rooms to go for $500 or less: a craigslist living room

Craigslist is a treasure trove of cheap furniture for the recently displaced. As a mental exercise, I’m putting together this living room for a (imaginary) 30 year old woman who finally moved out a group house but needs to “make it work” on her non profit budget of $500. Imaginary woman, we’ve been there, and we’ve got your back.

tufted furniture = class
slightly dirty = $50
dirty furniture = $50

Get it here.  The good news is, it’s appropriately scaled for the studio or “junior one bedroom” she’s likely to be able to afford, depending on how much square footage she is willing to sacrifice for the right neighborhood, which in case you are wondering, hits the “close to metro/Whole Foods/affordability” trifecta squarely on the head. The bad news is, that neighborhood doesn’t really exist.

Regardless, let’s press on! She’s got a place to flop down after a long day at Bread For the City. Now she needs a place to put her beer. We’re breaking the bank here at $80… the seller lists the price as “firm” but we’re hoping s/he will throw in the vase and arrangement.

a good showcase for wine & cheese, or microwaved popcorn as you prefer

Now for the floors. The sub $100 rug scene on Craigslist was much grimmer than usual today. I won’t get into it but let’s just say ANIMAL PRINTS and SNOWMEN. This seller has moved from $95 to $90 in the last 24 hours, but how long are you willing to wait for this green and gold beauty “WORTH $400!!!” I wish it was 4 x6 rather than 5 x 8, in fact I’d be interested in trying out a round one in a less traditional pattern, but it’s Craigslist and I’m doing my best here people.

we’re holding out for $80

Assuming we can haggle the price down another $10, we’ve got $290 left for a guest chair, artwork, and maybe a side table and lamp. I’m assuming curtains are going to have to wait for the next paycheck.

I’m starting out with the chair, because Bread for the City has at least a friend or two, probably many because she’s a good person. If push comes to shove, friend can just put her cocktail on the coffee table, or if she’s anything like me it will never leave her hot little hand. But she WILL need a place to flop. I’m putting a $100 cap on the search, and mentally ruling out IKEA, mid century modern, and papassans. Much as I love them, Bread is ready to move on!

What we are hoping for is a light gold-ish wingback chair. What we are finding are lots of executive furniture and some of the worlds worst looking slipcovers. I tried the following variations: accent chair, guest chair, winged, wingback, queen anne, and have finally just settled on “chair” since I wasn’t getting many results, and the ones I was getting were abysmal. I hate to be crass, but the time to search craigslist is in DC is right after a game changing election.

Anyway, call me crazy but I think I want to split the $100 into two chairs, and possibly put this armchair against a wall:

$75 and it’s yours

This one I’m not so sure of and at $40 it’s $15 over the budget but what the hell, it’s got flowers on it and Bread might need a floral pick me up, not to mention extra seating that’s easily moved when she needs to dance it out.

beggars can’t be choosers, I would know!

Time to class it up with a lighting concept. This is always the worst part. Craigslist lighting is one Target floor lamp after another. I’d much prefer an end table and small lamp, but with $175 and some framed “artwork” to buy, it’s getting a little tight here.

First things first, avoiding the dreadful Target floor lamps. This tawdry bar cart does double duty as end table and magazine storage area. I guess you could put booze on it too if you want, or even a landline telephone (like “Bread” has one of those!) Sure, there were cuter ones out there, but this one was priced to go at $20. Besides, it’s a DIY project waiting to happen, as if Bread has time for that crap, or even a car to go out to Michaels. Well, dare to dream.

booze on the go!

Glass is nice in a space that’s already getting cramped with musty upholstered crap, but it’s small, so we’re looking for a miniscule lamp. There were some perfect ones on sale at the now defunct RCKCNDY (or however that’s spelled) on U Street, but, I don’t know who made them. So, we’ll see what we can find.

It’s tempting to stop by this lamp smorgasbord, but who has time? We want this settled, and soon. The posting “UNIQUE lamp for the right person” spoke to me, but it turns out we were the wrong people. Now call me crazy, but I’m going for this one:

sorry for the sideways view, but this is how it will look from the loveseat nap position anyway

Not because I love the red shade (though I kind of do) but because the hint of menace in the post: MUST BE GONE BY EASTER. Plus at $10, we can afford a new shade from Anthropologie, provided the search for artwork goes well, which it NEVER does.

I moved to the “arts and crafts” section because along with “collectibles” that is where the best s*** on craigslist goes. Where to start.

Kurt Cobain framed sketch $35

Large custom framed Lolita picture (what every girl wants in her home!) $20

Virgin of Guadalupe $50 but a bargain at twice the price! It’s gonna gonna pop with that red lamp shade.

Skip the Anthro lampshade, the place is looking good, or at least good enough to have a friend over. Plus we have now have $40 (I think?) left over for some booze and ice to chill it in, two bottles of cheap wine and a stack of US Weeklies, or a couple shades of Butter London polish and a buritto! Or, paint in landlord unfriendly Coral Bead! Live it up while you can Bread, there are no pink rooms when you move in with your boyfriend. Good luck and Godspeed.

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