Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

January 29, 2014

How to Sell Furniture in Preparation for a Move

I mentioned feeling a little overwhelmed by our stuff, but heaps of things never even made it to the lakehouse.  Before we moved, we donated boxes of goodies to a thrift shop.  I sold armfuls of clothes at my favorite Ottawa consignment shop (Bella).  Hubs and I parked ourselves outside on a warm day and held a garage sale ($145 worth sold!).  I also worked like a fiend to sell things on Kijij.

I have this weird fascination with knowing the price people buy and sell things for, so I'm sharing some details.  I'm also sharing because I think you might be surprised by what didn't make the journey with us.

In one fell swoop, I said good-bye to the round Danish teak table, the pair of Danish teak end tables, and the apricot-hued tweed and teak chair.  I listed the lone table on Kijiji because I was up to my eyeballs in tables, and the chair I wanted to sell because I'm inching my way toward a cooler palette.  A woman contacted me right away to buy just the table.  I intentionally placed it in a room full of other things I was selling (we were prepping for the garage sale) and she ended up buying the table and the chair, plus $20 worth of smalls.  The chair never looked as beautiful in photographs as it did in real life, so I knew the key to a purchase would be for someone to actually see it.  Success!  Surprisingly, she emailed that night and asked about our end tables, which I hadn't really thought about selling.  I paid $20 for the pair at an estate sale, so when she offered $400 I happily agreed.  At the time, an identical pair was for sale in Ottawa for $600, so we were both pleased.  
Buying and selling furniture in the classifieds
Tweed & teak chair (bought $400/sold $425); Danish teak side tables (bought $20/sold $400)
Round teak table
Teak table (bought $175/sold $200)
Some things I reluctantly parted with, but I knew they'd have no spot in the lakehouse.  I listed both the vintage bar cart and ornate white frame at the same time, hoping someone would want to strike a deal and buy both.  The bar cart had been $20 but I painted it white.  The ornate frame was salvaged from a thrift store painting (for $19.99), painted white and turned into a card display with foam core, fabric, ribbon and silk-covered buttons that I made.   A gal had been on the hunt for exactly these things and bought both. 

White bar cart
Vintage bar cart (bought $20/sold $30)
White card display
Vintage frame (bought $20/sold $30)
I loved my dipped stool but found I still never used it, even after its pretty makeover.  I sold it, but only after weeks and weeks and weeks.  It was listed for a long time and I really thought no one would buy it.  I just had to be patient though, because one day I received an email from a woman who wanted it that minute and paid my asking price of $15.  It was bare wood when I bought it for $10 at a yard sale, and then I spent an afternoon painting it.

Dipped leg stool
Dipped stool (bought $10/sold $15)
Comically, after owning it for four years, I only recently realized that our kitchen table was Danish teak, made by the manufacturer Frem Rojle.  I had intended to list it on Kijiji for $400.  But when a woman who had wanted to buy the townhouse asked to purchase the table and our dining room hutch, I offered $325 and $175 respectively (what we had paid).  After the deal fell through, she shocked me by still wanting to buy the pieces.  I was happy to see someone else as excited about these pieces of furniture as I has been when I first found them.  We won't have a need for two dining tables, so I only kept one.  The hutch, although so cute, is quite petite and will look oddly proportioned in our larger dining room nook.

Small vintage teak dining hutch
Teak hutch (bought $175/sold $175)
Frem Rojle Teak Kitchen Table
Teak dining table (bought $325/sold $325)
Our first real estate agent had also wanted to purchase a piece of furniture from us and even though we re-listed with another agent, after the townhouse sold she came by to purchase the desk we had built for Hubby.  I hadn't really thought about selling it but I was happy for the opportunity because we'd ultimately like to build a desk for two that perfectly fits our new office (and hides office clutter!).  Completely clueless, we asked $200.

