My hopelessly-addicted-to-Craigslist home tour

January 31 | Guest post by Jen Hansard

My husband and I have been on a crazy adventure since last June when we sold our home in California and left for Florida. We drove across the country with our two young kids in an F-150 truck towing a trailer of their cherished belongings behind us. Now we share a three-bedroom townhouse with our two hilarious kids (Jackson, 4, and Clare, 2). An incredible thing about our home is that 99% of our furniture, toys, and home decor is second hand. Craigslist, the Salvation Army and garage sales played major roles in this Tampa Bay home.

We moved in a month ago and have worked extremely hard to make it feel like a home. We are strong believers in "reduce, reuse and recycle" and try to apply it to our home as much as possible. We tend to shop at thrift stores and garage sales — and love a good Craigslist deal. Take a look around and I hope you find inspiration in what you see.

Living room

I bought the blue Pottery Barn couch on Craigslist in Los Angeles and knew it would be hard to ever find another one like it (that I could afford). So we managed to fit it in our trailer and dragged it across country with us. Two months ago, we were at the local Salvation Army and I spotted the beige couch— exact same style and brand as our blue one. So we bought it on the spot for $200. The pillows and coffee table are also Craigslist deals. The large wool floral rug I scored at a garage sale in California for $45. Deals like this make me do the happy dance.

The wood coasters on the coffee table are handmade by Ryan and me. We had a large tree branch fall down in our yard and we decided to make coasters out of them. The picture frame wall is something I have been dreaming about for a while. I have been collecting unique frames at thrift stores and garage sales over the years. Once we moved into this townhouse I was ready to bring them out and let the fun begin. We are still figuring out what photos to put in some of them, which explains the blank frames and a sideways rooster.

I love this coffee table because each drawer has a label slot on it and I can store the kids' puzzles, board games, and some preschool learning tools in them. This keeps my living room from being overrun with toys — which is very important for my sanity.

Dining room

We picked up our dining room table at the Salvation Army and the cedar chest at a storage unit sale. This is technically supposed to be a sitting room, but we swapped it with our "official dining room" because it was more open and flowed better with our layout. And the Melissa and Doug art easel in the background is awesome! The reviews don't lie — it's amazing… especially with two kids.

The playroom

Ryan and I love watching our kids play together, so we created a space for them downstairs where we spend most of our time. We turned our dining room into the kids' area. The craft table was a Craigslist find. We use it for drawing, play dough, board games, crafts and even for meals when we have lots of friends over. The black Pottery Barn entertainment center is another Craigslist find — we store all of our crafts, books and games in it. Where a TV is supposed to go, we display kids' books and keep our tabletop paper holder, which I got at Ikea and highly recommend!

We try to be a shoe-free home and this usually creates a pileup of shoes right by the front door. I have struggled every place we move to create the perfect spot for shoes. This is definitely not perfect, but it works for now. We each get our own cubby and the bottom two are for socks and hats. Boots stay to the side and our running shoes stay in the garage because they are typically caked in the nasty Florida mud. If you have any shoe storage ideas to share, I would love to see them!

The loft

The loft is Ryan's office space. He uses it for researching, reading and all the other jobs of a pastor. The desk was another Craigslist deal — I love how wide and deep it is.

Since Ryan has mountains of books, we created a bookshelf on the back of his desk for his most-used books. Check out the clown bookends we scored at the thrift store as well — we love them!

We refinished this Craigslist bookshelf in a dark blue to add some color to the room. The chair was calling my name at a small backwoods thrift store. It even rocks back — which makes it the perfect reading chair.

And for the overflow of books, we crammed them in this additional bookshelf that we got at a thrift store for $5. The glass jars and painting frames are also second-hand treasures. The wood duck is actually a gift from my good friend, Kerry, that I met two years ago through Craigslist.

The kids' room

We just got the kids this bunk bed set (another Craigslist deal). It opened up the floor area so they can play with their train tracks (another Craigslist buy), building blocks and Duplos (we bought most of our Duplos on eBay). The side table is actually meant for a bathroom, but we decided its new home was in the kids' room (and yes, it was a thrift store find).

Costume corner

Dress up is one of my fondest memories as a child. I asked Ryan to make a costume stand for me, since he is my handyman. He used sprinkler pipes and an old wood door we had in our yard. We spray painted it blue to conceal the plumber's vibe going on. The mirror was actually a freebie (the people we bought the bunk beds from on Craigslist gave it to us). We hung it very low so the kids can see themselves when they play dress up.

FYI: The day after Halloween is the day to stockpile your costume corner. Target has them discounted 50% off.

We made this raft as a family last summer with some sticks we collected around our yard. We actually launched it into a pond and watched it float across it. The kids loved it and I decided to mount it to the wall — like a trophy commemorating our adventure.

