Settling In

In the last month and a half, I have been to:

1. Las Vegas
2. Chicago
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Buffalo
5. Washington, D.C. (again)
6. Pittsburgh

Oh yeah, I also moved. As you well know. And I’ve also had an abnormally heavy stream of house guests. And I’m getting on another plane tomorrow.

It’s been busy times around here, folks, what with all the planes, trains, and automobiles. All of these little jaunts have been fun, really, but between them all getting this apartment in order has been slow-goings at best.

First, this place had to go through an extensive cleansing process—to say that it was dirty would really be doing my hard work a disservice. Think filth. Think grime. Think… this monstrosity lurking beneath the stove.

When time is tight and the days are short, you switch into survival mode. The goal becomes not one of beautification, but instead a strained task, geared towards minimizing your houseguests’ impression that you’re a squatter.

Which is all to explain that not much has been done here. And everything’s looking a little crappy. Every room is bursting at the seams. There is so much to be done that my head spins, and yet nary a paint brush has hit the walls. It’s kind of intimidating, but really just annoying that I’ve technically been here a month and things still look like this. Let’s do a run-down, shall we?

This is my hot mess of a bedroom. The desk is covered in miscellany, I hung up the Calder litho on an existing screw left in the wall, and the upholstery on my bed needs some repairs after it had to be taken apart in the move.

This is the sorry state of the bathroom. The walls are still lavender. The medicine cabinet is packed. I had to move two existing shelves from the bedroom into the bathroom to replace that tiny ledge. Trust, all this is temporary.

The kitchen. Oh, the poor kitchen. It’s packed to the gills and crying out for more storage. I haven’t been able to get the oven to work, the refrigerator leaks, something’s wrong with the window. And it’s still super fug.

The living room looks the most moderately-okay. Taking down those weird little shelves between the windows and the horrifically dusty venetian blinds went a long way towards making me feel better, but the red paint and the stacks of art and the half-assed vignetting are making me crazy.

The only thing I’ve really accomplished are these milk-crate bookshelves, which I think we can all agree is a good example of what happens when DIY goes awry.In the right space, executed well, I can actually see some version of this looking pretty good. Not here. A coffee shop around the corner gives these crates away for free, so in a fit of omg-what-do-I-do-with-all-these-books, I grabbed nine of them (including the three in the kitchen) …

…and drilled some holes around the edges and stitched them together with kitchen twine.

Yeah, they’re glamorous. No, they’re not staying any longer than they have to.

I know I’m a whining, complaining disaster, but I’m actually loving living here—when I’ve actually been here. The neighborhood is great and the apartment has so much potential. I can’t wait to really get going.

For those of you wondering, I got my security deposit from my old apartment yesterday. They knocked off $100. I’m okay with that. 

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. 7.13.11
    Julie said:

    As a Buffalo resident I’m curious what brought you to my sleepy neck of the state. And if you tell me you scored some amazing thrift store find I might slash my wrists. It’s been slim pickings for me lately.

  2. 7.13.11
    montse said:

    Considering how much your landlord complained about all the improvments you made I thought he was going to keep nearly all of it.

  3. 7.13.11
    Magpie said:

    I love the living room, all of the potential in there… and don’t get stressed about fixing the place up for our sake, we are patient! :)

  4. 7.13.11
    lisa said:

    ok, don’t hate me for saying this, but… the red in the livingroom looks kind of fab with your sweet rug, couch, and pillows. sure, it needs a fresh coat by someone more skilled than the previous tenant (say, a monkey?)… and i’m sure being surrounded by it is a different story, but from what i can see, i don’t completely detest it…

    • 7.13.11
      Amanda said:

      I actually like it too! I agree, the rug and and the couch, and the little coffee table actually look sooooo in place there.

      Daniel, is it the colour you don’t like, or is it the paint job?

      (P.S. I have NEVER liked a rug like that before.. This is a new, and scary experience)

    • 7.13.11
      Daniel said:

      Both! I think it looks better in pictures than in person, but honestly the colors in this apartment are just really, really not my style. It’s just not something I’d every pick for myself… and therefore, it’s driving me crazy.

  5. 7.13.11
    Pam said:

    I know there’s a lot of great posts coming our way when you get rolling; the new apartment is sooooo full of potential!!

  6. 7.13.11
    TEM said:

    I cannot wait to see what you do with this place once you get going!

    Also, that *thing* from behind the stove totally reminds me of an apartment I lived in a few years ago that was also pretty gross when I moved in. For the first month or so that I lived there, the garbage disposal never worked correctly, so finally I shoved a fork down in it to poke around, and lo and behold, pulled out an entire filthy stinky dish rag. YUCK.

