Alex and I only have five pieces of furniture in our house that were never owned by someone else.

1) Couch

2) Loveseat

3) Our mattress

4) New mattress we just bought for a kids room

5) The bar stools that sit at our kitchen bar

That’s it. Everything else has been pre-owned.

  • The dining room table that we bought off craigslist on the day we moved into the house. We went to the wrong house first and almost got shot and then our Uhaul kept flying open so I MacGuyver’ed it shut with a tampon string.
  • The green dresser that our tv sits on top of belonged to my grandmother when she was a child.
  • My grandfather built the bookshelf in our livingroom.
  • My mom and I broke our backs behind a resale shop lifting the blue loveseat, the one that sits in my kitchen nook, into the back of my car.
  • The lofted bed/dresser/desk came from my boss who generously donated it to us for our kiddos
  • The green desk in our son’s room was purchased in a parking lot at UTD and took about 15 seconds to move from his truck to my car and slide some cash in his hand. It could have been a desk full of drugs for all the surveillance cameras knew.

I love that my furniture has a story, more of a story than “I drove to Target and picked it up.” Yes, I sometimes spend MONTHS looking for exactly what I want but Dallas craigslist is like an awesome, semi-dangerous mall and I can almost always find what I want.

In the past month or so, we’ve moved a few new things into the house and man, oh man, do they have good stories.

DIY Project #1: A coffee table

I was just innocently minding my own business one Sunday morning, driving down the street with my dog in the car, when all of a sudden…



In the bulk trash, this- a stunning base for a new coffee table. Look at the geometric pattern. Look at the lower shelf.  Look at how sturdy it is. Look at the pile of diapers that it is wedged beneath.

I would like to take a second to contend that I am not one of those people who drives around in their pick up trucks on bulk trash days looking for “usable” toilet seats and lamp shades that have been pooped on. I am not a hoarder.

I saw the table, stopped my car and got out to get a closer look. I was going back and forth on whether or not it was worth the effort. Alex was asleep in bed and I knew what his answer would be if I called asking for advice. Finally, after looking around to make sure no one was watching, I decided to take the plunge.

First step was clearing away the brush that was stacked on top of the table so that I could have a clear path to the table/diapers. Next, I had to delicately maneuver the table out of the pile of bulk trash so that the diapers fell away from me and not on me. After that, I had to lug the giant thing back to my car and load it up.

Gracie, probably sensing the lingering aroma of the bag of diapers, shied away from the table in the car and was happy to get out of the car when we got home.  I dragged the table inside and waited for Alex to wake up.

Let me tell you this about my sweet husband: When it comes to furniture, he is not a visionary. He has a hard time seeing potential in things. So, when I bring home a broken, scraped up coffee table that reeks slightly of diapers, he is not amused.

When said broken down coffee table sits untouched in the garage for about nine months, Alex starts to question my sanity and/or whether we really need this coffee table or not.

I kept insisting that I was going to re-do it. Make it better! Sleeker! Painted! Beautiful!

Finally, in August, I put my big girl panties on and started work on it. I spent two Fridays in a row sanding. Both days, incidentally, our mailman came around the corner and we scared each other. I painted, painstakingly brushing the inside of 56 little wooden squares. I went to Home Depot several times to buy the wood for the top because I wasn’t aware that a 2×8 wasn’t actually 8 inches wide (go figure).  Alex helped me sand the top and we stained and polyurethaned.

The final product?

We might actually use coasters on this thing...

We might actually use coasters on this thing…

I’m SO incredibly happy with the way it turned out. Alex came on board after we put the first round of stain on the top. It’s huge, sturdy, has storage, and doesn’t smell one iota like a dirty diaper.

Everything I ever wanted in a coffee table…

DIY Project #2: Shelves for the Kid

Okay. Confession time. We’ve been working really hard on the back bedroom (the one designated for our son) because it was painted in a grandma color and the only furniture we had in there was a giant, adult desk, a bed with a mattress that was 27 years old, and Lunchbox the Turtle’s giant cage. We got a new mattress, the aforementioned craigslist desk, and my mom is bringing a dresser from Abilene. All that was left, furniture-wise, was some bookshelves because the poor kid has the world’s weirdest closet that’s already full of crafty things because, well, this house ain’t got no closet space.

Begin craigslist searching in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

I have to tell you that I am an expert at craigslist. I know how to search, how far Alex is willing to drive to get something, the price range, how to talk to potential sellers. I love it. The thrill of finding exactly what you want, for a ridiculous price and probably a good story, is one of my favorite things.

After searching for a few weeks for shelves that would fit in the room, last Wednesday, they finally popped up. Three shelves for $75. A steal. They were unique, close by, and cheap.

So, we bit the bullet and made an appointment to go get them last Friday morning. On the morning of, I measured my car and determined that we could not fit them in my CR-V. So we rushed like mad to find a place where we could rent a pick-up truck. Home Depot actually has trucks that you can rent ($20 for 75 minutes) so we ran up there to get one.

Please remember, at this point, Alex is still “not so sure”. He wanted real wood shelves, but I assured him that he would not want to pay what those would cost. These were the next best thing.

We drive up to Plano, find the apartment complex, and as soon as we round the corner, Alex says, “Oh, those are nice” and now I can relax. Up to this point, I thought he was going to have a little meltdown because:

1) He wasn’t really convinced we needed them in the first place.

2) He was annoyed that we had to rent a truck to get them home.

3) He hadn’t eaten anything yet and hungry Alex is grouchy Alex.

The things he does for love…

Anyway, the man selling them to us was lovely. We shook them to see how sturdy they were and they passed the shaking test. We loaded them up on our Home Depot truck and away we went.

We tried to rush home because they’ll charge you $10 for an extra hour, even if you’re just one minute late returning the truck. We pulled the truck into our driveway and started unloading. We turned the first shelf on its side and carried it into the room. When we were ready to stand it up, we just lifted the side up and the square shelf decided to take on more of a rhombus shape.

Yes, after scheduling a pick up time, renting a truck, paying cash, driving the truck home, we broke the shelf inside the room where it was supposed to live.

It was so depressing. Pressed for time, we decided to just move it out of the way and bring in the second one. This one went much better, except we noticed a definitive cat odor emanating from the shelves. Nothing a little clorox wipe can’t take care of.

Alex rushed off to Home Depot to return the truck and ended up having to pay $10 extra anyway because he got stuck in line behind two “yahoos”.

We’ve since decided that rhombus shelves can be made square again and so we bought metal brackets that have helped fortify its’ joints. We moved it into the bedroom last night, ready to sit it next to its brother.

However, it now sits at an angle that is not unlike the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is unacceptable for a child’s room.  Now we have to find some wood to wedge under the back of the shelf so that it will stand up straight.

Honestly, don't know how it's standing at that angle.

Honestly, don’t know how it’s standing at that angle.

Our Friday morning project has become a week long ordeal.

If  you give a craigslist mouse a cookie…

PS- We’ll post final room pics when the room is actually final.

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