White welded metal desk
DIY desk (made by us/sold $200)
After thinking about it and blogging about it and thinking about it some more, I finally, finally sold the maple armoire.  It wasn't easy.  It was the first piece of furniture I ever bought and I've had it since before I left my childhood home.  I was really sad to see it go, but it's so large that I won't have room for it in the lakehouse.  After saving all of my waitressing money I bought it for $600, only after haggling with a local shop in Thunder Bay for months.  The clear coat had yellowed differently than other pieces in the same line, so my argument was that it might turn off potential customers.  Better to sell the odd piece to me, for a discounted price, I told them, than risk people having doubts about the quality.  Apparently, I made a strong case and the armoire was mine.  It's made in Canada and is actually of excellent quality - a smaller version still retails for $1200.  I asked $300 on Kijiji with NO bites.  I was disappointed.  It's extra deep, so it's perfect for hiding cumbersome kid's toys.  Come on, folks, Canadian made!  When someone offered $200, I accepted it.  The guy who bought it almost fainted bringing it down the stairs with Hubby.  After Hubs and I carried the treadmill down the stairs together (which I also sold on Kijiji, for $300!), anything else seemed like a piece of cake to us.

I also sold the collection of milk glass that sat atop it to someone else for $50, which made me scratch my head after only getting $200 for the maple armoire . . .

Milk glass collection (bought ?/sold $50); Maple amoire (bought $600/sold $200)
My sweet little chevron useless table (I'm pretty sure it was my first DIY project for the blog), just doesn't have a spot in the lakehouse so I listed it for $20.  I had paid $8 at a yard sale and then stripped and painted it.  The woman who bought it deployed her Hubby to our house to pick it up, where my Hubby was waiting (I was at work).  The other Hubby said, "I'm here for a . . . dresser?" and my Hubby said, "Uhhhh, I have . . . this table?" and so it was sold.

DIY painted chevron table
Useless table (bought $8/sold $20)
You likely never saw this vintage telephone table that languished in the basement.  It was a superstar piece of furniture in our old apartment, as a perfect spot to drop my purse when I came in the door.  I scooped it from my grandparents' basement and then Hubby and I re-upholstered it.  It even had cute upholstery tacks along the back.  We never used it in the townhouse, though, because there just wasn't the right space for it.  The gal who bought it was so excited to have found it.  Kindred spirits!  I was excited when I first stumbled across it too.

Vintage telephone table
Vintage telephone table (bought $0/sold $20)
Kicking and screaming I parted with my Poang knock-off from Ikea.  It's ugly but SO comfy.  It had a ridiculously specific use: it was my art contemplation chair.  Seriously.  All I used it for was to sit in and reflect after I worked on a painting.  I don't even know where I will have room to paint in the lakehouse, let alone sit and contemplate what I've painted.  $20 for it helped lessen the sting.

Ikea Pello chair (bought $60/sold $20)
I painted my pink and brown squares abstract shortly before Hubs and I moved in together.  My parents had given him a burgundy sofa which we thought we'd be moving with us.  I was trying to make the burgundy more appealing.  It was a difficult task, and it's why my Mom had ditched it and given it to Handy Hubby (then Buildy Boyfriend) in the first place.  When we decided to sell the burgundy sofa and buy a brown sofa instead I kept the painting.  Now I'm working toward a more watery palette so I sold the painting for $40.

Pink squares abstract painting
Abstract painting (made by me/sold $40)
Remember the antique washing tub stand I bought and did NOTHING with?  I admitted defeat.  Sometimes things are a bad purchase.  I don't know why I couldn't admit that sooner.  Happily, I made back my $50.  It sold in minutes on Kijiji.  A frenzied guy immediately emailed me and picked it up minutes later.  I looked this up on Etsy after and found an identical one listed for $140.  Oops.

Vintage washing tub stand
Vintage washtub stand (bought $50/sold $50)
Once I had my own house, my parents started grumbling about the crap I had left in my childhood home after I'd first moved out.  I guess it was more forgivable when Hubs and I lived in an apartment, but once we had a basement and a garage, I got a lot of my stuff back.  On a recent visit they had lugged a typewriter I had bought for hipster purposes (to sit on my desk as an objet d'art).  I listed it for $50 and was immediately contacted by a collector who wanted nothing more than to chat about it and give me some information.  I tentatively asked if he was interested, but he told me he had a quite a few already and wouldn't be interested unless it was $20 or $25.  I don't think he was trying to pull a fast one, I think he was being honest.  He seemed totally surprised when I said, "Sold, for $25!".  I sure as heck wasn't going to haul this back to Thunder Bay.  He was a sweet guy - he even refurbished typewriters from the 1950s and 1960s and brought them to nursing homes where women were apparently thrilled with the chance to type up some letters to family.  I had paid $8 for it at a yard sale, but I'm sure my parents used at least $30 worth of extra fuel hauling it 1500km, lol.

