Thursday, March 7, 2013

50 UHeart Organizing: Thrifted Storage!

I know this blog screams organizing, but you frequent readers also know that we love a good DIY.  More importantly, we love to pair the two around here.  You can save so much on storage by finding a beautiful piece of furniture and giving it some love.  That is where contributor, Anneke from This, That & Life, comes in!  Here is the sweet darlin' now!


As soon as I learned that Jen was making March the month of tackling the "Linens and the Loo", I literally went against everything in me and went, "Perfect! I will conquer our Master Bathroom Linen Cabinet {aka catch-all} and share my completely un-mad organizational skills! Yes!" Can you guess how this turned out??? Oiy....am I the only one loves the end result of organizing, but not always the "process" so much??? Sorry Jen! I definitely have a case of selective organizing.  Half the battle is definitely getting started. I am proud to say that I actually have started organizing our linen closet, but lucky for you, I am sharing nothing to do with that today, because I actually do hope to inspire you!

Today, I just want you to dream a little with me. Think outside the box. You just may be where I was a few years ago......


When I began blogging almost two years ago, it was because our family had recently built a larger home and had zilch extra money to fill up the space. That didn't keep me from dreaming though. I had heard of this thing called Craigslist.com and checked it out. Little did I know that 3 years later, Craigslist, thrifting and DIY in general would be a HUGE part of my life! And that may be an understatement. I sold what we had, bought used items for our home and over time learned how to build basic furniture pieces, negotiate for used pieces locally online, and refinish furniture. It was the starting point of a changed perspective and eventually blogging about all of it resulted. Yay!

Now, I have to admit that this post is way more text heavy than I had anticipated, but I'm hoping that by sharing some thrifty tips I've learned along the way, you will be able to find some beautiful storage pieces for your home too. I can't wait to share some personal examples from our own home. So - here we go! 

Some of the top questions I get from people are:
  1. "Craigslist freaks me out! Aren't you afraid you're going to get killed or something?!" {this is literally my #1!}
  2. "How do you find these pieces of furniture? What do you look for when you're searching?"
  3. "How do you do what you do?"

A $75 hutch I recently refinished.

When I think about how I'm going to decorate and organize a particular space, I love knowing that I can get a custom look at a thrift store price on a larger piece of storage furniture. In the end, I can spend my "extra" money on the organizational components that may go inside of it: baskets, dividers, small containers for itty-bittys, labels, etc. Thrifting and DIY is totally worth it, and with a little know how, you can confidently fill your home with quality pieces that reflect you and your style. Today, I'm talking specifically about Craigslist, but they all apply in general I think.

So a few tips:
  1. Play it safe.  This is number one for a reason! And there are many things I could say, but I'll keep it simple for today.  A few things you can do to stay safe are: have someone go with you, make sure someone knows the address, meet a person if you are able to, have a phone conversation with the seller and trust your gut, never go into a home alone, etc. Unless my husband is with me, I always ask the seller to make sure that whatever I am coming to look at is by the door or garage. I am not walking into your home, up to the third floor, got it? I always have my phone in hand or literally have someone on the other line, saying, "Yeah, I'm here. It looks great.", etc. I also try to come across as nice but assertive.  In reality, I have met the most amazing people through Craigslist. Real, hard-working, nice people who are selling some stuff, just like me {or you}. They have kids playing, doing homework {or loading my vehicle with dressers}, they're moving to a new home, etc. Play it safe first, but remember 99.9% of the people you go to buy from are not out to hurt you...at least in the category of furniture. 
  2. Learn your area.  Ok, so confession time. Sometimes my friends seriously consider scheduling an intervention. I really, truly do know how often certain types of furniture come across Craigslist, what a similar item would cost new, what kinds of items I'll find in different local regions, etc. Go north and you've got the less expensive, country, rustic stuff. Go east and you get high end custom items a few years old being sold for the latest and greatest, and go south for modern city or farmhouse chic - a strange coincidence, but true. I've learned over time where I'm most likely to find certain pieces of furniture. Over time you can learn the demographics and habits of your region too. 
  3. Take clues from the ad. Does it say the price is "firm", "obo" {meaning "or best offer"}, or just a price alone? If the price is firm, don't negotiate. If it is anything else, NEGOTIATE!!!! EVERY.SINGLE.TIME!!!! My go to reply is, "Is this still available? I'd love to take a look. Are you willing to negotiate on the price a little??? Thanks so much!" I have saved HUNDREDS of dollars on Craigslist scores just by asking. And $20, $50, $100 here and there really add up! 
  4. Look for quality.  Know your style and what kind of quality should come with it. Well sliding drawers or working hinges. Solid wood. Great drawer construction such as dovetail joints. I am SO picky about drawers! No rust on metals. Or rust on metal if that's your style.

