This week I helped a friend sell her armoire on Craigslist. I’ve bought and sold a lot of furniture on the site, and was bursting with tips, tricks and fancy adjectives. But I soon realized it would be unfair to burden one person with all that unsolicited advice.
I do love Craigslist; it’s where I got most of the furniture in my apartment. I love the thrill of the hunt and the chance to practice my negotiation skills. I love meeting new people in different neighborhoods, and conducting fairly large transactions in cash, usually at night.
But beneath all those great deals lurks a hidden dark side: the use of misleading adjectives to describe terrible furniture.
As a public service, Projectophile is alerting its readers to the unregulated use of Misleading Craigslist Furniture Adjectives. For your safety, I’ve provided a list of the 25 most dangerous terms, with their real meanings finally revealed.
All of these photos were taken from the Craigslist Chicago Furniture-by-owner listings on April 23, 2013, and are probably still available for purchase.
Adorable: No person over the age of 19 should have this in their house.
Amish: I still haven’t figured this one out. It just looks like regular furniture to me. Was it made without power tools? Smells like Rumspringa?
Antique: I found it in my grandma’s basement when she died. Smells musty and is the habitat of several species of spiders just waiting to have babies in your house.
Art Deco: Remember how everyone in the 1980s got nostalgic for the 1940s? This term describes pretty much anything that is old and has rounded edges.
Bauhaus: An influential early 20th Century movement of Modernist architecture and design. On Craigslist, it describes an overstuffed velvet couch, now sunken in one spot from thousands of hours of playing “Grand Theft Auto.”
Contemporary: One of the more dangerous adjectives on CL, and includes two distinct categories of style –
1) Contemporary Noir: Black lacquer with brass or gold hardware, plenty of mirrors and smoked glass.
2) Contemporary Miami: Would look best on the set of Golden Girls. Pastels, tropical prints, almost always faded and lumpy.
Custom: I took a welding class at the Discovery Center and then made this in my basement and my wife hates it.
Executive: Cheap office furniture that I bought at Office Depot in the early 2000s to launch a failed E-Bay business in my basement.
Free: Honestly, this could go either way. Some people just don’t have the energy or language skills to write a 50-word ad.
French Country: I painted purple flowers on a piece of white Victorian reproduction furniture. Also see “Decorative.”
Fun: You can’t actually sit on it; you can only look at it, or fall off of it.
Funky: See “Fun.” This type of furniture is only available in Blue and Purple.
Gorgeous: (Oops—how did this one get in here? This must be one of my ads. I call everything gorgeous, because for some reason people believe it.)
Hand-painted: Some crafty lady thought it would be fun to paint a forest scene on her kid’s bedroom dresser, after she read about it on a blog and saved it to Pintrest. See “Decorative.”
Italian: Brown leather, overstuffed, and heavy as lead. Would look great on the set of Sopranos.
Micro suede or Microfiber: Guaranteed to be covered with insane amounts of dog hair.
Mid-Century Modern: This will cost at least $200 more than it is actually worth.
Modern: See “Contemporary”
Oriental (or Asian-Inspired): Any table or cabinet that’s been painted red; usually includes brass hardware with visible hinges.
Oversized: Stop right there — This monstrosity will fit neither your décor, nor through your door.
Pier One: It’s amazing what they can make out of wicker these days.
Scandinavian Design: IKEA
Shabby Chic: A wobbly piece of old furniture that somebody painted white, or maybe light blue, and did a terrible job. The paint is probably peeling, which — in the twisted logic of Shabby Chic—is a selling point. May also be advertised as “distressed” or “super cute,” which are adjectives that I usually use to describe my toddler.
Solid Wood: This beast weighs at least 600 pounds. Come equipped with a pickup truck and 12 friends to move this monster out of my 4th-floor walk-up apartment. Hernia belts and steel-toed boots should be provided to all movers and bystanders alike.
Victorian: If this is actually from the Victorian era, it’s twice as old as your grandma and probably covered in lead dust, asbestos, termite poo and the tears of suffragettes. If you’re safety conscious, consider a “reproduction” that is still covered in plastic.
Vintage: Could describe anything on Craigslist older than your cat.