Vintage Typewriter
Antique typewriter (bought $8/sold $25)
To raise a little extra cash to buy things for the lakehouse, I actually took a chance and bought a very beat up Danish teak side table for $7 at a thrift store and tried my hand at refinishing it.  After two afternoons working on it, it looked much better but still not perfect.  I tentatively listed it for $50 and was blown away by the flurry of emails.  A young couple quickly scooped it up, excited for an affordable piece of mid-century modern teak.  I had secretly hoped it wouldn't sell because I'd thought it would be a perfect project: I thought a glossy turquoise painted top (the damage was on the top) would look great with teak legs.  But again, I definitely don't need more tables.  The profit was sweet but I'm sure not cut out to be in the furniture refinishing business.  My hourly wage was, what, $3.75?

Vintage teak side table
Teak table (bought $7/sold $50)
I never in a million years thought I would successfully sell our old dining table because, even though it is solid wood and super sturdy, it's very dated.  I have no idea why I bought it but I've lugged it from city to city, using it as a craft table in the townhouse.  Although it's original, thwarted makeover had given me a headache, I had planned again to paint it.  We listed the townhouse, though, so my plans were stalled.  I definitely met my waterloo with this one.  I was relieved when it sold to a very persistent guy who happily hauled it home for $50.  He was thrilled with the heft of it and Hubs was relieved not to have to drive that heft all the way to Thunder Bay.

Basement Craft Room
Solid wood table (bought $100/sold $50)
I had success selling smaller things on Kijiji too, like this breadbox I thrifted and never did anything with.  I bought it for $4.99 and sold for $10 (including delivery, but our meeting spot was right in front of work so it worked for the buyer and myself).  The buyer had found a set of matching canisters curbside in the Glebe.
Vintage metal bread box
Vintage breadbox (bought $4.99/sold $10)
Our new kitchen is fairly petite, so some of our bulkier, infrequently used kitchen items got the boot, like this ice cream machine.  My Mom never used it and passed it to us.  We used it a few times but realized that when we want ice cream, we don't want to wait eight hours and labour for it.  Sold for $50!  I included a photo of the original price ($99) - still on the box - plus a link to the identical item selling on Amazon for more. 

Ice cream machine (bought $99/sold $50)
We were really feeling the pinch in the fall, so I parted with three treasured finds: a jadeite egg cup (found for 69 cents at a thrift store), a jadeite mug, and a blue delphite mug (bought for $1 each at a yard sale).  I bargained with a buyer and landed on $40 for all three.  The egg cup alone is priced at $40 at a number of Ottawa antique shops.  I am still a little sad about selling these treasures, but we needed cash and, frankly, I needed these things like a hole in the head.

Jadeite and Blue Delphite
Fire King mugs (bought $2/sold $20)
Jadeite Egg Cup
Jadeite egg cup (bought 69 cents/sold $20)
The Danish teak tray behind the egg cup in the photo above was also sold on Kijiji.  I paid $3 at a thrift store and, after weeks and weeks of no bites, sold it to a woman for $20.  It was cute, but since blogging about them, I've been stumbling across Fab trays left and right. 

Danish teak tray
Danish teak tray (bought $3/sold $20)
To lighten the load, I also sold all of the Anchor Hocking EAPC glassware that I'd been collecting at yard sales for years.  I sold everything in a lot for $20.  I paid a quarter here, a buck there, so I am sure I broke even.  Even if I didn't, it weighed a ton and I'd rather have my Pyrex see the light of day.  A woman gleefully drove 35 km through morning rush hour to pick these up.

Anchor Hocking EAPC Glassware Collection
Anchor Hocking EAPC (bought ?/sold $20)
I also sold the solid wood frames I had used for my cardboard art and the person who bought them was desperate for the "art" I had made for them too.  I was happy with $5 because I had bought the frames for only 50 cents and then painted them. 

