Home Improvement for Nudists.

If you’re not in New York, you might not know that it’s been hotter than hell outside, especially over last weekend. If you are in New York and you didn’t know that, you need to see a doctor.

Obviously, this seemed like the opportune moment to take on the disaster that was my bedroom full force. And so, I apologize if this is TMI, but I have something to share: I have become a nudist. Not, like, a full-fledged junk-flopping-around-freely-in-the-wind-nudist, but for several days underwear and deodorant has been my official work uniform. I’ve spent enough time in it that putting on a t-shirt last night felt like I was being strangled by the crew neck and attacked by itchy fibers.

So I’m here to tell you, when it’s too damn hot and you have shit to do, strip off those clothes and get down to business. You’ll be so much happier. This is how I recommend doing most housework now, actually.

My bedroom had undergone some serious aesthetic and, frankly, hygienic lapses over the years, and it really showed. Not unlike my naked body. I will stop making reference to my body now. Picture me as a brain, in a jar. With arms that can paint things.

To quote my mother, the bedroom felt like being in a bowl full of mouthwash. Trust, it looks way better in pictures. Not only was the color bad but the paint job was a damn mess. The walls were in rough shape from various things that had been hung from them over the years and all the trim work was super grimy (even after extensive cleaning/vacuuming after I moved in).

The ceiling wasn’t in horrible shape except it had been patched at some point and repainted just in that spot a totally different color. It also had this 3 inch long piece of black tape directly over the bed. Why? I don’t know. But I do know that it mocked me for a month and a half, every morning, every evening, until I finally climbed on a ladder and tore it down. It may or may not have been the most gratifying part of this whole ordeal.

In what I’m sure is a massive shock to all who have paid any attention to this blog, I opted for white. Now, last time I painted an apartment, I just ripped off Anna at Door Sixteen‘s paint colors, because she has flawless taste and they were beautiful. “Moonlight White” for the walls and “Simply White” for the trim. I loved it, but I wanted to do something different here. I recognize that sounds ridiculous because they are both white paint, after all, but I swear it feels different. In any case, this white paint was chosen through a very long, very anxiety-inducing process that looked kind of like this:

So very stressful. Eventually I chose “White Dove” in matte by Benjamin Moore. It’s like slightly brighter and leaning a bit more into grey than Moonlight, but it’s still very warm on the walls, especially under artificial light. I really love it.

I wasn’t totally sure if I was going to repaint the ceiling (for laziness reasons, mostly), but I went for it and I’m so glad I did. Next to the blue it actually looked white, but the contrast was pretty serious once Benjamin Moore’s off-the-shelf “White” in eggshell was painted. The old ceiling was also painted with semi-gloss, but I like the flatter finish so much more.

The molding was grimy. I made it not-grimy.

The trim is all off-the-shelf Benjamin Moore “Super White” in semi-gloss. I like.

I also hung up the bubble lamp to replace the very old, very gross, very exposed-CFL-chic business that was there originally. Oh, and I know that little Westinghouse ceiling medallion looks bad in pictures, but that’s only because it looks bad it real life. I intend to swap it out at some point, but for now I’m moving on to more pressing issues.

I even put in a new dimming light switch to celebrate. I mention this only because I usually get pretty wary of dealing with electrical stuff and have never changed a light switch before, but it was SO SO EASY, I promise. Just remember to flip the breakers so you don’t kill yourself. Especially if you’re not wearing clothes, because that might not be how you want your dead  body discovered by your neighbors or pet.

The old wood venetian blind was pretty fug and so, so dusty, so I hung up one of the IKEA ENJE shades from the old apartment. These blinds have been discontinued and I mourn for them daily. This one is a little too narrow and hanging sort of weird, so that’s also on the list of things to fix. Good enough for now though.

The room is currently doorless and the hall has been turned into a construction supply holding zone. God, that hallway. It makes me weep, it is so ugly and neglected. Soon, hallway, soon.

