My paramour. My inamorata. My one true love: Craigslist.
People say Craigslist is full of crap.
And? It is.
It’s totally full of junk and overpriced oak hutches from 1980.
However? Craigslist is also the source of all awesomeness. The hutches are just there to scare off the non-believers… To test your faith and weed out the heretics.
Craigslist is like an estate sale, an antique store, and trash night, all rolled into one and delivered to your house.
If you’re not monitoring Craigslist for your heart’s desire? You’re an idiot. And I LOVE that about you… because it leaves more for ME.
I have a siren in my head that reacts to anything old, broken, giant, gilded, Victorian, fancy, or generally too large to fit in my house… and when I saw this, it went crazy.
The text of the ad that’s cut off explains that the house is being renovated into apartments, (near one of Philadelphia’s university areas,) that the wardrobe is in excellent condition… and can be removed without damaging it.
It was Sunday morning, and the time-stamp on the Craigslist ad told me it had literally JUST posted. Clearly, a message from the universe.
I RAN downstairs. What Paul calls the Craigslist-charge. He claims that he can tell, by my footsteps, the degree to which his day has just been hijacked.
And I was like—WE HAVE TO GO GET THIS RIGHT NOW.
Paul said—are you… shaking?
And I was like, please. Stop speaking. Put your shoes on. Hurry.
If someone ELSE gets this I will NEVER get over it.
Paul said—Wait a minute. What is it?
And I was like—it’s the portal to Downton Abbey… It’s everything I ever wanted… it’s a MESSAGE from the UNIVERSE.
Paul said—hang on… What are you planning to do with it?
And I was like— I’m going to… eh…. Uh? What?
Let’s take a sidebar here: What is THAT about?
YOU people know what I want to do with this. And you more or less JUST met me.
My husband, on the other hand, apparently doesn’t even live on my planet.
Did I not show him Pilar Guzman’s kitchen, seven hundred times? Do I strike you as the sort of person who would fail to communicate my heart’s desire?
So I was like—I’m going to put it in the kitchen.
Let me speak SUPER slowly so you understand me.
KITCH-EN. Kitch…en. Kiiiiittttcccchhheeeennn.
The room with the stove?
And? Maybe you remember seeing my dream kitchen? SEVEN HUNDRED TIMES?
And maybe you can see that this is pretty much the universe manifesting what lives in my head?
In fact, it’s possible I AM CONTROLLING THE WORLD WITH MY MIND.
Apparently, Paul was not impressed with my world-bending mind tricks. Because he said— That is not going to fit in the kitchen. And I was like, oh really? How do you even know that?
He was like—sure, okay… so how tall is it? How long is it?
And I was like— I have no idea… it doesn’t say. But it doesn’t LOOK that big.
Paul was like, believe me. That is PLENTY big. The sink is maybe about three feet tall. And it’s about the same width, so let’s say it’s three feet wide… and in comparison, the side units are even wider, let’s say four feet each, so I’d say overall it’s between 11 and 12 feet long… which is too big for the kitchen.
What is with the savant-style measuring? That is beyond aggravating.
(For anyone who wants to keep score: the entire thing is 11′ 6″ long.)
It is good that I am so skilled at ignoring reality, in favor of what I want to believe… because if I weren’t, I would have to remember that Paul has never once been wrong about this kind of thing.
He had more questions too: How is it built into the wall? How does it come apart? What floor is it on? How will we get it out? WHERE are you going to put it?
I was like, do you not SEE what I am showing you?
Your questions are IRRELEVANT.
Did I somehow neglect to emphasize my wish for GIANT FANCY THINGS?
It doesn’t matter who, what, where, when, why.
If I keep it in the garage to store my gardening tools in, WHAT do you care?
Paul said– well, can you ask them how big it is?
And I was like, I’m sorry… but you KNOW I can’t do that. We can go there and LOOK at it, and then decide, but we have to GET there first.
Let me give you some advice about Craigslist. I’ve learned it the hard way: if you MUST have something… Do not make an offer, ask a question, or otherwise confuse the situation.
If you MUST have something, and that thing is a monster Victorian Eastlake wardrobe that every antique dealer and salvage company in Philadelphia will be after? Do not even ask how big it is.
If you want it no matter what? ALL you say is:
I want that.
I can come anytime.
I can move it myself.
I don’t need your help.