Our bedroom

We keep books above our bed because all of our bookshelves are crammed full of books and we had to get creative. The bed, nightstand and lamp were all Craigslist purchases in Los Angeles.

I love our bed because it is low to the ground and our 2-year old can easily climb up on it and snuggle with us.

Home office

Welcome to Hansard Studio! This is my home office, where I talk with clients, edit photos, design websites, sketch out logos and write articles for Family Sponge. It's also located in my bedroom (just to the right of our bed). So I guess it's actually a "bedside office."

Ryan refinished this desk (bought from the Salvation Army) and we found this funky chair at a thrift store as well. The seat cushion of the chair lifts up and my kids like to hide treasures in here for me to find. So sweet!

The bulletin board began as a frame we found in the trash. Seriously. I spray painted it and then bought cork squares at Lowe's to attach to a wood panel. Then we mounted the board into the frame and called it good. I use the board for creative inspiration and to hang our children's lovely artwork. I have been considering using it as a vision board too.

We use this computer to watch Netflix movies some nights (remember our bed is just to the left of the desk). I turned a candle holder into my office supply jar for easy accessibility. The strange tablet on my desk is what I use instead of a mouse. It's an art thing and I love it! Much more ergonomical since I spend a decent amount of time on the computer. Oh, and we even buy our computers second-hand (refurbished) through Apple. I told you, we truly have this second-hand thing down.

  1. This is totally inspiring! I try to be a CL fiend (in an hour I'm about to go score a $200 Scandinavian high chair for $20), but I always worry about how to make everything look "intentional" and cohesive… you definitely did it! This post will also be really interesting to Offbeat Mama readers, given all the great kid stuff you've got going on. I especially love your playroom — the way you've re-purposed the entertainment center is genius!

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  2. I love your home! It's so inviting. I especially love the wall o' frames and the fun refinished pieces. Your home only serves as fuel to my own Craigslist-loving fire! I've found cars, furniture, and jobs on CL!

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  3. Beautiful home, and more beautiful for the fact that you've managed to thrift and re-use so many great pieces. It all looks cohesive and on purpose! And thanks for the reminder of what a great place Craigslist can be! I've been wondering how on earth to afford a new dresser for my son…

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  4. You're an inspiration!

    Craigslist is amazing. Much of our furniture and accessories came from Craigslist. I like secondhand furnishings for so many reasons: they are eco-friendly, cheap, and full of personality. They are often higher-quality than we could ever afford to buy new.

    It's really helpful if you are open to tinkering and getting creative with your finds. Refinishing/painting furniture like you did can really help make a cohesive look. Reupholstery can also come in handy.

    For those without big cars to haul stuff (like that entertainment center–wow!), you can still give your home a lot of personality by accessorizing with cool secondhand things even if you can't spend every weekend collecting furniture.

    Buying used can be an exercise in patience because it can take a while to find just the right thing (especially on Craigslist where it might get sold right after you spot it). But I've developed a rather zen approach to it. If I wait, I'll find the perfect item at the right price. (This has also worked when finding housing on Craigslist.) So many items come through Craigslist and secondhand stores that you're bound to score the right thing eventually. It just takes persistence.

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  5. Thanks for all the compliments! As you can see I love craigslist. If you are unsure of it still, check out a post I just wrote on my website: http://www.familysponge.com. There are lots of helpful hints and just interesting info about how I use craigslist- you can even see who Craig is! Thanks for the love and I hope you are inspired by my second hand home.

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  6. Photo wall?!?! Paul Frank kids' book?!?!?! CRAFT TABLE?!?!??! LOVE those things and so much more. This gives me hope that I can upgrade from my current, very obvious flea-market-chic to refurbished fabulousness. Thanks for sharing!

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    • I say flea market chic in a silly way… My house kind of does resemble a flea market sometimes. The dusty ones.

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  7. This is such an inspiring and wonderful post! That blue-grey desk is AMAZING.
    I adore Craigslist and have been slowly switching all my furniture purchases to it over the years- my favorite would have to be my amazing white vintage-y looking dresser and bedside table set. I'm 75% sure I'm going to be moving from Virginia to Chicago this summer so I've been whittling down my excess items by selling them online and plan to furnish my future home with CL finds.

    One question for Jen – in buying beds on CL, do you just get the frame and get a new mattress or…? I'm both considering selling and buying beds on CL and I'm not certain what the norm is – it seems a little iffy to sleep on some stranger's old mattress!

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    • Great question! When I sell beds, I sell the mattress with it- then I don't have to worry about disposing of it. When I buy beds on Craigslist, I sometimes do get the mattress that comes with it and sometimes I say no thanks. I leave it up to the cleanliness of the house and the item (must be pet free and smoke free!). And I typically buy pottery barn furniture and the mattresses are typically just as nice, so it works out well. My parents were a little grossed out when I told them my kids mattresses (for the bunk beds) were used. We bought mattress covers and made sure they were nice and clean before we agreed to take them with the bunk.