The bedroom still has a long, long way to go, but I can’t describe how good it feels to have the painting taken care of, since now things can really start to happen (big plans, people, big plans). I’m pretty sure it’s about to get awesome.

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. 7.27.11
    Jamie B. said:

    God, you are going to make that apartment so beautiful. That ceiling, I can’t even deal.

  2. 7.27.11

    I kind of liked the blue walls…..but, to be fair, the white is nice too and it’s definitely more your aesthetic (at least from what I can tell here on the blog). Now that everything’s cleaned and touched up, you’ve got a great base for future progress!! Really excited to see the rest of your apartment transformation!

  3. 7.27.11

    Yay! It looks a bazillion times better already!

  4. 7.27.11

    You know I love you for that brain-in-a-jar reference.

  5. 7.27.11

    p.s. It doesn’t look that much better. It’s just the lighting. Get over yourself.

    • 7.27.11
      Daniel said:

      You see right through me, and it’s enraging.

    • 7.27.11
      Shilo said:

      Seriously dude. Obviously this is all a white-balance trick.

  6. 7.27.11
    Jill said:

    Your blog is like my crack. It’s so satisfying to read and once it’s done I am jonesing for my next fix. Ahahahaa @ “Picture me as a brain, in a jar. With arms that can paint things.”

    p.s. I’m coming to BK Aug 15, 16, 17, perhaps I can meet up with you & Max?

    • 7.27.11
      Daniel said:

      Of course!

  7. 7.27.11

    Looks fab! I’m dying to know what was under the black tape. Why was it there? Why? Also, as someone who is getting ready to paint a ceiling, and yours is particularly patterny, how was it?

    • 7.27.11
      Daniel said:

      Nothing was under the tape! I thought maybe the whole ceiling would cave in upon its removal, but it was far less dramatic.

      Not so bad! I used a rough nap roller and a brush for the crown moulding. Ceilings really aren’t any harder to paint than walls!

  8. 7.27.11
    jodi said:

    it looks so clean & airy!

  9. 7.27.11
    Monica said:

    Gaaaah! Love it. I hope that piece of black tape wasn’t structural. :)

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      In this apartment, there’s a 78% chance it was (roughly).

  10. 7.27.11
    Gill said:

    Much better in the white. I lived in a flat for 8 months with that greenish/jade colour and practically had mental health problems by the end, gave me headaches, the lot…and it’s very depressing, believe me. White is the way to go!

  11. 7.27.11
    Lena said:

    I have ceiling envy. I didn’t even know that existed but I have it now. Relly curious to see what you do next!

  12. 7.27.11
    Gill said:

    PS YOu can still get the Enje blinds in the UK…any friends over here?

    • 7.27.11
      Daniel said:

      No, not really. I’ve heard rumors that they’re coming back here, though, just slightly altered to meet some new safety standards or something. Hopefully they look the same! They’re really perfect.

    • 7.27.11
      kelly w said:

      Daniel! The correct response was ‘Just you, Gill *fluttering eyelashes*’ ;->

    • 7.28.11
      Dusa said:

      Exactly what I was thinking!

      And bring on the hall awesomeness!!!

  13. 7.27.11
    Rose said:

    Even as a lover of all things blue and teal, I think it looks better in white. I love picturing you as a brain with arms, but in your own home, you can be a nekky as you want. Even IF you tell the internet about it.

    Oh, and I LOVE the ceiling!

  14. 7.27.11
    Karrey said:

    GORGEOUS! I’m so envious of your floors.

  15. 7.27.11
    Brismod said:

    It looks fantastic!!

  16. 7.27.11
    Veronica said:

    Looks great! And I concur on doing house chores nearly nude. I do the majority of my construction projects and gardening work in a bikini, and don’t care if the neighbors laugh whenever they see me in steel toe boots and a triangle top! Rock on, dude. :)

  17. 7.27.11
    Fionnuala said:

    The ceiling! The whiteness everywhere! I am decorating vicariously through you, Daniel, keep up the good work.

