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Bedroom Challenge Update: The Search For Jess’ Vintage Nightstands (Her Craigslist Tips & The Ones She Got!!)

It’s always something right?? That one piece of furniture or decor you search and search for, wondering if what you want is somehow the only thing on this planet not available for purchase…or in your not small but not unlimited price range. In my last apartment, it was a smallish black metal coffee table that was tall enough to nest above my beloved dark blue velvet pouf. I kept exclaiming, “I NEVER WANT TO LOOK AT A COFFEE TABLE EVER AGAIN!!” Then, as my head was actually about to explode and was ready to admit defeat, I found her. This is the closest thing to childbirth (or dating someone who doesn’t live in LA) I’ve experienced. Ha. I’ll say, “Never again!” and then I move apartments and sure enough I’m searching for a new coffee table again or in this case…a vintage nightstand that needs to meet A LOT of requirements both stylistically and functionally. I’ll get into those later.

design by jess bunge | styled by emily bowser | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the feel-good modern romantic bedroom makeover jess did for her dear friend (all thanks to the company store)

I might have been a little naive in my vintage nightstand search. While I was designing my friend’s/upstairs neighbor’s bedroom of two years ago, I think I found those vintage nightstands within the first week! But two things were different. #1: The style of nightstands we were going for, “antique”, are far easier to come by on places like Craigslist and in my anecdotal experience, are also very reasonably priced. #2: They didn’t have to match. If we had found a set that would’ve been great, but we loved that $50 round one instantly so we decided to just find another one that could work with it. Success! The wood tones and small scallop details made them feel like they lived in the same world. Check and check.

Now, my search wasn’t so quick and easy. Why? Well, your dear friend Jess only falls for things that are either too expensive, exist primarily abroad, are impossible to find, or are usually a mix of all three. It’s very cool…SYKE!

Enter these midcentury modern Italian bedside tables. So while they were only $400 for the pair (I know that’s still a lot of money), they lived in Italy meaning it would cost at least $800 to ship. Yes, they were going to cost a minimum of $1,200. Now, you bet I thought about it for a second but then quickly reminded myself that it would be wildly irresponsible. Then luckily (but devastatingly) they sold a couple of weeks after I saw them. I might have to move to Italy soon because their MCM furniture and lighting make my eyes weep and my heart sing.

Ok, so after seeing these here were my nightstand wishlist requirements:

  • Vintage (duh)
  • A lighter burlwood tone
  • Has storage
  • Tall-ish legs
  • Patina’d brass hardware (but could swap those in if needed)
  • A max of 18″ deep and no more than 28″ wide (but those are pushing it)

Here are a few other dreamy ones that I couldn’t afford but loved:

Mid-Century Italian Maple Nightstands

My god these were beautiful. I was obsessed with the legs, the wood was perfect, the size was awesome and it had a drawer. But they, of course, lived in Italy. Goodbye, darlings!

Italian Mid-Century Modern Walnut Nightstands | 1950s Mid Century Design Nightstands

Now these don’t pass the woodtone test (and only one was burlwood or looked like it) but I thought they were really special! I preferred the ones on the left but they were over $2k and lived in Romania. The shipping though is only $300! What a deal:)

My Craigslist Tips

To a lot of you, this next section about Craigslist might be old news. But in case it isn’t, I hope this is helpful!

In my opinion, these tips are most effective if you are searching for something(s) specific, daily. Which I’d recommend if you are under a deadline or just want that item ASAP:) Here is what I did:

  1. Customize your location radius! That’s right, you don’t have to only choose the preset locations. So instead of picking “Los Angeles” for your area and then needing to change it to “Orange County” to see what’s for sale there, you click on the location name and zoom in or out depending on how far you are willing to travel. As you can see I chose a BIG radius since my dad lives in northern California and was willing to help his daughter out. I don’t deserve him.
  2. Then on the sidebar select – “has image” + “posted today” + “hide duplicates”.
  3. Choose the “newest” order option so that you don’t miss the new items as you refresh throughout the day:)
  4. Check both of the “antiques” and “furniture” categories. Your settings will be saved as you switch back and forth so you don’t have to worry about needing to reselect anything.
  5. DON’T CLOSE THE WINDOW! Just minimize it so all of your settings are saved and all you have to do is hit refresh whenever you want to see what’s new.

