When I find things on craigslist…

…sometimes they don’t work.

I’m not going to lie- I have made poor purchases before from craigslist. Sometimes the environment of seeing something and instantly wanting it gets me to jump on an item before I have really thought it through. I have a few rules that I generally follow to keep me from regretting my craigslist impulse buys though:

1. I will only buy it if I think I can resell it on craigslist for the same or more money that I am buying it for. A few years ago I bought a Pottery Barn Manhattan Leather couch on craigslist that I was in love with. It was $400 on craigslist which was a steal considering it retails for $2,799.00! We kept it for 2.5 years but I decided to let it go when we moved into this house because I wanted a sectional to better fit our new living room and my style had evolved and I wanted something lighter and slipcovered. I loved that couch though, and it was hard to give up. But give it up I did, on craigslist, for $800. Hate me if you will but I knew the person who sold me that couch could have gotten more money for it and I was not above asking what I thought it was worth.

2. I will only travel long distances for items I know for sure that I want. I have had enough drives up into the city for ill-judged items and I have learned my lesson. I only make the drive when it’s an item I know I cannot get elsewhere and I really want it.

3. If the item doesn’t end up working I am not afraid to admit defeat and resell it to make room for something that will work. For me- this is the beauty of craigslisting furniture for my home- I don’t feel married to anything. If my style changes, if it doesn’t fit, if I change my mind- hey! It’s no big deal! I can resell it at very little cost or inconvenience. I also like the way my home does not feel like we bought everything off of page 6 of some catalog. It’s eclectic, lived-in, and there are always a few things thrown in there that I made/refinished/reupholstered myself.

Almost 3 years ago I bought this ottoman on craigslist for $50(don’t mind the lack of legs, they were already screwed off at this point.). The funny thing was- I was not there to buy this piece of furniture! I was buying something else entirely and I cannot remember what it was. While I was there I spotted this ottoman in the garage next to the furniture I had come to buy and the owner casually mentioned she was listing the ottoman on craigslist soon too. I snatched it up not knowing exactly where I would put it or what I would do about the ugly yellow velvet upholstery. There was just something about it’s cushiness, it’s tufts, and it’s size(it’s huge!). Similar ottomans sell for many hundreds of dollars like this one and this one. I had to have it. It barely fit in the back of my Subaru and when I got it home I started worrying that this might be one of those impulse buys that I would come to regret.

Immediately it was clear that this piece of furniture just wouldn’t work in the old chateau:

The color was all wrong, the size was too big and would look awkward with a small sofa and no other seating around it. Thus I began mentally changing the room to accommodate this ottoman. Why? I have no idea- I guess it just represented to me a new style I was starting to love and wanted to bring into the chateau. I was growing tired of the room the way it was and was hoping to freshen it up with a new look. I could see that this ottoman would be perfect in size and shape if we had a sectional like this one to go with it. I knew that the color would never be right but I might be brave enough to reupholster it.

So then it sat in my garage. For 2.5 years. I am usually pretty quick to get rid of things that won’t work but this guy wormed it’s way into my heart and I could not convince myself to abandon him! Mark thought I was crazy and every time we cleaned out the garage he pointed to it and with a raised eyebrow said “you really want to keep that?” But I fought for him- knowing what he could become! Knowing his full potential!

Finally, in our new house my dreams of a white sectional couch were realized. Finally the stage was set for Otto-man to make his grand transformation. Suddenly reupholstering this guy jumped to the top of my to-do list and now I had to decide what fabric to use. This turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. The room is decorated in blues, whites, browns, reds. I knew I didn’t want to do white since it gets dirty too easily and since this would not be a slipcover that I could easily wash, white was out. Blue is the color of the walls so I was pretty sure that blue in the ottoman would be too much. Red might have been fun but it was such a big piece and red seemed too bold for the space. Brown is the color of the rug and I didn’t want the ottoman to blend in with the rug.  I thought about doing a patterned fabric but couldn’t find one that I thought wouldn’t clash with the rug and that I might outgrow in a year or two. The fabric needed to be soft but durable, neutral in color, and not too expensive.

Finally I settled on a grey tweed fabric. It seemed to fit the requirements, plus we all know how I feel about gray at this point! As much as I kept looking at fabric online though, I couldn’t pull the trigger and buy any! Then, a few weeks ago while shopping at IKEA I saw these curtain panels for $9.99/2 panels! They were a light gray with a sort of tweedy texture and look, but they were softer than tweed and had a bit of stretch to them which I thought would work well for upholstering. So I grabbed them and brought them home with me.

Last week I was finally in the mood to tackle this guy. I must be brave because I have never really upholstered before. I just figured that I would take it apart paying close attention as I did and then put it back together with the new fabric. This method seemed to work as I used the old fabric as a template for cutting out the new cover. I also examined the back to learn how the puckers in the fabric are made for the tufts. Turns out there is a simple stitch that creates each pucker and then the string is pulled taut through the holes in the ottoman’s back to create the tuft appearance. It was so simple I kept waiting for something terrible to go wrong. The only minor hiccup was when I did not have a long enough needle to pull the strings through the holes and had to go to Joanne’s for a better needle.


Here it is before I put the new fabric on. You can see the stitches already made in the new fabric with extra string at each stitch for pulling through to the bottom.

Here it is with the strings pulled through and waiting to be pulled taut and staples. I needed both hands for that process so no picture:(. I simply used a long needles to thread the string through the top of the ottoman through the batting and each hole in the wooden bottom. Then after they were all through I pulled each one as tight as I could and stapled several times. After they were all stapled, I pulled the edged up and around and stapled them as well making sure to pull tight but not too tight. I added a white lining along the bottom and then replaced the wooden frame which simple attached with screws. Then I screwed the legs back on and voila!

So here he is gracing out new chateau with his soft, tufted curves. I love how this turned out and I love that he is not taking up space in our garage anymore!


Oh, and more developments in this room have already been made so look for an update post soon. Hint hint- it has to do with that obscenely bare wall above the couch!

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About Meghan MacAskill

Sharing the adventures of raising three daughters, owning our first and forever home, and working in our dream careers. Our life is a roller coaster of many ups and downs and we are here to share the highs, the lows, and everything in between!

One response to “When I find things on craigslist…”

  1. Mom says :

    Bravo! Well done, Meg. It looks very professional. I love how you can see how items meant for one use can be used for something else entirely, like your duvet striped curtains and this curtain turned furniture upholstery. Amazing!

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