  18. 7.27.11
    Callista said:

    Two things that tickled me so about this post:

    1) I can totally relate to your selective nudism. There’s no better time to be naked than on a sweltering hot day.

    2) I love that it took you a month and a half to remove the infuriating piece of black tape above your bed. It’s really good to know that I’m not the only one who puts off 5-minute tasks for months at a time. Thanks for keeping it real.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe the donation box that has been sitting in my hallway for three months needs tending to . . .

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Oh god, did I mention the milk crate full of stuff “I’m going to sell on ebay”?! I’m the king of procrastination, believe me.

  19. 7.27.11

    Of course it looks amazing, it’s you!
    I’m exhausted thinking about all that painting and work, you are tireless.
    I started painting our hallway 6 mos ago. It’s not even halfway finished yet.

  20. 7.27.11
    haley said:

    shut. up.
    it looks fabulous!
    now really, shut up and put a shirt on that brain jar.

  21. 7.27.11
    Lena said:

    I would offer to buy them for you in Switzerland and ship them to you BUT: Switzerland is expensive anyway. Right now with the economic crisis Swiss Franks are getting more and more expensive and US Dollars ridiculous cheap, so the exchange rate is absolutely horrid and shipping will probably be expensive too, so they wouldn’t be as cheap as if you bought them in the US. You have to know if they are worth it or not.

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Aw, thanks. I think they’re coming back to the States anyway, but I took all the ones from my last apartment and I think I can re-cut and recycle most of them here! Hopefully. I just love them so much.

  22. 7.27.11
    Amanda said:

    The white is definitely a huge improvement and a much better starting point for decorating. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

  23. 7.27.11
    Allie said:

    Daniel, I just spent an embarrassingly large chunk of my weekend reading your blog and became far too excited upon seeing that a new post was up. I cannot get over your ceiling – the bedroom looks about a thousand times better/cleaner. Question though: can you put up a new floorplan? I really loved that you included that for the previous apartment because seriously, how many times do you look at beautiful home design blogs and think ‘Well of course it looks fabulous, they don’t live in a shoebox like I do’? But you made it clear you did not live in some kind of unattainable palace and it’s so much better that way.

    Anyway, I have a crush on your diy skills.

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Yes, there will be a new floor plan! Anna and I have to do some tinkering with the site (I don’t know how to do anything by myself!), and that will definitely be part of it! Sorry it’s not up yet!

  24. 7.27.11
    Care said:

    It looks awesome! I can not wait to see what else you do!!

  25. 7.27.11
    katrina said:

    I think the nice details in the wood floors are more prominent now that they’re not competing with mouthwash green paint. Nicely done!

    I thought I read somewhere that Enje blinds were pretty transparent at night when it’s dark outside and light inside your home. You might be putting on quite a show for your neighbors!

  26. 7.27.11
    Sarah said:

    This is gonna be goooooooooooood.

  27. 7.27.11
    jo said:

    Of all the home improvement bloggers on all the web, I would pick you to do your thing at my house, if I could. Even if it’s just the white balance. I don’t care what it is. It looks great and I want it for me. That bedside lamp . . . that fan . . . the bubble fixture . . . the bed . . . the desk . . . the paint job . . . the roller blind . . . sigh (longingly).

  28. 7.27.11
    OMSH said:

    Just found you – can’t figure out how or where, but glad I did. I love watching renovations; this should be fun!

  29. 7.27.11
    ATC said:

    ENJE roller blinds are still available in Canada! Just bought them last month actually for a glass door and they’re looking great :)

    So if you ever head up north, you can stock up! lol

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      I was just there! But the closest Ikea is in Edmonton, which is about an 8 hour drive. Trust, I would have bought out the store and sold them on the black market here. We’re seriously craving ENJE in the states!!

