my favorite craigslist search terms

by | Feb 23, 2017 | All Things Home, Antiques, buying & selling antiques, Running a Business, Shopping Tips | 54 comments

If you haven’t picked up on it, yet, I am an avid “craigslister”.  It started with one dining room table about 9 years ago and it has become my go-to place to browse for furniture and other miscellaneous things.

I love that I never know what I’m going to find.  I love that you can weed through all of the junk and find some real gems for a good price.  I love that I can shop from the comfort of my sofa.  I think it’s all-around awesome.

I shared a bunch of my best tips for shopping craigslist HERE, but I wanted to update and expand the search terms I use, since I was asked and that it can change depending on trends and what I’m into.

Before I share the terms I use, I want to mention that I aways search in all “for sale” categories.  People put stuff in strange categories sometimes and this way I can find everything that might be listed in antiques, furniture, housewares, garden, building supplies, etc.  It casts a wider net.

So, for a piece like the “craigslist counter” I’ll use search terms like…

counter | shop | store | display | industrial | file cabinet

I found this antique candy counter on my local craigslist with just those search terms.  At $600, it was a bit more than I wanted to spend and I couldn’t think of a practical home use for it, which is key for resale, so I passed.

But how cool is that piece?!

When searching a word like “counter”, you do have to wade through counter stools, change counters, and kitchen counters, but finding an old shop counter is possibile!  You never know.

For a piece like the antique French breakdown wardrobe, I’ll try…

antique | wood | old | dresser | wardrobe | cabinet | armoire | French | European

One of my favorite things to search for lately has been primitives, like this gorgeous antique step-back cupboard.  So, I’ll search…

primitive | rustic | farmhouse | cupboard | dry sink | bead board | pie safe

I also bought the Bergere chairs off of craigslist as well as the Gustavian sofa below…

…and all of my dining chairs…


For upholstery, I’ll search…

chair | sofa | couch | settee | wing chair | arm chair | cane

I do come across a lot of ugly, overstuffed upholstered pieces (and walking canes), but I find something worth pursuing every now and then.  I seem to hit streaks.  I have definitely had an empire dresser streak, a French chair streak, and I seem to be on a cupboard and table streak at the moment.

And, when I’m looking for something specific, like a drafting table, I always start with the most general description and narrow it down from there.

So, when I was looking for a drafting table for my studio, I simply searched “drafting table” to see what came up.  Obvious, I know, but I thought I would mention it just to share I don’t have any super secret method!

The key thing to remember is that your search terms are only going to work if someone knows what they have and how to describe it.  There are people who list things all the time without even writing a description.

Shopping on craigslist takes time and patience.  I think I find a lot of good stuff, because I look frequently and I try a lot of different search terms to see what they yield.  Sometimes I’ll just search “old” or “wood” to see if I can find something that’s been overlooked.  Sometimes I do and sometimes it’s just a rabbit hole.

That’s all a part of shopping on craigslist, though!

Speaking of listing things on craigslist, I just listed the Ikea Ektorp sofa that’s in my studio.  I need to clear some things out, so it’s up for grabs.  It’s $100, but that’s mostly for the two almost new slipcovers that go with it.  One is oatmeal and one is white twill.  You can view the listing HERE if you’re local and interested.


  1. Botanic Bleu

    Hi, Marian,
    You have updated your blog site. A couple of things I am missing that were on your previous format are the photographs and your home page layout that allowed several previous post summaries. Often I miss your post on the day it is published, and I used your homepage to get caught up on all of the posts I had missed. Now, I can’t find your recent posts and have no way of knowing if I have read all of them or not.

    Love your blog and reading about your adventures in living…


    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, now it just shows the most recent post. I am considering having a slideshow again, but I really like the scrolling picture and I think it might be too busy if it was changing out. If you scroll down, you can see the most recent post, about a week’s worth, displayed in large thumbnail previews.

  2. Jenn Baker

    This is super helpful! I’m always looking for a gem on Craig’s List thanks to you 🙂 Knowing what you search for and how it helped you find specific pieces (that I LOVE) is very useful for me in my furniture hunting. Many thanks!

  3. Gerri

    Are the back cushions on sofa attached or loose? Have slip overs been washed- wondering about possible shrinking in future. Thanks

    • Marian Parsons

      The sofa has been spoken for, but the cushions are loose and the slipcovers have been washed. I’ve bought at least 8 slipcovers over the years and there used to be a real issue with the zippers and shrinkage, but about 6-7 years ago, Ikea fixed that and now the zippers are heavier and the cushions have some allowance to shrink.

