Portland Day 13: Welcome to The Fortress, Lady Winifred.

One of the adorable things about my friend Chandler is that the idea of living alone makes her generally apprehensive. Though I’m unclear on exactly what bothers her about the scenario, it doesn’t seem to be a fear of loneliness or some scary sense of isolation. She doesn’t concern herself with fantasies of, say, preparing a crudité platter when suddenly the knife slips, she accidentally severs all ten of her fingers, is unable to dial the phone for an ambulance, and perishes alone on the kitchen floor. Well, at least she didn’t before I wrote that.

More than anything, living alone seems, to Chandler, to come with a renewed set of security risks. While a criminal might enter a home occupied by any number of people, something about quivering in fear on the floor of your closet is just so much less intimidating when you’re accompanied by a friend or family member. There is safety in numbers, especially ones bigger than 1.

So we needed to beef up security before I left. We installed a motion-activated light outside. We frosted some windows. We left the yard a janky disaster area so nobody would suspect that the inside held anything worth stealing. But we needed more. We considered buying a Guard Duck, but eventually decided that it might freak out the neighbors. What we needed was something on the inside— a beast so magnificently terrifying, so thoroughly menacing, and uncompromisingly vicious that it could ward off all evil spirits, living or dead.

Enter Lady Winifred; Winny for short.

To get a sense of just how enormous this monster is, check her out next to that drill:

And get this. She’s only four months old. Terrifying.

While she’s not on duty guarding Chandler’s fortress, which in reality is 100% of always, she moonlights as an adorable, completely darling kitten. She enjoys playing and falling asleep stretched out on her back in your arms. Her hobbies include cuddling up and sleeping next to you in the middle of the night, purring, and begging shamelessly for food. You guys, she’s the cutest.

Aside from bringing home Winny, we got as close to finishing the living room as we were able to get. One of the things about only having 13 days in an apartment is that not everything gets quite finished, obviously. But I think this is a good start.

Here’s the view from the front door. Originally we put the couch against the paneled wall (the one with the framed poster on it), but I moved it out here when I was painting the trim and we liked the layout better this way. Plus, putting furniture too close to walls in Portland is a problem because mold can grow, so it’s better this way.

I really love that brass touch lamp. And look! I made pillows out of that table cloth, and I think they came out pretty cute and girly and whatnot. Tasteful floral.

Chandler bought this fun and informative Minerals poster on Amazon. It’s in a RIBBA frame from IKEA, double-stick taped to the matte.

This is the view from the kitchen door. I think the way the couch divides the spaces and sort of defines and elongates the hallway is nice, and it made a perfect little gallery wall for Chandler’s awesome art.

Cool, right? Chandler went to Berlin over the summer and made this fantastic photo project using pictures of various balconies on apartment buildings around the city. They’re strung together using these little key rings that we could only find at Home Depot, and obviously she needed about a million to put it all together, so it’s not quite finished in these photos. I think she cleaned out the supply of about six different Home Depots and is still on the prowl for more (read: if you’re in Portland and you were hoping to purchase one of these shiny little key rings, good fucking luck). Anyway, it’s going to look amazing when it’s all complete.

After Anna at Door Sixteen posted these pictures of her beautiful hallway, I had to get Chandler the Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names poster from Pop Chart Lab as a house-warming present (also in a RIBBA frame). She nearly died when she saw it and decided to hang it in the entryway. One thing we didn’t get around to was replacing that awful light fixture (there’s a better view here), but we ordered a new one online that will be a massive improvement. I’ll snap a picture next time I’m in Portland when we do our reunion episode.

And O to the M-G remember those vertical blinds of yore? I couldn’t WAIT to rip them down, but Chandler finally let me (even though the new curtains, also ordered online, haven’t arrived yet) so I could paint the trim.

Excuse the crazy Portland window fog (nope, we didn’t frost those… I think somebody just took a shower), but the trim is painted and the curtain rod is hung! We thought about painting the door, too, but we never got around to it. Maybe next time!

Now, figuring out a curtain rod for a window that big was no easy feat. The window itself is about 10.5 feet wide, so the curtain rod had to be about 11.5 feet to allow for a little overhang on each side. Standard curtain rods just aren’t made that large, and ordering one would have been, like, hella expensive. So we went to Home Depot and got this wood dowel cut to size:

Then I stained it with Minwax’s Walnut stain. To hang it, we fashioned these little brackets using closet rod supports, a screw, a washer, a nut, and a 2″ L-bracket. Boy, figuring that out in Home Depot was a good time.

It’s not the most glamorous solution in the world, but it works and the whole thing was less than $20. I think maybe if the brackets were painted black they wouldn’t be as odd looking, but the ends would still be ugly. Any ideas?

