a need for a brutal, hands down bad ass truck, here it is.

Of course there are more details, but I think this excerpt raises the salient points. 

In short: when the undead come knocking at your (newly repainted) front door (with the original brass hardware recently restored), craigslist will not leave you in the, uh, lurch

I tried

The title relates to both the date and the content of this post.  I was all set to post this last night at about 11:35.  But my evil phone wouldn't cooperate.  (Something about blogger not being supported by its operating system - !!!)  I will be posting two posts today, though.  There will be 31 days, one way or another. 

Anyway, you may have noticed that this whole month while I have been discussing craigslist - the bargain-priced, the misspelled, and the magical - I have not mentioned any actual purchases.  I'll get to the many splendorous things I've purchased on craigslist that have made me such a fan (and, yes, I know I'm running out of daylight + October in which to do so), but have I actually bought anything in October, while I'm going on about how awesome craigslist is? 

Well, the short version is - I did try.  Specifically, with this:

See, I've been trying to finish my powder room.  I have a number of rooms that got to mostly finished and then I stopped.  In the case of the powder room, I got reasonably far:

I even replaceed that toilet seat with a white wooden one, and found a cool antique mirror for over the sink (for $10 at my favorite antique barn in Pennsylvania!).  The one thing I really had to do was replace this:

And, yeah, I shared where I was on that ages ago.  And that light is still there.  Except maybe now one of the bulbs is burned out.  At the time my plan was to use this:

That was not a good plan.  So it's for the best that I failed to execute it.  Then I got a very, very cool antique gas lamp from my mother-in-law.  I don't have a picture of it.  However, it looks like this:

And I mean, exactly like this (except that the brass bell and black tube here are both the same material on mine - a sort of hammered gold-toned material that matches the frame on my mirror really nicely).  These were obviously made by the same manufacturer.  That is not in any way relevant, of course. 

What is relevant is that a couple of years ago, when I got this lamp, I thought it looked awesome, and would be great to add a light kit to and turn into a wall sconce over my powder room mirror.  I figured the big bell on the bottom was where the light came out of, and that the dingy-looking, slightly-curved bottom surface (which you can't see in this picture) was glass, and I would cut it out, and then put a light bulb into it and feed the wire through the tube at the top.  Then it failed to cut with glass cutters, and I also couldn't break (nor even dent) it with a rock.  I retired the project to the drawing board. 

A few days ago it occurred to me that this project had now spent over a year on the drawing board, and I had failed to take the simple step of figuring out why the heck that base material wouldn't break.  So I did some reading, and found out the obvious: a gas light would not be encased in glass (or anything else), because if it were, it would rapidly go out from lack of oxygen. 


That bell is actually there to contain the oil or gas or whatever the fuel is for the lamp.  So, it's a good thing you can't break it with a rock.  This information in my possession, I re-examined the piece and realized there is really nowhere I can put a wire through it, and even if I could, I'd be featuring the part I think would be less attractive as a sconce.  A new plan is needed.  (Also, a new destiny for the gas lamp.  I am taking suggestions.  Suggestions other than putting new fuel in it and lighting it up, that is.  I already have a vintage oil lamp, which is extremely simple in its mechanics.  This one is complicated and slightly corroded and I am not willing to set it on fire.) 

Then I found the item I mentioned, on craigslist:

In one of them there ads that says, "Don't email me!"  Have I mentioned that I don't like those?  I want to email people.  I like the internet.  That's where I found you.  So I called the number provided.  (Well, one of them.  Arguably I should now call the other one.)  No one has called me back, and it's been 24 hours.  I am displeased. 

It would look really good in my powder room, wouldn't it???  

Don't say no to make me feel better.  That would not make me feel better.  I'm just going to have to be cranky for a bit. 

You know what would make me feel better?  YOUR stories of the one on craigslist that got away.  (AND I DO NOT MEAN HUMANS.  If you solicited someone for favors on craigslist and he, she, or they failed to respond as you had hoped, I do not want to hear about it - not even in Mandarin with helpful hyperlinks - so don't tell me.) 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No, it isn't.

Sorry, craigslist, but it just isn't.  

I suspect it actually tastes terrible.  

Surely they must know.  

In theory, of course, anything is possible.  And  

I don't really want to know, actually.  

That word...never mind.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

I discovered something

Should I be ashamed that I have only just discovered a new something craigslist-related?  Or awed at the splendor of this fascinating tool, ever new?

Does it matter whether the something is really obvious?

I hope I have conveyed, in this survey of the 'List, my general philosophy as regards things I love: my fondness for them must not result in a blindness to their faults, but in a stoic admission of them.  Nothing earthly is lovable because it is perfect; it might, however, be good, and if it is loved, then as the lover of the thing, one must also hope that it be improved.

Chesterton had far more eloquent words on this theme, devoted to the neighborhood of Pimlico.  But I had the idea before I read his.  (I believe he said something similar about Christianity.)

Thus, obviously, I wish that craigslist sellers would use better English.

But badly-worded ads are not nearly as annoying as badly-priced ads.  And the worst of these are unclearly-priced ads.  (I may have mentioned a little peccadillo I have about people wasting my time.)  Not putting a price in the "price" field when creating the ad means that on a list of results, the ad will not appear with a price, such that the searcher must click through to the ad to find the price.  I'm sure some people theorize that this will get their items more attention, but I must assure them that any greater attention is not positive attention.  Even more annoying to me as a searcher is that failure to put a price in the price field means that I cannot search by price.  Your $4000 Edwardian buffet will come up in my search for a $30 broken buffet that I can paint.  How does that help you?

