Portland Day 14: The Final Push

I had expected my last day in Portland to be like those final moments you might see on some reality TV competition. There would be more projects than we could reasonably expect to finish and I’d be racked with guilt over how many odds and ends I was saddling Chandler with upon my departure. Our ambition over the last two weeks would have gotten the best of us, and it would be in these concluding hours of my stay that frustration would turn into aggression. We’d descend into what could only be described as a Diva Duel: insults would be screamed, names would be called, and weave tracks would be brutally ripped from our scalps. I can’t say I wasn’t looking forward to it a little bit.

In actuality, things moved along as they had most days. We looked around and realized we’d done pretty well. There weren’t too many things to do on the apartment that were urgent or pressing or calling out for completion. A light to hang here, a bead of caulk there. And Winnie. Lots of kitty playtime to fulfill.

Some folks asked to see pictures of Chandler’s bedroom in the comments, so I figured I’d comply. Chandler already owned everything in here (with the exception of the dresser), so we didn’t have to do much work, really. The curtains haven’t come yet for this room either, so excuse the totally-bleach-out-by-camera-exposure vertical blinds.

I covet those American Indian needlepoints. I know 90% of my needlepoint collection is sitting under my bed (no where seems right to hang them, but I just don’t want to give them up!), but I’d buy these in a second if I ever saw them.

Yes, the dresser is in front of the sliding door. This is all part of Chandler’s security system. About the door, she had this to say: “I’m never going to use it. Might as well treat it like a wall.” Fair enough.

I like Chandler’s bedroom. I rarely even went in there to be honest (my domain was the living room couch, which is roughly the size of my apartment anyway), but I like that it just kind of came together in this un-fussy, cozy and casual way. Like a little Chandler den.

I think my favorite room, though, ended up being the kitchen. Even though I never could convince Chandler to let me replace the kitchen floor with VCT (it would have cost about $100), a cool rug, some lighting swaps, and a few finishing details made the space about a million times cuter. Let’s review the before pictures:

When we found the kitchen, it suffered from an enormous hole to the right of the sink where a washing machine used to sit and some very grungy lighting, exhaust fan covers, and switch plates.

The one over the sink is on the left, the thing in the middle of the ceiling is on the right. Gross.

The upper cabinets on the left side of the room were missing hardware. Why? Who the hell knows.

And then, because projects beget more projects, we went and bought these chairs (for FIVE BUCKS EACH. I still can’t get over that. Like, a chair. For the price of a Starbucks coffee.) that needed a big makeover of their own.

Overall, the whole thing was bland, boring, dull, and their seedy friend, icky. Soooooooo….

We quickly realized that the cabinet hardware in the kitchen was the same size and shape as in the bathroom (and the exact number we needed!), except the bathroom hardware was chrome and the kitchen was bronze. All of the metal was in really bad shape, so we didn’t feel bad about painting it. I probably would have gone with black, but Chandler picked silver spray paint and it looks pretty good. I don’t like silver spray paint in general, but things like this are just small enough that I think you can still get away with it.

The brass ceiling fixture was just too small and dark for the hallway (where it was originally), but it works perfectly for over the sink. The wine rack is originally from IKEA, but we thrifted it for a couple dollars.

I couldn’t talk Chandler out of reupholstering the chairs in vinyl—I would have done fabric—but I think they came out really cute regardless (and the vinyl does pick up the dark blue in the rug nicely). And can I just say, after upholstering an entire bed, upholstering two chair seats felt like child’s play.

The table is the NORBO from IKEA, which was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever assembled. Oh, and that light. That huge, gloriously bright (we only had 100-watt bulbs on hand, which is definitely overkill) vintage light. It’s cute, even though it looks a little washed-out and weird in this photo.

I also think we did pretty well on budget in here, considering we had to buy EVERYTHING. I’m not including the stuff from the Container Store because it was all bought on gift cards. Or dishes and silverware and stuff because I have no idea.

Stenstorp Cart (IKEA): $199
Norbo Table (IKEA): $30
Window Film, 2 rolls (Home Depot): $46
Chairs (Salvation Army): $28 ($10 chairs/$14 vinyl from Jo-Anns/$4 spray paint from Home Depot)
Wine rack (IKEA via Goodwill): $2
Hardware Paint (Home Depot): $4
Switch plates (Home Depot): $15
Rug (Goodwill): $30
Lighting (House of Vintage): $64 ($45 for light/$14 ceiling medallions—Westinghouse/$5 new wiring and chain)
Microwave (Target): $60
TOTAL: $478

The big splurge in here was obviously the kitchen cart. It wouldn’t have been too difficult or time consuming to just build in some shelves in that space, but the cart is really nice, it fits super well, and it’s something Chandler can take with her to her next apartment when the time comes.

Ultimately, my last day in Portland was mostly about this little peanut. Because how can you work (or eat? or sleep?) with that walking around?

We finished off the day with some delicious takeout from Tom Yum, wine, relaxing, and admiring our handiwork. And guess what? Somewhere Chandler found time to expertly craft this cake for me. What a pal.

