best of 2009: furniture finds

today is the last day of my best of 2009 posts - it's been fun going through the archives and remembering all that we've done this year on the house. we've come a long way! hopefully we can keep up the pace in 2010. i'll be back next week with a post or two about our goals for 2010, i have a lot of things planned...

but for now, i thought i'd finish off the posts with my favorite furniture finds - not exactly renovation related but it's nice to be getting to the point where we can spend some of our time focusing on furnishing and decorating our house. i'm also going to do something a little bit differently with this post and include the prices and some of my thoughts on buying furniture. i don't often talk about how much things cost on this blog - but a big reality of renovation is money and i often find it really helpful when i see budget breakdowns on other blogs. it gives me a good idea of what i can expect to spend on various projects. since i've bought almost all the furniture and decor for our house on sale, from ebay, or craigslist, hopefully you all can see that there are good deals out there if you know where to look and can be patient. especially if you're a first time homebuyer like we are and don't have enough furniture to furnish your new house :-)

at the beginning of the year we decided it was time to add additional seating to our living room. we were on a tight budget, but found a couple of options at the target home design event. we waited until the end of the event when things were on sale and bought 2 chairs:
cost for 2 chairs - $120ish. i can't remember the exact price, but it was right around $120. did i ever tell you that we actually got one of the chairs for free? these were the last 2 chairs that they had in stock and somehow during the checking out process they deleted one from the stock count and ended up just giving us the second chair because they couldn't sell us something that was no longer in their system. we tried to pay for them both, but they insisted that it wasn't a big deal and it was easier to just give us the second chair. strange, but i won't complain. i would have still bought them both for $120 each, i feel like that is an ok price to pay. they were originally close to $200 i think. so look for sales and be patient - in this case i knew that target would put these chairs on sale after a month or so because they were part of their special event. this also means that i was risking the chance that they would sell out of them, but it wasn't worth it to me to pay full price.

on to ebay and my vintage guest room chair- after much searching, i found the perfect chair for our crowded guest room - it was low to the ground, and didn't have arms which would work well for luggage. at first i wasn't sure about the color but now i love the color in the room with the blue walls and have no plans of reupholstering. plus it ended up being in really good shape for a vintage chair. i got this chair from ebay, cost was $52. i didn't have to pay shipping because i bought from a local seller and picked it up from her house.
my thoughts on ebay - there are some good deals on there but you have to be careful. i've found that i can get quickly caught up in the "what's $5 more!" and raise my bid until i'm paying more than i want. i set a max price i'm willing to pay and stick with it. i also (for now) have only bought from local sellers because shipping on furniture can be very expensive.

and on to craigslist - i had been looking on and off for the last year for another smaller dresser that we could put in our bedroom to help with our clothes storage issue. we had also been shopping around for a new entertainment/tv stand. we were willing to pay full price for a new tv stand but just couldn't find anything that fit the style/look that i wanted, and the storage/equipment requirements that mike wanted. so when i found this bedroom set on craigslist, i started thinking...
the smaller dresser would provide us with a lot of storage space, plus the matching nightstand had a couple of drawers for even more storage. the larger dresser/credenza was too large for our room, but right away i knew that we could make it into the perfect tv stand.
i still need to take some after pictures of the dresser and nightstand in our room, but they are working great so for. the tv cabinet holds everything we need it to, including mike's dvd collection that i was sure we'd have to store someplace else (i didn't want visible dvds in the living room anymore, he just has too many to display nicely). total cost? the set was listed on craigslist for $250. we were able to talk him down to $200 for the 3 pieces. we spent another $20 or $30 on smoke smell remover and some stain and wood to modify the tv stand. this was a little more than some of the deals you can find on craigslist, but we had kind of specific requirements and i had been searching almost every day for the past year. in the future i think i would think twice before buying furniture from the home of a smoker, but we were able to get rid of the smoke smell with some extra work.

and finally, my favorite furniture find, my eames chairs:
i have heard stories of people who have found these beside the road, or for $10 each at a thrift store - i paid a lot more than that. but i also got 6 matching chairs. the story of these chairs - i had seen an ad on craigslist for a herman miller table, and in the background of the photo was a few of these chairs. i wanted the chairs. even though the seller was not advertising the chairs, i emailed him anyway and asked if he would sell them. he responded with a high price and said he had 12. i couldn't afford what he was asking so i moved on. but i kept thinking of them, and after a few months i wrote back and asked if he still had them. he had 10 left so we went to look at them. now, this guy was not super friendly - he also knew what he had and was not in any hurry to sell. he had an entire basement full of mid-century furniture and light fixtures. at this point he was asking $75 a chair. i told him i wanted 6 and i wouldn't pay more than $300. he said no at first, but after realizing i was serious (and after i had taken them all out of his storage room and picked the 6 i wanted) he gave in and sold me 6 at $50 each. again - not a super fabulous deal, but i've noticed that on ebay and other places these vintage chairs do go up in price once you start to get sets of 4 or 6 that match. more importantly, i love them and they are worth that price to me.

except that i still want to switch the bases out and get eiffel bases... we won't talk about how much $$ that will add to their cost :-)

so my thoughts on craigslist - bottom line, i love it. it takes a lot of patience and the ability to see past the description and sometimes even the bad photos that people post. i know what a reasonable price is for things because i look at furniture on cl at least once a day. i have certain terms i search for - "vintage", "mid-century", "danish" because of the style that i like. i've never found a specific piece of furniture the first day of looking (like i still haven't found a good patio set, those things go quickly!) i've also not had much luck selling furniture. also, don't feel pressured to buy something just because you went and looked at it. i also always take mike with me - going into a stranger's house alone is not a good idea! we are also lucky enough to live in a big city so our craigslist always has a decent selection of stuff.

so there you have it - my favorite furniture finds, as well as some advice on finding good deals on furniture. hopefully if you made it this far (sorry for all the text) you found it helpful. and please keep in mind that we don't have much flex room in our budget for things like furniture so we've learned that we have to make some sacrifices with some other things when we make these kinds of purchases. cutting back on eating out has been the hardest for me, but at least now i have some dining chairs to sit on when we eat at home :-)

happy new year's everyone!!

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2 Responses to best of 2009: furniture finds

Dennis and Su said...

You've been so lucky with your furniture bargains! Guess it helps to live in a large metro area. I found some chairs like that not long ago at a thrift store but they were aqua, which is sorta cool, but the chrome was rusty. *sadness*

Dave and Jill Freeland said...

Michael and Katie,

Love what you are doing to the house. It is looking awesome!

Love, Mom and Dad

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