Of course, probably most people who fail to put the price in the price field probably do so because they don't notice that it's there, or misunderstand how to use it.

Which is why that pales before a far greater sin: listing the price as $1.  Nothing more clearly conveys the message, "I know that the field is here, I know how to use it, and I know that shoppers are using the field to restrict their searches to the maximum price they're willing to pay, in order to avoid wasting their time looking at things they can't afford.  Well, I'm here to waste that time."

I don't believe I've yet seen an ad for a reasonably-priced item that used $1 in the price field, so I don't think I've ever started out provoked by this behavior and then thought, "Oh, well, in that case..."  But even if there ever were someone with a nice normal $100 couch who pulled that "$1" stunt, I don't think I would buy that, because you already know the guy is a jerk.

So, really, this little discovery of mine should be obvious.  But I've only just this week started filtering my results to remove items that some unspeakably obnoxious person falsely labeled as $1: set a minimum price that is the lowest your chosen object would ever reasonably cost.  For my paintable buffet, I figured that price was $10.

I'm telling you, this is going to change my life.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

existential questions

Can I go as craigslist for Hallowe'en?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ikea bit me

I went to Ikea today because I randomly happened upon an announcement that Ikea was rolling out a new lamp design, while I was searching the web for something else.  It's the Ranarp:

It costs $39.99.  Definitely ticks some boxes where my design preferences are concerned - I like black or white enameled metal fixtures (as opposed to the endless array of fake metallics.  Steel painted to look like "brushed nickel."  Aluminum painted to look like "oil-rubbed bronze."  Zinc painted to look like "antique copper."  Good grief).  And I like that the accents are brass-toned (although, of course, that is a fake metallic, isn't it?).  And I like the vaguely industrial shape.  It also comes in a clamp version, for $19.99:

That's even more interesting, because of course it's a great price, and because it might solve a design/functionality problem.  When I originally put together the side of the kitchen with the window and the radiator, I wanted to put a sconce on the side of the tea cabinet, mirroring the sconce on the side of the over-stove cabinet.  But I couldn't get the @$%# wires to run through the wall.  (It's an exterior wall and I have no idea what's in there.  But getting a hole in it was crazy hard, and I finally gave up.)  So I let the matter be, but really, I would like to have a light over there.  Ideally, it would be on the wall between the work table (in front of the window) and the tiny ledge of counter under the tea cabinet, so that I could swing it around and shine it on either.  But the strip of wall between is not just narrow - it also has a radiator pipe running up the middle of it.  This pipe:

Which is about the only thing in that picture that still looks like that (I count six major changes I made since then in that area alone), but yeah, that's where the pipe is.  So then I got the bright idea that someone, somewhere, must make a light that slides along a pipe, and plugs into an outlet.  For...people who work near a lot of pipes...and need good illumination?  Yeah, those people.  And one of those (no doubt numerous) options would of course have a look that would appeal to me and match the kitchen.  Enter Ikea, I guess.

For the record, the Ranarp clip lamp is an ordinary clip lamp - in that the back end of it has two black rubber-coated pieces that will clamp onto a bed frame or a shelf (or a pipe?  They held onto my hand pretty well) by spring action.  For whatever reason, Ikea is marketing the clip lamp with that feature and also a piece of hardware that the clamp can attach to, which hardware is screwed into the wall.  While there's a plus here in versatility (it's a clip lamp!  It's a sconce!), I'm guessing that each buyer is going to need only one or the other.  And interlocking the two sets of (different-colored) hardware is an aesthetic mess.  For an item with such obvious attention to detail (the visible cord has a pretty woven cover, for example), this seems like a serious oversight to me.  They should just have made it a sconce, I think.

Anyway, it doesn't sell online and it had just been rolled out, so I went to my local Ikea to see it.  The internet said there was one still in stock when I headed out, but I hadn't been to Ikea in months and months and I figured there were other things to see.  A few hours later, I remembered why I hadn't been in so long.

I only bought $20 worth of things (thank God), but I still feel slightly disoriented, many hours later.  (And I note that I never walk through the showroom.  That's a recipe for waking up in the mental ward days later, asking, "Who am I?  What year is it?")  The two things I bought were not things I would even have conceived of looking for when I started out.  (Well, one is actually a sconce.  But it's for my bedroom.  I didn't realize I needed a sconce for my bedroom.  Though concededly I have been thinking about finishing that room for a while, and the sconce could help.)  I didn't buy any of the things I was considering buying, and narrowly avoided buying a $1.99 corkscrew that probably would immediately have broken (and we already have a corkscrew and we don't drink).  Also, the Ranarp clip version was sold out when I got there, but I did get to examine the floor model (I immediately started taking it apart to see whether I was right about its clamp/sconce functionality.  Fortunately, no one caught me at it.  I was right, by the way.  Score another one for craigslist shopping: excellent squinting-at-online-pictures detective skills).

Anyway, I didn't find a clip light for my kitchen.  But no matter, I thought: I just hadn't been looking for the right thing.  I would just hop on Amazon.  But Amazon bit me, too:

100% functional (it's even depicted attached to a bit of marble countertop).  100% wrong for my kitchen.

Maybe craigslist will help?

It's copper, and it costs 1/3 of $25.  That's good. But it needs a socket.  And maybe I could also build it a housing to clip onto the pipe?  Maybe they sell some copper fittings in the plumbing department that would work.  And something to cover the wires, too.

Maybe I should sleep on it.

Frankly, I rarely buy anything on craigslist that weighs less than I do.  I'm out of my depth.  Help me out - what kind of light should I get?