Looking for furniture on Craigslist and Kijiji can feel like more trouble than it's worth. There are great pieces to be discovered, but you often have to wade through pages of dreck to find it. Thankfully, there's a growing number of people willing to do the dirty work – for free, no less.
"I just have a knack for being able to sift through all the crap that's out there," says Nya Irwin, who in March launched The Curated, which scours the Internet for the best finds in 12 Canadian cities. Each is divided into multiple categories, including bedroom, lighting, common areas and art. Recent picks have included three original Solair chairs for $150 each in Vancouver and a mid-century-modern wardrobe for $250 in Toronto.
Sites such as The Curated were started out of an obsession with finding furniture and home decor on classifieds sites, and are tailored to their creator's sense of style, although the pieces are usually chosen with varying criteria in mind.
Aleysa Young, a commercial director, launched The Listings List, a site that highlights the best of Toronto's classified ads, two years ago. "I was a real Craigslist fanatic," she says. Nadja Spiegelman launched Curated Craigslist, dedicated to New York neighbourhoods, in January for much the same reason.
These are just a handful of sites that have popped up in cities around the world. The chief appeal of these sites is practical.
"Craigslist and Kijiji and sites like them can be super-daunting, especially if you're not the type of person who has the obsession for it," Young says.
They are also, in their own way, an anthropology of a city, often illuminating tastes and histories. "There's old Brooklyn where there's not a lot of hipsters who've moved in; in Bay Ridge or Coney Island, there's a lot of beautiful furniture that hipsters would love to own," Spiegelman says.
As Young says, "There's always a story with a piece you buy."
They each take a curatorial approach. Spiegelman, for instance, whose site gets about 500 visitors a day, usually ignores items with a high price tag. "If you have a large budget for furniture, you're not going to go through the trouble necessarily of trying to pick something up on Craigslist," she says.
These sites are labours of love (none of them charge fees), and there is an inherent pitfall for their creators. When you spend so much time digging for gold on classified sites, sometimes it's hard to pass on a great piece.
"There's definitely been a couple of things I've kept to myself," Irwin says.