    And congrats on getting most of your deposit back from the old apartment! That gives me hope for my own place (once I reach that far-away day that I actually move out!)

  7. 7.13.11

    Dang, it dosen’t look half bad! Your adorable Danelness has rubbed off on the place!

  8. 7.13.11
    jodi said:

    oh, man, this place has amazing potential. i can only image how fabulous you are going to make it!

  9. 7.13.11
    Lena said:

    Ah, so excited what you will make of this! The apartment looks already a lot better with your stuff in it- some painting and arranging and it will look fantastic!

  10. 7.13.11
    Mary said:

    As someone who just moved back in with her parents so she could afford to go to grad school, I’m living vicariously through you.

  11. 7.13.11
    Colin said:

    Does every apartment in NY have those same bathroom tiles and the shoddy re-grouting job? Mine sure does.

    I feel your pain regarding painting – it’s taken me two weeks to prep and paint my tiny hallway and bathroom, and I still have to do the moldings! It takes so much work to clean up paint supplies that it’s hardly worth it to start in on it unless you have a chunk of free time.

    I’m excited to see what you come up with when you have the time to really dig in to the DIY!

    • 7.13.11

      I’m convinced that half of NYC’s apartment bathrooms are actually grouted with wall plaster.

  12. 7.13.11
    anne b. said:

    yeah, this is gonna be good!
    this might be a weird thing to say, but I really like the proportions of the living room – the proportions of the sofa, coffee table and the fireplace together.

  13. 7.13.11
    Sharon said:

    I’m really excited to see what this place looks like when you start working your masterful DIY magic. Also, I have extreme apartment envy right now. My apartment is a railroad and has caused me many headaches when trying to figure out storage solutions and furniture arrangements. What I wouldn’t do for a hallway of my own! :)

  14. 7.13.11
    Trondheim said:

    Even though your apartment is a bit of a mess, you still manage to make it look decent. That takes skill. I know you’ll make it amazing, though – and I can’t wait to see what you do with the place!

    I’m pretty curious to see what you’ll do with the kitchen, especially if you need a new fridge and stove.

  15. 7.13.11

    Lookin’ good! I know you didn’t pick the blue paint in your bedroom, but I kind of dig it–looks cool with your headboard and white bedding.

  16. 7.13.11
    T2kay said:

    I’m curious as to what you were doing in Buffalo as well — That was my old neck of the woods…

    I’m also curious about the deer in your bathroom…made me laugh out loud…

  17. 7.13.11
    Michelle H. said:

    First time commenting on your blog. Your writing reminds me of David Sedaris in a way- there’s this dark humor that’s so attractive. Maybe it’s partially the nature of your subject. Those DIY projects you write about just seem so miserable, so hopeless. Then you make it happen, and suddenly you make thrifting look easy. It’s inspiring. You rekindled my love of refurbishing, thank you.

  18. 7.14.11
    bfish said:

    I’m with some other posters in liking your things — albeit they’re not yet arranged to your liking — with some color as a backdrop. For example, the red in the LR is a nice backdrop for your wood furniture. In particular it highlights your credenza (last pic) and the beautiful floors. Acknowledging that the current paint scheme doesn’t suit, please at least try some color in your beautiful LR. I love the fireplace!

    Thanks for sharing your progress and I’m eager to see where you go with your new living space!

  19. 7.14.11

    I see a box of FLOR tiles and a curtain rod off to the side? Really, this is so exciting and fun to watch. Thank you for letting us go along for the ride!

    All last week, I kept checking back to see when you would post and then…WOW, I was not disappointed. You make my day!

  20. 7.14.11
    Alicia said:

    Can’t wait to see what you do with it, especially the living room. All white?

    • 7.15.11
      Daniel said:

      Not sure on exact colors yet… but nope, I don’t think so!

  21. 7.14.11
    Mickey said:

    Wow. How exciting. It always looks a million times better! I like the comment about your ‘adorable danielness’ lol!
    Would love to see the hallway!


    • 7.15.11
      Daniel said:

      It looks exactly the same! Crazy squares everywhere. At least it’s clean and the cork squares have all been removed. Almost time to sand the whole thing down and paint it!

  22. 7.14.11
    Jaimie said:

    I actually really like the way that blue-green looks in the bedroom. It’s very similar to the color I painted my office. Maybe it looks worse/different in person?

    That red with all the molding would kill me though. Red is a color I simply can’t stand in such large amounts (yellow also). Not to mention it’s hard to get even coverage, and hard to cover up when re-painting. The molding just seems really busy with the sharp contrast between the white and red. The living room itself seems perfect for your furniture though.

    As for the crates – have you considered something like this as an alternative?
    They use binder clips to keep it together. I like the industrial sort of vibe it has, and it seems to have a similar feel to what I think you were going for with milk crates.