  30. 7.27.11
    Nat said:

    I love all the white and you definitely made me grin with the “which white to choose” dilemma. It is super sweet and this is the right place to say things like that with no shame and eye rolling. I’m pretty confident everyone loves your choices and we can’t wait for more progress and more pictures. So don’t keep us waiting.

    PS. A picture of self in boxers would have been a good opening line ;P

  31. 7.28.11

    Making this public: We really need to work on the Brooklyn edition of your blog design. Let me just finish the 340598304985 other design jobs I have going on right now. Hopefully I’ll get to it before you decide to move to Staten Island.

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Okay! YAY!

      (just half-ass those other people’s stuff. what could POSSIBLY be more important than me?)

  32. 7.28.11
    Shubhi said:

    i just randomly stumbled onto this blog a few days ago and i’m hooked. i must say ohmygosh its looking so much better already. i can’t wait to see what else you accomplish.

  33. 7.28.11


  34. 7.28.11
    anne b. said:

    what do you mean, *about* to get awesome?
    that first picture of white walls – such a relief!

  35. 7.28.11
    Montse said:

    Looks great! Landlords should pay YOU for staying at their apartaments and improving them so much.

  36. 7.28.11
    Susan said:

    The thing I’m most looking forward to is how you deal with that freaky hallway. From seeing your design aesthetic I’m thinking it will be really wonderful.

    I still get a little sick thinking about your last landlord undoing all the gorgeous work you did in your last apartment.

  37. 7.28.11
    dabney said:

    saying this as a landlord, you are my dream tenant. (all nudity aside.) your last one didn’t know what he had.

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Saying this as a tenant, you’re probably my dream landlord!

  38. 7.28.11
    Rae said:

    Looks AMAZING!

    As someone who is about to paint all the walls in her apartment white (they currently that nasty mayonnaise color a lot of NYC apartments do upon move in), what advice can you give prep wise? I’ve never managed to get a paint job to look good…

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      I always start by spackling over any holes/gauges and sanding that, but I don’t really do too much “prep.” I almost NEVER use painter’s tape, all you need are decent rollers (if you buy the cheapest ones, I’d recommend running a vacuum tube over them first to pick up any stray fibers) and I like to use a 2″ angle brush for cutting in corners. The size brush is really a personal preference thing, but that’s what works for me. The brush is really the most important part… SO worth it to spring for something in the $10-$15 range instead of the $2 option, the quality will be better and it’ll last longer, too.

      Hope that helps! Good luck!

    • 7.28.11
      Rae said:

      thanks for the advice! just to clarify though… you use rollers all the way to the ceiling and to the bottom trim? or do you use the paint brushes around the edges? (i always use painter’s tape, which is maybe the reason why my paint jobs never look good…?)

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      I use a brush around all the edges- along door frames, bottom trim, top of the wall near the ceiling… everywhere the roller can’t really reach cleanly. Then I roller the walls and as low/high as I can go without getting paint onto the trim or ceiling.

      Painter’s tape is just kind of waste of time, I’ve decided. I used to use it but really all you need is a decent brush and a steady hand. It takes a bit to get the feel of getting just the right amount of paint on your brush and making a clean line with it, but you’ll get there! Go slow at first. Even with frog tape (which, for the record, IS better than regular scotch blue!), I still find that paint runs underneath and I’m never as happy with it. And it takes forever to tape everything off!

  39. 7.28.11
    Melissa said:

    I found your blog a month ago and spent a whole morning reading every single post like a fiend. I’ve decided you’re adorable and check every day for a new post like a groupie. Love your writing and sense of humor.

  40. 7.28.11
    cammy said:

    What a change! The floor and the ceiling (which I’m jealous about both) couldn’t really be seen before, because of the interesting paint choice. It looks great.

    But I have to admit, what I really want to see is what happens with the miles-long hallway. Such an intriguing design element.

  41. 7.28.11
    laxtoyvr said:

    I’ve also been considering White Dove. Your bedroom looks great! Can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of it.