I think someday it would be nice to switch the chaise add-on unit to the other side of the couch and put a lounge chair in the corner this picture is taken from (the left side of the window, where all the kitty stuff is now), which would further define the living room a bit and create more seating (because who can have enough places to plant themselves?). We didn’t come across any good options while out thrifting, though, so that’s another thing that might happen in time.

When the time does come, though, we bought this brass lamp for a few dollars to sit on a side table next to future-lounge-chair and spray painted it red. I think it came out cute, so I figured I’d share even though it’s just sitting around for now. The shade is from Target.

So there it is, the living room. As done as it gets for now.

Phew, still there? One more kitty picture? Okay. I’ll give you two.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 1.24.11
    melissa said:

    Sweet kitty!! She’ll do a great job of keeping Chandler safe.

  2. 1.24.11

    All I can see is KITTTTTTENNNNNN!!!!!!!

  3. 1.24.11
    Mom said:

    OK, love the kitty. Looks like she could absolutely work as distraction for a robber who couldn’t just walk by “HER ROYAL cuteness” without stopping to pet–allowing Chandler plenty of time to escape. Kudos on figuring out a rod for that wide of a window without spending a bajillion bucks.

  4. 1.24.11
    Chandler said:

    On the fear of living alone, four words:
    1. EUGENE
    2. VICTOR
    4. TOOMS

    AND THANKS BEST FRIEND FOREVER FOR MAKING MY APARTMENT LOOK FLYYYY AS WUT. Everyone else, POP OFF. He’s MINE. MINEMINEMINE. Don’t be jealous of our boogie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmpWvkO4TUI)

    • 1.24.11
      Daniel said:

      1. I love you.
      2. Tooms is legitimately the scariest thing to ever grace the television screen. (Everyone else, if you haven’t watched The X-files series, OMG WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST 17 YEARS?!?!)
      3. She’s right. I have “Property of Chandler French” tattooed on my ass and everything.

    • 1.25.11
      Fat Cat said:

      :-)))) I haven’t seen a X-Files reference in a long time… On the fear of living alone, here are my four words:

      1. Donald

      2. “Donnie”

      3. Motherfucking

      4. Pfaster

      That would be one reason for the latest addition to my cat herd : an adorable little homeless black kitten.

      But your Winnie is just the CUTEST ! More pictures pleeeeeeeease.

    • 1.25.11
      Daniel said:

      Oh hell, don’t even TALK to me about Donnie Pfaster!! Poor Scully, always getting attacked by violent supernatural freaks.

  5. 1.25.11

    But doesn’t Eugene Tooms die a grisly escalator underbelly death? I mean, if you watch that episode every night before you go to bed, you should have no trouble sleeping.

    • 1.25.11
      Daniel said:

      But that’s also the episode where he attacks my favorite red-headed FBI agent in her bathroom! That image doesn’t just go away because he got crushed into paranormal puree.

  6. 1.25.11
    Bekka said:

    Daniel. I just discovered your blog like Friday (and I may or may not have read through at least two-thirds of your archives). I just wanted to say it’s freaking rad. Great photos, instructions and commentary. You and Anna (D16) are my favorite home bloggers right now.

  7. 1.25.11

    The two of you have done an amazing job in record time. And OMG, Winnie is the cutest kitten EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That being said, if Tooms manages to squeeze and squiggle his way in, there will be nothing Winnie can do. Nothing.

  8. 1.25.11
    Lena said:

    After pictures with little kittens in them aren’t fair! Everything looks 100 times as good with a kitten on them. I used to not like the giant black leather steel chair/lounge my mom bought for herself. But that was before my cat decided its his:-)
    Anyway, great progress on the living room. Can we see kitchen and bedroom afters?

    • 1.26.11
      Daniel said:

      Coming right up! Just as soon as I write the post (hopefully tonight!).

  9. 1.25.11
    Fionnuala said:

    Amazing work in such a short space of time, and I LOVE the lamp base in red. I don’t think that choice would ever have even crossed my mind, but it works incredibly well! And if the curtain rod fix isn’t quite what you’d like, it was extremely ingenious. Good work, team!

  10. 1.25.11
    J said:

    I love how you’ve done all this to a rental. Everything looks great. I found the coolest thrift store in Miami with the craziest/ridiculous prices, but I thought of you. I posted about it today. http://jandjhome.blogspot.com/2011/01/week-end-finds_25.html

  11. 1.25.11
    TEM said:

    Wow! You guys have done an amazing job in such a short amount of time!
    (Also, Winnie is the cutest thing EVER! As another girl living on her own, I also have a fearsome guard cat–his name is Maximus, and I’m pretty sure if anyone ever tries to break into my apartment, Max will love them to death. :-P)

  12. 1.25.11
    misa said:

    i’m so glad i don’t have pictures of my first apartment. because i would be living in shame for the rest of my life after seeing this.

