This Is the One $0 Facebook Marketplace Tip My Mom Swears By (It’s So Easy!)

published May 8, 2024
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Ottoman in a living room.
Credit: Sharon Mulvey

My mom is so many things: my caretaker, biggest cheerleader, number-one confidant, and even interior design sounding board. She has amazing taste, and she’s taught me everything I know, from matching a home’s decor style with its architecture to always lighting a candle inside a hurricane. Most recently, my mom has also shown me that it’s possible to find great decor anywhere, including on Facebook Marketplace. 

Whether you frequently shop the social media platform or have just heard anecdotes from your friends, it’s no secret Facebook Marketplace’s offerings can be pretty hit or miss. So when you do find something that’s affordable, practical, and in somewhat decent shape, it’s all too tempting to bite the bullet by making an immediate offer. My mom’s go-to tip for strategically shopping on the site, though? Having an exact vision of the “right” piece before she starts to scour that she’ll then try to find over time.

What does that look like in practice? It all comes down to a visualization exercise. Rather than buying the first piece that catches her eye, my mom puts a lot of time into thinking about what function the new item will serve as well as what size, color, and texture would complement the existing furniture in the room and layout. With the answers to those questions, she puts together a mental picture of her ideal item and then she uses that to inform her browsing terms. 

For example, when she was looking for a table to put in her and my dad’s bedroom, she wanted one made of darker wood to match her accent chairs, and that was large enough to place a lamp, her laptop, and a glass of iced tea. Ideally, it’d fit right under the window in their room so it wouldn’t block any natural light. After months of searching (and even passing on options that didn’t quite work) she found it: a rectangular, carved table that matches her design style, which you can see below.

Credit: Sharon Mulvey

Before she makes an offer, she also tries to visualize how a piece might be styled elsewhere; that way, she knows a given item is a sound investment that can be used down the road. “I could probably use that table in most rooms of the house,” she explains. Ultimately, in my mom’s words, her Facebook finds should be “perfect for my needs, new or great condition, and a great deal.”

Of course, her Facebook Marketplace finds aren’t always function-first. When she was looking for something to complete her formal living room, she thought an ottoman would give the space a “cozy” vibe. “You can use it to rest your feet — or for extra seating — but I thought it’d also be warm and inviting,” my mom shares. 

She originally envisioned a tufted, upholstered ottoman large enough to feel in proportion to the small room’s two armchairs, loveseat, and slim console table. The living room is packed with green, red, and cream-centric prints so — although she knew she’d never find an identical repeat — she wanted a playful pattern that would complement the others and was thinking a print in the tan family. In fact, she almost passed up on the ottoman she inevitably bought because she thought the color wasn’t quite right. 

Credit: Sharon Mulvey

“On a whim, I asked to see the ottoman in person and told the seller I was looking for something very specific,” she recalls. “While I couldn’t commit to putting down a deposit sight unseen, I was very interested. Luckily it was perfect — even better than it was in pictures!” 

Ultimately, if you use this method of sticking to a design vision when browsing on Facebook Marketplace, you won’t waste money on subpar decor pieces you’ll want to replace a few months later. Sure, my mom’s hyper-specific shopping strategy is not for anyone impulsive — and might not be ideal for those looking to quickly furnish a room from scratch. But if you have some time, her experience is proof that really good things come to those who wait. And you can use this tip far beyond Facebook Marketplace, too!