  42. 7.28.11
    KB said:

    I swear to god, you moved into such a similar apartment as the one I just moved in to; it’s not even funny. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, and when you first posted about your new place, I just about peed with excitement! Everything you’re going to tackle is stuff I have to tackle across the Gowanus, except that you actually know how to do this stuff. So now it’s wait and watch (wow, that sounds more stalker-ish than intended…)

    Thank you for chronically your adventures! You’ve already made me more brave in attacking all the projects I have. If you knew how many times I’ve said,”well if Daniel can do it, so can I!”

    On a related note – anyone have recommendations for changing a light switch when you don’t have access to the breakers? I’m desperate to, but really don’t want to die for it.

    Also, how the heck did you know what to do to change your ceiling light?? I clearly need an adult…

    • 7.28.11
      Daniel said:

      This stuff is mostly pretty easy! I changed a bunch of lights in my old place, too, but I think I originally learned from youtube or the google machine. There are so many resources on the internet for learning how to do things like that. But yeah… if you can’t flip the breakers, it’s really not too safe to change anything electrical. If you’re on good terms with your landlord they might be able to help you out if you ask, but to my knowledge there’s not a super-safe way to do this stuff with the power running.

      But yeah, point is: I don’t have any special skills or knowledge. Just try to take projects one at a time and learn how to do stuff as I go!

  43. 7.28.11
    Libby said:

    wow, it looks so much better already! i’ve always been a color on the wall kind of person, but the white you chose looks beautiful…it really makes the molding and the floors stand out. can’t wait to see what you do next!

  44. 7.28.11
    Matt said:

    Just remember to flip the breakers so you don’t kill yourself. Especially if you’re not wearing clothes, because that might not be how you want your dead body discovered by your neighbors or pet.

    Made me almost spit out my coffee this morning… almost. The picture in my head is hilarious.

  45. 7.28.11
    soar said:

    A month ago I’ve been plucked from my established peaceful life in a nice new cookie cutter development surrounded by amazing mountains on the West coast and plunged into an amazing neighborhood in the East with less than amazing mid century home that had been neglected for a long while with dingy baseboards, doors, ceilings and pretty much everything else. My belongings still trying to find their way here and in the meantime I am trying to fend off depression as well as repulsion for our dwelling by pouring over your blog and your crusade against places that’ve seen better days. Very faith inducing!

  46. 7.28.11
    bekah said:

    I want to send you money, time and an AC, so you can work and blog more!

  47. 7.28.11
    Mickey said:

    It’s ace to see that other people who rent also care about what they come home to each day. Looks so much better all cleaned up. Bring on the hallway!


  48. 7.28.11
    Molly said:

    I learned about your blog a while ago through the apartment therapy post about your desk and have been a big fan ever since reading about that project.

    What primer did you use on the mouthwash colored walls?

  49. 7.28.11
    Jenn said:

    Much, much more soothing. Ah….

  50. 7.28.11
    Julia said:

    And so it begins… Your room looks fab, so much better than the mouthwash colour – your Mum rocks! Wish we had some decent weather in the UK – 23 degrees C is the hottest we’ve had this July. No chance of decorating in undies here!

  51. 7.28.11
    Christie said:

    I’m addicted to your blog. I mean, like crazy person, went-back-and-read-every-post-like-a-damn-novel addicted. Crack addicts may not be able to identify with this level of addiction. Congrats on being amazing. I can’t wait to see what happens to the crazy hall.

    Also, I may need to steal your ceiling. So few places in southern california have pressed-tin-make-you-cry ceilings. It’s offensive.

  52. 7.29.11
    brandy said:

    I’m in Texas, barefoot, 7 months pregnant, wearing a tube top and underwear, covered in sawdust, and I have a name David Sedaris’s mom mocked.

    Thank you, I feel a little less cheap knowing a New Yorker is rockin underpants reno too.

  53. 7.29.11
    Molly said:

    I’m glad someone else is taking a beating by having the enje’s recalled. Just when I finally made the decision to go with them, they take them away from me.

