Tuesday, May 31, 2011


"K" commented on one of my previous Craigslist decorating posts saying:
I live in Chicago and have tried scouring Craigslist – maybe I'm searching the site entirely incorrectly but I seem to only find dealers selling plywood bedroom sets (blech) – any search ideas? Do I have to know what I'm looking for? Any advice would be great!!!
Unfortunately, "blech" describes the vast majority of what's on Craigslist in any city. Trying to filter out those plywood bedroom sets sold by dealers is particularly difficult; if you only choose "furniture - by owner" you miss out on everything sold in the "antiques," "garage sale," and "household" categories. If you don't filter by category at all, you'll end up looking through pages of cars to find "benches" or "lamps." 

I started finding furniture on Craigslist when I moved to New York after college. I was unemployed for six months, and I was BORED. I understand that people who are actually doing something with their lives can't search through thousands of listings to find one perfect piece at an amazing deal. Searching for one piece at a time is one way to narrow your search and not get overwhelmed. If you know exactly what you want (a mid-century grey two-seater couch, e.g.), that's easy. If you just know you need a couch that's not hideous, you can choose to look through all the "couch" listings (be sure to choose "show images" in the upper right corner!) or you can use more descriptive terms. "Mid century couch" will give you a more limited selection to sort through. So will brand names like "West Elm couch" or "Room and Board couch."

My first reaction to K's comment was of course to try using Chicago's Craigslist to find some fabulous things. While I did that, I kept track of what keywords I used to search for things. I won't pretend I found all these things within 15 minutes. It certainly took a few hours, but I don't think is a ridiculous amount of time to invest. Of course, the Craigslist decorating exercise only gives me the opportunity to look through the current listings for one day, and I found the things in my apartment over the span of about a year and a half.

Here's some of what I found on Chicago's Craiglist this past Friday:

I love the simplicity of everything in this bedroom - the pieces create a great base for glamorous accessorizing. I imagine a vanity tray on top of that beautiful campaign dresser and a host of pretty pillows on the bed.

This entry is also a sort of backdrop for interesting accessories. Switch up the cushions on the chairs, put different arrangements in the vase, and maybe add a stool or some baskets under the console.

Someone NEEDS to get this adorable floral pendant! (Who says you can't decorate a room around one accessory?) I tried to minimize using things that need paint or other alterations, but the shape of this low headboard was so cute I couldn't resist.

This last combination is definitely not a neutral backdrop! I love the bright, preppy colors with in a mix of styles.

The green campaign desk is possibly the most fabulous piece of all, but "campaign," unfortunately, was nowhere in the title or description. "Hendredon" and "brass" were, however. Keywords like these certainly will bring up a higher ratio of tasteful pieces, but you'll miss ones with absolutely no description at all. My campaign dressers were simply listed as "3 wall units" with dimensions and pictures. When searching Craiglist, you're inevitably going to end up searching through too much or missing the cheapest things (the people who don't what they have and therefore don't know how to describe it). 

The conclusion, I suppose, is that there is no perfect conclusion. But I'll leave you with the list of search terms that I used to find the above (and some other things that I didn't end up including in the post):


zig zag
mid century couch
ethan allen
jute rug
french chair
mid century
x bench

Happy searching!


  1. I would definitely add that using the "craigseasy" tool was the best addition I have ever made in my daily (ok, who am I kidding? Hourly) scouring of craigslist. It allows you to view the images all at once, thus quickly passing through the junk without having to take the time to click on the separate pages. You can download at craigseasy.com.

  2. Ah - that was me!!! Thanks for the advice! So excited :)

  3. Hi Luisa,

    A nice design blog you are keeping up, some of the recommendations you have made are actually quite interesting and I was hoping to ask you a little more on this if possible.

    Is there a possible way to get in touch with you through emails or perhaps via messengers?

  4. My apologies, I assumed everything is written by Luisa from the url. My sincere apologies Alexsandra.

  5. Charles, absolutely! You can email me at luisadesignblog@gmail.com. I just added that email address to my profile, too.