(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

The other night we found ourselves sitting around after dinner with our dueling laptops, looking for unusual things for sale on Craigslist. We were having a contest seeing who could come up with the strangest item (gotta be family-friendly, extra points for items we'd actually buy), and it got us to thinking. How do you use Craigslist? When you're just poking around, what searches do you do?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )
If you just browse "collectibles" or "furniture," you miss out on a lot, because sometimes the best stuff is found under "Garden," "General" or "free stuff." So definitely, even slightly targeted searching is a better way to go. Here are some of the things we type into Craigslist when we're not looking for something specific:

- industrial -- tends to pull up cool signs and metal shelving like the orange shelves below currently on Boston CL. We bought our old blue cabinet this way.

- church -- yields interesting religious artifacts and old church pews. Also pulls up church sales (although you can exclude them, see below).

- (barn -pottery) -- this brings up old barn boards, and random things found in barns. And adding the "(minus sign) pottery" does not bring up anything from pottery barn.

- (french -connection -doors) -- we're always searching for that perfect antique French Louis chair. But we don't want to see any clothes from the French Connection, or french doors.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

We're a bit spoiled in Boston because we have New Hampshire's Craigslist, Maine and Rhode Island-- they're all within a short drive from here. So we can lose ourselves just browsing if we don't have a plan.

It's a drag that you can't search multiple cities at once within Craigslist itself, but here are some tips we've learned for getting the best out of searching:

-- Did you know that you can search for either of two words in a listing? For example, if you are looking for a vintage couch OR sofa, put the two words in parenthesis and put an apostrophe in front of each of them: So search on this: vintage ('sofa, 'couch)

-- If you want to exclude a word, put a minus sign in front of the word you don't want to search on. For example, to find an Eames item that's not annoyingly referred to as "Eames era", type (eames -"eames era")

-- If you want to search on both singular and plural versions of a word, put an asterisk at the end of the word. For example, if you want a chair from The Conran Shop, but don't know if someone might refer to it as "Conrans", search for (chair conran*)

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )
Some of the funniest things we saw the other night were a "fuse ball" table and an apple "iPot." We even saw a "slay bed." I guess no amount of searching would have pulled these up! Does anyone else have Craigslist searches or tips?

-Jeanine

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