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      • Just one thing about used mattresses- be aware of bedbugs. They often aren't visible unless you absolutely know what signs you're looking for and even then they can hide well… it doesn't matter whether it's coming from a clean house or not.
        It really depends on where you live, too.

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        • AH! Bed bugs would suck. I have never experienced that, but that is a great thing to think about. If they aren't visible, how do you know if they are around?

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          • Sadly you might only find out once your home got infested, but bedbugs droppings leave black, sharpie-like stains, but they are very good at hiding and tiny, so inspection might not help.

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  8. LOVE IT! My fiance and I just bought our first home and we have been scouring Craigslist for deals on furniture and accessories. It's a great help for those of us on a tight budget.

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    • Absolutely! We bought a foreclosure a few years back and redid a lot of it. We bought our kitchen sink on Craigslist (someone bought it and didn't follow through on their renovation). So def keep an eye out for home remodeling items as well as furniture!

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  9. Oh, there's so much I love about your home:
    The raft!
    The picture frame wall!
    The perfect reading chair!
    The cork board with the awesome frame!
    And just the overall neatness and comfort of it.

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    • Thanks cath- I must disclose that it is never this clean- but close. I don't like clutter, but with two little kids it's how it is. But the drawers in the coffee table and entertainment space helps a lot. We do put all the random toys in the old chest for a quick clean up- out of sight, out of mind.

      The raft was so fun and easy to make. Took the kids some time to find all the sticks (which gave me time to enjoy my coffee). I might post this project idea on Family Sponge with a simple way to build it.

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  10. Love the clean and neat spaces (even if it's not that neat all the time, everything has a spot!). What a warm and welcoming home.

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  11. Wow, I love the vibe of your home. My mom loves blue and brown, so all the blue and brown in your photos made me a bit homesick. :)

    As for shoes, I found big buckets for $10 in the seasonal aisle at Target. They were advertised for holding frosty beverages at parties, but work perfectly for my shoes. They fit great under the big, built-in table in my entryway.

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  12. I'm a thrift-store junkie. Haven't tried craiglist yet but I'm certain I could get into a ton of trouble! Also love hitting up Target after Halloween for dress-up clothes for my daughter. Last year I bought 3. My daughter is only 1, but she'll play dress-up some day, and I'll be ready!

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  13. Great article! Most of my stuff came from craigslist and yard sales. I check out the listings almost daily, and would probably have more stuff if only I had a truck. But maybe that's a good thing!

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  14. Man, you guys seriously rock. I thought we were doing good haha. This is extremely inspiring! And I am totally jealous of your frame collage wall. Totally. I definitely believe in reusing things and I love bargain hunting. I think the only piece of 'new' furniture we have is his computer desk and our living room set. (Which we are about to replace with a craigslist find! :D) Oh and a few bookshelves I asked for on Christmas. I loooove all the books throughout your home. That also makes me jealous.

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  15. Ugh! I am so jealous! Everything in my house is second hand, but nothing looks as put together as your place (except my daughters room, I guess adding purple and blue to everything makes it look finished!).

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  16. Your house is so cool! I typically get more excited about the "HOLY JEEBUS A RAINBOW PUKED IN HERE!" houses on OBH, but yours looks so put-together, and there's so many neat details!

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    • HA!!! I am forever holding "HOLY JEEBUS A RAINBOW PUKED IN HERE!" as my official home decor motto.

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  17. Very cool! We're moving in a month and we've decided to wait to get furniture so that we can work the garage sale circuit and hit the thrift shops when it is warm (we don't have a car).

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  18. Such a beautiful home! I plan to move to a new apartment this year & your photos are a great inspiration for how to decorate & incorporate some great used "treasures".

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  19. Your place is so fabulous! The mix of woods and colors paired with the white walls- it feel so inviting! Very well done, and thank you for sharing!

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  20. what is that thing you are using to hold the shoes? i want one of those!!

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  21. Two things:
    1. You give me hope for when I finally move out and get my own place, that I can create a lovely and welcoming space within my means
    2. I am not sure if someone else brought this up but in library school, my teachers nagged us on positioning books for preservation. Placing books spine up with the pages facing down (like you have on the desk) will put more wear on the spine causing it to crack and the bonding glue to weaken. Since these are books used often they will probably need mending quicker if they remain in that position too long.
    Sorry! I am annoying!

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  22. Awesome finds! Your vigilance paid off!

    Every time I look on craiglist for furniture it's all stuff that is REALLY out of style and horrible. The last thing I bought off CL was a cat tower.

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  23. Very nice! My mother has made a hobby out of staging homes using finds from garage sales and the Salvation Army store (there are two in Tampa that have yielded some great finds). I've also discovered the joys of consignment stores in this town, and I've found some great pieces at Triage, The Missing Piece and The Room Exchange.

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