DIY art
Wood frames (bought 75 cents/sold $5)
A friend has asked me to share how I'm able to sell so many things, especially for prices I'm happy with.  I think a lot of it is luck and patience but I have experimented a little and come up with a cheat sheet of some tips that might help.  I'll share that soon!

UPDATE: Here's a link to the post I promised, sharing my tips for selling your stuff quickly and for top dollar.

January 27, 2014

Paint the Inside of Your Closet a Bright Color

Colourful closets

Although the lakehouse feels more spacious than the townhouse, and comes with the added bonus of a detached guesthouse and huge detached garage, it has one fewer bedroom than the townhouse and an awkward, 5-foot tall, unfinished basement that is inconveniently accessed.  At first I missed the finished basement (with stairs leading to it!) and spare bedroom the townhouse boasted.  Frankly, though, we just can't be trusted with the extra space - we had mindlessly been stashing junk in the townhouse for years.  When we packed the U-Haul, it became abundantly clear that we have too much stuff, and most of it had been hiding in the basement.  My goal for the lakehouse is for it to only house things we love or can't live without.  I decluttered a bit before we moved, but I'm going to have to be even more ruthless as I unpack.   

I think organized closets will be key to overcoming the decrease in storage space (and maintaining my sanity).  To show the closets some love, in the fall we removed all of the warped shelves, melamine closet fittings, and bi-fold (or sliding) doors, so each closet was a blank slate.  You already saw what we did with the blank slate in our bedroom.  Remember the fun orange closet?  Surprise: it wasn't the first colourful closet!

The colourful closet thing actually started when I began running out of white paint.  I had realized that in my paint partnership with Canadian Tire I had over estimated how much turquoise I would need for the kitchen makeover.  Because the white paint I was provided was rather thin and required three coats, not the two I planned, I was running out of white.  On a whim, I painted the three hall closets (a small cupboard beside the main entrance, plus a coat closet and linen closet) turquoise to avoid having to cough up some cash for additional white paint.  You actually caught a sneak peek in the bathroom mirror when I showed off how I spruced it up.  See?

Closet painted aqua inside

Here's what the hall closets looked like before: oak trim, scuffed paint, more oak molding (acting as shelf brackets) and warped shelving (already removed).

I loved the turquoise closets and that's when I decided the bedroom closet was next.  I tried so hard to steer Hubby toward a greenish teal so all of the closets would be watery hues, but no dice.  The guy loves orange.

Closet painted orange inside

As a reminder, the bedroom closet was previously pale pink, with oak trim, and a horrible white melamine closet fitting that was one windy day away from toppling over.

Over the weekend, I tackled the last remaining closet, in the office, and painted it a greener turquoise than the hall closets.  Actually, it's colour matched to the laundry room floor in the townhouse.  I was so sad about leaving our freshly updated laundry room; my favorite part was the dreamy turquoise floor in the perfect mint-tinged hue.  It has made me seriously happy to bring that colour to the lakehouse.  

Mint closet interior

Before the wash of turquoise the closet was dinged up, outfitted with oak trim and and makeshift brackets, and pale, pear green paint that was really scuffed.  Along with the master closet, this one also had a super ugly, really dated light fixture inside.  Both closet fixtures were replaced with the inexpensive exterior light I used in the laundry room makeover.

So long, ugly light!

Hubby has cut some new, inexpensive white melamine shelves for every closet but the bedroom.  One day we might rearrange the shelves, use better brackets, create custom wood shelves or some other fanciness but for now we used the existing brackets (primed and then painted to match the closets colours) and are just happy to have fresh shelves.  Let the organizing begin!

Organized closet shelves
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January 24, 2014

Away with Geese

When I tell people that we bought a lakehouse, they often stare at me wistfully.  I feel uncomfortable with this, so I tend to launch into a discussion of goose poop, and detail in depth how geese are attracted to our yard and how much poop they deposit on the lawn.  Speaking of which, did you know that each Canada goose poops three to fours pounds worth of excrement a day?  Not to be gross, but see all those brown things that look like dead leaves? 

