Getting craftsy with Craigslist

I’m all about saving money when it comes to decorating, so you can imagine my joy when I found these babies on Craigslist for only $100!

That might still sound like a lot but let me break it down for you:

Brand new, a similar style would cost almost $130…on sale…for a set of two! I don’t know about you but I need four chairs and $260 is way out of my price range for butt ploppers. Even if I did want to shell out that much cash, the white cushions just weren’t doing it for me. I need color and lots of it. That’s why I turned my attention to Craigslist and started looking up how to reupholster a seat cushion.

Just like flea markets and thrift stores, Craigslist is basically a crap shoot – you’re going to run across some u-g-l-y stuff. BUT, if you’re patient, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for, or at least something you can paint/polish/live with.

Here are a few tips for using Craigslist:

  • Expand your search to the surrounding cities (my default listings show all of DC, rather than the more-specific NoVa)
  • Increase your max dollars because…
  • Most people are willing to negotiate the price if you…
  • Offer to pay in cash and pick up immediately

I spent about two weeks hunting for chairs. I was more concerned with the shape of the chair, both the design and the sturdiness. If they weren’t espresso brown, I would paint them. If they had nicks or scratches, I would color them in with a marker. Luckily, I managed to find a set of four chairs that were perfect for my reupholstering project. R came with me to pick them up so he could help me carry them and to keep me safe – you can never be too careful when meeting up with strangers!

Armed with a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a staple gun (and extra staples), and colorful fabric from G Street Fabrics, I was ready to get to work! Oh, I should mention how much fabric I got. For these bad boys, 1 1/2 yards would do the trick. The chairs are approximately 18×16″ and, since this was my first upholstery job, I wanted to make sure I had plenty to work with. This fabric was $45, at $29.99/yd.

The former owner had re-covered the chairs so after I unscrewed the cushions, I started removing all of those staples. Then I cut my fabric into quarters, positioned the cushion, and started stapling!
I started on the front (the widest part of the cushion) and put a few staples in the center to hold it in place as I moved to the back, then to the sides, and finally the corners. I wound up with a lot of extra fabric so I trimmed away to make sure it looked good.
I covered one cushion and wanted to put it back on the chair before I kept going with the remaining three. I ran into a little problem when I couldn’t get the holes to line up but it taught me what to do with the remaining cushions.
I love them!! Some of the corners are a little messy but overall, I couldn’t be happier with the look and the price.
  • Cost for 4 new chairs and custom reupholstering: well over $300
  • What I paid: $150

I’m happy to report that I didn’t staple my finger once and my only injury was a small blister on my thumb from holding and squeezing the staple gun over and over and…well, over again.

Check back later today for a mostly finished look at our dining area. I’ll give you a hint…we painted the table. Ok, that was more than a hint but come back anyway!


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