    Can’t wait to see what you do with all of it.

    • 7.15.11
      Daniel said:

      Yeah… the blue/green isn’t actually a horrible color in itself, it’s just not my taste. In the right space, I’m sure it would look good. The walls are also in HORRIBLE shape, and the paint job itself is pretty bad, so it needs to be freshened up.

      And YES, that’s basically my problem with the red, aside from just PERSONALLY not really liking red walls in general. The high contrast with the moldings is just kind of dizzying at the end of the day. The moldings are a nice feature, but I don’t think they need to be SO in your face. But yeah, it’s a great room! I love it! Missing floorboards and all. :-)

      Re: the crates. I really only did it knowing it would be temporary, and because all the materials were completely, 100% free! That DIY actually winds up being about 100-200 smackers, so while it’s quite nice (I LOVE it there… super clever, super cute), there’s just no space for it here in the long run. I can deal with my ugly milkcrates until I get the walls painted and some real shelves happening!

    • 7.17.11
      Jaimie said:

      Ah, I didn’t even look at the cost of that IKEA DIY I just liked the look of it. If you didn’t already have the temporary milkcrates, I’m sure you could have done it with empty cardboard boxes (not quiet as sturdy as a milkcrate, but would also have been free since you just moved). $200 isn’t bad for a permanent piece, but way too much for something temporary.

      And I completely know what you mean about the colors not being your own taste and thus making you crazy. Our house was painted almost entirely this bizarre fleshy beige-mauve, and they even sponge-painted a weird yellow-beige over it in the guest bathroom. I lived with it for about four months until my husband got home from Iraq and I made him help me paint it all. Well, except that bathroom. That’s my next project….

  23. 7.14.11
    Diane said:

    I can’t wait for you to land and work your magic on this great apartment. I just bought a little house and YOU make me want to do dreamy-fun things to it.

  24. 7.15.11

    love that you’re who-gives-an-eff enough to post all of your befores. I look back on mine and am HORRIFIED. it’s great.

    I’m totally scared of red, but the living room is actually looking GREAT. love that floor and the moulding.

    • 7.15.11
      Daniel said:

      I almost posted pictures of all my crap strewn through the ENTIRE hallway, but that was just vomit-inducing. At least it’s not in hoarder-style piles? haha!

      I’m totally scared of red, too. A vase, a throw pillow, sure, but please don’t take my walls.

  25. 7.15.11
    Kat said:

    You’ll get there! I actually really like the milk crate idea. very diy hip.

  26. 7.15.11
    Michelle said:

    Oh man, I can’t wait to see what you do when you actually have a moment to take control. It still looks awesome though since you have such great pieces. AND agreed, those milk crates would look so rad in the right space. I’m sure once you are done, you could make them work!

  27. 7.15.11
    Jo in NZ said:

    (I just wanted to say hi to your mom. Hi, Daniel’s mom!)

  28. 7.15.11

    $100 isn’t bad considering how many ‘rules of renting’ you broke! I’m sure you’ll settle in soon, although I don’t envy you with all that travelling.

  29. 7.15.11
    Mom said:

    Thanks for the shout out. So proud of my Daniel and all that he has accomplished and will continue to accomplish in his life. His danielness is awesome.

  30. 7.15.11
    Paige said:

    I’d say give the milk crate bookshelves one more try with black zip ties!

  31. 7.15.11
    megan said:

    your hot mess of a bedroom looks like my bedroom on a really amazing day. Can’t wait to see what you do with the place.

  32. 7.15.11

    Don’t forget to clean off the refrigerator coils. I had never done it in any of the apartments we’ve lived in, but it can certainly help the refrigerator work less hard. Usually there is a set of wire coils underneath and sometimes behind the thing. And they like to become caked in dust. And when the coils are caked in dust the fridge doesn’t work nearly as efficiently; so it’s a two for one deal there, less dust and increased energy efficiency.

  33. 7.22.11
    yvette said:

    Looking @ that kitchen and bathroom, all I can think is thank GOD I don’t live in NY! Bless you for putting up with that awful lack of space. Love the note idea for the new tenants.

  34. 7.29.11
    Sissy said:

    Shame on your landlord! He owes you….

  35. 7.31.11
    Shelley said:

    Hi there
    Your crates actually look ok. Ever thought of using electrical ties in black to tie the crates together. You know, the ones that click and close tight and then you can’t get them off unless you cut them. Then the whole thing would stay together but the attachments would virtually disappear.

    Like your blog.
    Love that you lived in Canada.

  36. 10.10.11
    eileen marie said:

    A $100 for what?! adfkjdjadklfa! You leave places better than you came into them -they oughta pay you!