Decorating on a budget requires magic potion

Craigslist + spray paint = pure gold

Before the pandemic ruled out discretionary travel, my Beloved and I spent a lot of time driving around the greater Austin area picking up amazing deals he found on Craigslist.

Some people might avoid Craigslist, what with its reputation for being sketchy, but my Beloved is 6-foot-3 with a mean left hook, so few places and people scare him. He’ll schedule a meet-up with just about anyone. We’ve never been ripped off or beat up using Craigslist (knock on wood), and in fact, he’s found some amazing stuff and we’ve met a lot of friendly people.

Firm believers in the trope that one man’s trash is our treasure, we haunt Facebook Marketplace, Goodwill and consignment stores, too. And this willingness to sift through a lot of junk to find the good stuff came in handy as we furnished our new condo. Our winter place had been a 355-square-foot RV, so we had almost nothing to begin with.

Our new place has a garage, which means we have space to spray paint, the magic potion of transformation.

deck chairs

Picnic paradise.

My Beloved found this picnic table set on Craigslist for $225. It was perfectly functional, but a little rusty. A couple coats of matte black spray paint, and voilà. As good as new.

The matte black looked so nice on the deck table, he employed it again for a little seating area on the back patio.

back deck settee

The view isn’t as spectacular, but the privacy is nice. 


Our up-north clock is peeking out from behind that 12-foot Christmas tree there.

We spied this set outside our neighbor’s camper at the resort where we stayed prior to our move. The back on the matching chair was broken off, and this table and chair had endured more rain than use in their lives. They were just sitting there, forlorn and unloved. We offered the neighbor $25 for the two functional pieces of the set, and he jumped at it. Now we have the perfect spot for a phone call and an afternoon cup of coffee.

Our dining room needed a big piece of wall art to fill the back wall. Initially, I shopped for an oversize clock, imagining the kind of piece we’d used in our great room back in Wisconsin, the sort of decoration of which Joanna Gaines would approve. This was too specific (or on trend) to find on Craigslist. And the new ones I found online were either too small or too expensive for my taste.

While perusing the oversize art pieces at Goodwill, I found a piece of filigree metal work hidden between pieces. The price was perfect ($15), but its golden color said 1990 to me. This time, my Beloved painted it in satin black instead of matte, and now it shines.

diniing room ornament

Satin black was this piece’s destiny.

I love how the wall ornament echoes the new light fixture in the dining room. Here are the pictures of the way the dining room looked before we bought it and after we redesigned it.

Sharp-eyed viewers might notice the centerpiece on the table. This beautiful piece was neither found on Craigslist nor spray-painted, but it’s the perfect accent on our table.

candle holder

This beautiful candleholder was handmade by my dad, a talented woodworker. I’ve bragged about his work making bookshelves in my previous homes. He works with smaller projects now, and he’s mastered the art of mixing woods in the details (can you see the seam down the middle there that matches the supports?). It coordinates with the eclectic mix of chairs we chose for the table, and I love it.



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