  54. 7.29.11
    Jo said:

    I love your blog and humour! I miss Brooklyn!!!

  55. 7.29.11
    Eliza said:

    your bedroom looks lovely and open and airy… nice!

    i know what you mean about painting the ceiling. i neglected to do so when re-painting our living room a pretty china blue, without realizing that the ceiling was a warm off-white instead of a bright white… it’s been bugging me for a while now. maybe it’s time to do something!

  56. 7.29.11
    Vivian said:

    I haven’t quite done the nude thing while remodeling, but I have my paint-spattered nightgowns. My husband thinks it’s funny that I just can’t seem to paint ceilings and walls in regular clothes!

    Looking forward to hearing more about your re-making the space. I’m curious to see what that hallway ends up looking like!

  57. 7.29.11
    Jaimie said:

    It looks so good! That half-painted ceiling shot makes me cringe. Ceilings get way dirtier than one would think. I love the white, it looks so clean and modern, but I’m afraid of ever painting it on my own walls. The closest I’ve come is a pale grey for the majority of our living area/hallways.

  58. 8.1.11
    Kithi said:

    love your blog, your new room looks great so far

  59. 8.1.11
    PhillyLass said:

    It looks great! The earlier commenter is right– your landlord should pay you for living there. And I’m so in love with your floor lamp. Gorgeous!!

  60. 8.1.11
    Erin said:

    LOVE the lamp and the fan. May I ask where you found them??

    • 8.1.11
      Daniel said:

      Thanks! The lamp was a $30 thrift from Buffalo and the fan was a $10 thrift from some crazy antique mall place in Virginia!

  61. 8.4.11

    Looking good and a lot less mouthwash-y!

    So, since you are so open about your nudity, I have to share that my husband and I have been living similar outfits this summer. With no cooling system (yet) besides one measly fan, our double brick walled house heats up like an oven in the evenings. Seeing Stanley in his underwear with a wet bandana tied around his neck (try it- it’s wonderful!) has almost lost its racy-French-burlesque-show-like novelty. Almost.

  62. 8.5.11
    Laura said:

    Looking awesome! The floor lamp is gorge!!!!!

  63. 9.9.11
    jd said:

    yeh, did the white paint stress out too. how can there be so many whites. this one is too creamy, this one is too grey and stark… finally, this one is just right… Ivy Coating low-VOC paint (Made in Brooklyn) in Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace on the walls, on the floor and even on some of the furniture. Looks great in my south-facing bright light mid-day and in low evening light as well. Phew.

    like your White Dove too. looking forward to see you work your magic n the rest of the space.

  64. 9.16.11
    Naomi said:

    Good work! And advice, too, thank you. I just put up a picture shelf last night (power-drilled for the first time in my life!) and I kind of wish I had done it naked, now.
    Anyways, I’ve just realized I have no idea how you managed to bring in all your furniture through that long, long, narrow hallway. How did it work? Was someone trapped? Did that rotten window get smashed?

  65. 10.13.11
    amanda said:

    gorgeous! did you paint behind the radiator? can i ask how? i recently moved into a studio in a building from the ’20s, and the majority of the apartment needs pretty extreme TLC, so i’m really inspired by your blog.

    i also was planning on painting the trim at my place, but was told it’s oil-based, which creates even more of a pain in the butt. maybe i’ll just stick to the walls first…

  66. 4.4.12
    Mariah said:

    My dear Buttercup,

    You’re blog is such a delight to read. I adore your style of writing and I’ve become so inspired by your DIY projects I’ve decided to throw caution into the wind and defy all parameters set forth by my landlord! Mwahahaha! I may even set up my own corner in the blogosphere to document all the fun and chaos.

    Also a little nugget of sunshine, just looked over at IKEA’s website and your beloved ENJE Roller blinds are back! So dry your tears!! :)

    P.S. I think you’re little family (complete with Mekko and Max) is completely adorable.

    Much adoration,