Here is my phone number.
My social security number.
My bank account number.
To stand out from the 400 emails the seller is going to get, you have to be the one person who requires nothing. You have to be a beacon of simplicity and straightforwardness.
Now is the part where Paul says I MUST tell you how I misrepresented the ease with which this would be removed.
In my defense– the guy selling it TOLD me that he had his carpenter look at it. And the carpenter said— no problem. EASY.
All you need is a screwdriver.
Plus, I had backup… if you’ve been reading me for a while, you remember Bryan, our neighbor… the one who gave me the Asian dolls and used to be an antique dealer? Well, he and I have become friends… We are allies in the belief that opportunities like this are rare and must be seized.
He assured Paul that he had removed a couple of these when he was in business and that they really do come apart EASILY. That they are put together with dowels and some well-placed screws… It’s just a matter of figuring out which piece to start with.
Which, technically IS actually true.
So Paul just took a basic bucket of tools.
Basic. Not demolition.
We’d been there for about twenty minutes and Brian said— Wow! This is an unusual piece… I don’t know how they built this!! And the guy selling it said– yeah, I’m going to leave, call me if you figure it out…
Paul looked at me.
It was not the look of love.
It was the look that said—you have failed, on all fronts, to prepare me for this job, and I cannot believe I relied on you to accurately gauge the situation, and now I am in an unheated building with no tools or skilled assistants… I am surrounded by idiots.
After an entire hour, all we had done was remove the doors.
By that time, Paul was aggravated.
Which morphed into SUPER aggravated… when he finally figured out that the magic-keystone-starter-screw was on the BACK of the wardrobe.
The OUTSIDE of the back of the wardrobe.
Watching him realize that the back panel needed to come off first… AND that there was a WALL between him and that panel… and that all he had was a hammer and a flashlight…
I almost felt bad.
But I am only the finder.
Paul is the getter.
I DID my part.
It turns out that Paul is like the James Bond of demolition.
James can blow up a car with a bottle cap and a pack of matches… But MY husband can take apart a wall with his bare hands and a hammer.
James? You have NOTHING on my husband.
Plus? James? You international man of mystery? My husband is totally more mysterious than you.
As we got further along, it became clear that the wardrobe was added after the house was built… it was brought in, in pieces, assembled, pushed against the existing wall, and then they built a false wall around it to make it appear built-in…
Paul is sure this was the wife’s idea… and that she and I would have gotten along just fine.
In case you’re thinking that Paul was getting some satisfaction from making progress… this photo should set you straight.
In fact, he may have used the phrase: fool’s errand.
This is hour three and a half…
By now it was COLD… The building is being renovated into apartments, and there was no heat.
Was anyone having a good time at this point?
Sure! I was!
Does this NOT look like a total party?
I tried to be helpful… and motivational… and point out the positives like how the wardrobe itself REALLY did come apart with JUST a screwdriver.
Also, I tried to tell Paul how MUCH I love him!!
How really, really, really, really, REALLY a LOT… I LOVE him.
Which I cannot say he appreciated…
Usually, if you tell your husband— I adore and worship you!! There is a base-level expectation of pleasantry in return… not the stone-faced response of—I will never ever, ever, ever do this again.
Which is a total lie!! We will DEFINITELY do this again.
We will do this as many times as Craigslist deems necessary.
Although, as it turns out… Paul was correct that it will not fit in the kitchen.
In fact, it nearly doesn’t fit in our house at all.
Literally—it barely clears the ceiling at the tallest fancy piece.
To repurpose it as kitchen cabinets, we would have to chop off six inches on both sides. And I don’t think I can do that. Even though it would solve all my kitchen problems. (Or create entirely new ones.) It’s too beautiful to destroy.
So it’s residing in our living room… the only room in the house with a wall long enough… we left out the center section to accommodate the window.
Does it make the room feel tiny? Yes.
Does it utterly destroy any kind of feng shui? Yes.
Did we have to remove 47 things that used to live in here? Yes.
Does it make ALL the other furniture the totally wrong choice? Yes.
Do we need a bigger house now? Clearly.
But it doesn’t matter. I LOVE it. If given the opportunity to get fifty more, I will.
When my baby brother Matt came over he was like— whoa… that’s… huge…
And I was like I KNOW.
He said– What is it?
And I told him– It’s the PORTAL TO DOWNTON ABBEY.
