Tuesday, October 1, 2013

craigslist is better

Welcome to my little foray into 31 days!  The little image below is my "button," and if you click on the version of that on my sidebar, it will take you to all the posts in which I, the misfit, will go on about one of my favorite topics - CRAIGSLIST - during every day of October. 


Let's get started, shall we?  Without further ado, I offer my thoughts on WHY CRAIGSLIST IS BETTER. 

You see, the more I have absorbed myself in fascinating decor ideas on the internet (and elsewhere), the more I have learned about beauty, and aesthetics, and design (including how much I still have to learn!).  And learning more about beauty and good design necessarily means learning what is not beautiful or well-designed.  Can't have one without the other. 

Fake antiques are high on the list of things that I find clearly not beautiful.  Visible age, representative of our shared history, and indicative of lasting craftsmanship, may well be beautiful.  But using chemicals and tools to make a brand-new thing look like it's been abused is stupidity, plain and simple.  Also not beautiful?  Paying way too much for your things.  If it's magnificent and you have the budget for it, that's one thing.  But if you just don't understand your options, you are probably throwing money away.  All this sounds obvious, yes?  But the internet convinces me every day that it isn't - that there are people making unwise decisions who are simply missing the wonder that is craigslist!  For example...   

GOOD:


It's from 1906, and it's for sale on the DC craigslist here for $25.  Don't put it on your kitchen counter, by the way.  That space is for preparing food.  This thing probably has bacteria. 

BAD:


This was on sale at Decor Steals for $48.  It's fake.  That's neither a good paint job nor a good paint job with lots of wear.  It's a bad paint job, pretending to be an old paint job.  They might even have added bacteria for good measure. 

GOOD:


This is an antique Persian tea set (which from its appearance I am thinking is silver-plate), again from the DC craigslist.  It's $45.  It is ludicrously awesome. 

BAD:


There's nothing objectively wrong with this piece, I'd like to stress.  It's also an antique - apparently ballparked to the 1890s, and it is silver-plate.  It's American-made instead of Persian (I think American antiques are great, but imported ones tend to cost more in general).  But the important point is that it's $95 for just the teapot.  (And I note that by OKL standards, it's actually cheap.)  Personally, I think the Persian one is much nicer, but the point is, buying this one would be a waste of money. 

GOOD:


DC craigslist again.  Leather.  $20.  It's not an antique, it's just a nice leather chaise. 

BAD:


It's a perfectly nice leather chaise.  I might like the one above a bit letter on the style front, but they're pretty similar.  Neither is an antique.  This one is on sale right now, so it costs a mere $3130 (and up).  No, I am not trying to be funny.  It's from Restoration Hardware.  (Do you believe me now?) 

GOOD:


I'll be honest.  Mid-century modern ain't my thing.  But I'm pretty sure that's what we're looking at here.  And the genuine article - take a look at the coloring on the wood on that china cabinet.  Oh, by the way, this whole set is $50

BAD:


First of all, this isn't old.  It's currently-manufactured pieces according to the original design of Norman Cherner.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but if you like mid-century design, wouldn't you like something that was made in the mid-twentieth century?  Whatever.  It's your money.  The table alone is $2,799, from Design Within Reach (whose reach, is what I'd like to know). 

GOOD:


Maybe you like something a little more conventional.  This table is $125.  It comes with pads. 

BAD:

This comes with a 20" leaf (making it 18" longer total), which is definitely good.  Otherwise, they're pretty darn similar.  Except that this second one is $949 from Ballard Designs.  Ouch. 

GOOD:


So, you want to add a kitchen island.  You could pay a cabinet company to make you one that matches your existing cabinetry, but then you would lose the opportunity to make your kitchen a lot more interesting.  Or you could buy an antique buffet or cabinet and put a slab of remnant stone on top.  Such as this one for $290.  It's exactly counter-height, and in fact already has a fitted slab of marble on top.  It also has plenty of storage space, and is magnificently carved.  Beat that, KraftMaid. 

BAD:


Or, hey, you could take a tip from one of those DIY articles and save the cost of custom cabinetry by building your own island out of base cabinets!  You'd need to buy three simple 18" wide base cabinets, attach them to each other, and add a countertop and toe-kick.  The three cabinets are just $199 each.  Oh, and boring.  Nice job! 

GOOD:



Sometimes you're on a budget of $crumbs and trying to furnish your wee, tiny apartment.  That doesn't mean your living room should look like a prison cell.  The item above is just $20, but long on personality. 

BAD:


This is the cheapest futon at Wal-Mart.  It costs $99.  For wee-tiny-apartment-with-unrelentingly-beige-walls purposes, the color is obviously a plus.  But you can do so much better

GOOD:




These days everyone seems to have a home office/craft/work/email space.  This has tons of space to spread projects out and to store papers and supplies.  I would say it's in the 50-75 year old range, not antique, but it obviously is solid wood and will last forever.  And it's free

BAD:


I had trouble finding anything really comparable at inexpensive-furniture places (your Thomasville or Stickley's would have something, of course, but it would cost a small fortune).  So to be generous to the competition, I chose something with significant style chops in its own right.  This is a good-looking piece for a home with the right style.  But it's 0% solid wood - over time, it will simply distintegrate.  And it has practically no storage.  It's $85.99 at Ikea

GOOD:


Obviously art is a matter of taste if anything is, and this might not be everyone's cup of tea.  But I think those who enjoy impressionism will agree this is a decent piece.  And craigslist fairly shakes with original art (by totally unknown artists), a lot of which is bland or talentless, but much of which is really interesting.  (DC's craigslist also currently has for sale a fascinating painting by a Liberian artist and a cool woodcut of a dragon - just for example.)  This is 21" x 27", an original oil, and $40

BAD:


It's 13" x 16", and most of that is matting, it looks like.  It's $49.99 at Target.  Obviously it is not original.  I trust I don't have to explain the rest. 

(I note that these links are several days old, and some may already have died.  They'll certainly be dead within a week or so of this post.  I've tried to offer enough information to illustrate what these offerings really are.) 

More craigslist magic tomorrow!  And the next day!  And the day after that!  AND AFTER THAT TOO!! 

And don't forget to stop by The Nester's round-up of other lovely ladies (and possibly some gentlemen?) who are offering 31 days of thoughts on a variety of topics. 

7 comments:

  1. Your first entry did not disappoint! So many good one-liners. I think my favorite was "The table alone is $2,799, from Design Within Reach (whose reach, is what I'd like to know)"

    Yes, I would like to know too. Thanks, can't wait to read the rest!

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  2. Love this post and this series already! I really do need to look at craigs.list more instead of stores.

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  3. This is awesome! I can't wait to read! Our best Craigslist purchase... my grand piano. :) Now, it wasn't cheap, but it was lovingly maintained by a former teacher. And it was played, not collecting dust or used as a table for photo albums. Thank God. :)

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    1. I'm gonna need to see a picture of that piano, I think. (I have been drooling over a Chickering square grand for years - I know I could find one on craigslist; the trouble would be fitting it in my house. That was supposed to be a non-negotiable in the house search - room for piano. Sigh.)

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  4. You've convinced me! I've never bought anything off Craigslist except our piano, but it was only $100 and the people helped us move it for free, so that was pretty cool! I will say though that living in a smaller town means fewer awesome craigslist finds...I envy you having the selection of the DC list!

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    1. Yes, but the smaller places often have the better deals! Don't underestimate your craigslist!

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