Monday, August 8, 2011

Craigslist Coffee Table

So you know how I've been planning forever on making an ottoman for the living room?  Well, that went out the window when I spotted this coffee table on Craigslist last week.

Only $10!!

I'm convinced that the secret to finding good stuff on Craigslist for super cheap is to look for the worst ads.  "Faux bamboo" and "Hollywood Regency" are descriptions that are going to run the price up, because that means the seller knows a little something about what they're selling.  No, you want the ad with the blurry picture, the table taken apart and propped against a wall, and the copy "Coffee table.  $10.  Need gone ASAP"  That's how you score on Craigslist.

I didn't even bother asking questions (size, condition, etc) before I went to pick it up because I knew I could easily paint it white and resell it.  In fact, that was the plan (because I wanted an ottoman, remember?).  Before I left I even showed the boyfriend Elisa from What the Vita's transformation of a similar faux bamboo coffee table from blah to beautiful with a few coats of white paint.


I don't know if anyone else does this when Craigslist shopping - but when I go pick up something fabulous for practically nothing, I almost always act like a bank robber.  I literally think that if I stay too long chit-chatting, there's a chance that the seller is going to either a.) put down the crack pipe, come to their senses and demand more money; or b.) I will succumb to the overwhelming urge to tell the seller "Hey, this is worth SO much more than you're selling it for.  In fact, I'm going to turn around and sell it for 10x this amount."  So I try to keep the exchanges nice and short - which is probably a good thing since we are talking about complete strangers who may or may not have recently smoked crack.

It's not in perfect condition - mostly just scuff marks and places where the finish has worn away.  Here's a close-up of the legs:

When I was staining the bedside tables, I used some stain to touch up the places where the finish had worn away, so it's barely noticeable now.  Which is good, because I'm kind of loving the distressed ebony finish.  I'm working on removing the white paint scuffs.  Depending on my success, I may or may not paint the table legs a metallic brass color like this:

Love the black and brass contrast.
When I brought the table home, I was sure the boyfriend would be on the "hate" side of the fence.  But I had him set it up inside just to see how it looked.  Did I mention that it's ginormous?  48 inches square!  As soon as the boyfriend set the first remote down on it, he decided it could stay, potential profits be damned.  I, however, wasn't quite so sure.

Firstly, it's a glass table and I have a five year old golfer at home.  There was a good chance it wouldn't last through the night.  Also, I was so set on the ottoman - I bought the perfect fabric ages ago and have been saving up pennies to buy a massive amount of foam.  Ottomans are much more "us" than delicate glass-topped faux bamboo coffee tables.  And it smelled of smoke.

Oh, man, did it stink.

Up until now I've had the great fortune of not buying stinky used furniture.  So, I wasn't sure what to do.  I mixed up a solution of 50% vinegar and 50% water and wiped it down a couple of times a day for a few days.  I also set out a bowl of vinegar underneath the table to "soak up" some more of the smell.  It sounds like it wouldn't work - but it did.  At first, the vinegar smell (lovely in its own right) seemed to be only masking the cingarette stench, but after a few days the table was smelling perfectly normal.  (And yes, I'm still regularly bending over and sniffing my coffee table - no pictures, thank you.)  So that's my tip of the day.  You can also dust the product with baking soda, but I figured that would be pretty messy.

So what to do with the ikat fabric that perfectly matches my color scheme?  I have an old rattan table and stools with a glass top that I (big surprise) bought off of Craigslist last year with the idea of painting a fun color.  Which has never happened. 

Obviously having a faux bamboo table and a rattan table in one space is a little overkill, so I took the 2 1/2 yards of fabric and gave it a test run as a table skirt (no cutting, sewing or ironing yet).

I like it, but I don't love it.  So I'm not sure.  What do you think?


  1. That is an awesome coffee table and what a steal, $10!! I think I got mine for 40 or something.. you got a great deal!!

    And I think the fabric looks really great as a table skirt. I love it.