OK, so let's move onto some pictures already! Oh, I am SO excited to share this one with you!!! Check this out. My husband just went to our local eastside area to pick up a couch...mind you, we paid $75 for this originally $3000 couch. Yes, you can see a peek here on Instagram. Oh it's so pretty! But anyhow, the guy told my husband, "Hey, do you want this other chair and dresser for free? I'm just going to take them to the dump if not." My great and wonderful man of course nodded his head and jetted with the loot! Score!

Here's what he brought home.

{personal photo taken with my iphone}

Oh my goodness, I pretty much freaked out. It was PERFECT!!!

In one day, I sanded, stained, painted, switched the drawers around and changed out the knobs. It was transformed into this.




The free dresser from the $75 couch is my new love. It's a little ridiculous just how much I love this piece! I haven't decided if this will stay in our "Reading Room", as we call it, or become my nightstand, but it is here.to.stay. The truth is, I love it because I've ultimately learned the style I love....Coastal btw.  This dresser....this FREE, awesome drawer sliding dresser, really could have become ANYTHING you wanted it to be. Pink with crystal knobs. A bright fun green with antique brass drop pulls, black, a pattern, whatever. It could have been adapted and made over for entryway storage, bedroom storage, converted into a bathroom vanity or media console, etc. It's SO fun to imagine and create! We all have it in us to a degree - yes, YOU!

Now, if furniture refinishing isn't your thing, you may rest at ease knowing that I don't makeover all the pieces I buy on Craigslist or at the thrift store, and you don't have to either. There a tons a great pieces out there that don't need any work at all. Here are a few pieces I found locally for about $50 each and left as is. 

Our son's dresser.



A wine/storage cabinet.


A less than perfect dresser for my Home Office. I love it!


Just on the other side of the room is a desk I refinished {from black} and a bookcase I built {tutorial coming soon}. These three pieces combined cost me roughly $150 TOTAL. My whole point is you can save really big on storage furniture when you think outside the box. You can learn to paint pieces, bargain for better prices, and get the look you love for less.


I'd love to hear how you go about thrifting furniture for your home and what kind of questions you have.  Do you DIY, have some negotiating tips, or clearance item strategies? Please do share! In the meantime, you can find me in the Master Bathroom tackling that linen closet.

All photos taken by Kayla of Kayla J Photography unless otherwise noted. Thank you for the beautiful photos!


"Hi everyone! I'm Anneke and you can often find me working with some tools, browsing for great furniture finds, or getting all girly for a date night! Like many of you, I'm often looking for ways to make life run more smoothly amidst kids, messes, responsibilities, and limited time. I recently celebrated the awesome 3-0, ten crazy years of marriage with my hubby Michael, and have the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom to 3 amazing kiddos, not to mention our sweet miniature schnauzer. We live in the beautiful Northwest, near Seattle.
Although I have a degree in Music, my brain spins with ideas about DIY projects, interior design, health, and family, all of which I blog about over at This, That and Life.  I am beyond thrilled to be a part of the wonderful contributing team at IHeart Organizing and can't wait to get to know some of you better as well!"

50 comments:

  1. Thanks for the craiglist tips....I admit I am totally freaked out about buying anything on there!
    I haven't done a lot of refurbishing but hope to soon, I am a member of a couple of buy and sell groups on Facebook and have found a couple great pieces that way. Spring and garage sale season is just around the corner and I will be out and about hunting for some great deals at them as well.

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    1. I know SO many of us can't wait for garage sale season! And I actually completely spaced out on Facebook groups ~ that's great! There's one regional group I'm a part of and you have to be invited by someone in the group, so for many people this can feel like a safer option. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Love that dresser your hubby picked up for free...smart man!! :) The finish on the top is totally gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you Tania! I think after a couple years, he's caught onto my ways and can see the potential in some things too!

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  3. Love this! I don't use Craig's List, but I am involved in a local Facebook sell and swap page. I live on an island, with bridges on and off, but it's easiest just to stay local. The people on the Facebook page are able to sell whatever they want and are all islanders. I haven't the space to refinish furniture, so I haven't been able to get in on those deals. However, we have found clothing, kids toys and household items abundantly. It's really worth your time to try to find groups like this in your area!