  13. 1.25.11
    Nicole said:


  14. 1.25.11
    S@sha said:

    But what do the curtains and new light fixture look like? You’re leaving us hanging! We need a guest post from Winny when those things arrive.

  15. 1.25.11

    gotta ask: soooo where is all that kitty stuff going? god, I’m such a bitch. and obvs. not a cat person. I’m sorry.

    let me try again. DAYUM. you two are making miracles out there in PDX! I am so impressed with all your paintin’. now come to Chicago and paint my living room. I’ll pay you in champagne.

    • 1.25.11
      Daniel said:

      Haha! The litter box is going to go in the second bedroom closet (we took off the door), we just put it in the living room for now so kitty cat could get used to using it and it would be easily accessible. She eats in the kitchen (out of the tiniest little bowls EVER)… and, ya know, cat toys I guess just lay around on the floor wherever she leaves them :-).

  16. 1.25.11
    Nicole said:

    Oh also I have seen those twisty oval keyrings like in the picture at Wal-Mart (if you can stomach it or if it even exists in a place like Portland), very occasionally at craft and fabric stores, nearly always at local hardware stores, and at Sears in the tool section. I know because they are my favoured keyring type and when I couldn’t find a replacement once I nearly panicked and now I notice them everywhere.

  17. 1.25.11

    Umm LOVE the kitty and red lamp :)
    Good work!

  18. 1.25.11
    Doug from PDX said:

    Regarding ways to pretty up the curtain rod ends”¦ I used the same wood closet rod idea for my family room window, and used screw in decorative finials. I was thinking if you replaced the screw you used to anchor the bracket to the rod/plastic cap and simply screwed a finial through the whole assembly it would hold all together just fine. If you painted the cap/bracket prior to attaching the finial it would all blend in beautifully.

    • 1.25.11
      Daniel said:

      AH-HA! Good idea! Yeah, I was thinking something like that, but I was scratching my head figuring out how to affix it. Thanks!

  19. 1.25.11
    bekah said:

    Some may scoff at the idea of a guard cat but, I have a giant wimpy kitty and if I hear a ‘bump in the night’ I always check the end of the bed where he likes to sleep and see if he looks sketched out. He’s quite a comfort!

  20. 1.25.11
    Alicia said:

    This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been reading your blog since you first started. Daniel, Daniel, is there ANYTHING you can’t do? Honestly, I’ve never been so amazed as I have been with the stuff you’ve created. I know it’s really simple, but I LOVE the curtain rod you did, that’s a brilliant idea. You’re so resourceful, it’s nuts! I’m only a few years older than you (22) and I live in Brooklyn, and I’m all, holy crap, can I please have half of this guy’s amazing ability to make anything look awesome and also a tiny fraction of the patience he has to actually do all this work all the time? I mean, just thinking about OPENING a paint can and I need a nap. Sheesh. Have you ever discussed on here (maybe I’m just forgetting) what you want to do when you graduate? Why oh why aren’t you getting a degree in interior design, is what I want to know. I’ve had a fantasy of starting a nonprofit where I go around refurbishing second-hand stuff (like what you did with that lamp above, or repainting furniture, etc) and have a store to sell it all in. If I ever do that, I’ll find $1,000,000 to give you. hahah
    Anyway, just wanted to write, keep up the amaaaazing work!!!

    • 1.25.11
      Daniel said:

      Why thank you!

      I haven’t really talked much about what I’m studying since I’m still trying to figure that out myself! Hopefully soon I’ll have a better idea, and then I can talk all about it.

      by the way, I’m holding you to that $1,000,000 :-)

  21. 1.25.11
    jeannette said:

    key ring balcony art, brackets, brass lamp, baby kiki, all wonderful.

  22. 1.25.11

    i am freaking out. that cat is SO FREAKN ADORABLE I CAN’T TAKE IT. i want to pet so bad!!!!!

  23. 1.26.11
    Girly Drink Drunk said:

    ditto what everyone said!

    regarding X-files, i only have three words: The Peacock Family.
    that episode messed me up.

    my roommate never saw it, and i warned her, but she just rolled her eyes and watched anyway. she threw up…and then insisted on sleeping with me that night.