I also used Facebook Marketplace but that interface is NOT my favorite (they do have pretty great stuff though), but Caitlin also wrote an INCREDIBLE post about all of her tips for all reselling sites so make sure to read that too. Shall we see what I was looking at and considering??

Your eyes don’t deceive you. These nightstands didn’t cross off ANY of my previously stated requirements aside from the fact that it’s vintage and has storage. But look, when searching for vintage I like to keep a really open mind which you will continue to see. I would hate not to find something amazing and unique because I was only searching “Burlwood nightstands”. With that in mind, I was obsessed with the line pattern on the top and the two-toned stain look. Oh and can you stand that price?! However, they were HUGE – 28″x28″ which I knew was going to be too much for my space. Plus, it was a big drive which would have added almost another $100 in gas to the price tag (which wasn’t a big deal but added to the con list). I’m pretty sure someone bought them and sold them for double in San Diego (Craigslist told me:)) but I guess you gotta make up for that gas money. I just hope whoever got them, loves them because they are so awesome.

These were a FBMP find that I really loved (the wood grain and cool knobs!!) but as you can see the price tag was hefty. I could have potentially haggled down a little but even $200 was more than I wanted to spend. They are very special and MCM…but not Italian so the search continued:)

Before I saw the price tag I was intrigued! A round shape could’ve been fun and y’all know I love a circle pattern. Also, how cute are those keys?! But the size was too big and I didn’t love them enough to more than double my budget. I see that they found a home though.

Do I Go New??

At this point, it had been at least a couple of weeks (My nightstand search was well underway before our challenge announcement post, FYI), so I started to look at new nightstands. Sure, I wanted that “vintage soul” accent but I also have a deep love and appreciation for new design! Here were some of my favorites:

Brady Nightstand | Gavin 2-Drawer Oak Wood Nightstands | Andora 2-Drawer Wood Nightstand

The Brady Nightstand was by far my #1. Katy Skelton can do no wrong in my book (Emily was, of course, the one to introduce her to me since she’s been a fan forever). So while this vision of a nightstand was on my list, that darker wood tone was too similar to my wood floors and for it to not have its moment would be a disservice. Plus, this piece is rightfully not inexpensive and asking for two didn’t feel right. The other two are also dark-toned but I loved their shapes and MCM vibe. Just not right for this bedroom.

Otelia Nightstand | Stivale 2-Drawer Oak Nightstand | Sutton 2-Drawer White Oak Wood Nightstand

So lighter I went. That Sarah Sherman Samuel nightstand on the far left is so stunning! Stunning and quite large so sadly also not a fit. Then the middle one was another that heavily piqued my interest. It’s modern MCM in the best way, has great storage, and I adore the darker base. Was definitely a contender. The last one on the right had me with the shape but felt a little too casual (??) and was on the bigger side.

DID I FIND THEM???

As I was contemplating going “new,” I was still feverishly checking Craigslist and FBMP daily (and throughout the day). Y’all, don’t let anyone tell you searching for a special vintage piece isn’t work/time-consuming. Look, it’s obviously not a bad way to spend your time but it’s so easy to get discouraged after days and weeks of looking at nearly the same pieces you don’t want. But then one day you see something good!

OK! Here we go. I HEAVILY considered these. So much so that I send the seller an offer. They were originally $650 and I asked for a lower price. I thought, “Hey! who knows?!” Understandably, he wanted to wait since they had only been on FBMP for about a day I think? About six days later he dropped the price to $595 but I still wanted to hold out. Why do you ask? Well, the darker-toned wood being that prominent had me a little worried. I also wasn’t in love with those handles and wanted to change them (don’t be mad at me!!). I wanted to wait for at least $550 but that never happened and they sold. Panic set in a little because there were so few options I really loved. Did I let “the ones” go?!?! I reminded myself that if they were meant for me I would’ve gotten them. This is a mantra I say to myself often (but is not always easy to accept:)).

The search continued…

I definitely liked these a lot because of the wood and brass accents but they were too boxy. I wanted some roundness.

These had a bit more “shape personality” and the price was right! However, they were too dark, needed work, and just didn’t feel right.

For a split second, I considered these. I had some ideas to customize them a bit and for $50 I was willing. But when I showed them to Julie she rightfully told me to keep looking. Y’all I was getting so tired and just wanted to get something! Not a great place to be in when you can’t return what you buy.

