Bedroom Challenge Update: The Search For Jess’ Vintage Nightstands (Her Craigslist Tips & The Ones She Got!!) – Emily Henderson

It’s always something right?? That one piece of furniture or decor you search and search for, wondering if what you want is somehow the only thing on this planet not available for purchase…or in your not small but not unlimited price range. In my last apartment, it was a smallish black metal coffee table that was tall enough to nest above my beloved dark blue velvet pouf. I kept exclaiming, “I NEVER WANT TO LOOK AT A COFFEE TABLE EVER AGAIN!!” Then, as my head was actually about to explode and was ready to admit defeat, I found her. This is the closest thing to childbirth (or dating someone who doesn’t live in LA) I’ve experienced. Ha. I’ll say, “Never again!” and then I move apartments and sure enough I’m searching for a new coffee table again or in this case…a vintage nightstand that needs to meet A LOT of requirements both stylistically and functionally. I’ll get into those later.

design by jess bunge | styled by emily bowser | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the feel-good modern romantic bedroom makeover jess did for her dear friend (all thanks to the company store)

I might have been a little naive in my vintage nightstand search. While I was designing my friend’s/upstairs neighbor’s bedroom of two years ago, I think I found those vintage nightstands within the first week! But two things were different. #1: The style of nightstands we were going for, “antique”, are far easier to come by on places like Craigslist and in my anecdotal experience, are also very reasonably priced. #2: They didn’t have to match. If we had found a set that would’ve been great, but we loved that $50 round one instantly so we decided to just find another one that could work with it. Success! The wood tones and small scallop details made them feel like they lived in the same world. Check and check.

Now, my search wasn’t so quick and easy. Why? Well, your dear friend Jess only falls for things that are either too expensive, exist primarily abroad, are impossible to find, or are usually a mix of all three. It’s very cool…SYKE!

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 11

Enter these midcentury modern Italian bedside tables. So while they were only $400 for the pair (I know that’s still a lot of money), they lived in Italy meaning it would cost at least $800 to ship. Yes, they were going to cost a minimum of $1,200. Now, you bet I thought about it for a second but then quickly reminded myself that it would be wildly irresponsible. Then luckily (but devastatingly) they sold a couple of weeks after I saw them. I might have to move to Italy soon because their MCM furniture and lighting make my eyes weep and my heart sing.

Ok, so after seeing these here were my nightstand wishlist requirements:

  • Vintage (duh)
  • A lighter burlwood tone
  • Has storage
  • Tall-ish legs
  • Patina’d brass hardware (but could swap those in if needed)
  • A max of 18″ deep and no more than 28″ wide (but those are pushing it)

Here are a few other dreamy ones that I couldn’t afford but loved:

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 19

Mid-Century Italian Maple Nightstands

My god these were beautiful. I was obsessed with the legs, the wood was perfect, the size was awesome and it had a drawer. But they, of course, lived in Italy. Goodbye, darlings!

Italian Mid-Century Modern Walnut Nightstands | 1950s Mid Century Design Nightstands

Now these don’t pass the woodtone test (and only one was burlwood or looked like it) but I thought they were really special! I preferred the ones on the left but they were over $2k and lived in Romania. The shipping though is only $300! What a deal:)

My Craigslist Tips

To a lot of you, this next section about Craigslist might be old news. But in case it isn’t, I hope this is helpful!

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search Craigslist Tips copy

In my opinion, these tips are most effective if you are searching for something(s) specific, daily. Which I’d recommend if you are under a deadline or just want that item ASAP:) Here is what I did:

  1. Customize your location radius! That’s right, you don’t have to only choose the preset locations. So instead of picking “Los Angeles” for your area and then needing to change it to “Orange County” to see what’s for sale there, you click on the location name and zoom in or out depending on how far you are willing to travel. As you can see I chose a BIG radius since my dad lives in northern California and was willing to help his daughter out. I don’t deserve him.
  2. Then on the sidebar select – “has image” + “posted today” + “hide duplicates”.
  3. Choose the “newest” order option so that you don’t miss the new items as you refresh throughout the day:)
  4. Check both of the “antiques” and “furniture” categories. Your settings will be saved as you switch back and forth so you don’t have to worry about needing to reselect anything.
  5. DON’T CLOSE THE WINDOW! Just minimize it so all of your settings are saved and all you have to do is hit refresh whenever you want to see what’s new.

I also used Facebook Marketplace but that interface is NOT my favorite (they do have pretty great stuff though), but Caitlin also wrote an INCREDIBLE post about all of her tips for all reselling sites so make sure to read that too. Shall we see what I was looking at and considering??

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 1

Your eyes don’t deceive you. These nightstands didn’t cross off ANY of my previously stated requirements aside from the fact that it’s vintage and has storage. But look, when searching for vintage I like to keep a really open mind which you will continue to see. I would hate not to find something amazing and unique because I was only searching “Burlwood nightstands”. With that in mind, I was obsessed with the line pattern on the top and the two-toned stain look. Oh and can you stand that price?! However, they were HUGE – 28″x28″ which I knew was going to be too much for my space. Plus, it was a big drive which would have added almost another $100 in gas to the price tag (which wasn’t a big deal but added to the con list). I’m pretty sure someone bought them and sold them for double in San Diego (Craigslist told me:)) but I guess you gotta make up for that gas money. I just hope whoever got them, loves them because they are so awesome.