And everything comes full circle. We’ve come a long way from spreading out Marlboros and vintage cigarette ads across my kitchen table for our senior project. And yet, we really haven’t. I like that about us.

Thank you, Chandler. I had the best time and I already miss you like crazy, BFF.

Thus ends the Portland saga. Allow me to cue a collective sigh. 12 posts, 9,100 words, 300+ comments (we both loved reading every one), and we’ve reached the end.  Thanks for coming along for the ride, everybody. Have a stellar weekend.

P.S.- Wanna read about Portland from beginning to end? Just click the entire month of January in the archives!


44 Comments

  1. Ah! The gold chair in Chandler’s bedroom is exactly what I’d wanted for my bedroom! But I couldn’t find anything like it and instead was boring and got a Poang chair (I was desperate), how sad. So congrats to Chandler. Everything looks fab!

  2. I am normally a silent reader of the blog, but had to say what an amazing job you have both done! It looks amazing. If you fancy a trip to England, my flat could do with some of your magic, I never have any luck in second hand stores!!

    Cheers!

    Helen

  3. I have followed this renovation with great delight – and love the final result. Bravo, you two!

  4. It really has transformed from a neglected out of touch place into a home.
    Especially with a kitty that cute.

  5. I wish I could eavesdrop on the conversations in which you tried to convince Chandler to do things differently (like the kitchen floor, the upholstery, etc.) just to hear how you handle that kind of stuff.

    I am REALLY BAD at helping people with house stuff if they’re not willing to do everything EXACTLY like I think they should. I’m a brat, and I want it all to go my way.

    Something tells me you’re more diplomatic.

    (Did Chandler do white-on-white frosting for the “thank you” on your cake? If so…that is rad.)

    • Yes she did! She’s EXCELLENT at cake decoration. I might just have to do a whole post dedicated to our cake book.

      Dude, same problem. It’s HARD. I mostly solve it with a lot of nagging. I just had to keep reminding myself that it’s Chandler’s apartment, not mine, and in general my ideas would have required more effort anyway, so that made it easier not to push TOO hard :-). We were just having fun anyway, though. If she likes it, that’s what’s important here.

  6. I have been patiently awaiting the “big reveal” like a junky :-) Things look really cute. I especially like the bedroom, although the dresser placement is a bit awkward. Might there be some other sort of security measures to be taken? You mentioned you weren’t a fan of the blue vinyl but I like the mixture in texture between that and kilim, plus the color pop is nice. Kudos to you in your first makeover!

  7. You guys made that barren, empty, lifeless place into a home! I love how creative you (plural) are, and how you manage to make every dollar count. Oh, and I really loved seeing (and reading about) two obvious bosom buddies in perfect concert with each other. Thanks for sharing your tremendous tale! (And the tiny tail from Winnie.)

  8. So glad to see the hallway light resurrected in the kitchen. That thing is fantastic! Really, super job on this apartment. You accomplished more in 14 days than my wife and I have accomplished in over 18 months in our new home. I’d be inspired to action if I wasn’t so busy sitting on my ass reading blogs.

  9. I read your & Anna@D16’s blog everyday. I keep hitting F5 (Refresh) just to see if there is a new post. All I can say is You Rock!

  10. you’re such a good friend! i love my friends, but the last time i moved, they tore a hole into the sofa upholstery and broke a picture frame. of course, they also moved said sofa down three flights of narrow, steep stairs.

  11. p.s. i could just eat that kitten for breakfast, it’s so cute.

  12. That kitten is definitly nom worthy.

  13. I’m so excited every time I see a new Manhattan Nest post. I don’t care what you write about… just write. It could be about the socks you choose everyday and why, and I’m sure I’d find it entertaining.

    PS: If I met you in real life I’d be less gushy and way cooler… but you can’t see me so I’ll gush all over the place.

  14. All I can say is Bravo! You should both be proud of yourself. What an amazing transformation! I can’t wait to see what your next project will be!!!

  15. I seriously would never have thought to undertake a project like this in a rental. The most I ever did was put up different window coverings. To think what I could have had… I think you did a great job, and I love that you were able to keep Chandler’s wishes at the forefront, even when you (tactfully) disagreed!

  16. ZOMG Kitten!!!! Okay, I swear, that’s the my last kitten comment (for today).

    Seriously, the place looks so great. You both accomplished so much in just a couple of weeks. I especially love the kitchen chair makeover. I dig the vinyl seats – nice and easy to clean – you know, for after a food fight.

  17. Well done.

  18. Haha, I love the Lucky Strike cake, it’s really eerie and good wrong! I would love to see your whole project, you must have had so much fun.

  19. Rereading the post I started to wonder about the arm chair in the bedroom. Its very cute, but somehow I don’t really like the fabric thingy at the bottom. Does it have nice legs? Maybe Chandler could do this: http://www.the-brick-house.com/2008/06/custom-chair-action.html
    Or are the legs too ugly for the chair to go out bare-legged?