  4. Terri

    How many areas do you check in Craigslist. I.e., how far away will you look?
    By the way, although I love your work, I still hate the new site format.

  5. Marian Parsons

    I check in four or five different listing areas and sometimes a little beyond that. I try to stick within an hour radius, but if something is really awesome, I’ll consider it if it’s further away.

    As far as the new blog design, we do still have some changes to make, but it’s here to stay. Sorry if you don’t like it! 🙂

    • Cj Southerland

      Off subject but I’m not finding any help on my favorites. They keep disappearing! Last night I saved a beautiful piece and made it my favorite; had about thirty favorites. This morning gone! Same iPad.

      We just moved from CA to FL. I bought two things off Craigslist from CA. one I hired to pick it up he paid for it, stored it, then delivered it to me! Kept it three weeks. So nice. The other kept it at their home for the three weeks until we got here. I was floored at the kindness of strangers.

  6. Robbyn

    I adore Craigslist too – so I thought I would give your “tips” a try since I normally just search in the furniture or antique sections. I started with “counter” in the all for sale area and this popped up!

    Oh my goodness! No place for it but WOW!! It’s amazing!!

  7. emily

    Hi Marian,

    I love your blog, love your book, love your style, love your enthusiasm, but I am really having a hard time with the new blog format loading on my computer…..still. I know things take a while to get the quirks worked out, but I am still having problems with the site just loading, let alone navigating the new format once it does come up. It just continues to be really clunky, which isn’t your style.

    So as one who really loves your blog, will you still keep tweaking this? I miss you!!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, there are still some issues and they are working on the back end to fix them. Hopefully those will be installed in a few days.

  8. Robyn

    Hi Marian,
    I too am a daily reader of your blog, have been for years now, and I also miss the old format of your homepage. I think the new format is confusing. Please would you consider going back to the old format?

    • Marian Parsons

      I’m sorry, but I spent a lot of money and over a year on this design, so we won’t be switching back.

      • Robyn

        I understand. I do appreciate your writing back and I certainly appreciate all the time and money that you put into your blog. Thank you.

  9. Julie B.

    I’ve asked this before, and not sure you had the time to answer. What is a ‘step-back’ cupboard? How did you know to call it that? Thanks for the tips… very helpful.

    • Marian Parsons

      It’s a term that refers to a cabinet when the top “steps back” from the bottom. The base cabinet is deeper than the hutch. I hope that makes sense!

  10. Olivia

    I read the other comments about the new format and I agree it’s not as user friendly. You also mention the side bar showing the past week or so and it’s just not showing up for me. Only your picture and you can search by category but no way to scroll through recent posts in order. I hope that’s something you consider for future updates.

  11. Sandy

    I an not sure why, but in my area people have everything way over priced! I found going to Craigslist for my area is as expensive as going to antique stores! I have purchased much less expensive items from local thrift shops than on Craigslist. However I think it is awesome that you find so many great things on your local site! I like the ideas you share and I will definitely use your search techniques in my future searches. Who knows, maybe I will one day get lucky and find a gem!

    • Marian Parsons

      I would say that’s true of a lot of things on our craigslist as well. You just have to keep checking to find those people who just want to unload something!

  12. Nancy

    Blogger Victoria Elizabeth Barnes writes hilarious stories about Craigslist. She buys tons of stuff from the site

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I know! She is a riot. I met her last fall when we were speaking at the same event and I loved hearing her speak on craigslist and auction. We definitely share that love.

      We actually only live a couple hours apart, so sometimes we look at the same things!

  13. Losthorizon

    I love the new format. Using iPad. Its way less cluttered. Mare folks scrolling to the bottom? Everything is there that I can want.

  14. April

    This is great for adding keywords to listings for CL sellers using keywords. Thanks! With all the comments on your new site I had to go back up to see what was different. ADORABLE picture! Is it possible for someone to get older and look younger???? 🙂 Beautiful!

  15. Geraldine

    Hello Marian,
    I have really enjoyed reading your blog over the years. While there is a bit of a discussion about your new blog format, I thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth. I really don’t like the number of ads that pop up on the screen. Every time I click to a new page, I have to scroll to the bottom of the screen to get rid of the pop up ad along the bottom, before I can see the whole page. Scrolling down the page removes the large ad at the top of the screen, so that is not such an issue, but it certainly detracts from overall appearance and feel of your blog. I appreciate that the advertising is an important revenue source, but feel it would be less intrusive if it was confined to the side bar.