  24. 1.26.11
    Mich said:

    Great job on the curtain rod. You’re right- they are effing expensive. We splurged on a PB one that extends the length of our long sliding door and it makes me a little angry/noxious every time I think about the price tag. Nice work my friend.
    And I totally wanted that Rap poster after reading about it on D16.

  25. 1.26.11

    I think I may have just adopted a kitten tomorrow! Too much cute! The red lamp is fantastic. I’ve been thinking about doing lamps for my bedroom in either silver or red and I think I’ve made up my mind. I LOVE that coat rack. I have always wanted a coat rack but i doesn’t make much sense here in LA. Doug’s idea for the curtain rod was exactly my thought. Anthropologie does finials very well (what don’t they do well?) but they are a little bit pricey. If $40 is in Chandler’s budget that’s where I’d go. So many great options! I’ve loved this series! Thanks so much for letting us in on your trip. The apartment looks so crisp and fresh! Very inspiring!

  26. 1.26.11
    Heather HS said:

    This has been a great series! Love seeing the progression from nothing to awesome. Even though I don’t love all of the decor choices, I’m totally interested in what you’re doing and how you make it happen. Keep it up.

  27. 1.26.11
    Gaby said:

    I just voted your blog for The Homies contest in AT.
    Winnie told me to do it, and you know, it was an order and I had to obey.
    Good luck!

    • 1.26.11
      Daniel said:

      Thank you!

  28. 1.26.11
    Kelly said:

    this sounds crazy but i don’t want you to go home..i’ve loved following all the projects you and chandler have been doing…stay longer and do more!

    • 1.26.11
      Daniel said:

      I’m already home! Just a little behind on posting… there’s SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT. But one more post! Then we can all bid farewell to the P-town saga.

  29. 1.26.11
    Caitlin said:

    I’m so sad your time in Portland is over but I’m amazed and what you guys have done in such a short amount of time! Can’t wait for you to crash other friends houses :D

  30. 1.26.11

    You were right, the photo project is cool! It totally captures a slice of what Germans refer to as Balkonien.
    The apartment looks fab. Love the brass lamp painted red and don’t even get me started on Winny.

  31. 1.26.11
    helloshiella said:

    D! i looove everything you’ve done with it.

    i was sort of curious why you guys decided to go with the diy curtain rod? i guess the obvious answer is price but TJMAXX and Ross has killer deals on less than ugly ones. i feel like once the curtain comes on its gets super overlooked anyway :\

    more importantly, hurry up and post pictures of where your amazing eames finds will go in your apartment!

    • 1.26.11
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, it really came down to price. We didn’t check TJMaxx or Ross, but honestly I’d be really surprised if they had anything this long! The longest normal rods are something like 82″.

      I will! They’re shipping!

  32. 1.26.11
    tara said:

    Wow, what an amazing apartment make-over. You both worked so hard. I agree, “Tooms” was/is the scariest thing ever. I couldn’t sleep well for about 6 months after I watched that episode. Oh, and “Home” – that was really disturbing too.

    • 1.26.11
      Daniel said:

      Frankly, I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned “Roadrunners,” that one where Scully gets abducted by the spinal-parasite-worshipping cult! THAT SHIT WAS SCURRRRRY.

      But there were so many good ones, it’s hard to pick. Nothing beats that first season, though.

  33. 1.27.11
    kirsten said:

    Fantastic job! I cannot believe the red lamp turned out so beautifully shiny. I can’t believe that this is what you do to relax over vacation! These sorts of apartments (wall-to-wall carpeting, hollow-core doors, new n cheap everything) are really hard to make lovely, but you did it! School must seem downright relaxing compared to this!

  34. 1.27.11
    Cait @ Hernando House said:

    I love that red lamp! (The other one is pretty sweet, too.) Love the DIY curtain rod, too! Almost all our windows are huuuuge (at least length-wise), but we just used the curtain wires from Ikea for those (which kind of makes me feel super lame).

  35. 1.28.11
    Diane said:


  36. 1.28.11
    Hillary said:

    I love Doug’s idea for the curtain rods. I’ve made similar rods before, but I attached them to the wall with a handrail bracket. You know the kind that holds a stair rail up on the wall? And finished the ends with finials.

  37. 1.28.11
    Care said:

    First time commenting……discovered your blog a while back and have been hooked ever since. Love all your work!! That kitten though…….ohmygosh!!! SOOO cute!!
    I’ve been wanting to adopt one for a while & I think you have just inspired me to do so now!

  38. 1.30.11
    Angie said:

    Enjoy the kitten times!! They are short! meow! (from my cats)

  39. 1.31.11
    Heather said:

    Love the kitty!

  40. 2.2.11
    yyz said:

    lady winifred, what a purrfect name for an adorable kitty!