    • Honestly, I don’t really think that would work for this chair… it just doesn’t have the lines for it. It’s kind of old-lady-cutesy and I think that’s just something that has to be embraced sometimes :-).

  20. I love that you re-used the hallway light in the kitchen. You guys did awesome. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  21. Wow. This turned out better than I thought it would, the chairs might be my favorite because I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have given them a second thought though they fit so well now.
    Looks to me like all that hard work has paid off, Chandler is lucky to have a friend like you!

  22. Wow, I love the kitchen chairs! You definitely tapped into all their awesome retro potential. Could be my favorite part of the Portland project.

  23. The kitchen table area is by far my fave Portland project. The chandelier is fantastic! And I love that you left the most interesting part of the chairs chrome. It adds so much character! So much fun!

  24. Hi, Daniel,

    I am so sorry that the Portland Edition has come to an end. I looked forward to each new post! I laughed thru every one of them, ogled all of your meticulous work and loved your clean, pure, crisp aesthetic.

    And Lady Winifred . . . she definitely brought the stamp of “home” to the place.

    Pray tell, are you considering a career related to your writing, thrifting, design and jack-of-all-trades talents?

    Mary Beth

  25. I love the Portland posts! Seeing that you use a lot of spray paint (on the brass lamp, the kitchen chairs, etc.), do you have any recommendations on types or brands? I’ve been looking for a new lamp for a bit and I think spray paint might be the perfect solution.

    • I’ve always had really good experiences with Rustoleum brand spray paint (I used their matte black on all the hardware in my apartment). For the chairs we used their Appliance Epoxy in gloss white (maybe overkill, but it was about the same price and seemed a bit more durable), and the lamp was just regular gloss red. Rustoleum covers really nicely and adheres to surfaces well. Krylon is good, too (I like their spray nozzle better), but it doesn’t seem to adhere as well. Super cheap spray paint (some places sell cans for 1 or 2 bucks) is almost always a bad idea!

      It’s also usually a good idea to rough up the surface of whatever you’re painting with some fine or medium-grit sandpaper. It literally takes about two minutes and it can’t hurt, right?

  26. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple weeks, but this is the first time I’ve commented. I just wanted to let you know that if you ever want to come to Chicago I will let you stay with me if you help me fix up my place. You do a really great job on a budget!

  27. You guys did a wonderful job on a small budget! And the fact that your stay ended in an adorable cake and not a Diva Meltdown totally speaks volumes for your friendship. I love all the changes you made, especially the chairs and hardware. Great job!

  28. lisa, I’ve got dibs on him if he comes to chicago, haha.

    kidding.
    kinda.

  29. Interesting how much difference the light fixtures make. I need to get to work on mine. And that kitten is the cutest thing i have seen in a long time.

  30. I can’t believe you found those chairs for 5 bucks! They are very cool.
    Love what you did with her place.
    xx
    callie

  31. Thank you so much Daniel ! I just loved your Portland report from the very beginning till the very end ! Chandler is a lucky cool girl !
    When does another friend of yours move in ?

    Ninnog from Paris (France not Texas ;-) )

  32. gosh, i’ll never the kind of successful thrifter the way you are! Bargaining is just one essential lifeskill that never got passed down to me! so yeah, i’m super jealous of all your acquisitions right now!

  33. Distracted and thought I read “kitchen cat” and of course, I immediately wanted one.

  34. I love your blog! All you DIY’s are so inspiring. I just want to make a quick comment about the light in your kitchen. You mentioned that you used 100 watt bulbs in it and I wanted to caution you that the outside globes could get really hot and burst. Voice of experience here, it happened to me when I was in college. Fortunately I had walked out of the room for a while and heard a huge explosion. It was a mess to clean up. Anyway, stay safe and keep blogging.

  35. Ahhh! Portland was a great trip. Please try to get more friends who need an appartment upheaval, this was better than any reality tv makeover show. I love the way you write, I keep startling the kids with my outbursts of laughter. LOVE that bright red lamp and I don’t even like red as a rule ;-)
    Enjoying your blog from Norway.

  36. Hi Daniel,

    I was wondering if Chandler has met any resistance from the landlord about the painting of the trim / doors. This apartment looks similar to the one we are about to move into in Portland, leased by American Property Management (is it the same as her’s?) and has TONS of unpainted trim, etc. Also the walls are their standard terrible off-white / pinky color so it will need a paint job anyway. We may decide to leave the trim since the kitchen cabinets are also unpainted but wanted to check. Thanks!

    • I have no idea who Chandler’s landlords are, sorry! She didn’t get in trouble for any of the painting, however I have no idea if the landlord himself has ever been in her unit or if he’s only sent maintenance-type people on his behalf. We only painted the inside half of the bathroom door (the wood was super damaged from all the moisture over the years…), so painting the trim alone probably isn’t even terribly noticeable to the landlord. That said, she still lives there so who knows if they’ll withhold part of her security deposit or something. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

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