These were the only other ones I truly considered because they were beautiful and at a great price. I also loved the brass-capped feet! But I kept holding off and boy am I glad I did. Drumroll, please…

THE WINNERS

TADA!!! These beauties were it. I hesitated a little since they are visually on the heavier side (aka no legs) but the burl was the perfect tone, they have fun details, patina’d brass accents, SO much storage (more than I actually know what to do with), and were a 12-minute drive from my apartment. I, of course, consulted my vintage gal Caitlin to confirm they were a good buy. Also, the man who sold them to me could not have been nicer and kindly knocked off $50 to help with my budget. Look who’s keeping that credit card in her wallet and not shipping Italian furniture across the world:) Also, HUGE shoutout to Julie (for anyone newish around here she’s an EHD alum designer that is also my very close friend) who not only drove me (my car was full of clothes I need to sell/donate) but also helped me bring them up to my bedroom. She is one of my design confidants and most, if not all, of my personal designs go through her. THANK YOU, JULIE!!!!

So with this big purchase crossed off my todo list, here is an updated mood board:

See, perfect! Ready for a sneak peek????

I am so happy. I know the lamp is small but I did a little styling after I took this photo and I think they are going to work great:. So now, after 10+ years of not having nightstands (that’s a true statement and a long story), I have these dreamy vintage ones. Your move Higgins;)

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | Creative Direction by Emily Henderson | Design and Styling by Emily Bowser | From: New Reveal: This Organic, Punchy Bedroom Might Be Our New Favorite Makeover

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Loveley of @lovelyloveley
1 month ago

omg. i was dying over all of the ones you were considering, and then when i saw the ones you got, i truly fell over. i LOVE them! also, your mood board is so so so good. you’re getting that statement lamp!?!?!?! when i saw that in the lamp post the other day, i was obsessed. i’m so excited for your room. the nightstand in that sneak peek! eek!

Beth
1 month ago

LOVE these deep dives into the process of going for your dream! Especially in the context of this challenge with Caitlin. So fun, informative and exciting.

Amanda
1 month ago

Yes! I got my funky vintage coffee table on Craigslist after YEARS of looking for the perfect fit. It was $50 and was listed by the grandson of an older man who was selling his house. I had to call him to communicate (the horror haha) and when we got there the coffee table was literally the last thing left in a funky but empty basement. It was heavy and awkward to move, but so worth it.

1 month ago

I’m glad you held out, these are so good. And, what a difference just sitting next to your bed (un-styled) compared to a garage floor!

Ann
1 month ago

Love these! For anyone who hunts vintage treasures, they’ll totally relate to this post (if that’s what it’s called — I’m old haha). I’ve spent countless hours online looking for just the right piece at the right price, and while it’s fun and time disappears, if you’re patient enough, low and behold something appears that makes your heart skip a beat that you actually can afford! (Try doing this in Canada where the really great stuff is all US or overseas). Best advice — keep an open mind!

Kristi
1 month ago

Love this! I almost can’t buy new anymore for wood furniture and some accessories. They just feel cheap without depth from having lived;)
Haven’t even checked craigslist lately. Felt like there’s been nothing on it (in MI). Maybe I’ll try again. I check marketplace every day. It’s just part of my routine. I feel like if I’m patient-I will find something interesting at a fair price but not necessarily nearby so I drive for the one of kind amazing stuff.

Paula
1 month ago
Reply to  Kristi

Yes, I was very lucky to live in L.A. when the Antique Guild was new. The guy who opened it in the 80s went on buying trips to Europe. He bought up all the old pieces that the people there thought was just old junk (they wanted new), brought them back by the shipload and sold them at GREAT prices. I basically furnished my first apartment there for very little money. They also had cool decor pieces and jewelry, too. And the best part? That “old junk” has held up better than some of the brand new pieces I got when I couldn’t find the vintage/antique I wanted.

Eve
1 month ago
Reply to  Paula

Hi! I live in LA too and never heard of this place?! Is it still in business and if so, where is it? I would LOVE to go check it out! I used to thrift and antique shop all the time in my 20’s and it trailed off for some reason in my 30’s? I want to get back that me and start going again! I’ve missed it! :-)))

Paula
1 month ago
Reply to  Eve

Sadly, no. I still miss it, and it’s begin gone maybe 20 yrs?