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    1. This is such a great example of really knowing your area, and saving in any area is winning in my book! :-)

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  4. I think I've gotten my best deals by just keeping an eye out while doing normal, every day errands. I swing by the clearance or As-Is area after finding my errand item, and that's when I locate my best deals!

    It's just like men, you never find the one you're looking for when you try. You end up finding the right one when you least expect it!

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  5. GREAT POST, Anneke! I love how your quest for furniture became a passion and a blog :) xo Kristin

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    1. Angh, thanks so much Kristin! I'm so thankful for our friendship that has come from it too!!! Here's to Haven! :-D

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  6. Thanks for sharing your tips with us, Anneke! I am just getting started on gathering pieces for my apartment, and this helps me a lot!

    Stacy

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    1. Oh that will be so fun! Sometimes the cost of buying everything new can make it overwhelming to fill a home, but finding great used pieces makes it fun!

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  7. I have always been a bit skeptical about trying Craig's List but you may have convinced me. Thanks for the tips. Your couch looks lovely and that dresser - swoon!

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    1. Oh yeah! I would love to know what kind of things you end up finding. Sometimes it helps just to browse for awhile to get an idea of what things show up more or less. When I first started, I would drive for miles and miles to pick up something I never would today. Best of luck! :-)

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  8. Um.... interesting. 'Cause, out where I live, we get to choose from this: http://swks.craigslist.org/fuo/3613308273.html to this: http://swks.craigslist.org/fuo/3628431757.html or EVEN this: http://swks.craigslist.org/fuo/3622476372.html (and those are the good ones!) LOL!

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    1. Ah man, sorry. :-( I do admit that living in the Seattle area, there are some major gems and diverse styles, etc. I hope you're able to learn "where" to find the best {and prettiest!} deals in your area! Best of luck Stephanie! :-D

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  9. Your finds and your refinishing skills are incredible! Have sold things on Craigslist but haven't bought much...looks as if I am missing some deals, though!

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    1. Thanks so much Emily! It's been a learning process, but I truly do LOVE it!!! :-)

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  10. Awesome tips and what an impressive redo! I used to be a Craigslist junkie, but I haven't had the time for it recently.
    I have just recently started following Iheartorganizing and I love it!!! Your blog looks awesome too! I can't wait to read more. I'm going to head over to it now to figure out how you changed the drawers around on your dresser (very impressive)!
    I got what I called "the Craigslist deal of a lifetime" a few years ago! I wrote about it here: http://neverlistless.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-living-room-chronicles-step-2.html

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    1. Wow! I just checked it out and that is a great deal! I once made $400 on a designer couch we bought via Craigslist, had for about two years, and then sold. Then we found a $75 couch, so it was like making a total of $825. Crazy, but true! {that's not a common thing though}. And thank you for the sweet comment!

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  11. This makes me want to run straight to Craigslist and makeover everything! Thanks so much for the tips, Anneke!

    ~Abby =)

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  12. Hey there Anneke, so happy to see you here! Love this post, the furniture pieces are stupendous just as everything you do. Missed you dear one!

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    1. Colleen, you're so sweet ~ I love you back. And the break was important, but I'm so glad to be back!

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  13. Love the dresser!!!
    I also love your "Happiness is..." sign!
    Is that a printable of was it purchased at a store?
    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Alli! Thank you! The sign was actually a TJMaxx purchase ~ maybe $25??? I'm always moving it around the house I love it so much!

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  14. Great post, Anneke! I'm a Craigslist junkie too so I can definitely appreciate this topic. And I'm pretty sure my friends and family want to stage an intervention for me. My latest CL adventure was finding a dresser in Chicago (3 hours away) and insisting my best friend pick it up for me. And believe or not, she did! My husband and best friend told me I'm no longer allowed to search CL in other cities.

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    1. No way Chelsea! That is a dedicated friend!!! Lol! I only search out of my two closest regions when I REALLY want something {that's a larger purchase} and it's just not coming up, like ever. High end couches, beds, or even something like Rainbow Play Systems. Not that I need a ton of those or anything. Haha! ;-)

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  15. SO inspiring! We already have many pieces of well-made, but outdated furniture (purchased from Craiglist and garage sales!). After seeing what's possible through the photos you and Jen have posted, I feel like it's time to give them a makeover. Can I borrow some courage from you? :)

    Thanks Anneke!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes! Take as much as you need!!! It's always a great idea to grab a small board or little cheap table or something to "practice". I still do this for color combos sometimes. :-)

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  16. Great FREE dresser! I love that, and how you re-finished it. It is such a nice shape and the new look works so well - the drawer switch makes such a difference, too. Well done. This old unwanted dresser is what got me started on re-finishing furniture http://tidyawaytoday.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/vintage-dresser-update/

    Antonia

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    1. What a GREAT transformation Antonia! Thanks for sharing!!! I love the inside too! :-)

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  17. We love Craigslist... we were very active with it in our hometown and recently moved. The new town doesn't have as much but all our finds have been great... we call them our adventures! Yay... just read the ad before you jump on it... some things that are too good to be true still are :( Kathi

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    1. Yup, that's for sure! Sometimes I will ask for some more close-up picts. if it's a bit of a drive. Because gas ain't cheap either!

