25 Most Dangerous Craigslist Adjectives Exposed

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.

This was advertised as "Frank Lloyd Wright Style"

This living room set was advertised as “Frank Lloyd Wright Style”

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?

"Amish" conference table.

Listed on Craigslist as an “Amish” conference table.

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.

"Antique" means this trunk hasn't been opened in 90 years, because early 20th Century humans couldn't life it. Are you feeling lucky?

“Antique” means this trunk hasn’t been opened in 90 years, because early 20th Century humans couldn’t lift it. Are you feeling lucky?

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.

What room is this in? Perhaps I need a Pepsi and power tools room, too.

This Art Deco Dresser is perfect for storing Pepsi and power tools.

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.

"Contemporary Noir" pieces are notoriously difficult to photograph.

“Contemporary Noir” pieces are notoriously difficult to photograph.

2) Contemporary Miami: Would look best on the set of Golden Girls. Pastels, tropical prints, almost always faded and lumpy.

Pastels and glass -- two key elements of "Contemporary Miami" style

Pastels and glass — two key elements of “Contemporary Miami” style

Custom:  I took a welding class at the Discovery Center and then made this in my basement and my wife hates it.

Decorative:  I painted flowers and butterflies over what might otherwise be an acceptable piece of furniture.
french countryEuropean Modular:  IKEA

Executive:  Cheap office furniture that I bought at Office Depot in the early 2000s to launch a failed E-Bay business in my basement.

Executive Office Set, because you've earned it. But don't let all that power go to your head.

Executive Office Set, because you’ve earned it. But don’t let all that power go to your head.

Free:  Honestly, this could go either way.  Some people just don’t have the energy or language skills to write a 50-word ad.

A Free Couch

A Free Couch.  A more ambitious Craigslist seller would describe this as either “Bauhaus” or “Contemporary.”

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.

What a FUN chair!

What a FUN chair!

Funky:  See “Fun.”   This type of furniture is only available in Blue and Purple.
funkyGorgeous:  (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.

This "Italian" chair also poses a tipping hazard

This “Italian” chair also poses a tipping hazard. Invite your enemies to have a drink and relax in it.

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.
orientalOversized:  Stop right there — This monstrosity will fit neither your décor, nor through your door.

A "California King Waterbed." I've never met the King of California, but I hope he has plenty of strong servants and large doorways in his palace.

A “California King Waterbed.”  I’ve never met the King of California, but I hope he has plenty of strong servants and large doorways in his palace.

Pier One:  It’s amazing what they can make out of wicker these days.

Papasan Family Portrait

Papasan Family Portrait

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.
shabby chic2

You can't fool me with your bad paint job, Shabby Chic -- I know an IKEA dresser when I see one.

You can’t fool me with your bad paint job, Shabby Chic — I know an IKEA dresser when I see one.

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.


Before purchasing this solid wood entertainment center, ask to see a photo taken after 2008.

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.

victorian living room set

This Victorian Living Room set comes with the original 1890s plastic slipcovers.

Vintage:  Could describe anything on Craigslist older than your cat.


23 thoughts on “25 Most Dangerous Craigslist Adjectives Exposed

  1. Hilarious! Yeah, I have no idea what they mean by “Amish” – maybe they’re thinking Shaker as in the style but the photo that goes with Amish in this post is of a conference table that appears more Scandinavian in design or maybe, minimalist – Ha! 😀


  2. hahaha I love this!!!! I can laugh because I have the worlds worst luck selling stuff on craigslist. It took me 8 months to sell an entertainment center that was truly awesome. The lady showed up and bemoaned this and that and tried to knock me down from 80 bucks. I stood my ground and it was out of my garage after she shuffled from one foot to the other over and over and her husband said at least a dozen times “this is your call honey” BAH!!!!!!


    • I think the buyer should do the negotiating upfront — before you get to the seller’s house. Just seems tacky to be standing there with the cash in your hand asking for a better price. It’s already awkward enough as it is!


  3. That one good find on Craigslist always makes it worth wading through the other pathetically horrible items people sell. Do you have any adjectives to help sell a 2009 Mazda3 with way too many miles, has crossed an ocean, and been in six countries? 😉


    • Yes — wading through the crap is half the fun. I’ve gotten in the habit of setting subscriptions in Google Reader for something I am hunting for. Go to craigslist, do your search, then cut and paste the URL into your Google reader subscription, and you’ll get an update with all the listings every day. Though now that Google Reader is going extinct this summer, I’m not sure how I’ll get my Craigslist fix.

      Good luck with the car! I’ve never actually owned one, so I wouldn’t be much help in your sale. I’m trying to picture which ocean the car crossed?


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