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 4

These were a FBMP find that I really loved (the wood grain and cool knobs!!) but as you can see the price tag was hefty. I could have potentially haggled down a little but even $200 was more than I wanted to spend. They are very special and MCM…but not Italian so the search continued:)

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 3 copy

Before I saw the price tag I was intrigued! A round shape could’ve been fun and y’all know I love a circle pattern. Also, how cute are those keys?! But the size was too big and I didn’t love them enough to more than double my budget. I see that they found a home though.

Do I Go New??

At this point, it had been at least a couple of weeks (My nightstand search was well underway before our challenge announcement post, FYI), so I started to look at new nightstands. Sure, I wanted that “vintage soul” accent but I also have a deep love and appreciation for new design! Here were some of my favorites:

Brady Nightstand | Gavin 2-Drawer Oak Wood Nightstands | Andora 2-Drawer Wood Nightstand

The Brady Nightstand was by far my #1. Katy Skelton can do no wrong in my book (Emily was, of course, the one to introduce her to me since she’s been a fan forever). So while this vision of a nightstand was on my list, that darker wood tone was too similar to my wood floors and for it to not have its moment would be a disservice. Plus, this piece is rightfully not inexpensive and asking for two didn’t feel right. The other two are also dark-toned but I loved their shapes and MCM vibe. Just not right for this bedroom.

Otelia Nightstand | Stivale 2-Drawer Oak Nightstand | Sutton 2-Drawer White Oak Wood Nightstand

So lighter I went. That Sarah Sherman Samuel nightstand on the far left is so stunning! Stunning and quite large so sadly also not a fit. Then the middle one was another that heavily piqued my interest. It’s modern MCM in the best way, has great storage, and I adore the darker base. Was definitely a contender. The last one on the right had me with the shape but felt a little too casual (??) and was on the bigger side.


As I was contemplating going “new,” I was still feverishly checking Craigslist and FBMP daily (and throughout the day). Y’all, don’t let anyone tell you searching for a special vintage piece isn’t work/time-consuming. Look, it’s obviously not a bad way to spend your time but it’s so easy to get discouraged after days and weeks of looking at nearly the same pieces you don’t want. But then one day you see something good!

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 8

OK! Here we go. I HEAVILY considered these. So much so that I send the seller an offer. They were originally $650 and I asked for a lower price. I thought, “Hey! who knows?!” Understandably, he wanted to wait since they had only been on FBMP for about a day I think? About six days later he dropped the price to $595 but I still wanted to hold out. Why do you ask? Well, the darker-toned wood being that prominent had me a little worried. I also wasn’t in love with those handles and wanted to change them (don’t be mad at me!!). I wanted to wait for at least $550 but that never happened and they sold. Panic set in a little because there were so few options I really loved. Did I let “the ones” go?!?! I reminded myself that if they were meant for me I would’ve gotten them. This is a mantra I say to myself often (but is not always easy to accept:)).

The search continued…

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 6

I definitely liked these a lot because of the wood and brass accents but they were too boxy. I wanted some roundness.

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 2

These had a bit more “shape personality” and the price was right! However, they were too dark, needed work, and just didn’t feel right.

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 5

For a split second, I considered these. I had some ideas to customize them a bit and for $50 I was willing. But when I showed them to Julie she rightfully told me to keep looking. Y’all I was getting so tired and just wanted to get something! Not a great place to be in when you can’t return what you buy.

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 7

These were the only other ones I truly considered because they were beautiful and at a great price. I also loved the brass-capped feet! But I kept holding off and boy am I glad I did. Drumroll, please…


Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 9

TADA!!! These beauties were it. I hesitated a little since they are visually on the heavier side (aka no legs) but the burl was the perfect tone, they have fun details, patina’d brass accents, SO much storage (more than I actually know what to do with), and were a 12-minute drive from my apartment. I, of course, consulted my vintage gal Caitlin to confirm they were a good buy. Also, the man who sold them to me could not have been nicer and kindly knocked off $50 to help with my budget. Look who’s keeping that credit card in her wallet and not shipping Italian furniture across the world:) Also, HUGE shoutout to Julie (for anyone newish around here she’s an EHD alum designer that is also my very close friend) who not only drove me (my car was full of clothes I need to sell/donate) but also helped me bring them up to my bedroom. She is one of my design confidants and most, if not all, of my personal designs go through her. THANK YOU, JULIE!!!!

So with this big purchase crossed off my todo list, here is an updated mood board:

Emily Henderson Jess Bedroom Moodboard 3

See, perfect! Ready for a sneak peek????

Emily Henderson MOTO Jess Nighstand Search 10

I am so happy. I know the lamp is small but I did a little styling after I took this photo and I think they are going to work great:. So now, after 10+ years of not having nightstands (that’s a true statement and a long story), I have these dreamy vintage ones. Your move Higgins;)

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | Creative Direction by Emily Henderson | Design and Styling by Emily Bowser | From: New Reveal: This Organic, Punchy Bedroom Might Be Our New Favorite Makeover

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