And he was like, one side, sure… but the other one definitely goes to Narnia.
SEE ALL MY BEST CRAIGSLIST FINDS!
Antique Grand Piano Into Kitchen Island
April 29, 2013 @ 5:13 pm
I am just so happy to see this post and find this blog and know that I am not alone! I have a wee 800 square foot Victorian cottage and am constantly stuffing things into. Had to walk away from a pair of aesthetic movement mirrors because they were 12 feet high and my ceilings are too short. You are so lucky you found this and got t and don’t ever let anyone tell you you weren’t absolutely right to do it!
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
April 29, 2013 @ 6:21 pm
I am terribly sorry you had to leave the mirrors behind. I probably would have just cut a hole in my ceiling, but I guess your solution was more practical.
I got sucked into your blog… weirdly drawn to Nolan.
Okay if I pin your Paris mural? Feel free to say no… I realize that artwork is very different from most of the stuff on there…
May 1, 2013 @ 11:46 am
Pin away! A lot of my work is on Pinterest which is why I watermark all of my images. Thanks so much for your interest!
Believe me opening up the ceiling to allow for tall giant ebonized and gilt mirrors… was discussed. (Cutting the mirror frames down was not an option. ) Moving to a larger house someday was discussed. Getting a storage garage to keep things for a larger house I might have someday was discussed… and by discussed I mean I paced back and forth rationalizing for between 30 minutes and two hours at a time on the phone or in person with anyone who would listen. I texted pictures of them to friends and clients trying to make sure that they were at least bought by someone I know. In the end the seller, seeing my enthusiasm for them, decided to keep them. So at least I know where they are!
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
May 1, 2013 @ 1:08 pm
I totally agree with you! Moving to accommodate furniture is TOTALLY reasonable. Cutting it to fit? Not at all.
We kept a giant mirror in the garage (courtesy of Craigslist) for nearly two years, until the foyer was finished… to me this was sensible. To Paul, it was a giant waste of workspace…
May 19, 2013 @ 12:20 pm
OMG!! I LOVE IT!!! It’s gorgeous just where it is! I love your description of your adventures getting the Downton Abbey Portal because I can so see my husband doing this “fools errand!”
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
May 19, 2013 @ 7:09 pm
I am such a hoarder… no kidding. There is something about my brain that is SO happy with it.
The adage about material possessions not providing true happiness seems stupid to me. CLEARLY this is the very embodiment of happiness!!
May 27, 2013 @ 7:58 pm
Oh dear lord, I came over from the thread on the Young House Love forum, and you left out the most impressive fact of all, which is that you got that beautiful beautiful monster for $300!
Also, I have to say that I just love your style of writing. I feel like we’re friends chatting – I will be following your blog for sure!
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
May 30, 2013 @ 6:17 pm
Aggravatingly, my comment–notifications aren’t working… (I have no idea why) and it’s only just occurred to me to actually LOOK at my blog to see if anyone new told me how amazing this is…
I told Paul that other women spend more on handbags… you know, incase I needed a justification.
Looking at your site… my bf and I lived in Ft. Worth for a while, so I think of Texas as a place where you just hang out with your best friend and laugh all day.
June 1, 2013 @ 11:17 am
Oh. My. Gosh. Totally cracking up! I mean really, you can’t put a price on a portal to Downton Abbey AND Narnia. That’s priceless! Such an awesome piece, and thank goodness for willing hubbies…even if they don’t know what they’re in for! Mine, usually does…he knows me too well!
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
June 2, 2013 @ 6:48 pm
You are SO right… you CANNOT put a price on time-travel to imaginary places!
June 1, 2013 @ 11:18 am
Wow! What a beautiful find. It’s awesome. I’ll have to check out Craigslist for our renovation.
Visiting from Sharefest. Have a great weekend.
Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
June 2, 2013 @ 6:49 pm
Craigslist is like my other husband. One who never gets cranky!
June 17, 2013 @ 3:30 pm
Victoria, I love this post … hiiiiilarious & fabulous. You write like I think in this post & I, too, love Craigslist. LOL! You now have a new subscriber / Pinterest follower. I just discovered your blog via your comment today here http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/choosing-the-right-size-couch-five-key-questions-190895 .