Those aren't leaves.

At first, the only thing that would scare the geese away was if I ran toward them at full tilt (through the poop gauntlet), making "quackquackquack" sounds and waving my arms.  I'm hardly fit enough to maintain that kind of security system, and Szuka was no help, so I took to the internet to find a solution for keeping the geese off the lawn.  I stumbled across a fabulous, family-owned business (Away with Geese) that developed  and sells humane, noiseless goose deterrents with a 97% success rate.

Over the fall I tried out two Away with Geese units: a water unit and a dock unit.  Unfortunately, the boat left with the house was a little less sea-worthy than we thought so for now we re-purposed the water unit as a second land unit and both worked perfectly.  I waited until now to share my review because I also wanted to know how well they would hold up if left installed through insanely cold temps.  They are still out there, softly blinking, ready for the first goose come spring.  When the bay thaws we'll move the water unit out to the lake and I'm certain that the geese won't be coming anywhere near our land or our piece of Lake Superior (I'd prefer our water poop-free too). The water unit is good for a 75 yard radius. 

It took a few weeks (it could take a bit longer), but eventually the geese moved on to greener pastures and we reclaimed the lawn.  The grass started to grow again!  This is how they work: an amber 360-degree solar powered light flashes every two seconds during the night.  Humans barely see it, but it disrupts the sleep of geese so the area no longer feels like a secure location.  A few restless nights later, the geese move on to a more comfortable environment.  The light is dim and not troublesome to humans (I actually find it comforting when it is pitch black outside), and needs no maintenance.  It irritates the geese (mwahahahaha!), but harms them in no way.   You can read more about it here, plus Handy Hubby made a little video:

The units are small and cute, so they don't interfere with the view - or playtime!

After contacting Away With Geese to review their product, I was provided with two units.  I approached them because their product seemed like an ideal solution: low maintenance and humane, with a proven success rate.  By mapping out our location, the team at Away with Geese even figured out a customized pairing of units to work best on our property.  I am genuinely impressed and have recommended Away with Geese to all of my neighbours.  I really love that it is an American-based, family-run business.  As the daughter of a small business owner I can appreciate the importance of supporting family-run businesses.  Should one of our neighbours ever decide to punk one of these fabulous devices, I will happily part with my own cash to replace it.  It works that well.  
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January 22, 2014

Choosing Modern Interior Door Levers

Now that we're actually living in the lakehouse, I've started finishing some of the projects I abruptly abandoned in the fall.  Among the most pressing: priming and painting the formerly oaky interior doors.

In my enthusiasm for tackling lakehouse projects I had removed all of the doors - including those to the bathrooms - and piled them in the garage.  Then I had to leave, and the doors stayed untouched.  Getting them painted and back on their hinges is high on my list of priorities, starting with the bathroom door.  Luckily, I already found some incredibly stylish new door hardware.

I'd been on the hunt for new door hardware since September, and was specifically looking for something with a mid-century feel after spotting a sleek lever in a magazine.  I had ripped out the page back in 2011, ready with hardware ideas before we even thought about moving from the townhouse.

I think I ripped out this page from the Better Homes and Gardens DIY Magazine
I was so happy when I found the Juneau, from Sure-Loc, because it is identical to what I had been looking for!  I know gold is back in with a vengeance but, although I love it, with my penchant for turquoise, mint and teal, I really prefer the cool look of a satin stainless finish.

Modern lever door handle

It was really easy to navigate around the Sure-Loc website because the hardware is organized by style and series.  I spent quite a bit of time ogling the "Modern Series," where my Juneau style was found.  I also contemplated the Oslo and Torino, below, but the Juneau is perfect.

I'm really excited because when we moved into the townhouse we gave the doors a new coat of paint and replaced the cheap, 1980s gold knobs with inexpensive satin stainless tulip knobs.

Below is the best photo I have of the "before" (see here if you missed the transformation of this powder room).  The simple update just helped the entire house feel brand new.  

I really pay attention to door hardware: in addition to replacing all of the interior and exterior door hardware in the townhouse, I also replaced the handles on my jewellery armoire and filing cabinet.  I am hardware-crazed. 
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