    • Marian Parsons

      I do hear what you’re saying. Unfortunately, the days of the ads being out of the way on the sidebar are long over. Advertisers want their ads in your face, so you’re more likely to click on them. Believe it or not, but my ads are pretty conservative compared to what I could have. I really can’t cut back on them without taking a hit on my income.

  16. Sarah

    I actually love the new site – it’s clean, bright and – once I figured out that you need to scroll ALL the way down past the comments to navigate to past blogs, specific posts, and categories, I felt at home.

    Adore your style; always fun to see what you’re up to… oh! Is Kriste returning after her maternity leave??

    • Marian Parsons

      Well, thank you! I like it, too. 🙂

      Yep, Kriste is planning on working after her maternity leave, but we’re leaving it open, so she can pick what works best for her and her new family of three.

  17. Karen Heath

    How do you get the “sign up” page to go away? It fills up a full third of your page and makes reading the blog really difficult combined with the add at the bottom of the page. Also I already subscribe and I HATE having to clear a subscription page from a blog I already subscribe to.

    • Marian Parsons

      I don’t currently have a subscribe pop-up, but they subscribe box will expand if you click on the + at the top right corner. Just click that + again and it will go away.

      I know what you mean about subscribe boxes popping up, but they really do help with growing a newsletter list. Whether it pops up for you or not depends on if the site recognizes you as a returning user. Some sites are good at that and others seem to “forget” you all the time. I just close it out. I know that they are just trying to grow their business and I can appreciate that as an entrepreneur.

  18. Louise Davis

    I read your blog regularly and really enjoy it! I am enjoying your growth and successes! Your hard work and dedication definitely is paying off! I am one of your “older” followers (yes WAY older!) I have enjoyed buying, selling, and using antiques, primitives, upcycled, recycled, vintage and any other styles that appeals to me. I just recently sold my 100 year old log cabin that we restored and remodeled using every style that blended and made us smile. I am retired now (is anyone who enjoys this lifestyle ever completely retired?) but enjoy keeping up and sharing and encouraging others including my grands to embrace this lifestyle. Keep up the great work!

  19. Diane

    Marian I have just read the your blog about the table and chairs from different states and it reminded me of all the furniture we sold with our house in the UK before moving down to Portugal. I had dressed the house to sell. We had made the decision to sell the house way before we finished restoring it and when it was finally finished I moved down to Portugal a week later, with the animals coming two days after me and my husband 2 days after them. Because the house looked so beautiful (even if I must say so myself) the people who purchased the house wanted everything, the curtains, the towels and accessories from the bathrooms, the bedding on the beds, rugs, cushions, I mean literally everything…it was kinda creepy to me! In our kitchen we had this oak table, we bought it at small auction in a village hall…it was 40 quid.

    It was 1930’s in style with big bulbous legs and it had a middle section which wasn’t the same colour as the rest of the table because it had never been used. Our kitchen was a hand built farmhouse style kitchen, all hand painted. The company that we purchased it from handed us a really large tin of the paint, they said to used to touch up the cupboards if we needed to. So I set to work on the table sanding down the legs and painting them the same colour as the cupboards and the top and middle I oiled…it came up beautiful and I loved it. So of course one of the things that was on the list of things they wanted to purchase was that darn table! I said to my husband I don’t want to sell it I love it! He said tell them some ridiculous price for the table and maybe they wont want it….so I said 400 quid and they said yes fantastic! Honestly I was heartbroken! Of course it wouldn’t have fitted into our tiny apartment in Portugal, but then we bought a huge 8 bedroom villa, but then you never know what the future is going to hold…now I am hoping they kept the table and are using it like it should be used!

  20. Carla from Kansas

    Marian, There are no thumbnails on this page about former posts at all. I don’t get a pop up subscription either.

    • Marian Parsons

      One thing we’re working on is what is under each post. Right now, a section to click to related posts and find additional content is missing. You have to go to the home page to find that. It will be added back again, but my tech guys are building it on the back end. Hopefully it’ll be here in a few days!

  21. Nancy


    I agree with all of the comments about your new website. While I appreciate that you have invested time and money in the new site, it simply isn’t doing it for me. And I cannot bear the pop ads that that seem to ‘pop up’ every 15 seconds. I’m going to unsubscribe for a time as this so annoys me. Sorry.