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  18. I'd love to the know the details on how you finished that piece, especially the top, I love the weathered gray look, but never know how to get a piece to reflect that.

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    1. Hi there! Getting certain looks do depend on what kind of material or wood you are working with, but I shared all the details on how I refinished that dresser in this post here:
      http://www.thisthatandlife.com/2013/03/the-anywhere-dresser-before-and-after/

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  19. That dresser looks awesome in the afterwards photos :)
    I'd like to know if anyone has had success 'flipping' furniture on Craigslist: buying it, refurbing, then selling it at gain?!

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  20. Hi, I have never experienced the kind of DIY you do except for my child’s kindergarten projects. But I really envy such great DIY talents; that is why I love to read DIY blogs. Can you give me an advice as to how I could start doing DIY? What kind of project is best for starters like me? Thanks for the help. :)

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    1. Hi Maria ~ these are great questions! My best advice is to start with something centered around an interest of yours. I personally have zero skills in sewing {although I'd love to learn!}. Everything I do has come from two years of trial and error and some things I did when I first started I would do differently now.

      Start small with something that's not much money. Whether it is painting {furniture, a mirror frame, etc.), sewing {or even recovering a chair seat}, building something, etc., gain some inspiration and tips from other diy bloggers and crafters and you'll be well on your way.

      Best of luck and please always feel free to pop over to This, That and Life with your questions. :-D

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  21. thank you so much for the tips on craigslist it's always better to practice good safety. and I love the happiness sign absolutely gorgeous finds too! xx. gigi. food and beauty blogger @ www.gigikkitchen.blogspot.com

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    1. You're welcome! And yes, safety always needs to come first. Love your blog too and your latest J. Crew Factory picks!

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  22. Thanks for the inspiration! I give away stuff on the free section of CL all the time but I have been lacking the creativity/vision to repurpose other people's castoffs. For example, I would see the free dresser your husband scored and just think, yuck, no thanks. But you made it look GORGEOUS! I have been wanting to do something like this for a long time. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Ah, well you can't win them all. I know I've passed on a lot of pieces with potential, but a girl only have so much time! Thank you btw! :-D

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  23. LOVE Craigslist! My most asked about items are from Craigslist and now my friends just assume (rightly so) that that is how I do all of my furniture shopping. Awesome wooden boat bed for our son - Craigslist, four totally cheap Expedit storage units - four different Craigslist purchases, $35 dollar antique dresser for our daughter - well, you know. Lately we have been on a de-cluttering and selling spree and have sold over $1000 worth of unloved toys, furniture, and woodworking equipment in the last two months. There are flakes and some picky people, but it is totally worth the time whether you are buying or selling.

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    1. Ah! I JUST missed out on a wood boat bed for our son!!! Boo. They come around every couple of months though. ;-) Sometimes I also sell a bunch of things to buy one larger/nicer item used or new, but most of the items in my house, are indeed, from Craigslist. Lol!

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  24. Oh all of those pieces are wonderful! I love what you found and what you did. I love that you repurposed too.

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  25. You would love the awesome DIY furniture plans on www.ana-white.com. She posts free details plans that help save you money and gives you a sense of satisfaction once you complete a project. I made the laundry basket dresser and live how my laundry rom
    Looks and functions now:)
    Diane

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  26. Love this post! I have a studio, that has spilled over into our sunroom, FULL of projects in various stages of completion. You totally inspired me to wrap these up so I can implement them in our home, but mostly so I can shop for more :) Few things compare to the thrill of a win-win find on Craig's list, or thrifting! LOVE your finished products, eye for upgrading, and your safety tips as well (I forget these sometimes when it's almost free and made of wood, lol). Thanks again- I plan to check out your blog, for sure!

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    1. Oh thanks so much Erin! There were times when I first started and our garage got a bit out of control with furniture because there were just SO many great deals. Now I have a limited space I have to stick with. If there's no room in that space, I can't buy any more!

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