LS
1 month ago

I love that we’re getting to see all the no’s, maybes and “I’m tired and I just want to pick something already” options. Been there. With decorating, especially on a budget, sometimes the main tool in your arsenal is patience!

Emily
1 month ago

This is wonderful and couldn’t come at a better time. I’m searching for a very specific bed, lamp and chest of drawers and getting so discouraged. Thank you!

Roberta Davis
1 month ago

But you still spent $600! I guess that’s ok if you got something you really loved instead of loving it only 80%. Looking forward to seeing the whole room done!

Emily
1 month ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

Plus if Jess ever gets tired of these, she can probably get a similar price herself – making it basically a wash over time. One more plus for well-made vintage!

Cris S.
1 month ago

Ohhhhh! Loved being along for the ride throughout the whole process and not just for the victory at the end! I love your final choice and am so glad it worked out! I haven’t checked Craigslist in so long – FBMP tends to be the main tool in our area. I’m so frustrated with it though – I feel like I’m doing all the right things for the algorithm, and it’s just not working. WHY am I seeing a bunch of vehicles running all over my results instead of the china cabinets or ottomans I’m always searching for and saving??? But every great once in a while something perfect will show up. For months I’d been searching for antique room dividers/floor screens and early one morning while waiting for the school bus to show up the perfect hand painted, Italian, , one popped up on my feed. I messaged the seller asking for dimensions and didn’t even wait for the answer to say I wanted it and could pay him right away for it (and so glad I did because he said I just beat out another person for it). I love love love it and it was worth the… Read more »

Cris S.
1 month ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

Whew! I’m relieved that this has happened to others – I thought I’d either been hacked or completely lost my mind! And I’m posting a picture here because I’m so in love with this screen. I’ve hung it on the wall like a large piece of art. The person I bought it from had bought it when he was single and loved it too, but his wife couldn’t stand it and since they were moving he no longer had a place for it. So glad I lucked out (and for under $300!). I could talk about thrifting forever!

Room-screen
Pamela T
1 month ago

They are beautiful! Good things come those who (are willing and slog thru sites for months ) wait is true once again.

Paula
1 month ago

I like them, but the burl pattern on the left one makes a smiley face, and I can’t un-see it!

Paula
1 month ago
Reply to  Jess Bunge

Oh, I like that better! Your furniture is making duck faces at you. LOL.

Rizwan Gabru
1 month ago

Jess, your bedroom challenge updates never disappoint! Your knack for finding vintage treasures is unparalleled.

Jhon
1 month ago

omg. i was dying over all of the ones you were considering, and then when i saw the ones you got, i truly fell over. i LOVE them!

Eve
1 month ago

Hi Jess! I wasn’t sure about the look you were going for as the inspiration board was at the bottom of the post, but once I saw it= OH LA LA! I can TOTALLY see what you are shooting for! The dark velvety bed comforter really pulls it all together and the LAMP! So so stunning! I have to say, I think you choose so well, but I also do love that new Stivale oak nightstand you were considering! I think that one may go on my board! LOL! I have some mid-century set but I am getting really bored of it and it’s just too dark for me now, etc. When I can finally (!!! been over 10 years without one) get a bed frame and style I will consider that one or hunt like you did! CONGRATS on NOT spending a butt load and for crazy shipping! You chose wisely! I love your new place and it’s style! Oh, I forgot to also say that OMG=that kick ass green checkered lamp! I am in LOVE!!! I love checks and I love green! The modern-ish style of it plays so well and cool with the rest of the design!… Read more »

Eve
1 month ago

OH! I forgot to ask where the checkered lamp is from?!! 🙂

MBJ
1 month ago

Omg Jess this was a thrill and truly satisfying that you ended up with nearly the perfect pieces. I, too, frequently troll CL for the same things over and over and the posting tips you mentioned are actually super helpful. Onward to hopefully finally snag a second-hand bed that’s not a cheap polyester tufted model from Wayfair!!!

Emily
1 month ago

LOVE this! I actually just went through something similar for my bedroom and ended up with 2 slightly mismatched 80s German green plastic stools (thank you Etsy!). Jess, take a look at some eastern Euro inspiration – I am also obsessed with Italian midcentury and find a lot of similar quirky details in German, etc pieces. I find they’re often cheaper in general and havent had to pay a TON for intl shipping (but I also havent bought anything huge). Your posts and vibe are my favorite!