  22. Terri

    Marian, I love Craigslist (we recently bought an almost brand new tractor from a gentleman and it turned out great) but I am always concerned about safety. I recall you saying that your dad helps with picking up some of your purchases. This seems like a practical question, but do either of you have any thoughts on that?

    • Marian Parsons

      I shared some about that in the post with craigslist tips (linked to earlier in this post). I think the key is to be smart about it and listen to your gut. I don’t go places alone and, if ever something feels off, I just back out.

  23. Michelle

    I really like your new website look. It is clean, crisp and very mellow. I don’t get the pop-ups that others are seeming to have issues with. Even on my phone and tablet, I can see your posts fine. You have to have ads, or you can’t keep up with the cost of having the website, so people just have to understand that this helps you keep things going so you can share your posts with us. Thank you and I look forward to your next post.

  24. Sherri

    I think trying something new is always a good idea… however,,, ,just because there is a financial and /or time investment in the change… that doesn’t mean that if it’s not working well ~ you stick with it…. I think it would be wise for you to listen to your “peeps” 🙂 – hoping you are able to address the many concerns stated above with viable alternatives or options that work for your audience

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      I agree with that, but on top of the investment and the time spent, I love the look of the new site! 🙂 I always listen to feedback, but I can’t follow all of it. I did, for example, make the print black and larger, so it was easier for people to read.

  25. Lori

    Thank you so very much for answering my question, and for answering it so fast. You certainly gave me lots of areas to look
    Thanks again,

  26. Kim

    Marian, speaking from the perspective of someone browsing from their iPhone, I love the look of your new website. It’s clean and crisp, and I’m not seeing any pop-ups other than a very small subscribe tab in the top right and an occasional small banner across the bottom. I love your blog!

  27. Aubrey

    Thanks for the Craigslist tips! I tend to go towards Kijiji and the Varage Sale app, since in my area Craigslist isn’t as popular (it is so weird how different regions gravitate to different sales sites!) But these search terms are great!
    Also, I don’t know which I love more, your new blog design or your new hair! 🙂
    I find the blog is so crisp and bright!

  28. Caitlin

    I think the calmer French inspired blue and white vibe of the new blog is really sharp! So things are clickable in a different place….no biggie!

  29. Lee Ann Moss


    Thanks for the tips on Craigslist!!! I have bee searching forever for Chinese Chippendale chairs!! I see where others have found them in Craigslist so I guess I’ll keep searching!! Love your blog and hate that I missed you when you were here for The Little Flea market put on by Me and Mrs Jones!!!

  30. Frankie

    Put me in the I love the new look of your website column! 😀
    I’ve given up on Craigslist here — the complete garbage listed just isn’t worth wading through anymore. Seriously people, some of that stuff just needs to go to the dump!
    But you amaze me with the treasures you find, so I’ll continue to live vicariously through your blog. Continued success to you!

  31. Shyanna

    This is my first time commenting but I have to say
    1) So glad you didn’t paint the cabinet! I know that’s another post but I’m just going to say it here.

    2) Love, love, love your hair!

    3) Love the website. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. I think it is clean, easy to read and I have never gotten a pop up ad. I don’t have a blog but I have a friend who does and sometimes I think people don’t realize how much time, effort and MONEY it takes to run one like the one you have. We get to come hear and read for free and I, for one, am VERY appreciative of that. There are blogs that I follow that have little things that annoy me but I just ignore it or if it is more than I can handle (which has only been the case once) I just move on. Life is too short to complain about ads. IMHO

  32. Shyanna


    Here. Not hear.

  33. Amy

    I love these search terms, thank you for this post! I like to peruse Craigslist and browse thrift stores as much as possible. I have been researching your milk paint as I just came across your blog and I am so intrigued, I will be reading up more on this! Thank you again!

  34. Tracey

    I had a quick question about buying from Craigslist (which I have in the past. Do you ever worry about bring home bedbugs or roaches? Not to bring up gross and yucky bugs, but it can happen. Thanks in advance if you have any tips or ways to check for that.

  35. Carolyn

    I have a similar chair but I added tapestry print to it. 🙂

  36. Jo

    I had given up on Craigslist to find any treasures, but you have done very well. Good Job!

  37. Sophia

    These are all such marvelous finds and you have breathed new life into them!

  38. Melanie

    The following search terms are often associated with bargain deals: divorce (sale), deployed, and overseas (as in ‘moving out of country’). The limited time tends to favor negotiations.


  1. Thistlekeeping on a Monday - Thistlewood Farm - […] Ideas to search Craigslist […]


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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