But, now I need to know what happened to that wardrobe (since it was too big for the kitchen). Were you able to use it elsewhere? Is your hubby Paul okay (did he implode when he discovered it was too big)? 🙂
June 1, 2013 @ 1:35 pm
Oh my heavens, how have we NEVER met, Victoria!??!
LOVE this whole story and the antique piece/work of art!
And I must tell you, you have to meet my fellow blogging friend, Andie, who also has a home full of THE most amazing CList items and stories to match, just like this.
Please go check out her blog, because I am pretty sure you two are twins separated at birth!
Here is the link:
THIS piece, and YOUR story are just awesome.
I can relate on so many levels, as can my mother, sisters,
grandmother, etc. It runs in my family — for generations —
finding and “acquiring” objects (our heart’s desires) at whatever
the risk and the cost!
Thanks so much for sharing your “work of art”
with all of us and this wonderful story of wills and
an obviously strong and loving marriage!
Ricki Jill Treleaven
June 1, 2013 @ 1:56 pm
WOW!!!! This is my favorite post of the week….you are one lucky duck, with your own personal portals to both Narnia and Downton Abbey!!!
You are my new blog buddy whether you like it or not!
I’m linking from Alison’s blog, and I want to link over to the Crazy DIY kitchen before I leave!
Garden, Home and Party
June 1, 2013 @ 8:15 pm
This piece truly is an amazing work of art. You really did score on this find.
June 2, 2013 @ 11:02 am
Found your blog through sharefest. cute story!
June 3, 2013 @ 2:14 pm
Now that is a fine Craigslist is a hit and miss most of the time but they do have some great hits when you find them. Stopping by from SitsSharefest
June 5, 2013 @ 9:33 pm
You are fantastic! I had a decorating business for almost 7 years and loved those “finds.” My husband wasn’t involved at all. I had to hire my handyman to make things happen! If something you see moves you (I totally get it!) you HAVE to have it! No matter what!
Nicole @ One Punky Mama
June 10, 2013 @ 2:56 pm
I shouldn’t be laughing at all, but I am. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made (or sourced) purchases for the house that just. won’t. fit. It’s like, a normal occurrence for me. It usually involves me giving hubby a stern look, waving my hand around and saying “we’ll just move something else.”
Dria @ Dio
June 12, 2013 @ 7:02 pm
WOW I am soooo envious that is absolutely Gorgeous!!!
June 18, 2013 @ 7:06 am
May I ask where you got your coffee table/ottoman from? And the name of it/the style.
I love the look of it but haven’t actually been able to find one.
June 19, 2013 @ 12:37 pm
Thank you so much for this! It made me laugh out loud on a less than exciting day. I can totally relate although I have never lucked into something so grand.
June 21, 2013 @ 9:03 pm
This is easily the funniest blog I have ever laid eyes on. I RELATE! Boy do I relate! I have a fancy for old sewing machines and prefer to think of myself as a stalker ninja. I’m about to become addicted and go read all of your past blogs! Consider me a fan for life! FFL!
June 23, 2013 @ 10:39 pm
“—I will never ever, ever, ever do this again.
Which is a total lie!! We will DEFINITELY do this again.”
You’re my new favourite, I nearly woke my baby up laughing. But you in no way resemble me. None. At all. Just don’t ask my husband.
June 24, 2013 @ 7:43 pm
You are hilarious and my kindred sister, omgosh I love love love, and your thought process, Im waiting for my hubby to get home so I can start reading him your blog and secretly make him start liking your ideas so he will support me more in my hunts. Im used to him saying “I hate you woman” when I call him for the truck just to move a door I found out on a curb for trash day and Im guarding it waiting for him to arrive.
June 28, 2013 @ 8:31 pm
My calls for the truck are recognized in one word.
(ring ring ring)… “Hello?”
To which the reply is “What did you buy?”
June 25, 2013 @ 4:31 pm
I am so glad to know I am not alone in the love for all things vintage/Victorian off Craigslist. Except I go on my adventures husband-less so when he gets home and asks where it came from and how it got there I can shrug innocently. Of course, I am limited to whatever I can shove into my Odyssey (which includes an entire solid wood twin size sleigh trundle bed with mattress, $40! and more recently a replica scale model carved wood carousel horse). I may not have much upper body strength but if it means getting it home I can double as Superwoman.
June 26, 2013 @ 5:16 pm
You. Are. Awesome. (and my hero). I am in love with your blog and your style.